The first thing I learned from RWA Nationals last week was that the Atlanta night skyline looks like Gotham City. That was my husband’s observation. And I’m going to draw a cheesy parallel from that. Think about Batman and Gotham City: They’ve changed over the years, but they have the same identity. Batman still fights evil, and Gotham City still provides evil to fight and good to protect.
It’s a lot like publishing.
Publishing has changed over the years. It’s still changing, and in fact, the only thing that won’t change is the fact that things will continue to change. But for all this change, writing and publishing are at heart the same. Writing is about telling great stories, and publishing is about putting them out there for people to read.
In Gotham City, the crimes become more technological to fit the age. Batman still has to stop them. Publishing is becoming more technological, and writers need to rely on these changes if they want to be where the readers are. I’m not saying I know how to do that; I’m just here to make the comparison. But in all seriousness, I think we tend to look at all the changes in publishing—the venues—and forget its core identity—getting books into readers’ hands.
Not long ago, debate was fiery about whether or not “real” authors should self-publish or publish digitally, and people still have strong opinions on both sides. But publishing will continue to evolve, and it’s not the venues we should hold sacred, but the purpose.
It’s a corny analogy, I know. Hey, I’m a novelist, not an essayist. But of all the wonderful things I learned at conference, I think this was my biggest takeaway Writers love writing no more or less today than they did twenty years ago. Publishing still has challenges, just different ones. But they’re still about the same thing, just like Batman and Gotham City. So yeah. Writers are Batman.