The Less-Obvious Way The Internet Is Changing Publishing

For the second year in a row, I will be one of the judges for the Friday Flash Fiction contest at CONTEXT.  It was a real blast last year, and I’m really looking forward to it again this year.  You can find out more here:

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

One of the things I keep running into as I grow and learn as a publisher is that “handshake deals” often mean “backstab deals”.  Hell, apparently even a full-on legal contract isn’t enough a lot of the time.

And that gets me thinking about public-key encryption.  (Yes, my brain works like that, don’t judge me.) 

When you start dealing with encryption, you first have to have someone you trust.  They “sign” and vouch for the identity of someone else.  And they vouch for another person.  And so on.  (This is pretty accurate, but horribly simplified.)

In publishing – apparently – this isn’t the case now.  And maybe hasn’t been the case for quite some time.  Realistically, until the last decade or two it was difficult to put names and faces together.  An author (or editor, or artist) was just a name on a contract once you reached a certain level.

But that isn’t necessarily the case now.

As I’ve mentioned, about a third of the people at GenCon’s Writer Symposium are people I’ve actively worked with.  Raise that to “people I know” and you’ve got about half the Symposium who know who I am, what I do, and why I do it.

And they know people.  Add our actions, our relationships – and the speed of the internet – and suddenly we can build a web of trust.

This is another way – the slower way, the less sexy way – that the internet and easy communication will have an impact on publishing.

If you’re known for taking shortcuts, for scamming, for treating people poorly, that will get known.

If you’re known for treating people well, for respecting rights, for doing the (hard) right thing, that will be known too.

And that’s awesome.


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