Thursday, July 24, 2008

Online Publishing: Why Make the Move

I still run into writers at conferences and workshops reluctant to submit online. Many believe that print credits continue to carry more prestige, and some worry that online credits may even detract from a curriculum vitae. On the other end are those predicting the end days of print publishing and leaving writers who have not yet made the move feeling left behind.

Seeing the sheer number of print magazines and journals still out there and that new ones seem to appear on a regular basis, I would not make the move to online out of fear. However, these days the question of whether to submit online has changed from one of"why" to "why not." Yes, the most prestigious credits are still print journals, but even they now usually have some form of online presence, from access to certain parts of their print version to separate publications. Why are they doing this? Not just for financial reasons, since many continue to produce print counterparts. They're doing it because work on the internet reaches a wider audience, and because readers are beginning to demand it.

As to the question of whether strictly online credits carry the same prestige as print, I would say these days they carry just as much weight as any credit outside the top-tier, and for the average writer the top-tier is either out of reach or far, far in the future. This wasn't always true. In the early days it was easy to set up a very basic website and publish work. Today, readers expect a certain level of sophistication and those who didn't have the time or will to produce that look and feel have fallen away. Online publications also now receive as many or more submissions as print and from all levels of writers. So they have had to become more selective, and selectivity is, after all, what really matters in a credit.

In later posts I'll discuss the advantages of publishing online over in print and how you might need to modify your style for online publications. For now, suffice it to say, for new and emerging writers this is the time to move to online.

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