Twilight Times Special Feature
Electronic Authors Guild International
by Steve Lazarowitz
Not very long ago, to be a published author meant to have a story, article or book in print and if you didn't, you were a rank amateur.
In recent years, technology has changed the face of the publishing industry. On the most basic level, computers and fast printers have reduced the costs of operation for print publishing companies, but the changes wrought by the computer age, and more specifically by the Internet, have consequences that reach much further.
Within the last couple of years, a new form of publishing has taken the Internet by storm. It is called electronic publishing, or e-publishing for short. It is far cheaper to produce a book on CD-ROM or even better yet, in an HTML file which can be easily downloaded for a small fee. Suddenly, anyone can open a publishing company.
Experience has shown that this is not always a good thing. Not every person that opens an e-publishing company is honest and even an honest company can easily overextend itself, by not realizing the amount of work involved in operating such a venture. At the moment, there are several excellent e-publishing companies out there, though I will not mention any of them in this article, as I would not want to appear biased. Suffice it to say that e-publishing is an ever-growing market, with a lot of legitimate players, but a fair number of people are out just to make a quick buck, at the expense of an inexperienced author.
The mechanism by which these "scams" work is different, but they all play on the same feelings. Every author wants to see his or her work in print and, in a market that is continually more competitive, it becomes harder and harder. I have well over a hundred rejection slips and there are many print markets to which I no longer submit, simply because I can't deal with the wait times involved or the attitudes of the editors of those particular magazines.
The real point here is this. It is very easy to become frustrated and desperate as a writer. And the e-publishing scene is, in many ways, worse than the print publishing scene, because it's so hard to regulate. Anyone with a computer can make a webpage and "become an e-publisher."
Promises of fame and fortune are not hard to sell to aspiring writers, because it's what they want to hear in the first place.
There are many organizations that help protect the rights of authors, But most of them have no concept of what e-authors need to know, or how to better protect their rights. Enter Electronic Authors Guild International, or Eguild for short.
Eguild is an electronic labor union, dedicated to protecting the rights of online authors and artists, promoting their work specifically and e-publishing in general. As I said before there are many writer's organizations. I belong to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America myself, and while it has its uses, it still doesn't have a coherent policy in place to deal with e-published authors.
There's been a lot of talk recently about similar problems in the Romance Writers of America. Even non-genre based organizations like the National Writers Union don't know what to do about E-published Authors.
Eguild offers a number of benefits, including lectures and seminars, an e-mail "loop" for e-published authors and artists and help with understanding contracts, finding out which e-publishers are legitmate And which are not, and which are just overwhelmed. Within the ranks of Eguild are some of the most popular authors on the web.
Now, I've spent a lot of time talking about the needs of e-authors, because I am an author, but e-artists are in much the same boat. Contracts for e-artists are just as likely to contain pitfalls and there are just as many unscrupulous (or simply disorganized) e-publishing companies in place to take advantage of artists. So if you are an e-published artist, or you are considering becoming one, Eguild is the place to be.
Electronic publishing is here to stay. If you are a published e-author or e-artist, or if you are serious about becoming one, then Eguild is for you. That's right, even unpublished authors and artists can join.
Eguild is not a writing group, but an authors and artists group. We don't critique manuscripts, but we'll help you deal with companies taking too long to respond to your submission. We don't tell you how to become published, but we'll guide you to places that can help. We are a professional organization in a most disorganized industry, trying to pull some sort of sense from the chaos. And we will succeed.
To learn more about Eguild, visit our webpage.
Steve Lazarowitz is the chairman of Eguild. His work has appeared in numerous webzines including Twlight Times, Jackhammer, AnotherRealm, The Wandering Troll, Exodus and many, many more.
He has two anthologies coming out early in 2000. A Creative Edge: Tales of Speculation and Dream Sequence (and other Tales from Beyond) available from Crossroads Publishing.
Read Steve's author interview
Stories by Steve:
An epic poem
Visit Steve's web site