I’ve got a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on that may be developing into books. Bits and pieces of these have appeared here on the blog in various forms. One is a practical guide to the liturgical year, the other is a text on liturgical/lectionary spirituality. I pitched the first to Church Publishing a little while back; they said that they were interested but that the timing wasn’t right. Of course, now we hear that there’s been a great deal of change at Church Publishing including a significant reduction of staff and therefore capability.
What does this bode for liturgical works for an Anglican audience? I don’t know for sure.
If I had to guess, however, it would indicate that the chance of being published through Church Publishing is shrinking. Furthermore, I’d imagine that they’re more likely to pick up works that are in line with the national church’s liturgical direction as exemplified by Enriching Our Worship. Material like mine with plenteous references to earlier times and other church traditions (e.g. the Missals…) may not be what they’ll be interested in publishing.
Where, then, to go? Will LTP start picking up the slack? Or is it time to look for a new model?
I’ve been following with interest the Simple English Propers Project as reported by Chant Cafe, NLM, and the CMAA. They just completed a fund-raising campaign which raised money for the completion of the project; the resulting work will, if I understand it rightly, be distributed freely on-line and for the cost of printing at Lulu. This was acheived through the use of digital micro-patronage–collections of $5, $10, $20 and, I’d assume, some larger donations that when pooled made it a viable project.
Now, there’s a certain cachet lacking in that it’s not produced by an official press. For the purpose of, say, a typical academic resume, a self-published work of this sort would have the credibility of—well—a blog posting. And the resulting work may lack something in not having the eye of an experienced editor looking it over. On the other hand…it works. It’s a means for circulating ideas, and particularly ideas that lack the financial viability need in the modern publishing market.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the patronage idea recently. I’d actually been considering making a standing announcement that I’d be willing to code a traditional calendar version of the breviary that would accept the use of pre/non-Vatican II lectionaries like the American or English ’28 versions or even the classical prayer book forms that don’t work with the current post-Vatican II scheme if I could get a patron, parish, or group of parishes to underwrite it. But that hadn’t bubbled to the putting-it-into-practice phase.
So here’s the thing: traditional print publishers are having a hard time. This is bad for niche writing and publishing. Nevertheless, there’s still interest in niche materials. Patronage, particularly in the form of digital micro-patronage, may represent a way forward for the production of work for which an author/editor deserves compensation but which can then be freely/cheaply circulated.