Shapeshifting

(Not a post about werewolves.)

In the U.S., we’re fond of defining people by their occupations. It’s a sort of shorthand; a job title comes with a set of expectations (and stereotypes) that (we like to think) provide some guidance for how we should interact with this person we’ve just met.

In the publishing world, you’re likely to encounter any and all of the following:

— Booksellers

— Editors

— Agents

— Teachers of all sorts, from preschool to postsecondary

— Publishers

— Publicists

— Sales reps

— Reviewers, both print and online

— Designers

— Librarians

— Authors, published

— Authors, aspiring

and of course in young adult publishing specifically, you have both

— Readers, teen

and

— Readers, adult

But it’s not that simple, folks. See, the person you meet today, who appears to be a member of Category X, may shift, like a shapechanger, into Categories Y, Z, or Q — or even occupy several categories at once.

The bookseller who’s also a hotshot agent.

The designer who’s also a talented graphic novelist.

The blogger who’s three posts away from a book contract.

The editor who’s also a well-regarded novelist.

The aspiring author who’ll be on a bestseller list five years from today.

The reviewer whose nonfiction is critically acclaimed.

The publicist whose manuscript won’t be in that drawer forever.

The teacher whose students are even now inspiring an amazing story.

The teen whose fanfics have more readers than many traditionally published authors.

And if you’re reading my site, presumably you’re already aware of the librarian who’s also an author. Trust me, our name is Totally Legion.

Etc. Mix and match; however you combine the elements, you’ll probably come up with a description that fits one or more actual people involved in publishing.

Why point out this phenomenon?

Because you can’t assume that people will stay put.

So when you meet someone new on your literary journey? Try to meet more than just the role they have today.