This week I was browsing along the net when I came across a link to Sarah Sawyer’s blog. The post was about the strong impact small presses are having on the Christian fiction industry. You can view it right here. I agree wholeheartedly, although some may think I’m biased. Well, aren’t we all? I shared the link on my facebook wall and thought nothing else of. It re-entered my mind the next day and I went back to check for any comments. This is where my Crazy-Hair hackles rose.
In case you hadn’t realized, I’m rather fond of small presses. I will be published by one in March and that was no accident. I stalked the market like prey and only submitted my novel to three small publishers. I watched other writers and prayed hard about the direction God wanted my work to go in. I formed true friendships with people that knew more than me by leaps and bounds and was humbled by their kindness. I studied craft and admitted I would never know it all. I submitted my work to others so they may shred it and teach me to put it back together again, far better than before.
When Grace told me she liked I Am Ocilla but thought I should try a bigger publisher (classic Grace), I stomped my foot and said I don’t wanna. But she really wanted me to consider someone “better”. So I agreed to pray about it. I did but the answer I had back was the same. I wanted to throw my lot in with Splashdown Books .
Back to Sarah Sawyer’s blog and the comment that raised my hackles. I will quote below. Please know I have no idea who this person is, but this is a sentiment I hear floating around often enough to infuriate me.
“Small presses can be less picky about what they take for manuscripts, and edit less. (My favorite spec books are all major publishers’) The quality of their printed books can be less too since they can’t afford the high quality materials available in a larger print run.”
I wanted to engage with a few simple questions and would have if it had been my blog. Guess what? This is the blog I share with several other writers that feel just as passionately as I do about small presses.
Just how many books have you read from small presses? Have you never read a crappy book by a major publisher? Have you ever found typos in major publisher books? Which books are you basing your opinions on? Or are you, in fact, basing your opinion on what you heard? Are you, in fact, slandering small presses with a broad brushstroke that applies to all publishers in all genres, CBA and ABA? Yep, that’s what I thought.
Because I happen to read books from all genres and all markets. I have found crap in all of them. But what I have found in the two Sarah mentions is a higher % of wonderful. Two years in a row Marcher Lord Press has dominated the speculative fiction market. I would ask the commenter to look no further than Marc Schooley’s Konig’s Fire, Kerry Nietz’s DarkTrench Saga, and Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings trilogy. And my publisher, a little newer to the game, has had several wonderful books such as Fred Warren’s The Muse, P.A. Baines’s Alpha Redemption, Keven Newsome’s Winter and Kat Heckenbach’s Finding Angel.
When I hear someone attack people I love in such a nonchalant way, my hackles go up. Because it is a lie. I’ve watched the hard work put into producing a small press book. I know both of these publishers have a high standard and with each book they put out, they only get better. I also know small presses have smaller budgets. The owners are taking a gamble with their own money, not a big company’s. What I see from that is they must be even more selective about books they put out. They can’t have the same fail rate as major publishers. You know, a small % of success pays for the production of the many mediocre?
I have a bias for small publishers. I admit it. The titles and small publishers I listed are not the only greats. Take a minute and check out a few for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.
I also have a pet-peeve against comments that make no logical sense. To those that say small publishers aren’t charging a new path I say this…we are coming, like it or not. Good times.
Peace, love and God’s will.
My book’s coming out with a small press but they did have a smaller budget and less editing steps than I experienced in the past. They did a great job, don’t get me wrong. And it’s getting good reviews, but I did a lot of editing with independent editors before and was glad I did. I think the above comment is indicative of some realities–small presses do often have smaller budgets and limitations larger presses don’t. And some are so budget tight, they put out books of lesser quality as a result. Unfortunately, although in my experience those are the exceptions not the rule, those few cases taint some people’s minds about all small presses. Unfair? Perhaps. But the reality is the same with self-publishing which has a lot of crap but mixed in some really good stuff, good enough real publishers would have paid to publish it. This to me is more a lesson in NOT stereotyping anyone based on a few examples more than it is a person just blatantly wrong. They are showing their bias. It is unfortunate they had that experience and have given up on small presses. They will miss out on some great books. But they are far from alone and the best way to change those opinions is to put out great stuff that becomes popular through word of mouth, awards, etc. until those people have to read it out of dying curiosity. Those are my thoughts anyway.
Excellent thoughts, Bryan. Thanks for stopping by. I think my problem is the broad brushstrokes. You are the first book being released from a brand new small press ( no pressure :P) and they get a learning curve.
Yes, Diane, you are right. Those broad brushstrokes are unfair and untrue. As I am moving toward the publishing side of this writing journey, I am facing the same considerations you were only months ago. Smaller presses are appealing to me for so many reasons–but I know that Jeff and Grace (since those are the ones that you mentioned) do go to great lengths to put out and ensure a great product.
If people have a bad experience with a small press, it’s not right to lump all small presses in the same group. It’s like having a bad cup of coffee at Starbucks. Does one bad cup mean the whole chain is bad. Me thinks not.
Exactly! Thanks for a great example, my friend. 😀
My Dearest Youngest Daughter,
Have you ever heard the old saying,”One bad apple spoils the whole bunch!” Well I think it should be,”One bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch.” If the bad apple is removed in time then the bunch can survive. I believe it is human nature to categorize. Therefore It takes a thousand “attaboys!” to make up for one “Oh shoot!” This is why it is so hard for any small entity to get a foothold. What a shame! As you know, there are some people who go to greater lengths than the larger publishing companies all because of the few who have started sinking things up. They must wash till they blister just to make sure that they are picked. Even though they may have the sweeter taste, the smell of rot is hard to get past. Get the picture? It is not a pretty picture but it is life.
I know, Momma. I love you. 😀
that is supposed to be stinking things up. LOL
You forgot Stuart Stockton’s Starfire in your list of MLP books, Vaulter. Yes, it had one typo, but I am willing to beat to death anyone who says that makes it crap.
Beat. To. Death.
You’ve been warned.
(Wow. I’m rather fiesty for a Wednesday. What’s up with that?)
Ha! Ha! There are many I couldn’t add because it would take too long to find images and websites. Guess I’m a little lazy. Sorry all you wonderful small press writers. I love you, really I do. And I can just imagine you beating some poor schmuck with your turkey leg from the fair. LOL
I would never waste a turkey leg on a beating. Well, maybe the bone.
It must be all the nummy food that you have eaten.
The Turtle can eat. 😛
I loved Starfire!!! 😀
too much fair food!
There was a time when a lot of the small press and surely self-published fare was inferior, at least in editing and production, to what the big houses put out. But those days are dimming quickly. Unlike many who comment on these blogs, I read a lot of different kinds of fiction. Four years of running my on own review site and reviewing for Fiction Addict have allowed a perspective others may not have. Big houses in the CBA put out a lot of crap. Big houses in the general market put out a lot of crap. Small houses put out less crap for one shining reason – they tend to be more focused on the writer than the bottom line. It shows in the product!
As to typos. It was a great novel and deserves every award it will win but The Queen by Steven James had a typo in the very first paragraph. It was obvious I picked it up and I don’t usually look for such things when reading for pleasure. Major newspapers are a joke when it comes to this. Most are filled with glaring typos. It happens.
You have reviewed enough to know, Tim. Thank you for that. I’ve noticed typos in them all as well. I have very little issue with typos to a certain point. After all, we are human.
Tim, the No. 1 reason you see more typos in your major papers is because they are laying off copy editors wholesale. But even the best don’t catch everything. So copy editors everywhere thank you for your kindness, Diane. But we are still striving for perfection. Or as close to it as we can humanly get.
Here, here! Let’s revolutionize the publishing industry! Turn the book world on its…er…eye? Anyways, with the changing of times, technology, and an increase of quality, small press published books coming out, we will overcome this stereotype. 🙂
We can do it. Thanks, Jennette. 😀
As always, a most excellent rant…I mean, post. 😉 As the big publishing model struggles in the current economy, the small press makes more and more sense for us as authors. Not to mention the much more gracious royalty small presses offer. (Some would argue that is offset by the better distribution one gets with a big publisher, but with as little marketing publishers are devoting to anyone but their a-listers, I might beg to differ on that too.)
Anyway, thanks for standing in defense of the little guys!
😛 Always. Thanks, Swan.
Thanks for mentioning my blog, Diane! I’m with you in that I’m also concerned whenever I see people writing off an entire category–whether it be e-publishers, small publishing houses, or you-fill-in-the-blank. Most times my approach to a book remains the same, regardless of the publishing house. If a concept interests me, I read the first few pages. That’s usually all it takes to give me an idea of the caliber of writing/editing as well as how much the story will appeal to me personally. There are bad and good books across the board, from large and small publishers alike, and I don’t think any of us benefit from blanket characterizations.
Thank you, Sarah. I agree with your standard of looking at writing as we look at people…one at a time. 😀
Diane, you summed up my feelings exactly. The quality of a book (or film, or song, or any other creative work) lies in the dedication of its creator(s), not the depth of the pockets of its backers. Small presses, independent film makers and musicians all have produced amazing works that rival their big bad competitors. Some of the best plays I’ve ever seen have been put on by tiny community theaters.
Thank you, Lioness. I hope you don’t mind I used your picture up there. 😛
People are right for being skeptical; too many of us don’t carry through with our grandiose plans of excellence. But if and when we do, they’d better darn well sit up and take notice, grab a slice of humble pie, and apologize.
The rant, continued.
Ha! Hello, Sunshine! 😀