Wanted: A Publisher With a Clue

Yep, I’m back on the prowl. And I gotta tell ya, with Google as my witness, there are a ton of options out there. Little presses have been sprouting up all over the place, especially in mainstream Fantasy.

With POD technology and e-book sales, writers aren’t the only ones seeing their dreams come true. In a day where owning one’s own business seems to be the new American Dream, the publishing industry reminds me of land grabs of settlers out west, as each hopeful family rushes out to claim their own share.

For starting your own business the mandatory risks and investments of being a publisher are relatively low. Meanwhile, just about every part of the process can be outsourced, most especially the actual printing of the book. Pretty much anyone can do it from the comforts of their own home.

Contests and calls for submission abound, as well as blatant ignorance.

When I first started looking, I admit that I fell for it.

I entered a contest at a publisher. 1st prize was publication with an advance while 2nd and 3rd got cash. I was so excited when I discovered I was one of ten finalists. In eager anticipation, I finally got around to ordering a book from the publisher and started reading it. I picked the one written by the press owner.

The gagging started on page one. By page thirty I not only couldn’t bring myself to read anymore, the cash looked far better than the grand prize. I was relieved when I didn’t win.

Since then I have seen plenty of small publishers calling for submissions, eager for quality stories, but upon closer inspection I’ve found poor or no marketing skills, slipshod business practices, cheap mediocre cover art, storefronts that are painful to browse and sites still advertising 2009 release books as “Coming Soon”.

Most of them are sincerely trying, but in a highly competitive market, it’s tough to stand out and succeed. True, there’s always room at the top, but there’s plenty of defunct ghost towns of vague dreams too.

A few publishers don’t care what they “publish”. I even found one who openly admits it. Adding one more e-book to their buffet of digital offerings is as easy as letting the author pick out a preformatted cover and uploading to a database. There’s the chance of passive income from it, but even if it never sells a single copy, the investment in it is chicken scratch.

My Husband ran his own business for a while so I know it’s tough. Fledgling presses have both my admiration and sympathy. I honestly wish them good luck and hope they succeed.  But just as it’s business smarts for a publisher to be picky and go for the best, it’s just as true for the author.

I see the relationship between author and publisher as an important business partnership. With a smaller publishing house, to me it only seems that more important because it is that more personal on both sides. Plus, since POD books don’t “go out of print,” it’s usually for the long haul. I want a business partner who I can trust to make good business choices.

Anyone who’s read Anniversary of Insanity knows I’ve spent a long time on my writing. I’m not so impatient to see it published that I will let just anyone have it. I’m looking for the best deal I can get with a publisher with potential. I have friends that I love dearly but would not join in on their business ventures. Likewise, there are shrewd business people who I doubt I would work well with up close.

And so I am still here, still searching for the right professional match and home for my books where they can shine. Meanwhile I will continue to refine my work, improve my craft and professional skills to succeed in today’s competitive market.

I hope and pray that when I find the right publisher, I and my book will be ready. I also hope the publisher is growing and learning, so that they will be ready, too.

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

6 comments on “Wanted: A Publisher With a Clue

  1. Ren, very best of luck to you. Be persistent. It /will/ pay off in the end.

  2. I think that it’s good to be choosy, but I hope and pray that you will find the right publisher for you someday soon.

    • Thanks, Krysti. I certainly have every intention of continuing until I do so I figure as long as I continue to improve, it’s only a matter of time.

      Oh, and by they way, I expect to post the finale of the Renegade Project next week, this round of it anyway. I just wanted a bit more time to write it.

  3. Ren, I completely know what you mean about demanding a professional business relationship between author and publisher. With as tight as the circles are in the world of publishing, many of us who go with small or micro presses may find we are doing business with our friends, and that makes things both sticky and full of great opportunities. But I’ve found that no matter how much we like the people we’re working with, we as authors must demand the best of our publishers and of ourselves. There’s so much slipshod white noise out there, that only being exceptional will give us a chance at rising above the static.

    May the right relationship for you and your work arise in perfect timing. You’re wise not to be in a rush.

  4. I agree with you entirely.

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