Actually, why me?
I’ve been asked this question a few times and it has allowed me to crystallize a lot of my thought around publishing, POD, micropress, and just in general, the madness that is publishing.
The questions seem to devolve into two camps: why micropublishing? and why not go with a big publishing house/agent/the traditional model?
Madam Editor suggests though that the root of the question actually is, can a micro house make as much money as publishing with a big house?
Ah, but that's not what people ask me. And frankly, I'm not looking to make *as much* money, I'm looking to make *sustainable* money. Because the blunt fact is, you can't sustain a blockbuster mentality. At a certain point, you just fall over from exhaustion: the exhaustion of frantically searching for the next blockbuster and the exhaustion of recovering when you inevitably fail.
That's not a life worth living.
So that leaves the camps of thought.
The first camp: why not? Seriously. It’s the Everest response. Because it’s there. Because I can. And because I watched several other small presses doing things in ways that frankly, I just wouldn’t and couldn’t understand. Struggling because they didn’t have the unique skill set that I possess or struggling because they didn’t know the incredibly talented people that I know or know of.
I was also getting more and more of a sense that my own work, which I wanted to see out in the world, was either too specialized, too niche, or just plain getting lost in the shuffle of the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts trying to get past the gatekeepers of the pitifully few large publishing houses that still exist. It’s like *being* the needle and wondering why no one can find you in the haystack.
But hey. There’s this tool. It’s called POD. And I’m smarter than the average bear, so…
...I found out I had a talent for this strange beast. I found that I longed for the spirit of Jim Baen and Lester Del Rey who ran their houses with a personal touch, not by a spreadsheet and corporate fiat.
Incidentally, they all started small. Small grows to big. It's the enterprenurial [sic] spirit in publishing...
Yeah. Sure. Find an agent. Let me know when you’ve got one.
*looks at watch*
Oh, it’s going to take you one to five years, if at all to get one?
Oh. I’m sorry. While you’re still looking, I’m going to be publishing books. Y’know. While you’re still looking for an agent.
Frankly, I doubt Hunt Press will *remain* small. But the core values I mean to keep, no matter our external changes.
The old model is a dinosaur. It cannot compete with me. I am small. I am nimble.
I have the weight of momentum and dynamism behind me. I turn on a dime. They fall on their faces. They cannot compete with me.
The indie bookstores love me, because they have a relationship with *me*, not someone at a marketing/PR department who may or may not be there in six months. I'm in it for the long haul, and so have a vested interest in building these relationships. Small can be replaced with personal. People are tired of the impersonal and the faceless. And I'm certainly not that.
Can I roll out a powerhouse? I don’t know. But I’ll go down fighting.
What makes you think that you’re going to win the lottery? I’d rather take that magical thinking to the 7-11 and buy a lottery ticket. I have just as much chance as striking it big with a blockbuster.
...You want to be discovered? I suggest standing on the corner of Hollywood & Vine with all the other little hopefuls, holding their disappointment in their hats and trying not to show it.
To quote James Owen: We’re not IN publishing. We’re at war. And I don’t intend to lose.
At war against whom?
Against entropy. Against the long night. Against obscurity. We'll all eventually fail against those titans. But while we last, while the battle rages, oh, yes, we will be glorious.
Let it not be said that we did not at least *attempt* to leave our mark on the world.
The "old model" consists of quality editing, good cover art, excellent distribution, and marketing and promotion. Size is immaterial, however, working capital is all-important.The old model is a dinosaur. It cannot compete with me. I am small. I am nimble.
Bookstores don't care who they order from. It could be the cleaning woman if it meant getting their hands on a title they know will sell. Marketing and sales guys are worth their weight in platinum because they know how to speak bookstore-ease, they've established relationships with store buyers, and they how to push a title into the marketplace. The faceless, impersonal mantra is a straw man argument that really needs to be put to rest.The indie bookstores love me, because they have a relationship with *me*, not someone at a marketing/PR department who may or may not be there in six months. I'm in it for the long haul, and so have a vested interest in building these relationships. Small can be replaced with personal. People are tired of the impersonal and the faceless. And I'm certainly not that.