JC Inman has started a series of blog posts on Publishing – the first was Blogging as a Writer’s Tool. In the following piece, he discusses the benefits of having an independent publisher.
The partnership between writer and publisher require an intimacy of belief in the product that you produce. It is an essential relationship where you don’t want to go it alone. The publisher provides all the business knowledge for turning your manuscript into a book. That includes the editing, typesetting, printing, binding, the distribution networks and the book’s marketing.
Fostering a good relationship with your publishers is crucial. You should maintain contact regularly with them to ensure you remain on the same metaphorical page, I recommend somewhere between the number of cups tea you drink and the amount of public appearances you make.
If you fear being a cog in the money-making machine in a giant corporate conglomerate with a distant publishing relationship, there are luckily many independent presses and start-up publishers all over the world.
My first collection of poems was published by an Australian independent press. This was a process that I found to be continually rewarding, particularly within our dialogue during the editing phase. We achieved a greater level of communication than I believe to be possible with a large publisher as we were working together to achieve my vision of what the final product would be.
Blemish Books is a Canberra-based independent press. Launched in 2009 by Greg Gould and Lesley Boland, they publish fiction, poetry and essays. To date Blemish has published two novellas, three poetry anthologies and a book of creative essays. Blemish has two titles scheduled for release in 2014.
When asked to outline what he thought were the benefits of independent publishers, Greg Gould responded eagerly,
“The best thing about being a small publisher is getting to work closely with our authors. While we operate under a traditional publishing model (we pay our authors royalties on sales and we cover the costs of the book’s production and promotion) the author is heavily involved with each step of the publication process. We enjoy the collaborative process of small scale publishing.”
If the size of an independent publishing company is beneficial in terms of the intimacy and attention, there are also drawbacks, which Greg also touched on.
“One of the greatest challenges for a small press is distribution and marketing. With little to no budget for such activities we are often dependent upon local community support. We market our books through independent bookstores, writers centres, community radio, the local writing and reading community, and local markets and fairs. The up side of this approach is that we get to be part of a vibrant local literary scene and collaborate with local artists.”
With an average of two titles a year, I am well aware of the time and consideration Blemish devotes to selecting each manuscript; this, however, should not dissuade you from submitting. In fact, I’d encourage you to do so with as many small press/independent publishers you can.
As with any submissions, its best to get a feel for the company first, so that you can ensure your manuscript is a correct fit for the publisher and vice versa.
For information on publishing with Blemish Books, Greg had this to say,
“The best way to get a sense of the kind of book we publish, you should head to our website at www.blemishbooks.com.au. When submitting to us it’s always best to send a brief query to firstname.lastname@example.org with a short outline of your manuscript. If we like what we see we’ll ask you to send more. Originality and skillful writing are the first things we look for in any new work. We love words that grab us and won’t let go. “
So pour that tea, stop patting the cat and submit!