Why start a small press?
The answer to that question, as you might guess, is neither a short nor a simple one. The reasons are chiefly personal, but they were also borne from the desire to do the right thing for other aspiring authors.
Since I was seventeen, I have written stories with an eye toward eventual professional publication. Although I did get a technical non-fiction book published, I never managed to fully complete a novel. As time passed, and I continued to write . . . and not finish, I finally began to understand why. Revising and editing is hard, but that wasn’t it—or at least not all of it. The core of my hesitation in taking a novel to a state fit for submission for publication came down to, I realized, a very basic business decision: return on investment.
When you submit your book to a traditional publisher, you send it and wait . . . and wait for some kind of a response. If they decide to pass on your novel, you will probably never know why. It could be the quality of your writing or your plot—or it could be that the acquisitions editor was having a bad day and you shared the same last name as an elementary school teacher that she hated. Having your work rejected, something on which you’ve spent months and months—if not years and years—of effort on, is not exactly an ego-boosting experience.
Most writers, I believe, are willing to learn and value the constructive feedback that they receive so that they can continue to grow as a writer and establish their literary voice. The lack of any feedback can be deeply demoralizing to most authors—if not felt as an additional punch in the gut after receiving a form rejection letter. It just reinforces for you that the game is rigged, that somehow, despite all of the workshops and research that you’ve done, you have still failed to learn the secret handshake and code words that gain you entrance through the sacred gates of a mainstream publisher.
Many writers believe self-publishing is the answer. For some of them, this may be true. But I’ve seen too many writers give their work away for free (watch for a future post or two on that subject) in an attempt to gain an audience. I’ve also seen them give up because, after they’ve posted their book on Amazon, it sold only a handful of copies. Promoting and distributing your book is hard work. Some authors have the skills (and time!) to accomplish this effectively; many do not. And then there’s the day jobs and family and everything else in our lives that devour the time we want to spend on promoting our work. We understand that.
That’s where we come in.
We want to do it differently. We want to be better. We want to serve our authors with dignity and respect. Our job is to help you succeed. Because, if you succeed, we all do.