It’s 2016 and, as an author, I have a million different ways I can publish a book. It’s not just going through an agent and hoping your book sells to a big four anymore. And yes, that path is definitely admirable and still holds a lot of prestige, it’s not the only route.
Full disclosure: I’m a self-published author, I’m the Publishing Director at an independent press, and I’m a book reviewer for another indie press. I’ve seen from the inside and outside of what the pros and cons of working with an indie press are. But I’ve also felt the lack of support from the publishing community as a whole when it comes to those who are being published through independent publishing houses.
So many of us enter the publishing world with three goals: land an agent with our first manuscript, get a six or seven figure book deal, quit our day jobs without needing a sponsor. The more involved with the writing community you become, the more you know you’re not alone in wanting this for yourself. And it’s an admirable dream. Deep down, I’m torn between what matters more to me: the fact my book is being published or the fact that my book is published by a name brand. With my family and my non-writing world friends, just knowing that my book is published is exciting. But the response from the writing world is too-often underwhelming. I’ve seen more people congratulate someone on landing an agent than I’ve seen anyone praised for landing a non-Big 4 book deal. As a writer, it’s heartbreaking to watch the success of others go unnoticed just because their path is different than someone else’s.
This year we’ve already seen two independent presses have to close their doors due to money issues. The ripples of their closure are still reverberating through the community. We want answers, we want to know what went wrong. I mean, how hard is it to start run a press anyway, amirite?
(Yeah, that was sarcasm)
I can only speculate about the latest closures but, to me, the outpouring of support for authors at these presses only come after a publishing house closes its doors. How often do you see a sign up for a cover release, a blog tour, or even for review copies come across your Twitter timeline? We all need to take a look at where we put our support–our money–when it comes to the publishing industry. Look at who is publishing more marginalized voices, at who is publishing diverse stories. The Atlantic even covered this topic over the summer: “Indie presses are also currently promoting the work of some of the greatest new and long-neglected writers.” Voices like Esme Wang, Claudie Rankine, Carmen Lau, Eric Shonkwiler, Mia Siegert, Drew Hayes, Cal Spivey, and Peter Monn wouldn’t be available to us without independent presses.
What I saw today was an outpouring of love and support to authors who were suddenly without a home. We need to be better at supporting these authors, and these presses, so they aren’t forced to close their doors. So that they can keep introducing us to fresh new voices that make us push our own boundaries, that make us think, that make us uncomfortable because the world they’re showing us doesn’t look like the one we’re used to.
After all, isn’t that the point of literature?
Please share your favorite indie book, author, or press in the comments below. Here are a few of my favorites:
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