Publishing is changing. Duh! Anyone who has tried to get published, self-published, read a literary magazine knows that, “the times they are a changing.” And this has generated opinions. Lots of opinions. On everything from self-published quality to the viability of seeking a traditional publisher, you can find plenty willing to pontificate on the subject. In fact, here is a really good one on the subject from James Scott Bell. Contracts, cover art, content editing, oh my! Right?
The thing about turbulent, shifting situations is they open up opportunities for those bold enough to jump on them. Once upon a time the indie publisher was the red-headed step child of the publishing world, with self-published works as little more than orphans. But those children have grown up, and have done so in a world where technology continues to favor their growth and movement. This is shaking old foundations. Xychler Publishing, the imprint of Hamilton Springs Press that published Mechanized Masterpieces in April of this year and will be publishing The Accidental Apprentice in 2014(yes both of those titles have my name on them), is one such upstart. You can read about their start here. And if you read the first article link, then you can imagine what someone like James Scott Bell would have to say about it.
The long and short of it is, I only have my own experience on which to draw, so I can tell you what it’s been like for me (so far), and that’s it.
After I submitted my short story for the Steampunk competition that became the Mechanized Masterpieces Anthology, I got attention. Lots of attention. Not from the public, please; no one even knew my name. No I got attention from my editors. There were meetings and schedules set almost right away. I got all kinds of feedback and then was asked to assess my own work. No joke. For those that have seen the cover it is gorgeous and an original piece of art rather than some cobbled together bits of stock photos. There was a launch party and as much advertising and marketing as could be mustered by such a small enterprise. It proved itself legit. I developed relationships with the people on the other side of monitor. From those relationships and the fact that my editors are easily impressed, the chance to build something I had been tinkering with from the ground up took shape. This. Was. HUGE!
I have no desire whatsoever to learn how to format an ebook, or design a cover, market beyond my own posts and tweets. All that jazz isn’t what I’m good at and would overwhelm me. Those that have the stuff to self-publish have my utmost respect. Xchyler gave me all those things, in addition to content and line editing that made my story so much better. I got all the services of a major publisher without having to jump through nearly as many hoops. And those services, since I don’t want ot do them myself, would have cost me money. Several hundred dollars for anything of quality, certainly. Of course there are trade-offs: visibility, promotional networks, the public library refusing to purchase a copy because they can’t get your book from a “contracted vendor.” Them’s the breaks.
Stories like mine tend to be the Cinderella exception that makes sites like Predators and Editors necessary. But for those of us looking for a place from which to sprout, I think the nourishing soil of a good indie publisher might be a better fit than the mass production fields of “big publishing.” What the market will look like five or ten years from now? Perhaps a rows of smaller gardens, more lovingly and diligently tended than some of those mass fields of the past? Something In(die)between?