I had a very interesting conversation last night with an author who submitted a manuscript to Candlemark & Gleam. I was seriously impressed by his work, but it had some holes in it and could stand to be gone over again. I sent him a letter with some suggestions and critiques, and asked if he’d be interested in doing a revise/resubmit.
I didn’t hear back.
Oh well. These things happen.
And then I did hear back, several weeks after I’d written. The guy was flabberghasted that I’d taken the time to read and critique his whole manuscript, and was terribly excited about the idea, and wanted to speak with me over the phone about some revision notes before getting cracking.
We had a great conversation about his work and my notes, and I came out of it very excited to see what he does with the manuscript.
But at several points in our conversation, he said some things that got me thinking. Mostly, he was blown away that I’d critiqued his manuscript, yet refrained from saying “do this,” or “do that” – that I left it up to him to determine if what I saw as problems WERE problems, and to figure out how best to fix them. Hell, he was shocked that I’d even critiqued it – the manuscript had been on active submission with a big sf/f publisher for three years before he pulled it, languishing, and he’d never heard boo.
This is a guy who’s done Clarion West, and who’s done “all the right things” in creating a writing career, and who is simply a phenomenal writer and world-builder. And here he was, telling me that he had all but given up on writing because of the absolute lack of constructive reaction he’d gotten from legacy publishing.
That’s…that just makes me sad. And it’s part of why I started Candlemark & Gleam in the first place. I know people like him are out there, and I know there are amazing stories waiting to be told, and waiting to be given the treatment they deserve to really shine. And I want to be part of bringing these stories to the world.
I’m sometimes asked why anyone should bother working with a small press. After all, in this day and age, when publishing is easier than ever, if you’re not going to sign with one of the Big Six (and, as the story above illustrates, sometimes that’s not going to happen even if you “do everything right” by the traditional methodology), why not just plop that sucker into the Kindle store and sit back and reap the rewards of self-publishing?
It’s a good question, and a very valid one. Believe it or not, I’m a firm supporter of self-publishing – presuming you go into it with your eyes open. Publishing is NOT easy…or, at least, it’s not easy to do right. And with so many people digging out that dusty ol’ novel on their hard drive and slapping it onto Smashwords, you really do have to do it right to stand out.
So let’s think about this. In today’s publishing world, you really have three options. There’s self-publishing; there’s small press; and there’s legacy publishing. These are all known by different names, depending on who’s talking (DIY author, indie author, indie press, indie publishing, Big Six, the list goes on) and that can get confusing. So how about we try to break this down?
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be doing a series of posts on various publishing/authoring options. Everything from self-publishing to working with the Big Six. And, yes, I’ll be tackling small press and the small press advantage, as I see it – I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t believe passionately in the power of small press, and so you’ll be getting a lot of that.
But that’s not to say that I don’t see advantages to the other publishing options out there right now, and it seems that the time is right to give a little bit of a guide to how some of this works, how to do it right, how to get your head in the game, etc.
So grab a nice drink and settle in – this should be fun, and hopefully educational!
Oh, and if anyone out there who has experience with publishing in any of these three modes would like to chime in, give me a shout! info AT candlemarkandgleam DOT com. I’d love to get some guest posts in the series.