July 8, 2009

Independent publishers

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenny @ 9:57 pm

Someone who’s been reading the blog asked me recently why I’m still at it. Other people have also said, How do you keep going? These questions always make a little sad–mostly because I feel like I must *be* a little sad to get asked this. Why has it taken so long? In future posts I plan to describe how very close I’ve come. So it couldn’t be that I just suck, could it?

One answer to why I keep going is that I adore and enjoy writing too much to stop. If you offered me a day on a tropical beach paradise with nothing to do but drink mai tais, or a day spent writing, I might very well choose the latter.

Someone once said, write only if you can’t not write. I can’t not write. But that’s an answer about why I keep writing–not why I’m still pursuing publication. The answer to that is more complicated.

On the most superficial level, I keep going because people keep telling me to. Agents who have offered rep. Editors who have come close to making offers. There’s been so much reinforcement over the years that even though I haven’t gotten a book deal yet, there also hasn’t been a viable stopping point. I’ve either been revising, writing, or waiting on a sub for about eight years now.

And those editors have been from major houses, the ones most agents deal with. So not only have I not stopped pursuing publication, but I’ve been going at it from this one, fairly rarefied angle.

History will show whether that model of publication survives.

What if you’re interested in alternative models? Are there places that would still confer the great privilege of being published but in a different modality?

Here are two that I think are worth checking out.



And now back to waiting for me.


  1. “How do you keep going? These questions always make a little sad–mostly because I feel like I must *be* a little sad to get asked this.”

    Jenny, maybe the people asking this are looking to you for inspiration. Rejection is hard, and they see you persevering where they are ready to cave.

    Truly, writing is a roller coaster ride that ranges from the euphoria of a rocket launch to the despair of, well, of another rejection. It can be hard to keep going.

    The question, as you mentioned, boils down to “Why do you write?” If the answer is “I write as a hobby,” or “I write for myself,” that’s great. As for me, I want to become a published author. That’s why I write.

    I don’t see these small presses as Indie Houses. In their origins, each and every publishing company started with their first imprint. That’s how I see folks like the Story Plant and Tyrus. They may not make it, but maybe they will. But like you and I, they have a plan and they are working hard to be successful.

    And whether it is acknowledged or not, the publishing world depends on their success. When you have three or four large houses controlling the industry, voices are stifled and creativity ends up in the dumpster as fewer and fewer new authors make it into print. That’s not what publishing is about, is it?

    Comment by Tom — July 9, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  2. Tom, I love every word you said here! Thanks…

    Comment by jenny — July 9, 2009 @ 8:48 am

  3. I think Indie or small presses are just fine — nothing wrong with pubbing through them!

    Comment by Judy — July 9, 2009 @ 9:42 am

  4. I agreed with Tom’s comment that people who ask you how you keep going probably see you as an inspiration. It’s easy to feel sad when you think of how long you’ve been plugging away, but those people look at you and see the writer’s equivalent of the Engergizer Bunny. :)

    I don’t believe in alternate ways to publication, or at the very least, they’re not for me. I don’t mean indie presses so much, but self-publication. I’ve known wonderful writers to get to press that way, and they have inevitably been disappointed and angered. Maybe in the future that will change.

    Stephen King once wrote that not to write is a type of suicide. I agree. A writer has to write, must write. It is the only self-expression available to us. We are driven to it. Perhaps it’s even a type of addiction.

    Comment by Savvy — July 9, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  5. Writing is stressful, but for me it’s also a form of stress-relief. It allows me to act out through my characters, to imagine how I would change my past and future, to say what I can’t risk saying to bosses and the idiots who cut in line or text while they’re passing me on the freeway.
    It’s more satisfying than chocolate or cashews or massages. And it’s a journey. Even if we make it to a “destination resort,” there will be more journey ahead. Enjoy the scenery and the people you meet along the way.


    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — July 11, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  6. These are wise words too, Carolyn. It’s true–you never fully “arrive.” Thanks for commenting!

    And please let me know, everybody, if you’re ever in contact with these two indies (or find others). I want these guys to come across great material!

    Comment by jenny — July 13, 2009 @ 9:22 am

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