Small Publishers Association of North America
Quark and the Reluctant Typographer
Fellow Writers of Historical Suspense and Mystery
Hi and welcome to the The Independent Writer, the newsletter of Loblolly Writer’s House, a small press and the proud home of historical romantic suspense in the Deep South. Loblolly Writer’s House is the creation of Charlsie Russell, author, publisher, and distributor of genre fiction.
Charlsie Russell is also the typographer, graphic designer, and marketer of said works and is living proof an inspired author can take charge, publish, and market her work on her own. In this monthly newsletter I will share my insights on the trials and tribulations of “going it alone.” The focus of the newsletter is to provide encouragement and support to other artists ready to jump into the murky waters of self-publishing. Once in, you will find the surf clearer, if, at times, rough. But even if you can do no more than doggy-paddle, you are not going to drown—and if you’re like me, it’s time to quit treading water and make for shore.
You can publish that book yourself, and in this age of technological wonder, doing so is easier than you think. What’s more, marketing is manageable, as is distribution. Help abounds, from the internet and the World Wide Web to hundreds of determined do-it-yourselfers like you who have or will establish their own publishing company and publish their works—from concept to finished book.
By “determined do-it-yourselfer,” I refer to the writer of popular genre fiction who has spent years honing his/her craft, entering contests, submitting partials, doing everything right to gain the attention of an agent or an editor at one of the big publishing houses. Year in and year out, said writer has submitted, revised, perfected, and re-revised her work until it doesn’t even resemble what she started out with originally.
In many cases, that might be a good thing, but those days were long ago, back when she was a neophyte.
Still, after years of study and perfecting and now knowing her work is at least as good as, if not better than (and yes, I realize this is a subjective thing), some of the stuff published out there, she is still raking in rejections—and quite often not sure why. She writes to be different from authors already on the bookshelves, but the publishers tell her they are not interested. Those same publishers say they want to hear new voices, but hers, apparently, hurts their ears. Now, the square-pegged author, whittled away to fit into a round hole, writes what the house is publishing and is told, “it’s not right for our house at this time.” But agents, editors, or publishers are neither stupid nor mean, nor are they just plain evil. What they are is swamped. Chances are good, they plain don’t need you. And truth be told, you don’t need them.
You’ve heard this before and it’s true: Publishing is a business. If a writer wants to write for New York, she has to write what the publishing houses believe will sell—that’s what they are buying. But even if you write what is selling—and the house likes what you write—the market is saturated with mid-list authors who don’t make enough to give up their day jobs. Truthfully, your well-written book isn’t right for that publishing house at this time. There are many other factors that enter into the rejection equation. The bottom line is it’s hard to get published, and after you are published once, there’s a chance you might not be again.
But just because a major publisher isn’t ready to take a chance on you doesn’t mean readers won’t. Being rejected by an agent or a publishing house is not the same as being rejected by readers. Ultimately, they might reject you, but they will never have that opportunity if your work doesn’t make it to the shelves.
So if you feel you’ve given New York your best shot, think about finding your readership on your own. The worse that will happen is you’ll end up disappointed again—but you will have a book in print.
Okay, you will be out some money, but that doesn’t have to be catastrophic.
The best that could happen is you’ll have readers wanting to buy your books and a thriving little business of your own—and one hundred percent of the take is yours. And shoot, your real dream might come true if New York takes a breather and discovers it likes your stuff after all.
In future issues, I will share with you my experiences as I make my way to publication. To read the articles, click on the titles to your right. Hope you’ll return again and again. If you have any questions—or advice—for me, please contact me.
"Loblolly Writer's House Site" Copyright © 2006 by Charlsie Russell
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Issue 01/06: Establishing Your Publishing Business
Issue 02/06: Copyediting
Issue 03/06: Proofing the Typeset Copy
Issue 04/06: Prior Planning for Reviews
Issue 05/06: Marketing with Advance Review Copies, a Follow-Up
Issue 06/06: Bookkeeping: Art it Ain't
Issue 07/06: Initial Thoughts on Internet Marketing
Issue 08/06: Marketing Through Craft Fairs
Issue 09/06: Search Engines and Fiction Books
Issue 10/06: Local Media Attention Isn't As Easy As You May Have Been Led to Believe
Issue 11/06: The Mississippi Authors' Festival...With Just a Touch of Charlsie Russell's History
Issue 12/06: Closing the Year, A Recap of Book Signings and Store Sales for Loblolly Writer's House
Issue 01/07: Do It Yourselfers and a Year Between Books
Issue 02/07: I Think I Know the Answer to Why Those Book Buyers Didn't Respond to My ARC Campaign
Issue 01/08: Get a Grip on Your Definition of Success
Issue 02/08: PC Troubleshooting
Issue 03/08: "Why" IS Your Story. Use it Wisely
Issue 01/09: Focusing on My Marketing Plan
Issue 02/09: A Quality Physical Book
Issue 03/09: Continuing Thoughts on Marketing at Craft Fairs
Issue 01/10: Publishing on Smashwords for the Digital Market