Publishing is a changing business; the days of the “Big Six” publishing houses having total control over whether your book was published or not has done the way of the dodo, the dinosaurs and the broadsheet version of the London Times.
These days, in the days of electronic books, flash fiction and podcasts, independent publishing have started to proliferate in a way that would have seemed inconceivable 30 – or even as little at 10 – years ago. We’re now seeing the first wave of new publishers starting to work their way onto the scene and, whilst some sadly haven’t stayed the course, others seem to be gathering pace.
I write this on the anniversary of one such publisher’s second birthday; Inspired Quill (based in Derby, UK) was incorporated in April 2011, its first two authors were signed shortly afterwards, and its first book was published in October of the same year.
As it turns out, that book was mine.
I hadn’t immediately considered an independent publisher as a way of getting my work “out there”; like most authors (I imagine), I’d approached the “Big Six” publishers first, and been rejected from – or ignored by – every single one. From there, I had three options; self-publishing, independent publishing or give up. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not one for giving up – or “stubborn”, as some people prefer to call it.
I did briefly flirt with the idea of self-publishing, but dismissed it fairly quickly; that’s not to say that I disagree with the idea of self-publishing per se, but it just didn’t feel right for me. I work best in collaboration with others, and felt that having the support and partnership of a publishing house would suit my personality better.
Researching the independent publishing field, I saw the upsides and downsides to it fairly quickly. They can be dynamic, fresh and forward-thinking, and can be willing to take a chance on a new, inexperienced writer that many larger publishers might not. On the other side, smaller publishers are still finding their feet, and staff often have to work other jobs as well to make ends meet whilst setting up the business.
Publishers have to make money, that goes without saying, and if the large publishing houses have a choice between a writer that is more low-maintenance and can guarantee a certain level of income, or a writer who isn’t well-known and can’t guarantee more than 50 pence and an occasional lunch on expenses, then there’s a commercial logic to choosing the former.
Can you feel the word “but” coming ..?
But, independent publishing houses are coming of age. They’re going to make mistakes along the way, that much is certain, but the genie can’t be put back into the lamp either; independent publishing is here to stay, and will striking a challenge to the Big Six’s previously-unparalleled view at the top of the food chain. I feel proud to be part of that movement, and knowing that I was there at the beginning of one such new company’s journey is quite exciting. Inspired Quill have got a number of new authors signed, with quite a few (me included) onto our second books already.
Personally, I think that’s quite exciting – watch this space, and certainly don’t ever think that the world of small, independent publishers will stay small for very long.