Saturday, January 5, 2008

Why Publish Independently

Today's post is a little different then my usual posts because it's about a business model I'm working on. Why publish independently? Here are two good reasons: you are looking for an alternative to the slush pile, you are resourceful and committed to your book project. I recently received a quote from a friend which I feel is applicable for getting your first book out.

"Hell, there are no rules here- we're trying to accomplish something." - Thomas Edison

OK that may be a bit simplistic. I realize there is A LOT that goes into writing and illustrating for children, but we all get the sentiment. It's January 2008. What are you planning to accomplish this year? Last year I decided to launch a publishing collective with my sister specifically for picture book writers and illustrators as an alternative to many of the print on demand self-publishing companies out there who aren't that interested, beyond their profit, in publishing full-color children's books.

The traditional publishing route is optimal, but the wait and rejection letters are tiresome. How will you build your portfolio and polish your skills? Large publishing houses receive a landslide of query letters and manuscripts. Many of them no longer accept unsolicited work. I came across an interesting interview at Goading The Pen with Rita Mills, Competition Coordinator of ABC Book Competition, about why she started the competition. According to Rita, "When an average of three children’s picture books out of twelve thousand submissions sent to traditional publishers are actually published, I would say that constitutes a need."

I have to agree with Rita. By all means work with a literary agent and submit your writing to large publishing houses. (We like to provide a lot of those resources.) They have monetary clout. However, we need to create alternatives and with strategic planning, collaborative efforts and business savvy it is possible to publish and sell picture books successfully with a small independent publisher.

That doesn't necessarily mean you will strike gold, but it does mean that persistence and collaboration help level the playing field.
If you need a little reminder about that 2008 get-your-book-published resolution, here are the words of the fabulous Dr. Seuss, from that most famous graduation gift, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

"Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting. NO! That's not for you!... So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...
get on your way!"

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