Friday, July 6, 2012

Writers & Publishers, Bill & Ted

The biggest publisher I've worked with fucked my ass with a red-hot poker so deep and hard I was pissing shit-laced fire for months. A couple of the others, while not especially bad, have been rather disappointing. This is just a short little rant, and while I'm no literary god, I think it's important to say that if you genuinely like a publisher, even if the terms aren't always perfect, be thankful.

A problem with a lot of the small presses these days is that they want to think of themselves as big publishers, because, well, the big publishers at the moment aren't even publishers, but factories. So, yes, it's cool, that some of the smaller guys are trying to step in and be actual publishers. One problem I see, though, is that many are turning into a cross between actual publishers, and factories with few slaves to work in their sweatshops.

One great thing about small presses should be (and still is in a lot of ways, with some of them) that they actually care about the books they put out. They're putting the book out because they genuinely like the book. But several are starting to behave like the big ones, where they just turn you into another number, and the rights to your work gets tangled up with people who, while human, thank God, basically toss it aside.

Again, I'm no super genius or anything. I'm just speaking from my own experiences and stories I've heard from other writer friends.

So here it goes. My advice to small press publishers. Give a damn about the books you're putting out. In this day and age, with the technology that is now available, people can do their own books and don't necessarily need you. Most of the same distribution channels are open whether you're labeled as "Publisher" or "Guy Who Writes and Masturbates a Lot." I'm not saying we don't want or need small presses. We very much do. But if you're not even offering an advance (or are offering a very small one), don't treat your author's poorly. A small press is too small for any author to simply become a number. If it wasn't for writers there would be no publishers.

We still need you, yes. And yes, we still very much want you. But it's a bit like when you fall in love. If the other person doesn't love you back, it doesn't do anybody a damn bit of good.

And a quick note to writers: if you are with a small press, treat them like people. They're working hard. This almost comes off like a contradiction, but it's a two-way street. If you don't wanna be one of those numbers, don't bitch at them and treat them like they owe you. They don't have to take on your book.

Okay, I guess this was a long way of saying something I could have simply said by quoting Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure:

"Be excellent to each other. And...PARTY ON, DUDES!"

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