Independent from what?

I’ve worked as an editor for a number of publishing companies (books and magazines) and interacted with them as a writer as well, having published books with companies big and small. It’s always struck me as curious that, in the magazine business, many “editors” do little editing at all. Some do management, some write. It always struck me as strange that in a business that uses words as its stock in trade, they were used rather haphazardly. Ah well.

In the current publishing environment (another curious term, seeing as I think it diminishes the actual value of the word and doesn’t describe the situation entirely accurately) we often hear of indie (or independent publishing) without as much discussion of what it might be independent of, beyond the major players. It might comes as a bit of a shock to newer writers, but traditional publishing isn’t about the machinations of the mergered remnants of the once vibrant book-publishing world called the Big X (plug in your own number. I hate to be too dated). Traditional publishing simply refers to a process, and one that has many variations. Most publishers, even self publishers, adhere to it in some form. Traditional publishing is nothing more or less than taking a manuscript that was written on spec or to order, editing it, creating a cover, choosing formats (not just ebook or paper, but the optimum size as well) and finding a way to go to market, to market.¬† So when I hear talk of independent publishing or of authors keeping their independence, I always cock my ear to hear what it is they are independent of.

Publishing should (a dangerously normative word) include all those things. When it doesn’t include them all (except for the marketing bit), it isn’t tradition that is threatened, but the quality of the end product. So the author is not free of editors, or cover designers. If the author becomes the editor or cover designer, and does it correctly then, while wearing those hats, they do the same thing. It doesn’t matter that it is the same person, beyond the acknowledgement that most people should not edit their own work. Not because they aren’t inordinately talented¬† or have the grammatical sensitivities of a giraffe, but because they will find it difficult to be objective. The point being that these necessary tasks have to get done. We are not independent of them just because we hire a freelancer any more than we expect better quality editing from someone who is “in house.” Being on staff is a circumstance, not a recommendation.

As the large, corporate publishers disappear into a miasma of complex accounting games, finger-pointing and searches for new revenue streams, they might become irrelevant, but the rest of us are no more or less independent than we were before they decided that brilliant quarterly reports beat good literature hands down. I suppose we, the small presses, the individuals who publish their books are, at least, independent of stock holder pressure and that is a good thing.

 

An Unfortunately Low Profile

It seems like when the most stuff is going on, there is often the least to say about. With several projects in the queue, but not ready to go live, there isn’t a lot you can say about them. I’ve mention some of them, and since then we have been working with editors, cover designers, and writers (of course) to get them into shape — producing the quality we (and you) want.

For instance, Javaid Qazi is finishing a huge edit on his Indian Romance novel, THE REMINGTONS OF INDIA. While it goes off for a round of final edits, we are doing the book layout, so to have something for reviewers.

At the same time, we are trying to establish relationships with reviewers and prepare advance review copies so that they will help us let the world know about the new books. And, of course, there is the endless effort to try and keep pace with the world of publishing, which is a rather unstable universe, prone to changes (both temporary and permanent) and requiring us to try lots of things to see how best to interact with readers.

We have avoided Facebook as a time sink, but hear from others that it works for them. So what to do? With few people and a small (microscopic) budget, I am going in many directions at once. But it is all good. Exciting stuff. And I learn something new nearly every day.

And on we go.

But there is little to say about that journey, at least that is worth telling, beyond the simple idea that our low profile means that we are working hard.

 

Settling In

Float Street Press is now settling in to new digs in New Mexico. The weather is beautiful here and our hopes for growing the business are high.The effort is one of love and so, in the most important sense, the business can’t possibly fail.

We have some great books in the works, such as The Remingtons of India (the book I wrote about in the previous blog), but it will take some time to get a handle on how long it takes to finish them and render them suitable for public consumption. Covers, editing (going on now), proofing and all that takes time. Moreover, I am a writer and insist on spending a fair amount of my time writing my own books. I have two novels in various stages, but more on that later.

It is an exciting time to be in book publishing, and a tricky time. We watch the trends through the eyes of others, mostly, taking advantage of, and trying to learn from, their mistakes and successes. We maintain a lightweight overhead, relying on freelance help so that the long term benefits accrue to authors, rather than supporting employees. We aren’t against employees, but are more comfortable with independent contractors (and they have to eat too). We will be trying out some of our own ideas for promotion and marketing as time permits. If you have ideas, go to the contact page and, well, contact us.

And that is the update from our world.