Books Magazine

Are Publishers “Off Limits”?

Posted on the 17 March 2011 by Gabrielscala
My friend pointed out all the things that I know to be true about small press publishers: they work for virtually no money (some of them actually spend their own money to keep the press alive); they receive very little thanks and recognition for the work they do; they are champions of literary fiction and poetry – some of the most difficult writing to find publishers for; they work untold hours and may be, in the end, the people who believe most in our writing (with the possible exception of mom). And to all this I say, yes! No doubt. But does that mean that when a press/editor fails that we should, again, like it or shut up? And if so, why? Why do publishers get let off the hook for doing a crappy job when, we all know, writers don’t? Or is it that because publishers’ jobs are so grueling and thankless, we should simply be grateful that someone’s doing the job at all?

Yeah. That attitude has gotten us really far in education, too.

Or: is it possible that publishers get let off the hook because we’re afraid to say otherwise? The truth is: it’s a small world, the writing and publishing one. Sure, we all joke about not being able to swing a dead cat without hitting a writer (poor kitty), but the truth is: for those actively writing and publishing, it’s a very small world. And it doesn’t take much to get branded out here, let me tell you. But I like to believe that there is still some merit in honesty. There is still some value in expecting excellence and saying (out loud) when those expectations aren’t met.

I have a friend who recently published a book with a small press. She was ecstatic when she received her acceptance letter (who wouldn’t be?). What followed, however, was a virtual nightmare. The publisher/editor refused to assist in marketing the book (I can’t for the life of me figure that one out) and, when asked for any assistance at all, sent degrading and flat-out rude emails to his author. You know, the kind with lots of CAPS and !!!!!? I know this for a fact. I read the emails. And I was horrified. Of course, my friend says nothing publicly. Make no mistake, the word is spreading – but it’s spreading behind closed doors and most certainly not in print.

Is that how things are done? Is that how they should be done? Maybe. I’m willing to consider the possibility that bad presses/editors will eventually fail all on their own through good old word-of-mouth. But are we in the business of putting small presses out of business? Wouldn’t it be more effective, for all parties involved, to simply say: “Hey! This is unacceptable. And I’m saying so you’ll know and correct the issue. I’m saying because someone needs to say it. Otherwise, things might not go so well for you in the future.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

I’d like to write in a world where all small presses are encouraged to strive for excellence, to be like so many small presses who have held their standard and weathered the long haul. There are a plethora of excellent examples out there: Tupelo Press, Graywolf Press, Sarabande Books, Alice James Books, CavanKerry Press, and a whole host of others. Publishers are constantly telling writers to develop a thick skin – rejection galore awaits the writer. Shouldn’t that advice go both ways?

You tell me. Are publishers off limits?

****


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Sundaze 57

    Sundaze

    After a BUSY week at Chez Chai, it comes as no surprise that this miniature Sundaze installment is scheduled! Nope, we’re not in real-time right now and by the... Read more

    4 hours, 55 minutes ago by   Winyeemichelle
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • Fabb Review & Unboxing of My Envy Box of July’17

    Fabb Review Unboxing Envy July’17

    Hey Everyone, Hope you are doing well. Today I am going to talk about My Envy Box of July month. I received this day before yesterday and I am so excited to... Read more

    5 hours, 45 minutes ago by   Dreamtechie
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • God’s Own Country

    God’s Country

    On a complete whim, we decided on a mini tour of Yorkshire. As England’s largest traditional county by far, it was a very teeny weeny tour encompassing just... Read more

    5 hours, 55 minutes ago by   Jackscott
    DIARIES, EXPAT, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Thoughts of the Week

    1. We've been in home improvement mode lately and I love it. Tiger put in a wood heater and he put up curtains in our bedroom and the nursery. It makes the hous... Read more

    8 hours, 52 minutes ago by   Glossqueen
    HAIR & BEAUTY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Peach & Blueberry Crumble

    Peach Blueberry Crumble

    This is a delicious dessert to make when the blueberry bushes are just dripping with fruit. We are not quite there yet in our garden, but it won't be long now,... Read more

    11 hours, 55 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Concert Review: The New Teen Titans

    Concert Review: Teen Titans

    The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America marks five years at Carnegie Hall. by Paul J. Pelkonen Members of the National Youth Orchestra of... Read more

    12 hours, 52 minutes ago by   Superconductor
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • My Dilemma

    Dilemma

    I’ve not been around much lately, not that the few readers I have left would notice, but it’s been a crazy month.   I bought a new house  and I’m also in the... Read more

    13 hours, 38 minutes ago by   Laurken
    SELF EXPRESSION

Magazine