Look at that existential title! Look at it. Philosophy students, if you googled here in error, I am sorry to disappoint you. This isn’t that kind of blog post, but I will still give you your answer. Research is still yours to do, though.
We’re here for tacos. Yes, vegan philosophy major with the Che Guevara shirt, even vegan tacos count. Now, get that paper done.
I am talking about why we, or rather, why I am here at Stitched Smile Publications.
Before I really get into it, let me say that these thoughts are my own. No one else would want them anyway, but I am neither being coerced nor am I a sock puppet blogger of the publisher. While I am sure that if I went on a long pro-Nazi diatribe, they would step in and take this down (as they freaking should), they are pretty hands off on the blog posts contributed by their authors. I also point to these blogs from my own website taking ownership of my opinions.
So, why am I here? This question has been asked and oh-so-politely not asked several times recently. Usually, the curiosity comes down to dollar signs. Why would I submit my work to a small market that offers less than buckets and buckets of cash? Why would I use an indie publisher instead of self-publishing? These questions are (usually) not asked out of spite, but from genuine interest so that the other party can make an informed decision. Since they asked, there is a good chance others are curious, if not from me, then in general, so here we go.
First up, why would I submit to a market not giving me gold- plated royalty checks every week? There is a very vocal subset of the author community that believes that a publisher offering less than “pro-rates” shouldn’t be publishing. They also view any author submitting to these markets (a place that accepts and publishes your story) the same as a union views a scab. If you can’t sell at the pro-level, they feel you should either go back to school to get your MFA or attend high-level writing conferences to better your craft. Their mantra is “If you stop writing for them, they will pay more.”
What a lovely ideal. Let’s visit my reality.
Like the song says, “I got bills to pay. I got mouths to feed.” Going to college full or even part time isn’t in the cards for me. The money and time off from a day-job to visit some high profile conferences is out as well. So how to develop? There are writing books. These are often contradictory, and in reality tell you how the author developed, which may not work for you. Smaller token, semi-pro, and developmental markets have been my path to growing in this craft. I believe whole-heartedly that you should be compensated for your work, but- and this is where the “pro-rate only” crowd misses the boat- there is compensation besides money. Which segues nicely into the next question…
Why don’t I self-publish? Plenty of people do, and some make a decent living at it. This is not to disparage them. Go get that money if it works for you. Here’s what I get working with Stitched Smile Publications and their ilk:
- Education – I can’t afford the time or money for big conferences or an MFA program, but by working with a developmental publisher, I have personal access to professional editors and writers to help me hone my craft.
- Marketing – Many voices make louder noise. I figured that out when my third kid was born. A group of people working together to build something can garner more attention and promotion than me working alone. Plus, I learn tips and tricks that have been tested and work, and I get to see them in action.
- Networking – Working together with others toward a common goal is not only fulfilling, it is one of the best ways to fill your social circle with supportive peers.
- Education – Yeah, it’s here again. I can’t stress it enough, not just for writing, but for life. Keep learning. The best way to learn is from those who have something to teach. The greatest impact to date on my writing mechanics was by a college English professor working in her capacity as editor for a developmental publisher. Rather than paying for that one-on-one attention to my manuscript, I got paid to learn from her AND developed a professional and personal relationship that I value immensely.
Now, for my caveat boilerplate! Your mileage may vary. This is me. Every decision made as a writer is a balance of business and art that you alone are responsible for. Not me. Not the names on the spines of that stack of writing books I see sitting on your bookshelf. Just you. The most important rule of these “How to write…” resources is “Take what you need, leave the rest.”
Now, go get some tacos.
R. Judas Brown has appeared in several anthologies. Aside from his work with Stitched Smile Publications, he works with The Ed Greenwood Group and serves on the Board of Directors for the Quincy Writers Guild in Quincy, IL. You can follow him on Twitter @RJudasBrown, at www.facebook.com/RJudasBrown, or visit his website at www.rjudasbrown.com.