And Another Thing - On Publishing

So the ever awesome, Nathan Bransford had this post earlier this week about traditional publishing verses self publishing and how being a control freak might factor into your decision on if you choose to pursue self or traditional publishing. The same day, I had this post about how the current trend to self epublish might be impacting the small publishers and their authors.  And the two posts have been swirling around together in my head ever since. There is something oddly symmetric about these two posts. Wait, is “oddly symmetric” an oxymoron? 

When Nathan talks about traditional publishing, he tends to focus on the bigger houses or the imprints of the bigger houses. He explains how authors don’t get a lot of input to the overall process. It is true and it is even valid. Example, most authors are not qualified to take on cover design. I love that he made the point that the illustrator captured his main character better than his own description did. I truly agree that for a book to be given its chance to become the best book it can, there needs to be collaboration.

I don’t necessarily like that authors lose so much control over their story at a big house. I once heard a story that a picture book author was completely caught off guard when the main character she’d always pictured as having cornsilk yellow hair and cornflower blue eyes came back as a pig from the illustrator! Through the process, she accepted and eventually fell in love with the pig, but it was a shock to her system and a process that she had no say in.

So the swirling and twirling in my head kept coming back to the word collaboration. Nathan uses it to describe his working relationship with the publisher, editor, and illustrator. But I use it too when I talk about my experience during the publishing of The Weaver. And I think it actually applies more in my situation having been published by a small publisher. At this point I couldn’t help but wonder why I was standing with my hands on my hips and sticking my tongue out at virtual Nathan (obviously, I’m kidding. Who would ever stick their tongue out at Nathan Bransford!?)

1.      The employees at a small publisher, like a small corporation, just by nature of having fewer co-workers to navigate through and fewer bureaucratic loops to jump through can’t help but be more effectively collaborative. I’ve worked for both small and large companies and I understand that there are effective cells of collaboration in large companies and people working in silos in small companies, but in GENERAL, a smaller number of emps = a faster, more efficient decision making process.
2.      My publisher and my illustrator, K.C. Snider, drove around St. Louis taking pictures of houses to use as examples for my book cover. Collaborative.
3.      K.C. and I lunched to talk details of the story. I read her excerpts I felt were most telling of the character Unwanted. She asked questions. Collaborative not to mention filling.
4.      The publisher asked me if I wanted to provide the chapter art. She allowed me the opportunity to say, “No thanks, you can deal with it,” but I knew immediately what I wanted to see there. A lovely young lady I know did me a huge favor and drew the yarn and knitting needles. Collaborative.

Oh, I don’t know, there were all sorts of super cool collaborative things that were so much fun to be involved in, without having to know how to do it all myself.

Granted, my book doesn’t have the backing a big house can give. Even in these tight times, a big house does allocate some sort of a budget for each book it takes on in order to launch it into the world. They attract the top people in the field and many of the employees are able to concentrate on what they do best, book design, editing, marketing.  Heck, I’m hoping to one day work with a big house. I think I will enjoy the process just as much as I have enjoyed working with a small publisher, as long as the story fits the house.

I’m shopping another middle grade that I feel will fit best with a small publisher. But I’d love to see my young adult fantasy go to a traditional publisher. What I do love about the changes happening in publishing is that the more choices there are, the more books are published. As for the quality of some of those books, read my previous post that I linked to above. 


  1. I agree with having more choices, Kai. Super post. I read Nathan Bransford's article too. Best of luck with your submissions. I'm cheering for you. :)

  2. Best of luck with the story you are shopping! I agree that more choices is better - all around.


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