What’s it like running a small publishing company?
It’s like nailing Jell-O to the wall. Giving advice to a teenager. There are no hard, fast rules, because the business is changing daily. In the beginning of my publishing career, I wanted to print everything I could. I helped struggling writers get their words on the page, holding their hands as they navigated the publishing business. After a few years of hard lessons learned, I started practicing what I preached to those authors in three simple words.
It's a business.
I stopped listening to my heart and started listening to my head. I had to listen to the voice of reason which clearly said, “I know this is a sweet book and it made you smile, but nobody else will identify with it.” I had to stop taking on those writers who wrote well but had NO idea how to market. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “it’s not my job to market, it’s yours.” Well, if a big publisher picks up your novel that might be somewhat the case (and even with bigger publishers it is now more up to the author to do marketing). But I digress, I’ll have to continue this for another post.
Neither small publisher nor writer will ever be able to hire a chauffeur with the money we make off books. There is a small profit left after printing costs and many hands in that pot. As a publisher, I must decide if a book has the possibility of breaking even and making a little money, so we can continue the business. I need to make hard decisions and sometimes that means not taking a book that I really love or one written by an author I really like. Sometimes it means I have to go with publishing trends.
It also means I am constantly learning and listening. The business is always changing, and we must change along with it.