I set-up an indie publishing company recently. There are various reasons for this, which I’ll explore in blogs to come. Right now, I’ll concentrate on the backstory that lead me to this move.
Twenty years ago, I had a novel published by Viking Penguin in New York http://bit.ly/3L12yh. My literary agent was on Fifth Avenue http://bit.ly/2cdczC. My editor, now a big deal V.P. there, was Kathryn Court http://bit.ly/17Rmee. Getting an agent, getting a publishing contract, had been accomplished without any contacts whatsoever. I lived in Europe far from the whole literary establishment. I did not mingle or hustle. I thought I was on my way.
As is the way of the majority of first novels, it tanked. The storyline has become fairly common. I was told the novel had a six week window of opportunity to get some buzz going (now I’m told it’s down to six days). The publisher sent out books for review and press releases and that was that.
My visualization: the publishing house tosses a number of books into the ocean of the reading public every financial quarter and watching which one floats, i.e. which book(s) got some buzz/some reviews in a short space of time. They placed their bets, some ad money, behind those titles.
The other titles, buzzless, were allowed to sink to the deep bottom of obscurity. I did manage some minor, steady buzz, but over a six month period, not six weeks. By then the publisher had long moved on. The paperback promise was dropped. Shortly after, they waved bye-bye to me when I presented my next book. So, I was not on my way at all.
Over the next fourteen years there followed seven different literary agents with seven different books. In each and every instance, I received the same reports. “Good writing, great dialogue, interesting characters, situations worked, etc., but…the publishers always ask, What’s the market for this?”
Publishers could figure how to sell my books to their sales force to enable them to say to chain bookstores: “this book is a perfect (insert category-thriller, spy, mystery, literary…) book. The categories were standardized and mine did not find a fit. I was told my writing was wonderful and deserved to be published. I was wonderfully unpublished, and remained so. But I was building a lot of unpublished books.
Then I went into a fuck it mode and stopped submitting but kept writing.
Meanwhile, I had gotten ten years experience as an international marketing manager at a top five media company—my only corporate time. It published business to business magazines. I learned how to launch print material, all the steps it took, from inception to delivery, into the international market.
I left the corporate world and set-up my own business when the Internet came along. I had been waiting for it for years without knowing it could exist. Then came YouTube, and social media, it was Oh Yes We Can time. The tools were back in the hands of the workers.
I’ll unfold more of this story as this blog, and my company, unfold.
My publishing company is Hidden People, Limited. The Viking Penguin novel that was published way back when was “Self-Portrait of Someone Else,” which I’ll be re-issuing in December 2009.