Friday, December 14, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: What Makes a Good Publisher? (Part 2)

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:

Before I begin (yet again), a bit of disclosure: While the following has been written in an attempt to be professionally and personally non-biased I am an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books. 

Now, with that out of the way (one more time)...


Wanna hear something scary?  The build-up might be a bit slow but, believe me, the punch line is more than worth it. 

It begins like this: I'm in the middle of my all-time favorite part of writing – publicity and marketing (and, yes, that was sarcastic) – of a new book of mine called Stroke The Fire: The Best Manlove Fiction Of M.Christian, which is basically my own personal best-of-my-very-best queer erotica, and I'm doing one of those round-robin guest blog things and a question comes up, "How long did it take you to write the first draft?"

Well, without going into the silly details of how I work I answered that, since the book is made up of stories I've written since I first started writing, technically the book was started in 1994.

Got that?  Well, here it comes: that basically means that the book was 18 years in the making ... now that is a terrifying thought.

What this has to do with this Streetwalker is that it got me thinking a lot more about publishers and publishing – and, believe me, after (sigh) 18 years I've had more than my fair share of them.  That, plus the wonderful comments I got on my previous installment, really got my wheels turning.

One of the big revelations I had as my wheels cranked was to agree with many of the comments my first publisher Streetwalker got: a publisher should, naturally, be considered on the quality of its materials and presence.  After all, if a publisher is sloppy with its contracts and site and so forth that doesn't bode well.

But I also have to say that a misspelling here or there shouldn't necessarily be enough to make a writer walk away: typos, do, after all, happen to the best of us.  Some have suggested doing research on a publisher before signing and while that may, on the surface, be a good idea I can't help but think of all the great books, films, etc., that have gotten petty, spiteful and – let's use the word – stupid comments on places like Amazon, Netflix, and all the rest. 

An excellent reason to use the word stupid, by the way, is that the world of writing, editing, and publishing is extremely small and it is far too common for a person to jump from one publisher to another – so venting bile at one target may, actually, hit a lot of targets ... and too often targets that you might not want to have hit sometime in the future.

So reviews are not a good judge of a publisher – though I do think chatting with other writers who may have worked with a publisher is a good idea, if just so you know what to expect – what really does make a good publisher?

A very common mistake a lot of writers make is that they feel a publisher should be a writer's best friend.  That's not to say that that a publisher shouldn't be supportive and enthusiastic about their authors – that's actually extremely important – but just that there is a big difference between being someone being a friend and suggesting that you swim in shark infested waters.  A good publisher should be encouraging but also have the experience and business sense to know what is good for their writers – and so be able to tell them things like: "We love it.  We think it's wonderfully literary.  We want it.  But don't expect it to sell a lot of copies."


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