When I was done with my manuscript and then done with the game of trying to find an agent, I decided to look into smaller publishing houses where I could submit my manuscript directly. I looked for ones in North Carolina and around the South, but still…most of them were exactly like agents: query letter, detailed synopsis, first three chapters, and then….rejection form letter. All I wanted was for someone to read my freaking manuscript!
I started doing some research online and learned that there were a LOT of independent publishing houses popping up the world over due to the way the publishing industry has changed over the years: the self publishers who form their own publishing houses, the publishing houses who only provide services for self published authors, and then the publishing houses who look to publish books by independent authors, some of which are niche market books. This led me to Pen Name Publishing‘s website.
Pen Name Publishing promises to publish “diverse” books by “bold” voices. I thought to myself…my book is bold…but not necessarily diverse..it’s white bread ‘Merica. But what is “diversity” if there aren’t any stories about white straight people also included? After all, the end point of diversity is that we are all human and we all experience much of the same things on some level, no matter the color of our skin or who we love or what we worship. At least, that was my thinking. So when I clicked “submit your manuscript” and read the instructions, I was happy that the company took my manuscript in its entirety.
A few weeks went by, and I received an email inquiring about my manuscript. The diverse books company wanted it, but they wanted to publish it under its imprint, French Press Bookworks. After researching that, I realized that Pen Name Publishing was trying give authors and readers the best of both worlds: a place to publish either their diverse market books or their broader genre books under different brands and then also a place for self published authors to purchase services to help them better market their work. I was ecstatic to be asked to join the French Press Bookworks family with my first book.
My impatience with the publishing house industry, which is obviously run by the big money big boys big media big whatever, led me to look into alternatives. I just wanted to publish my book. And honestly, I think while it would be nice to sell a manuscript and get a big advance and the backing of a big name, that rarely happens to anyone and certainly not an unknown like me. There are so many writers out there trying to get published and so many out there who then, after feeling like they’re losing the game, just threw up their hands and said, “Screw it! I’ll just do it myself!” And they do very well for themselves. If your goal is write…then write. The rest will take care of itself because in this day and age, the market saw a need for alternative publishing and made it happen. Independent publishers are everywhere.
My experience with French Press Bookworks has been one that I appreciate more than the staff will ever know. I have learned so much about so much – really too much for this post. But I hope that if other writers out there are looking for a home for their manuscript, they will consider this Little Publishing Company that Could or other look for other independent publishing companies who want you, your work, your stories.