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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Publication Conundrum

So I heard from my publisher that he is closing down his press. I had heard rumblings but I guess now it's official. He says I can do whatever I want with my book, including e-publishing, which I guess means I have his permission to try and publish it elsewhere. This is not likely though, is it? Nobody wants to re-issue a book of someone without any reputation, like me, do they? I guess I should look into e-publishing, but I have no idea where to begin.

My other thought is to just let this book die a natural death. I spent years writing it, and when this press awarded it their prize and I withdrew from other publishers I had submitted it, I was told by three presses that I had made it to the finalist stage in their competitions, and one even encouraged me not to withdraw but to think about my choice. So I think my book is overall a pretty strong piece of work. But there are new manuscripts coming out daily from talented poets, so maybe mine should just gracefully disappear.

I don't know.


Carol Berg said...

You should definitely try again with other presses! All that hard you had encouragement. Who cares about other manuscripts--yours is the one you need to get out there...
Just saying....

Jessica Goodfellow said...

I appreciate your positive take, Carol. I just am not sure a press would take on a previously published manuscript....especially when there are brand new fresh never published manuscripts out there. Contests often limit how much of a manuscript can have been previously published, percentage-wise. I guess I have to research to see if there is any place that would even consider it.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

The other model I've seen is that when you find a new press for future books, that press might want to re-release your first book if your future books are doing well.

How many copies does your publisher have left? What happens to those copies? How long will the publisher stay in the book distributing end of the business? To me, those are the more essential questions right now.

Your publisher might make you a deal and let you buy the rest. Then at least you'd have a sense of how much longer you have until your book dies that graceful death and you need a resurrection plan--or not.

Of course, you might not want to take up the selling/distribution side of the book business either.

In all my dreams of publication, having a publisher go out of business isn't part of the dream. Yet I suspect it happens often.

I'd love to see a follow-up blog piece about this aspect of book publishing that few of us might consider until it happens to us.

Jeannine Hall Gailey said...

My friends Kelli and Annette started "Two Sylvias" Press just to see if it was possible to make e-book publishing not only something they could do, but something they could do profitably. I'd definitely talk to Diane Lockward (do you read her blog?) because she has turned several chapbooks into e-books, I believe (or at least has with a publisher's help) and I think that would definitely be worth looking into.
Is this Steve Mueske's Three Candles Press that's going away? So sad.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thanks, everybody who responded both on the blog and via email, with really good ideas and suggestions and points to consider. I am going to look into a couple of things, and I will report back on this blog about what I find out, and how I solve this problem for myself. I'll also report on options I don't puruse but do find, in case some of you come up against this kind of obstacle in the future.

Jeannine, it is Steve Mueske's Three Candles Press that is closing up operations (I think going back to a journal, as it was first before publishing books, but I'm not 100% sure on that).

Kristin, you have a good point about publication runs. My publisher used a print-on-demand system, so there isn't inventory lying around for me to purchase, but it's possible that I can get him to print some copies out for me before he closes up shop completely; I'm not sure, I have to ask him.

I've got an opportunity to think about already, one I'm taking seriously, and I'll keep you all in the loop once I decide what is the best thing to do. One of my considerations unique to my situation is that I live in Japan, and promotion activities such as giving readings are hard for me to come by (I read that reviews tend to generate 1 or fewer sales, and that almost all sales are made by poets at readings), so that's one thing I'm thinking about, how I can do better promoting my book if I do get it republished.

So many things to think about! Thanks, everyone, for your ideas and thoughts.

Mari said...

Oh, Jessica... I'm very sorry to hear about this unfortunate turn of events. I can't imagine it, myself. But the alternatives recommended by others are certainly worth exploring.

I'm also thinking: might you and other Three Candles Press book prize winners consider pooling your resources, setting up a web site to publicize your offerings, and offer print-on-demand copies via Lulu or another self-publishing entity? It's a thought, anyway. There's strength in numbers! : )

I look forward to following how you resolve this issue for yourself. In the meantime, your book deserves to be in the world, in whatever form -- don't give up on it!!!

ecm said...

Damn. I love this book. I'm looking forward to hearing what you decide to do. Hang in there!

Mari said...

It's disappointing to see the publisher has shut down TCP's web site; it would have been helpful if he'd posted a more personalized explanation/apology with links for TCP's authors' web sites, as a courtesy to all of you. My two cents.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thanks, Erin and Mari, for your supportive comments. I'm embarrassed to admit that a week later I'm more demoralized by this unexpected development that I expected to be. But I will figure something out.

Mari, my publisher had to close the press for personal reasons, extremely pressing ones, so I can understand his inability to have closed it more elegantly. It's too bad for all the poets he published, but looking at priorities, I can agree with the actions taken. Still sad about it though, and sad for my publisher.