Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some Thoughts on Self-Publishing (Westbow Press the Second and the Rabbit Room Press)

I was going to write a post to Thomas Nelson and tell them what a terrible idea I think it is to launch a self-publishing program on the backs of some of the most accomplished and gifted writers in Christian fiction, by naming it after their former fiction imprint. I was going to write and tell them what a betrayal I think it is to not only their authors but their readers. How many casual readers understand imprints? I used to think Westbow WAS a publishing company!! Don't misunderstand, I'm not 100% against self-publishing. I am just very selective about the self-published books I read. I think most readers agree with me. And recycling the name of Westbow, a name associated with heavy hitters like Ted Dekker, Colleen Coble, and Angela Hunt for a group of authors you aren't even willing to take a risk on? Poor taste. If I wasn't a book blogger, if I hadn't learned about publishing companies and imprints I would pick up a Westbow book thinking it was that same great publisher of Ted Dekker. But in reality? That book wouldn't even really be chosen by Thomas Nelson. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the new Westbow Press website. Westbow Press used to be the fiction imprint of Thomas Nelson)

But instead I want to point you to another model of independent publishing. See, I'm not against the idea of Westbow Press, just really against the name. I am fully in support, though, of the idea of the Rabbit Room Press. And I am fully in support of The Fiddler's Gun...I've become a patron!! Have no idea what I'm talking about? Check out the introduction to the idea of the Rabbit Room Press and its flagship novel. They need your support! And is the cover of The Fiddler's Gun not completely gorgeous???

When I read this from Pete, I was one hundred percent sold:

I’ve devoted so much time to this fictional communion because I believe in these characters and love the stories they have to tell. I believe that they deserve to be known by others, to be cared for, mourned, hated, or loved by readers as they see fit.

I am sure so many authors feel this. But what I love about this approach...is that it relies on a community..and the Rabbit Room is a fabulous community (though they need more female writers) to say hey...we support your art and we want to help you bring it to print. And for that reason alone, I'm really proud to be allowed to be a tiny part of that...to give a little back to one of my favorite blogs and to Pete or A.S. Peterson whose struggles towards publication I've read for awhile. I'll be so excited when my copies of The Fiddler's Gun show up and I can gaze at that gorgeous cover in person. I hope you'll hop over to the website and check out what it's all about.

So when given the choice of what kind of independently published books I'm willing to read, I'd rather read a book brought into print by a supportive community than one brought into print under a misleading name. And that's just the way I am.



Michael Hyatt said...

Thanks for your post, Amy.

With regard to WestBow, here’s what I posted on Rachelle Gardner's site in response to her blog post...

I am big on history. I wanted something that spoke of a beginning—a "start," if you will.

At first, we picked MacNeil Press. MacNeil was the Scottish clan from which Thomas Nelson came originally. We got pretty far down the line with this, but then discovered that it was already a small imprint of another publisher. The trademark was already taken.

So then we thought, we can use WestBow. We already have paid the thousands of dollars it takes to register the trademark. We own the URL. And we love everything it stands for. (It was the street on which Thomas Nelson first opened his second-hand book shop in Edinburgh.)

Honestly, we didn't think about the impact it might have on authors who published under that imprint when it was our fiction division. Our bad.

Having said that, I really don't think it is going to make a material difference. The best-selling authors who published under that imprint were all converted over to Thomas Nelson two years ago when we did away with our various imprints. The newest editions of their books are all under Thomas Nelson. So this really only affects the books on the shelves, primarily in homes and libraries.

I know that we in the publishing industry pay attention to imprints, but, as I have argued for some time, consumers don't care. It's just not an issue, so I don't think it will have an adverse impact.

You may differ in your opinion, and that's fine. I love the fact that we can have a conversation about this. Kind regards.

bermudaonion said...

Well said! I think most people agree with you.

Jenny Girl said...

I don't have anything to add about the publishers or the name or what-have-you. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to that side of books and publishing.
For the most part, I see pretty covers and I'm drawn in. So consider me an average consumer, I guess.

Thanks Amy because I checked this book and it sounds awesome. A pirate chick! I know there were two famous pirate women so I guess that's why these stories are in short supply, but with the back drop of the REvolution, very cool. I'll be looking for your review.

I will also look into the Rabbit Room to see what they offer. I'm always willng to help out the little guy.

J.T. Oldfield said...

Amy, I pretty much second everything that you said!

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