In addition to heading Pen and Kink Publishing, I work as an anthologist and Assistant Editor for World Weaver Press (a significantly larger small press than this one LoL). It was through my work at WWP that I learned about Small Press Week. Small Press Week is an event conceived of and organised by Upper Rubber Boot Books to “talk about exciting new releases, classic back-catalog titles, and what makes small press publishing so fearless, intimate, creative, and heart-warming”. I was excited! Every time something bad happens with a small press (folding without notice, owners acting unethically) it makes every other small press look bad. I am excited to have an excuse to shine a light on some of the wonderful things about small presses — this one and others too!
Small Press Week: Day One — Secrets
Can I tell you a secret?
This is terrifying.
I began this press under somewhat unusual circumstances (more about that tomorrow!) and it feels a bit like this:
It is exciting and exhilarating and terrifying!
Going from quietly publishing my own work to being a royalty-paying publisher of other people’s is a huge jump, even though I’ve had years of experience in this industry. It’s still a profound change and when I made it I was scared to death. Suddenly I had a thousand more responsibilities, pressures, skills I needed to master. My paperwork had to be spotless, my record-keeping impeccable. If I release one of my own books and it doesn’t find an audience that’s one thing, if I release someone else’s book and it doesn’t find an audience that is a very, very different thing.
My intentions are good, I take my job seriously and I’m not too shabby at it either, but looking around the small press world it’s easy to find examples of publishers who got in over their head, made really bad decisions, or treated their authors badly. It’s unlikely that any of them went into this with bad intentions or expecting to become a cautionary tale so that’s scary. And our business is in a state of constant change and evolution, and sometimes it can feel a bit like drowning just trying to keep up so that’s scary. And what if? And what if? And what if?
Yeah. I’m terrified. That’s my secret.
I’m scared of screwing up. I’m scared of disappointing the people I work with. I’m scared of failing.
But I’m doing it anyway. I’m learning and building and getting a wee bit less frightened every day. The people I work with (Elesha, authors, editors) are amazing. The small press community is incredibly supportive, and readers, reviewers and bloggers seem receptive to what we’re doing. I’m optimistic, but I’m still working on building those wings.