In a recent writers conference in New Canaan, CT, people talked about ways to get published in the twenty-first century.
After listening to some really bright and creative people talk about how they got their books accepted by mainstream publishers, and after hearing an agent who does not want any new clients explain what agents do, I was very glad that I belong to a cooperative artists' press.
We created Hammonasset House Books early in 2008 after a couple of years of talk and research. Our books are literary and personal, but not really commercial in the sense that the people in the writers conference revealed. We write literature, fiction and memoirs, but not self-help books, not young adult, not really any of the niches that seem to be in demand at the present.
When a member of the audience at this conference mentioned that his book had been taken by a major press, the agent described some of his potential journey. His book would be promoted for a month, then it would be on its own. The publisher will probably demand that he invest his advance in a book publicist and advertising. The real job of promotion, in other words, is on the author's shoulders. In six months his book will be old news.
Well, Hammonasset House can keep promoting our books on the web and through email and snailmail for as long as we wish. We are the PR people and the creative people, and we don't abandon our books. And most important, our books never go out of print.
Right now, this option represents an opportunity. Not only are our books out there and in people's hands, but they are being read and we control all the phases of production and pricing.
To me, this sounded like the best way to get published in the twenty-first century.