Friday, January 25, 2013

Intrigue and Soapboxes

As I said before, I've been reading The Sleeping Partner, the third and most recent Sarah Tolerance novel by Madeleine Robins.  I love these books, and this one is just as great--rich in historic detail, some cool personal details about Miss Tolerance's life, and what is so far an intriguing mystery.

But what I'm finding just as interesting is figuring this book out.  The first two books in the series, Point of Honour and Petty Treason, were published by Tor-Forge, a division of MacMillan.  This third book, however, looked different immediately--the cover looks distinctly self-published.  It doesn't look professionally designed--the font is not generally a cover font, the use of negative space feels strange, and the pattern in the background is kind of off-putting.  I was surprised by this, and I went looking for the publisher to see what it was about.

Turns out it's not a self-publishing scheme, but an "author-centric" publishing house, Plus One Press.  This seemed like it could be an interesting niche publisher--after all, a lot of small publishing houses are sort of based around the idea that they can find new, different voices and treat them more personally than the big houses, right?  Here's the first paragraph of their About Us page:

Plus One Press is a small, independent publisher, representing an alternative approach to the current mainstream publishing model. We strive to be an author-centric publishing house, where our responsibilities are to our authors and their works, rather than necessarily to some commercialized product-centric vision of maximized profits.
It starts out smooth, then gets a little soapboxy at the end, but still, I'm with them.  Then I read deeper into their long, long, long mission statement, and found that they have clearly been camping out on that soapbox.  They've set up a tent and a camp stove and are serving tea and crumpets along with leaflets and chanting.

The publishing industry is an "insensitive behemoth that has little or no regard for the creative element it seeks to exploit."  Readers are "currently suffering from a disease that they aren’t even aware of."  They go on to say that this is about not having access to a broad range of voices, since publishers won't put out that material.  But that doesn't sound like a disease, does it?   

Whatever I think of the publishing industry, when someone starts talking like a conspiracy theorist, my first instinct is to take a step back.  What I hope, though--more than anything--is that Madeleine Robins is out there writing another Sarah Tolerance book, and that, whoever publishes it, I'll get a chance to read it.  Hear that, Ms. Robins?  If you self-publish on Amazon for the Kindle, you've gone at least one guaranteed buyer.

1 comment:

Aarti said...

I had emailed back and forth with Robins after finishing her second book and I think she was in a contract with her publishers that she wasn't super-thrilled with and which ended up giving her very little income, so I can see why she would go to a totally different publishing house once she was out of that. I hope that she is happy with Plus One and that she JUST KEEPS WRITING about Sarah Tolerance!