Coming to the decision to publish The Fiddler’s Gun independently wasn’t easy. When I began writing it I envisioned, like most authors, that one day it would be picked up by a traditional publishing house and find its way into Wal-Marts all over America. When it was written and rewritten enough times, the manuscript went out to the major houses and received a lot of good feedback (as well as some welcome constructive criticism) but in the changing climate of the publishing industry, the idea of becoming an independent publisher began to have a strong appeal to me. The idea of working within a system that valued sales, marketing, and genre definition over quality became distasteful. Don’t mistake that to mean I’m averse to applying changes to my manuscript, I’m not. To the contrary, I’m anxious to change it, to make it better, more appealing. It’s the system that I dislike, a system that would rather publish a hundred titles a year in hopes that one will be a million seller, rather than publish five titles that they believe will stand through the ages. Why submit to that callous system when electronic and independent publishing are on the verge of reasserting the ascendancy of writing as a social and cultural art-form rather than a commodity?
And if I was going to publish independently, what better book to publish than one that is, at it’s core, about independence?
I think the biggest hurdle that I had to get over before I could commit to the independent route was to learn that traditional publishing does not equate to success or validation. That’s a lie that is crumbling all around us and will, I think, dissolve entirely in the coming decade. Major publishers have crippled themselves with their own success at selling trash literature like celebrity memoirs, gimmick-lit, and hot-topic political rants. They can’t afford to stop. And too often the gems that they do produce (and there are plenty) go unnoticed, undersold, and unlikely to take shelf space away from the next blitz-marketed best seller.
So where is the publishing equivalent of Pixar? Where are the independent (or big name, for that matter) publishers that are trusted for the care and development they invest in each product they apply their name to? They are out there, I’m certain, and I hope that in the next few years we’ll hear more about them.
I’d love to be able to buy a book because I have faith in those who publish it and trust they won’t steer me wrong. But when I look at the spine of an interesting book and note the publisher then cross the aisle and spot that same publisher’s name on a Paris Hilton memoir, I think twice about the former because the publisher has just suggested that they aren’t taking writing seriously as an art-form and neither are they taking themselves seriously as gatekeepers.
So publishing The Fiddler’s Gun under the auspices of the Rabbit Room Press is my declaration of independence. It’s my way of inviting you to read through my recommendations and reviews and philosophical meanderings at the Rabbit Room in order that you will know my values and artistic proclivities and then perhaps, if you’ve found yourself alike in mind or spirit, you’ll extend that trust to the book that bears my name.