On National Book Week
The little man doesn’t stand a chance. The little woman even. That’s what I keep reading. The news. Shops are closing down, small businesses getting flushed away. It’s inevitable, like death.
Or is it?
What’s struck me since starting out on the Honest Publishing adventure is the attitude of people. So used to free content and so unwilling to put their hands in their pocket. This seems especially true of writers. The amount of bulk submissions we receive is staggering. Not addressed to anyone in particular, not really relevant to what we publish, just hoping that something somewhere will stick. Let me tell you, these submissions don’t go down well in the Honest offices.
I too write and I, also, have not actively supported small presses in the past (without being aware of it). I thought it was their job to publish me and no more. Sure I can show an interest by browsing through the free content on their site, but why should I actually pay before submitting?
The reason is because these small presses, like this small press, have a habit of living on the breadline. Culture, folks, isn’t really in demand, despite flourishing Kindle sales and everything that you know about bestselling books and their authors. Everybody else is picking crumbs off the literary street. I know that if I want to be involved in the writing community, if I really want to support those worth supporting, I need to actively buy a book.
The excuses, I’ve heard plenty. Can’t afford it. Rubbish. If you can afford to go to the pub, if you can afford takeaways and holidays and smoking and whatever else you can afford to buy a book. If you can afford those shoes and those clothes don’t stand there in front of me and say you don’t have money. You do, you’re wearing it.
If you want small businesses to survive you need to do more than just say “good luck”. Unfortunately, in our society, money continues to talk, scream even, puncture our dreams with worry. As pleasant as positive feedback is, you need to back it up with cash. And, you never know, you might find an unknown author that you will love and admire for years to come. Or you might even strike up a friendship with such an author.
So have a happy National Book Week everybody. Better yet, make it a book week every week and actively support exciting new independent presses and authors.