As there's more and more consolidation in the world of publishing, how do you view—generally, and for you personally—big publisher vs small publisher vs self-publishing now? Have your views changed since you were first published?
The ink was drying on my first novel when I sent a submission to ECW Press in Toronto. Jack David said he’d take a look, and a few weeks later he wrote back that he wanted to publish it, asking if I could do it two more times. After I stopped pinching myself I signed the contract, and then I did just that, I wrote two more. Then I kept on writing, and ECW kept on publishing, and it’s been a great relationship right from the post. ECW’s a medium Canadian house with an awesome staff who are professional, yet they’re like a family, and they always get the job done with a smile. And I couldn’t ask for more than that.
That’s been my only experience, so I can’t say much about big or small versus self-publishing. I’ve heard stories from other writers who’ve had mixed experiences, some sweet and some sour. And I know authors who self-publish and they’ve been happy going that way.
There was a time when self-publishing may have been considered a poor choice. Some thought that going the way of the vanity press as exploitation and even saw it as a career killer. Of course, there are authors like Margaret Atwood who proved that self-publishing can work when she put out her award-winning book of poems, Double Persephone. And Lisa Genova originally self-published her novel Still Alice after many rejections from commercial publishing houses. And who hasn’t seen a copy of Irma S. Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking in somebody’s kitchen—another one that started out as self-published, going on to sell over eighteen million copies. These days whether a book is author or publisher subsidized, it’s generally accepted that it’s what’s between the covers that counts.
Whichever way an author goes, the aim is getting their books in the hands of as many readers as possible. And that’s where we enter luck-of-the-draw territory, no matter who publishes the book. It’s tough to predict a best-seller. And no matter which course is taken—big house, little house, your own house—one thing is sure, a good editing team is needed, along with professional graphics, solid marketing, promotion, and solid sales efforts to make it happen. Oh, and luck, plenty of luck.