Seven Great Reasons to Become a Small Press Publisher/Editor and Seven Reasons Not To

Seven Great Reasons to Become a Small Press Publisher/Editor

  1. The chance to present your taste and “vision” to the world. Publishing/editing books and magazines gives you an opportunity to do that – albeit with the presentation of other people’s work rather than your own.
  2. The chance to help others achieve their literary/artistic dreams.
  3. A chance to piggyback on the successes of those you have published. When a book or story you have published is longlisted, shortlisted, declared the winner of recognized awards; or when a story you’ve published is selected or receives honorable mention for in a respected Best Of anthology – it adds prestige and credibility to you and to every other author you publish.
  4.  The chance to not only become a part of the writing community – but to become a hub. The centrepoint, around which an entire community can accrete or revolve. If you enjoy being respected, this is potentially a great route to that goal.
  5. The chance to become a tastemaker and trendsetter yourself. Make the right editorial choices and you can influence the shape of the genre in your community, country, or niche. You can open up the field to people, styles, sub-genres or types of writing that have been excluded in the past.
  6. The chance to meet and hobnob with all your favourite authors and artists in the world, become friends with  a huge array of influential people. You can earn a seat at the table with all the top editors and publishers, agents and trendsetters . You’re wise to avoid publishing your own work, but you can get to know people who can publish your work.
  7. The opportunity to gain credentials and get future work as an editor for large publishers and on exciting indy projects
Just a few of my personal highlights during my short stint as a fiction publisher included:

  • being on convention panels with the likes of Ellen Datlow, David Hartwell, Gardner Dozois and Kris Rusch;
  • partying/having drinks/enjoying conversations with my favourite writers in the field (my list included William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Lansdale, Robert Charles Wilson,  Charles de Lint, James Morrow, and Sean Stewart);  
  • publishing works by famous writers, famous-writers-to-be, and literary heroes, as well as excellent work by established - and especially emerging writers (which in my case included Gemma Files, David Nickle, Hayden Trenholm, and Sandra Kasturi). It's also nice to sometimes support friends;
  • being approached by Phyllis Gotlieb to become our poetry editor and enjoying the amazing work she selected.

And Seven Reasons Not to Become a Small Press Publisher/Editor

  1. It is a sometimes onerous financial investment that will likely NEVER make you any money or break even
  2. It is a vast time sink that can suck up all your time and energy, leaving none for your own personal life or writing projects
  3. It can become an obsession that takes over every aspect of your life.
  4. It involves an endless amount of commitment and hard work.
  5. It can be utterly thankless and you can end up doing everything yourself.
  6. You will get all of the blame when things go wrong (I hate the cover/ it should have sold better/it got no reviews/you pay really badly) and little of the credit when they go well (because competence and even brilliance are expected).
  7. Your favorite projects can be utterly ignored by everyone who matters.

I'm sure lots of you can think of arguments one way or another. Please, share!


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