Microcosm, an independent publishing house in Portland, announced in July 2018 in Publishers Weekly that it will be taking back control over its distribution for the press. The book and zine publisher, which was previously distributed by PGW/Ingram, decided to keep distribution efforts in-house and off the shelves of the large chains, starting in 2019. In the spirit of self-distribution, as inspired by Microcosm, here are some tips for hand-to-hand sales in publishing.
We need to be setting an example for future publishers—to strive for imperative community-building values that promote action and advocacy. If we’re not giving back to the communities that allow us to thrive, exciting children about books, helping provide them with the resources they need, promoting literacy, and, more importantly, giving them characters they can connect to on a deep and personal level and live their lives by—then what are we doing?
Empathy is not so much feeling something about a character, but feeling something with a character. It is not only being sorry for a character when they struggle and happy when they succeed—it’s about the reader experiencing those trials and victories as if they were their own. And when those trials and victories are rooted in immediate real-world issues, there’s more at stake than well-written characterization.
Keeping a consistent brand, no matter how personal the account, is so important. People want to follow accounts that they can trust will post fairly similar art, because they like that art. You wouldn’t commission an artist who gave out a different-styled piece every time someone requested their services; in a similar way, people will not give you that follow if you remain inconsistent and unpredictable.
When I told friends and family that I would be pursuing a graduate degree in book publishing, I was met with varied reactions. Some people thought it sounded wonderful—the perfect niche degree for a bookworm like myself. Many others were surprised and pessimistic: “Isn’t that a dying industry?” I admit it made me question my choice at times. Was I really about to go thousands of dollars into debt to hopefully get a career in an industry that would soon cease to exist?
As a self-published author, it may be intimidating to start with all of the online outlets claiming they can make your book the next bestseller. After all, you’re a writer, not a designer. To help make the process a little less intimidating, here is a brief list of options that can give your book the beautiful face it deserves.