As often as I’m able, I like to sit on panels at conventions and talk to a whole roomful of people about writing and humor and publication and all that sort of thing. I won’t bore you with it, but it’s a good time for anyone either interested in writing themselves, or a reader who enjoys a behind the scenes look.

Okay. Maybe you wouldn’t find it boring if you’re reading this newsletter.

Anyway, most of these panels include other writers, which I love, and we all talk about our experiences. Trading stories in front of our readers is a blast, and answering questions with them all is both fascinating and entertaining.

(If you’re really interested in the presentation, the for-writers part of it is here in So You Really Wanna Write a Book?)

An audience of monsters watching a writers' panel. Who knew monsters had such boring lives?
Just a typical audience of folks who showed up for the panel.
I really love these people.

But there is one question that I always feel a little guilty about, and that’s on being published. See, publishers generally do not help their authors all that much. A big traditional publisher wants you to already have a significant social media presence they can monetize before they’ll look at you, except that they won’t actually work to do that. Unlike with the prodigious number of writer/publisher relationships depicted in Hallmark holiday specials, publishers are happy to sit back and let your book fly or die on just the writer’s marketing efforts. They weren’t planning on making money on that book anyway, just sort of hoping it might catch fire without their spending any more on it while they make the real bucks on their five or six big names.

Those few Kings and Rowlings pay for thousands of titles that will never be supported or go anywhere to be published. I think it’s a stupid system, and most of the work-a-day authors feel the same.

Except …

A monster in a suit and tie behind a corporate desk. Oh, wait. That's a lawyer.
I don’t always think that publishers are scary monsters hiding behind corporate desks, but when I do …

As I’ve discussed previously, my publisher, Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing, is amazing. (Kelly Lynn Colby, the owner, used to be amaze-balls, but I’ve been informed that hip people don’t say that anymore.) She started her own company with my first book in the Mercenaries series and never looked back. I think. If she has she’s never admitted it to me.

I have been there since before the beginning, and watched a real community coalesce around her, drawn by her diligent work, incredible knowledge, and unfailing honesty. 

If it sounds like I’m kissing up, I’m not. Well, maybe a little. Okay, I totally am, but it’s still true.

A winged angel reading a book. I mean, I'm almost positive they can read.
An artist’s rendition of Kelly reviewing a manuscript from one of our many fabulous authors. The brains behind Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing melts the lenses of photographic equipment with her radiance.

Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing supports me in ways that vanity press has never even considered, and that traditional publishers think are beneath them. I have three editors and tons of fellow authors to chat with about my work. There is a marketing person who is constantly tinkering with ad campaigns and finding new readers to share our worlds with, and because we are all partners in this venture (in a non-legally-binding sense), everyone is invested in the value and quality of everyone else’s work. It’s a fantastic (possibly fantastiballs) environment.

We even have a Discord channel where all the writers (there are many now) and editors share trials and successes with one another, ask questions, and joke around. The sense of community is both deep and caring. Mine isn’t the only publisher with this kind of positivity, but it remains surpassingly rare.

Happy monsters tapping away on typewriters. Because monsters can't afford computers.
This is what it looks like when a roomful of smartass authors all finish their manuscripts at exactly the same time. It’s sort of a simultaneous sarcasm.

So I’ll happily take the guilt whenever this question of publishers comes up. Watching what has grown from the seeds I got to watch be planted has been some kind of really good balls, and I hope to stay here with Cursed Dragon Ship for as long as I’m writing. 

And I hope you’ll be here with me too.


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