Within the last few months, Crystal Lake has visually grown, not only in readership, but in followers. Actual fans of the press. From the beginning my two main goals were to promote the careers of my authors and to make Crystal Lake a house-hold name among readers. And hopefully authors. It’s taken a few years, but things are starting to happen.
For example, we went from one Bram Stoker nomination last year to five this year, resulting in two wins (congrats to Mercedes M. Yardley and Alessandro Manzetti). Our Twitter fan base went from about 1,700 to over 7,000 in two months. We’re now also on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Patreon, and of course our newsletter. And I’ve been quite active on Goodreads lately.
But it’s been a tough year (and longer) for the publishing industry:
•We’ve had more small presses go under than I’ve ever experienced. And most of them ended up screwing the authors out of royalties, and tying their books up with screwy contract clauses. Well I for one stand against that. I work extra hard to make sure I will never let my authors down. A setback like that can put a career on halt. An author being out of the market for two years or more? Disastrous. I plan on putting a clause in Crystal Lake’s contracts to ensure there’s an exit for the author when things go sour. If I can’t pay them, I’ll sell their rights to another publisher (if they so wish) and give them all the proceeds. Or give them their rights back and all the cover art, interior artwork, etc. Their readers shouldn’t even know they switched publishers.
•Plagiarism seems to be on the rise again. Thieves too lazy to sit down and write just copying hard-working authors and self-publishing it. Or even submitting it. We recently had a guy brag around social media that we signed him. I’ve never even heard of him. Hopefully we’ll never hear from him again. Mmm, I’ve probably said too much already.
•There has been a rise of racial tension in the community. Since I don’t talk about politics (ever), I won’t comment on this...much. I’ll just say that I’ve been living in South Africa since apartheid ended, and that shit has got to go.
•There are authors using fake blurbs. Lying about their publishing history. Paying for reviews. And selling damn well. There’s even a 2nd Stephen King on Amazon, and he’s getting away with it. I wonder if Steve knows this.
•Amazon is still bullying small presses into using their publishing tools. That’s a story for another day. Example, they recently pulled one of our books without any warning, because they never got the copyright info they never requested. Trust me, I made sure that book was up within a few hours.
•There have been issues with sexual assault at conventions. Ladies not feeling safe anymore.
•Editors being paid without delivering.
•Even the Horror Writers Association is under the microscope these days.
I don’t know where these people come from. Perhaps I’m an idealist. Or my parents just raised me to be kind to my fellow man. I just can’t picture anyone doing any of the things listed above. And these folks are giving small presses a bad name. But we need to focus on the positive. Which I do 90% of the time. The other 10% goes into learning from the mistakes others make.
•Support your favorite authors, because they support you. They’re always there when you need to escape reality. So write a review. Share their updates and book covers. Even in this digital age, word of mouth is still the most important marketing tool.
•Get more favorite authors.
•Support the small presses. They’re putting out the best stuff at the moment. No doubt about it. And they care more about their authors. We don’t see money, we see careers. We put the authors and readers first.
•Authors, forget about the negative stuff, don’t let them distract you. Don’t allow them to slow you down. Don’t even think about giving up. Keep writing. Stay motivated. Hopefully more presses who do it the right way will pop up. Then you’ll have someone taking care of the other stuff. For now, just be weary of the sly ones. Be wise on their tactics, and do your research. And please, have your contract checked by a professional before signing them. That’s where they catch you most of the time.
•And authors, focus less on tearing down existing structures and concentrate on building and supporting careers. Including our own. Some folks waste way too much time sharing their opinions.
Which reminds me, I need to get back to work. So...In the end, I’ve benefited from these failing presses, since I’ve had some of their authors come over to Crystal Lake. That’s not exactly how I would’ve wanted it to happen, but someone has to keep these authors passionate about being read. About being appreciated.
There is so much good to concentrate on in this world, but we’re so focused on what’s bad. As a teacher, I tend to spend more time on the naughty kids, which should not be the case. So of course I end up being negative most days. Yes, notice the negative, but don’t let it spread. Just keep going!
All the best,
Crystal Lake Publishing