I've been thinking for a while about what to say about the news that Blue Feather is closing. I keep trying to straighten out the jumble of thoughts I'm having.
like everyone, I'm sad to hear about Blue Feather. I talk to
Emily Reed a lot and I know she's been struggling to keep the company
going by herself while she dealt with children and a full time job and
life in general. I thought highly of Blue Feather before I ever met
Em. She focused on quality and not quantity, which appeals to me more
and more. She also published "different" authors. By that I mean those
that didn't always fit the cookie cutter mold. I didn't care for every
book the company put out, but I found them refreshing in their
uniqueness. How can you argue with a company that brought us Joan Opyr,
Kieran York, Chris Paynter, Erica Lawson, Kelly Sinclair and others?
And I would defy anyone to find a mistake in a Blue Feather book. Yes,
this is a great loss indeed.
I don't think we give our "smaller"
publishers enough credit. It's almost funny talking about smaller
publishers among small publishers. Even Bella and BSB are small in
comparison to mainstream companies, but our small presses are truly
My sister Leigh and I toured the Bywater plant when we visited
Marianne Martin recently. It didn't take much. We stepped from the house into the
garage and there it was. There is a little office with a copier and
then the books are stockpiled in another section of the garage. If you
order a book from the Bywater site, you might not know it, but it's sent
to you by Marianne Martin herself. Yet, when I looked on the shelves,
there was Joan Opyr, Bett Norris, Wynn Malone, Jill Malone, Georgia
Beers and Marianne. I suspect there are similar setups at Affinity,
Bedazzled, Sapphire and the others.
In the rush to
self-publishing, we need to give the really small presses more credit.
They usually can't hire full staffs. They hire editors and cover
artists by the job and when you email the company, you're just as likely
to hear directly from the owner. They don't have warehouses,
secretaries or whatever. They may use a distribution company, but
that's about it. Yet, many of the words I used about Blue Feather would
also apply to these companies. Bella and BSB turn out huge numbers of
books now, but, with a few exceptions, they have a disturbing
familiarity. It's the really small companies that are taking a risk on
some of the more daring writers. For that reason alone, I hope we don't
lose more of them.
Chris Paynter and Karen Badger have already announced
they're going to self-publish. Karen has a snappy logo for
Badger-Bliss Books. I hope they do well. Catherine Wilson gave a
wonderful presentation at the GCLS conference about how time encompassing this is if
you really want to sell your books.
To the other authors, don't
disappear on us. There are companies that will probably come to you.
Find a place where you are comfortable. Let us know what you're doing
and keep the books coming.