Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The demise of Blue Feather and the role of small companies

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.

First, 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 small. 

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.

1 comment:

  1. I too am so sad for Emily Reed, the demise of Blue Feather Books, and for its authors. I hope those writers find success with other presses or through self publishing.