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The Lorna’s Laces Blog had a great post a while back discussing the difference between the terms Independent and Corporate with regards to businesses. I could write a post about what I think the different terms mean, but on some level I feel like those terms are beyond definition. They are like the term “life”. You know what something living is when you see it, but it’s awful hard to define. That is unless the IRS starts to define the terms Independent and Corporate, and then we’ll all have to peg ourselves before next April.
So really, what I want to tell you about is my experience with independent publishing. How I discovered it. How I’ve experienced it. How it’s affected me.
I really knew very little about publishing until about 2 years ago. I knew there were publishers and that they were large companies that put out books. I also knew that some people chose to self-publish. Generally I heard the term self-publish in the same sentence as “vanity press”. People with too much money and not enough talent getting their memoirs out. (I did read one book up to this point that was self-published. It was a massive train wreck. That woman needed help.)
So moving along… in the Summer of 2008 I went to the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) conference and the Professional Development Day (PDD). Now if you’ve ever been to a PDD you know that they raffle off prizes throughout the day. Whenever someone from your table wins, you get to oooh and aaaah over their prize while they pass it around. The woman next to me won a book on crocheted lace. As I looked over her shoulder at it I felt a small pang of jealousy. The book was gorgeous. Drop dead gorgeous. It was just wonderful. We quickly turned our attention back to the speaker, and I didn’t even get the name of the book.
So that was 2008, and I was back at PDD in Summer of 2009. In the afternoon of PDD they offer pull out sessions. You get to choose from the list of topics offered, but you only have enough time for three. I chose the first two quickly, but really struggled with choosing number three. Nothing on the list seemed to really call to me. So, for no reason in particular, I decided to go with the Independent Publishing pullout session taught by Myra Wood. Myra talked to us about the logistics of publishing and passed around some of her work. As the samples got to me, I saw it – the book I had practically drooled over the year before, Creative Crochet Lace. Myra had published it herself. I remember listening to her talk and flipping through the book and thinking to myself “Wow. She did this. ” and then slowly thinking “Maybe…maybe I could do this too.” That was the start of my stint in independent publishing.
I started Poetry in Yarn and independently publishing individual patterns as a way to get my feet wet. I had an idea for a book, and maybe one day I’ll get around to it. But at the time I figured that I should practice publishing something that’s 4 pages before I jump into something that’s 140. Since then I have met a variety of independent publishers. Bright, capable women who not only publish, but do it well. It’s given me a great appreciation and understanding for what one person can do, for what I can do. No independent publisher does everything on their own. You need an editor (technical or otherwise), possibly a layout person and/or photographer. But you have to have a vision and the knowledge and know-how to make it happen. So that’s what independent means to me. The power of what one person can accomplish.