We’re Going Grassroots, Baby!

Blog_meredith_GrassrootsTo find reviewers and build buzz:

There are a lot of challenges to running — and growing — an independent publishing house. (There are a lot of things that are extremely rewarding, too, but that’s a different blog post.)

One of the biggest challenges we face is being taken seriously by established sectors of the book production, marketing, and distribution world. There is still a widespread attitude that if you aren’t a well-known name or don’t have a gigantic operating budget (that allows you to jump through certain hoops), then at best you’re ignorable and at worst you’re disparagingly lumped in with self-publishing and given less opportunity and less exposure.

Now, there are times when I don’t mind the association with the self-publishing world (especially when it’s a reference to innovation, ingenuity, or entrepreneurship). But there are times when I do — like when it means “less than” or “poor quality.”

Which is when I started thinking: Our entire business model is based on going OUTSIDE the system and using tools and cultures that challenge “the way it’s always been done.” So why am I killing myself trying to get a book reviewed in some magazine that has an impressive name but probably won’t even be seen by our target demographic? If there is one area in which Amazon has had a truly transformative impact on our economy, it’s been in the area of product reviews. They have shifted the power from a few people attached to a few outlets to masses of regular, everyday people who share their honest thoughts and experiences.

It’s a little like the debate over whether it’s worth the effort and expense of getting our books into bookstores when the vast majority of sales comes through online outlets. But that is also a topic for another day.

The upshot is that we’re now opening up our catalog to anyone who wants to be a book reviewer in exchange for a free book. All you need is a decent-sized social media platform and a willingness to give an honest review (doesn’t have to be positive) and share it with your social networks. It’s that simple. And when you do post a review, we’ll follow you/retweet/repost your stuff and help our followers become your followers. EVERYONE WINS! Click here to apply to be a reviewer.

To help us grow:

We’d also like to add a new team member to our little publishing family — specifically, a marketing intern. As the word “intern” implies, it is an unpaid position, but we can offer a budding marketing professional untold opportunities to build a portfolio and resume, as well as work with social media experts, professional editors and event planners, and so many other opportunities.

Again, we could go the traditional route and hire a professional and give him or her lots of our very limited resources, but we’ve done that, and frankly, we weren’t impressed. So we don’t want to do that again. (And when we’ve recouped what we spent on the fancy marketing people, we can make this a paid internship hopefully!) Click here for a full job description and directions for applying.

To work with more authors:

Being a small publisher, we only get to work with three or so authors a year on full book releases (for now at least), but we’d like to start building relationships with more authors and help emerging writers get publishing credits, so we decided to launch an anthology contest. The theme is Trick or Treat, and we’re looking for your scariest, creepiest, ghostliest, weirdest original stories for a Halloween-themed anthology that will be released in October 2015. Click here for more details and to submit your story.

So there you have it — all kinds of ways we’re trying to grow our community. We hope you’ll be part of our grassroots movement and help us keep transforming the publishing industry one step at a time!

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