Bear with me, but I’m about to make a really flimsy analogy between my Baltimore Orioles and the publishing industry. I know, I know, this seems like an excuse for me to talk about baseball when you probably could care less, but perhaps you’ll indulge me for a moment.
Now on the eve of the regular baseball season, I can’t stop thinking about my beloved O’s and how they’re proving the naysayers wrong game after game. After an astounding home-run slugfest against the Yankees on Thursday night, the Orioles were tied for first place in a division where most thought they’d end up in last. Yes, there’s about a month still left in the season, but it’s been 15 years since Oriole Park at Camden Yards in September has seen a full house of orange and black.
I’m lifelong O’s fan, and I can still vividly remember Cal Ripken making the final out in the ’83 World Series. Yes, there have been some high points since then (namely Cal’s streak and a couple of playoff runs in the late 90′s), but my Baltimore Orioles have pretty much been the underdogs (and the laughingstock of baseball) for most of my adult life. Every year, I believe that they’re going to surprise everyone, and here, finally, at long last they’re doing it in storybook fashion.
(Ironically, back in Spring Training, they lost to a junior college team, and I thought oh lord, here we go again.)
The Underdogs in Publishing
What does this have to do with anything publishing related? Not much I suppose, other than I’ve come to realize that I’ve built Pubmission around my own insistent desire to see the underdog trump the naysayers.
Two years ago I launched Pubmission based on my own frustrations with how unfair the submissions process had become. The publishers you wanted to submit to were closing their doors to submissions. The agents you had to submit to instead were overloaded with the redirected slush. And publishers like my own former employer were letting go of good people because they couldn’t find the quality content they needed to pay their salaries.
Since then I’ve discovered that Pubmission has always been more to me than a way to simplify the submissions process. It’s also been my own personal quest to see the underdog turn things around in this industry. To provide writers and independent publishers with a fighting chance to succeed, to prove that strong writing and quality content is what still matters most, not who you know, the salesmanship of your agent, or the sound of your radio voice.
Editor Feedback vs. Rejection Letters
I’ve learned that we can make a real difference with Pubmission not only by helping publishers with finding the content that matches them best, but also with helping writers find some helpful feedback in what is an exceedingly lonely submissions process.
Our Editor Ratings are our best asset in my opinion: for a few bucks you can get some great feedback from experienced editors (many of them former publishing employees like myself) that you’ll never get from a form rejection letter or even your local writer’s group. I’ve also really enjoyed working with and establishing relationships with authors through our Editor Coaching feature. I’m working with a couple authors now who have works in progress that are giving me tingles because they’re so good.
And when writers are getting that kind of help and direction before they submit to publishers, how great is that for the editors struggling to find the time rework the manuscripts on their desks?
What’s Next for Pubmission?
Pubmission isn’t perfect…I’ll freely admit that. But we’re always striving to improve. In the coming months, I plan to add a few new elements to Pubmission. First, a community area for writers that lets them provide free feedback to each other. Pubmission needs to be more interactive, and I hope Pubmission Community will be a good start.
Secondly—as I’ve seen my own career move from writer to editor to copywriter and now to web developer/marketing consultant—I’m looking to launch Pubmission Creative, a service to both writers and publishers that provides website and online marketing support in this age of social media and those all-mighty “author platforms.”
The Big Six = The Yankees?
So finally, with this tenuous link I’m making between baseball and publishing, you might wonder if I’m equating the Big Six to the Yankees. Maybe. I believe that the Baltimore Orioles (who have a payroll that’s less than half of New York’s) have a legitimate shot of overthrowing the perennial World Series favorites this year. And I also believe that small independent publishers, much like Winter Goose Publishing, whom I interviewed yesterday, have a real chance to succeed where the Big Six are failing: namely, in producing publications that value content over marketing potential. I hope that Pubmission is there in the years to come to help them do it.