Lately I've been thinking that publishing has become increasingly difficult. RDSP's 10-year anniversary is right around the corner and this is definitely not how I imagined things would be at this milestone. At first I thought I was just tired, burnt-out, in a rut and tried to shake it off. I figured it was not publishing but me. However, as the months have gone by it's become clear that publishing is, indeed, getting harder. There are many reasons but I read an article last week that confirmed one of my suspicions. It's become increasingly more difficult to get people's attention about a book or author and I believe that is partly due to "book spam." There are so many books published nowadays that most releases just get lost like a needle in a giant haystack of pages. The article I read concerned the problem of "knock-offs," books that are similarly named to popular titles in order to trick people into buying. You can read the complete article here: But the part that really caught my interest was this: 

Karen Peebles, who is the author of I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, says she has self-published around 10,000 books though CreateSpace, not all of which are in her own name. "I am a single mother who home schools her children," says Peebles, who says she sells "thousands and thousands" of books a month. "Self-publishing is a great way for me to make income. I receive a pretty nice royalty every month."

I always knew that the huge influx of new titles created by POD and self-publishing was trouble. Obviously I don't have anything against POD (that's our model) or self-publishing (as long as it's done with thought) but there is a serious problem with quality control. These two modes have flung open the gates so that literally ANYTHING can be published. Again, I want to be completely clear that I support self-publishing when the author does the work to produce a quality product and I believe POD is a good thing. However, there's no way that these 10,000 titles put out by Karen Peebles can possibly be quality, or even original, work.
Now you may be thinking: you live by the sword, you die by the sword. RDSP used these new technologies to get to where we are. We
would not have any publishing company if we'd had to go the traditional route. But one thing we've insisted on since the beginning is a
certain level of quality and we plan to continue to insist on that regardless. I'm not interested in debating the merits and pitfalls of these modern modes but just want to recognize the reality of the situation. It is my hope that customers will become more savvy about the books they buy, it really isn't that hard to spot a fake or poorly written book by reading the description. But in the meantime how many great books are being lost in the shuffle?
At 10 years I expected RDSP to be lounging on a small but sufficiently comfy bed of laurels, getting its belly rubbed and wagging its tail. Instead we're going back to the hungry dog days, planning a new attack with fresh ideas about how to bring great, but overlooked, fringe fiction to the world. Next year we'll be celebrating 10 years of publishing but mostly we'll be trying to reinvent RDSP to keep up with the changes in publishing. We think it's time for something drastic and a new approach. Hopefully this dog still has a few more wags of the tale left.


  1. Anonymous

    yes, there is book spam. but there are educated readers out there that do find publishers like RDSP, fall in love with it, and keep their eyes on all the new releases. You just have to work hard to keep your visibility up, through your website, other blogs reviewing your books, facebook, and email newsletters. I think you do a good job there, but you have to work daily on visibility.

    And I definitely think you need to go full force into the ebook world while keeping the trade paperbacks. Push authors even more to promote their ebooks. I’m now finding myself friending or being friended by authors on book sites like goodreads and even on facebook. Its odd, because I don’t know them in person or as a true friend, but now I learn about new works before they come out via facebook instead of seeing a book in a store or being on a publisher’s website. Especially effective too, is author recommendations this way. I’ve never taken the author comments on the back and inside covers of books too seriously, knowing that they are trying to say something nice to help sell. It feels much more sincere when I see them post about a peers book they just read that blew them away. And promotion on the computer is now so much easier than doing author promos is bookstores.

    I see a successful small press these days as one offering ebooks and nice trade paperbacks, and possibly collectible hardcovers, with authors that treat their publisher and similar publishers as their community, that work to promote each other as much as they do to promote themselves.

  2. Anonymous

    There’s a similar phenomenon that happens in the movie world called the “mockbuster.” A for-instance is the big-budget “Battle: Los Angeles” imitated in a lesser production called “Battle of Los Angeles” with substantially the same plot premise. I don’t believe it’s as prevalent, but it’s still out there. (I also recall the old E.T. ripoff “Max and Me,” but I’m not sure that’s the same thing.)

    The publishing industry is in the midst of an upheaval, and I think the situation you described is one of its many, ugly faces. I hope that at some point an Amazon competitor or least a review organ will rise up and that it will do so by building a reputation as a reliable gatekeeper. “If you want to avoid the crap, go through us!” Avoiding the crap is the very reason why many mass market publishers won’t take unagented submissions, right or wrong. Maybe the consumer (and, by proxy, indie publishers like RSDP) would benefit from the invention of a publishing industry strata of “buyer agents.”

    In any case, I hope you’ll view these new market conditions as a challenge rather than a hurdle. No, we can’t entirely follow the traditional publishing model anymore in part because of excrement like easy-to-publish knockoffs. But Raw Dog is still full of piss and vinegar, and its small size makes it much more adaptable than the big operations in New York. I’ll be interested to see what you come up with!

  3. I’ve been loving what you have been doing lately—the academic transgressives are a lot more interesting than the more traditional bizarro-horror stuff you were doing when we first met. RDSP is a powerful brand to me. I certainly wouldn’t have encountered Eric Miles Williamson without you.

  4. I bet Peebles sold 10K copies, not 10K books. Saw this funny bit on her I Am The Girl…page

    An excellent read that will run you through the gamut of human emotion, both present and past and leave you breathlessly wanting more. This is a limited first edition. After the first 10,000 copies, a new cover will be printed for the second edition.

  5. It certainly is an “interesting” time to be involved in publishing or an author. There are so many new opportunities but also so many new problems. I don’t see how it can continue without some sort of gatekeeper and hopefully it will be better than the old guard. In the meantime it’s like the wild west out there!

  6. Thanks! I just think so many of these books deserve a bigger audience, Williamson especially.

  7. Funny thing, looks like you can’t get to that page on Amazon anymore. Of course many of her other “channeling” titles are still available like trilogy she co-authored with her deceased uncle who committed suicide.

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