Honestly, you don't get many days like this in publishing. Days when someone sends you a link to a new review which you follow somewhat hesitantly, hoping that you'll be able to excerpt a decent quote, hoping you'll be able to send happy news to the author, instead of the 'sorry they didn't really get your book' email. Days when you start reading the review and they really seem to like the book but by the time you've finished reading the review it's justified just about every decision you've made in the past year. No, that doesn't happen often. So when it does you gotta celebrate HARD.


(Thanks to Deanna Lepsch for this photo)

In the early days of RDSP I let moments like this go by without too much fanfare. I didn't know it could be months, maybe years, before another such moment came by. You probably guessed that I had just such a moment this morning when I opened an email from PopMatters, a site I really respect for their smart and energized coverage of all things pop culture. After having had a couple bad reviews lately I was trepidatious, yet hopeful, that this one would be good. Choosing books to publish isn't easy and some bad reviews can shake your faith. But this reviewer obviously saw the same things I saw in Hellbender:

"Miller doesn’t shy away from death and violence—Hillbilly or no—the book is definitely horror, but not stilted Hollywood horror. It’s well-written, character-driven horror. The setting is often beautifully described. The characters are complicated and capable of the unexpected. There’s even gender equality—both men and women kick a little butt—men usually with guns (or tree limbs, rocks, ax handles, etc.) and women primarily with magic… And it gets bonus points because I can’t remember the last time I read something like it. Let’s face it—in the 21st century, originality isn’t always easy to find."

But it was the reviewers assessment of Jason Jack Miller's path to publication that really blew me away:
"Perhaps I’m making too much of this, but Hellbender may not be just another good book. I wonder if this book (and its author) represents a changing tide, a new trend in the way books, good books, move from writer to reader. Certainly Miller isn’t the first writer to move from independent publishing to the more traditional. If fact, he’s probably not even the first good writer to make the switch (or the first good writer to publish independently). But his attitudes toward the publishing process and his willingness to state, rather loudly, that “No matter how you are published, or who publishes you, you ARE an independent writer” seem to make him just as original as the book itself."

If you read the full review you can see the person liked the book so much they visited Jason's site, read the history of how the book was first self-publishing and now published by RDSP, and even read other info that Jason has posted. This is my definition of successfully reaching a reader.

But it's not just because Jason's a good friend of mine that this review gives me such heart. It's because his decision to self-publish mirrors our RDSP's decision to publish. We both did things in a non-traditional way that required a lot of work and meant tolerating a lot of looks down noses. So when even just one person intimates that this release represents a change in the publishing status quo my heart leaps with joy.


  1. Anonymous

    I think my face in that picture sums up how I felt.

    Which famous Zen poet said that the path to world domination begins with the first step?

  2. Anonymous

    Wonderful write up, Jennifer! Loved the review and commentary on Jason and Hellbender at PopMatters, as well!

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