The B-Side of Publishing
Everyone knows the “face” of publishing—the pretty A-side of every great house. Books in all their glory, beautiful creatures that they are, displaying the cleverness of the world’s gifted writers. It’s romantic on the A-side; starving artists banging out their passions on paper while cigarette after cigarette burn out untouched in the ashtray by their elbow. But…what about the B-side of publishing? The nerds and dorks who spend their hours agonizing over printer ink and past present tense?
Hi. I’m Ellie. And I’m one of those nerds and dorks who works on the B-side.
I am the publisher of Common Deer Press, a new indie house dedicated to publishing outstanding, imaginative books. Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my journey and what you can expect coming from Common Deer.
Back in the day, the world of publishing was much, much different. People wrote on these crazy contraptions called “typewriters” (that’sˈtīpˌrītər in case you were wondering about the pronunciation of such a ridiculous word). They would produce one copy of a manuscript, bind it all up with strands of magical mermaid hair, then hire the world’s strongest messenger pigeon to deliver it to their editor. The editor would then mark up the manuscript using a pen (that’s a little tube-like contraption that houses ink and is used for cursive writing—that’s writing with your whole hand and not just your thumbs) and send it back to the author, and so the process went on and on until finally the manuscript was complete and ready to go for typesetting…which was a whole other kind of crazy.
Nowadays, we use computers. The process is significantly faster, and since we no longer rely on pterodactyls to carry our manuscripts, authors can submit their work to any number of publishers at a time just with the click of a button. This has led to a significant rise in the number of books produced, and an interesting surge of the types of books that can be made as well. It has also lead to the growth of publishing as an industry, and the higher necessity of nerds and dorks who do the technical bits behind the scenes.
I got into publishing because books are and always have been my bread and butter. I was raised to be a reader—it was bred into me. I, like many of you, began writing at a young age and continued doing so all through my teenage years and into my twenties and thirties. I went to school for English lit and creative writing and knew that books would be my future. Then I began publishing my work in literary magazines and various print compilations, but…that wasn’t satisfying to me. It took me some time to discover that writing was not all there was to books. I wanted to go behind the scenes and learn how to actually make them.
So I went back to school to get an education in publishing. I took courses in all three kinds of editing and got a specialization in editing books intended for young readers. I took courses in book design and production. I loved this work—I still do love this work, which is why I personally make the books we put out at Common Deer with my own blood, sweat, and tears. It’s blissful.
Shortly after completing my schooling I opened a small business where I offered (and still do offer) my services in editing, book design, and book production on a freelance basis. About two weeks after launching that business, I was approached by a small press that was in need of a new editor. And just like that, I was working in-house.
I decided to open my own house after working at a large Canadian publishing house that had a very solid handle on the Canadian book market. It was wonderful working there, and I learned a lot, but I knew that it was not quite right for me—my tastes were different. I wanted to make books that were both wonderful to read as well as works of art to look at. I wanted to publish the unusual.
Hence the birth of Common Deer Press.
Common Deer seeks books that are a bit…different. We don’t mind if the manuscript doesn’t pigeonhole into a specific genre. We like “genre-confused” books that aren’t even sure if they’re fiction or nonfiction—we’re all about diversity. We are committed to publishing books that are stunningly written and that stand out from the crowd visually. Specialness is our only real requirement for submission.
So that’s how our little herd came to be. We saw a hole in the market, and we stepped into it. We look forward to a long and enjoyable existence on this literary planet of ours and can’t wait to see just how weird our authors can get.
Thank you for reading!