From the Editor

About 5000 years ago, a wise Assyrian man wrote on a primitive clay tablet: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.

This was one of the first self-published authors, as at that time no publishers, literary agents, magazines, or reviewers existed. And yet, millenniums later, we can apply his words to contemporary way of life in all countries around the globe.Cicero’s ”O tempora o mores!” is true in its sardonic meaning to just about any moment in the history of humanity.

Of particular interest to us, men (and women) of letters, in this tablet, is the mention that every man wanted to write a book. Literacy then was extremely rare; writing words on stones and clay tablets was tedious and time consuming; writing a novel of average size, about 70,000 words, would have taken generations of labour, and in the end, nobody, except archeologists, would be able or interested in reading it. With the proliferation of literacy and efficient printing technology, hundreds of thousand of independent authors and small publishers can afford publish their books. With the advent of electronic books, the ease of electronic publishing, social media marketing, and many other technologies, the ancient dream of men and women is quickly becoming a reality: everyone who wants to write and publish a book can do it. Most of their works have very limited or no readership. The writers just contribute to the profits of companies offering services to self-publishing authors, or to reviewers who charge for their services, paid-for awards, and to the ghost of other profiteers who thrive on the naïveté of aspiring authors.

In North America, there are about 14 million writers, or wanna-be-writers. They flood all publishers and literary agents, small and large, with tons of submission papers and terabits of electronic submissions. It is virtually impossible to read them all. The existing selection process is far from perfect: mediocre, dull works, boasting elegant quotations from ’reputable’ reviewers, can be found on thousands of web sites. According to Bowker, more than 300,000 titles have been published last year world wide. Add to this self-published titles, and the number jumps to whooping 2.7 mln. titles. Is it possible for a reader to select the best books from this vast universe of publications?

There were times when the trademark of a big publisher was a good enough indicator of a book’s quality. Not anymore. Sometimes small publishers produce books that are the same or better quality by authors rejected by big publishing companies. However, with a limited budget and no influence on big-time reviewers and mass media, they have little chance to compete.

Submissions to major awards seldom do any good for the small guys. Again, the biggest sponsors of major awards are big publishers; the jury in these awards – surprise, surprise – is made up of authors published by the sponsors. Is there any among them who would dare to reject a book submitted by his publisher, in favour of one, submitted by a small publisher?

The list of obstacles is endless. And yet, some small publishers thrive. Their books eventually make their way up to the level of broad readership, get attention from movie producers, and climb to the top sellers list. The timeliest evidence of this is the 2011 Man Booker Prize: 4 titles from independent publishers have been shortlisted!

We, at Asteroid Publishing, try to read every manuscript and select the best. Sometimes a good manuscript is rejected for various reasons. We sincerely wish these authors the best of luck with other publishers. We believe, however, that our final selection makes the difference.

One Response to “Home”
  1. Publishers such as Asteroid Publishing are part of a new breed of publishers, as I see it. They are truly attempting to give everyone an equal platform in this very challenging world of publishing. And because the portals available to new and upcoming authors are so microscopically small in comparison to the number of authors trying to squeeze their works through those channels, it is a real plus that Asteroid Publishing is making the effort to keep the doors open to everyone. I am particularly happy to be part of the Asteroid family, and I know, that in due time, in spite of a small advertising budget and the daunting competition with other publishing houses that Asteroid faces, that they will get my book off the launching pad – not to mention, I hope, the next in the series to follow.

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