Sheer Hubris Press

Sheer hubris is what it takes to publish without the gatekeepers of the publishing world saying yes, you’re worth reading.

Sandra Hutchison decided to start this press years after a number of agents told her that her work was quite good, but not something they could market successfully to publishers in a “very tough fiction market.”

Meanwhile, other folks were telling her they stayed up all night reading it.

She also watched some very talented author friends get published, only to see their literary careers founder when sales were not considered strong enough.

The big publishers are under enormous pressure to return strong profits to their stockholders. They often feel they can’t afford to wait for new authors to build a readership. Many debut novels — especially those that didn’t win huge advances — simply get thrown out into the market to see what will sell. And many good writers, especially if they are not also great marketers, soon discover that their publisher is no longer interested in them.

Hutchison knew something about how to publish and market books. She had worked for over 18 years as a project editor, acquisitions editor, marketing manager, and copywriter/creative director at various publishing companies and an ad agency. But rather than persist — the number one requirement for successful publishing of any kind — she focused on other things. She did write the next book, but she also taught and raised her son and gardened obsessively.

In 2013,  she considered hauling out the old rejection binder and trying one more round with agents and publishers, if only to cross it off her to-do list.

Then she thought: Why?

Technology had made it easy to create her own publishing company. Non-crazy people were writing and selling books on their own. She already had a lot of the skills required. It wouldn’t take a huge investment to e-publish. She could find her readers slowly, even if it took years.

So that’s what she did, though she also respects traditional publishers and bookstores and all the complicated, valuable work that they do. As a reader, she’s grateful for many of the authors and booksellers who manage to prosper under the current system. But she also enjoys reading indie writers, whose books often have a little more individual flair than the stuff that gets past pub meetings.

200 pix pg13Something new that didn’t work

Borrowing a technique from the world of fanfic, Sandra started out offering a PG-13 edition of her first novel for readers who would prefer to avoid explicit sex and bad language. She still believes this is a good idea in a digital world. Unfortunately, it led to confusion, created twice the amount of product management, and produced only 2% of the sales. So she abandoned that idea.

So how’s it going?

TheAwfulMess_3DIt’s had its ups and downs. The Awful Mess was one of five semi-finalists for the general fiction in Amazon’s 2014 (and last) Breakthrough Novel Award. It enjoyed a stint in Prime Reading and continued to sell well enough five years later that Hutchison  was asked to sell the audio rights to Tantor Media. She obliged, so an audiobook of that novel is now available on Audible and elsewhere.

The three novels that followed, also stand-alones, haven’t done as well as the first.  There’s more competition and traditional publishers now dominate some areas that indies discovered early (like BookBub and Amazon Advertising). Amazon also blocked the second from being advertised on its platform. But Sandra continues writing and publishing because she enjoys the writing, and she enjoys hearing from readers.

If you want to be a writer, know that it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Neither indies nor traditional authors are advised to quit their day jobs until the income is steady and certain (and the taxes are paid). It’s a fickle business.

But as all writers know, it’s lovely to be read. Sandra loves to hear from her readers, either in reviews, or emails, or via Goodreads, or anywhere.

Recent Posts

If you’re reading this, you survived 2021!

And so did I, although it’s been a bit scary lately. There’s the omicron variant; there are tornadoes demolishing entire towns; there are people being shooed out of a Costco into blowing smoke and ashes. And I won’t even get into politics.

For me the last two months have also offered the banal middle-class horror of Lots of Stuff Breaking at Once. I unexpectedly require a new boiler, a more reliable car, minor (but expensive) dental work, and minor (but expensive) surgery for Penny the cat.

Penny irritated at the attention I’m giving a book.

It could be a lot worse. I have savings. I still have a house to put a new boiler into, unlike a lot of other folks. I still have my teeth AND my cat. And I haven’t lost anyone dear to Covid or anything else, knock wood.

It’s good that the new variant seems a little less brutal, at least to the vaccinated, since we’re all getting rather “whatever” about it. Last week I finally managed to get my hands on four home tests, but my stepdaughter agreed that using them was kind of pointless since they’d already had a bunch of exposures that week. We still went, because it was Christmas, and I hadn’t seen them in ages, and those kids were due for some pumpkin muffins. (The tests will come in handy before I fly to visit my folks this winter, assuming the plane actually takes off.)

If the pandemic taught me anything, it’s that I have too long taken for granted the ability to get together with people I enjoy. Like many of us, I want to do more of that in 2022.

Which brings us to RESOLUTIONS…

Yeah, no, let’s just call them GOALS

(Maybe they’re a little less likely to be quickly abandoned that way.)

Besides the getting together: 1) Take care of all the broken-down issues without much more agonizing, 2) Get back in the product management groove with the books, 3) Lift weights at least twice a week instead of maybe once every two or three weeks when I finally stop saying I’ll do it tomorrow, and 4) Work towards giving a full 10% of my income to charity on a monthly basis instead of trying to figure it out at the end of the year when (cough) I might suddenly be facing a whole host of unexpected expenses.

Yes, part of me is thinking but isn’t it a good thing you didn’t spend all that money already? Because you sure as heck need it now! But I don’t think it really works like that. Have two coats, give one away, that’s the ideal Jesus preached. And I still literally have at least three coats. (Four, if you count a really ratty one I ought to throw out.) If I’ve already spent that money, I’ll adjust as I go along. If life as an adjunct and a writer has taught me anything, it’s how to cut back on expenses.

Oh, and while the ten percent goal comes from the Biblical concept of tithing, it’s not all going to my church. I’ve been involved enough with that organization’s budget to know that while it requires my regular support, too, if I want to actually feed the poor, help heal the sick, build affordable housing, etc., I’d better support various charities that actually focus on that and do it well: Feeding America, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and more, including good local charities. And most of them would benefit from steady monthly donations instead of the usual end-of-year clumps.

So I commend them to your planning for 2022, too.

So that’s it. Maybe I’ll publish the next book, or maybe I’ll hold it until I have a sequel written. I’m planning to read FEWER books in 2022, because I got to 122 I liked enough to recommend on Goodreads this year and that’s ridiculous. (That’s either #123 up there in the photo with Penny or #1 for 2022.)

And tell me your goals for 2022 if you’d like. I’ve changed the moderation on posts so that those of you who’ve had comments approved before will get published without having to wait for me to notice your comment waiting.

P.S. If you’d like more of a catch-up on my writing, I was recently the subject of a lovely interview by Suanne Schafer. Folks are telling me it’s a good read, and I certainly enjoyed doing it.














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