A dying art

(We’re in our 4th day of power and water outages here in TX but I had written this just before so I’m posting it now via my phone:)

I understand when people submit work to the publishing company I work with and they are rejected and feel badly. I understand because there is a formula in the publishing world that goes something like this;

If you are the IT person of the moment, if you possess the right age, gender, skin color, ethnicity, immigration status, political affiliation, tattoos, etc., etc., then you might get published on that basis alone. Whether good or bad, you are the dish du jour.

If you are not the above, then you either graft away for years, building a network until you are published. Or you give up.

But in between those extremes, there are those like myself who work long full time jobs and still want to occasionally publish something. We submit to submission calls periodically and many times are astounded at the rudeness of rejections. Or watch as less talented folk get published because of ‘who they know’ or they fit a criterion.

When we produced The Kali Project, we were told by many, that we were ‘so polite and thoughtful’ which saddened us to think (and know from personal experience) how unkind the publishing world can be and how it doesn’t have to be.

Why would you want to tear someone down just because you can?

We receive some really ‘poor’ work but we always treat people with respect. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Many ‘poor’ writers end up becoming quite accomplished, if you give them encouragement to improve.

Recently I was recommended to a publisher by an agent friend of mine, as being a good place to submit my own fictional book. The response to my submission was: “We did not find this interesting at all and have no wish to pursue.” Granted, that must be their opinion and they absolutely have a right to it, but could they have said it differently? Given 3 large heads in publishing pushed me to try to get the book published, I’m pretty sure it’s not without merit. There are just better ways of responding.

A dear friend of mine who is a famous, published writer, told me one of her first books was reviled by over 100 publishers before a small publisher took a risk and now, she’s a worldwide best-selling author. So, if this happens to you and trustworthy people have said you have talent, don’t let it stop you.

It is so easy to tear someone down and so easy to build them up. I don’t contribute as much as I would like to this world but I hope I support others and encourage them if nothing else. Obviously positive-criticism has a strong place at the table. But cruelty should not.

The creation of SMITTEN; Interview with Kindra M. Austin

Interview with Kindra M. Austin one of the two co-founders of Indie Blu(e) publishing by SMITTEN editor, Candice Daquin.

Candice: Indie Blu(e) is a young, edgy and finger to the pulse type of micro publishing gig. What went into its inception? What forces created Indie Blu(e)? What influences?

Kindra: When Christine and I first encountered one another, we recognized straight away that we share a passion for not only writing, but for helping other writers hone their creative voices. I think we first began talking about joining forces to build a publishing company in 2017. In 2018, we realized we already had the bones to build upon with the Indie Blu(e) Network, which we co-founded. The IBN began as a source for readers and writers to discover indie authors, and authors published through small presses.

Our shared vision has always been to represent the unconventional and underappreciated. Knowing what we wanted to represent was the easy part: razor edged, badass, blow a hole through societal norms types of writing. Christine and I spoke at great length regarding our mission, which is to work in a close partnership with our authors to create books that shine, and reflect the talent of the writers. Speaking for myself, I can’t imagine operating a press that didn’t focus on the aforementioned. My influences come from those who do things their own way. I don’t have the heart to do anything otherwise.

Christine and I definitely bet on our combined reputations as writers and editors when we announced the birth of Indie Blu(e) Publishing, and I know we were both happily surprised by the volume of submissions we received early on. Our submissions list continues to grow, and that is a personal success because it speaks to the trust we’ve earned in the writing community. The level of faith these writers have in us is humbling, and drives us to best ourselves with each new project.

Candice: I was fortunate enough to be asked by the founding members of Indie Blu(e) to come onboard. It struck me early on that Indie Blu(e) are unique in that you are not just a typical micro publishing house. As conceptualizers and publishers you have a very strong principle in the choices you make with publishing and it can be said you galvanize and bring together people over very powerful themes.

What do you think are the reasons you operate this way? What benefits do you believe come from linking your beliefs with your publishing acumen? How has IB shifted the micro publishing world by combining strong ideas with publishing? Did you feel a moral responsibility to do this? Did you talk about why this was important? After the Kavanaugh hearings and the #metoo movement, how did We Will Not Be Silenced come to be created?

Kindra: We make it easy for one another to use our individual platforms, sources, and Indie Blu(e) Publishing as a vehicle for advocacy because we all believe in the power of the collective voice. Personally speaking, I have always believed that as a writer, I have the power, privilege, and duty to speak for those who aren’t being heard, and who are marginalized.

I’m incredibly proud that IB has marched to the front line with We Will Not Be Silenced, and that the proceeds from WWNBS go to charities. So yes, I felt a moral responsibility. During the Kavanaugh hearings, there was a fire burning in the pit of me. When Christine suggested a collection of writings and art imparted by sexual assault and harassment survivors, I was all in without hesitation. And I think that a micro-publisher willing to speak so loudly and intimately about its beliefs shows its golden balls. In my dreams of success, Indie Blu(e) Publishing will be at the forefront of anthologies that shatter the foundations built by bureaucrats, hatred, selfishness, fear mongering, and willful ignorance.

Candice: I came onboard to work with you during the creation of We Will Not Be Silenced. In turn this influenced me to consider SMITTEN. Thanks to your idea of bringing voices together, I could see the value of an anthology of poets writing about love between women. You were open to the idea – why do you care so much about giving voices to those who are usually not heard?

Kindra: I’m too empathic not to. A lot of people don’t get upset enough over injustice and uncaring to rise up and help. I don’t understand that at all, and I don’t want to. I never want to know what it’s like to live quietly while my brothers and sisters of this world are suffering.

Candice: Since I have known you both, I have seen a powerful wave of influence coming from ideas you regularly have, where you create projects and communities and collectives and this raises the awareness and voices of authors we may not otherwise hear from. What are your influencing reason(s) for being so socially conscious? Do you think it is a prerequisite of someone in your position as publishers?

Kindra: A lot of my writing influences are authors who are/were involved in raising awareness and advocating in one way or another. Again, I see it as a privilege, and my duty to do the same. A lot of writers we are introduced to have important messages and sensitive life experiences they want to purge, and we hear the call to give them safe and secure outlets to speak their truths. If I weren’t socially conscious, I’d make for a poor publisher, I think.

Candice: Recently you have had a very successful series of poetry prompts on feminism and feminist books including many lesbian classics. Many of the authors in SMITTEN have participated and become part of your growing community of authors – thanks to your inclusive approach to authors and good ideas. Is this a necessary part of being a relevant and sensitive publisher?

Kindra: Absolutely. If IB ever lost that, I’d have to walk away. But that would never happen, so no worries.

Candice: What goals do you see going forward with Indie Blu(e) based especially on the wide influence you have already had in the writers communities?

Kindra: I’d like Indie Blu(e) to publish fiction. I’m a novelist at heart, and I’d love to work on crazy good novel. Also, we have a lot of great anthology ideas. I’d like to see IB at the front of micro-publishers who represent the best up and coming writers.

Candice: Is Indie Blu(e) a publishing house with a social conscience and if so, do you believe we should all aspire to consider this when committing to creative endeavors?

Kindra: Yes, we have a social conscience, and IB gravitated toward social issues and advocacy naturally. While I do believe we should all develop a strong social conscience and stand by our principles, I don’t think that every project needs to address feminism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc. IB is in a position where we can represent both gripping, entertaining fiction, and collections like WWNBS and SMITTEN.

Candice: With SMITTEN you were gracious enough to be a huge support in its creation. Why are you able to tap into the depths of a project and relate to it, even if it’s not exactly like your own lives? How did you learn to be responsive to subjects diverse to your own lives? And sensitive to the needs of minorities when dealing with neglected subjects such as rape, sexual abuse, lesbianism and inequality at large?

Kindra: I don’t know exactly why I can relate to people and experiences different from me and my own, other than to say that I’m highly empathic, and I’ve been around diversity my whole life; I’ve always had friends who were different from the majority, and I saw them struggle with misunderstanding and cruelty. I’ve also experienced a lot of direct disparagement.

I’ve been close with women who’ve been raped, my mother and sister being two of them. I grew up around domestic and sexual violence. I’ve spoken up for my cousin, and the children of some of my friends who are mistreated because of their sexual orientation. For me, it’s all about being human. To see another human being suffering in any way makes me ill, and the only level of relief for me is to use my platforms to address the issues.

I’m incredibly proud to be a part of SMITTEN. There’s no way I could have passed on the opportunity, and I thank you, Candice, for including me in this stellar project.

For information on SMITTEN please go to https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/ and if you want to purchase SMITTEN it is now available via KINDLE and hardback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1951724003/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Candice+daquin&qid=1572275732&sr=8-3 among other book sellers. If we all purchase one copy we raise this projects awareness and make it more possible for future necessary projects to exist!

For up-to-date information about who Indie Blu(e) is publishing, check out their site at www.indieblu.net or their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/indieblupublishing/\

Kindra M. Austin can be found at https://www.facebook.com/kindra.m.austin.author/