Sometimes there are moments you can point to in your career or life that definitely changes the path you wander on. I’ve been working on the back end of some small press organizations doing slush work, some promotions and beta reading. At the end of 2013 had decided to really push my writing and get submissions out and work hard on my short stories. But then I was approached by Jennifer to work as her personal assistant and help promote Apocalypse Ink Productions.
Being a minion wasn’t anything new to me. I’ve been behind the lines in publishing for a little while, but this was a bit different than what I had had been doing. I’d be responsible for roundups, blog posts and updating various platforms. I’d be helping authors promote their work and answering questions to problems. I’d have a much more visible role in publishing.
I jumped at the chance and I’m so very glad I did.
Publishing--no matter if it’s a large or small company--takes a lot of personnel to get everything done. It is possible for one person to start a publication and hold down the fort without assistance but at some point, he/she’s going to have to have help. As the slush pile grows, the editing challenges get harder and the distribution becomes more diverse, having people designated to do certain job takes a lot of stress off of the owner/publisher. Without help burn out is not only a possibility but a certainty.
Many independent publishers rely a lot on volunteers and this is a great place for newer writers to learn a lot about the publishing industry. There’s always an open call for slush readers somewhere and most people can find a publication to read for in a short amount of time. Slush reading really does help a writer learn to identify what works in a story and what doesn’t. It’s often one of the factors that begins the change of an okay writer to a good writer.
But volunteers also learn other things too. Sometimes they get to work with authors by editing stories or checking for errors before publication. They also might get to help out with promotions by sharing posts or signal boosting.
Working for AIP and Jennifer has allowed me to do this and much more. I’ve helped organize a Q&A for blogs for the authors of a box set. After finding a list of about 500 reviewers I’ve finally pared it down to those who are still active, and found and added several who weren’t on it. I’ve written press releases, contacted reviewers and set up interviews along with checking stories for errors prior to publication and much more.
And in the next year I’m sure there will be more minion challenges. I’m learning all I can, not only because I think it’s important for authors to at least have an idea of how publishing works but perhaps one day I’ll start a publishing imprint of my own (not in the near future I assure you!) There is still so much more to learn and I’m happy to figure out the puzzles that are handed my way.
So if you ever get a chance to become a minion--volunteer or paid position--jump at it. You are going to learn a lot about publishing and writing. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it.
The Shadow Minion