RHP senior editor Pam van Dyk and I were in Spartanburg, SC, last weekend for the SIBA conference. It was marvelous to connect with a crowd of passionate bibliophiles from indie bookstores and other independent presses. The indie book scene is such a vibrant, innovative space, one that is propelled forward by those who care deeply about connecting readers with books – and that dedication was certainly on display at SIBA. It was our first year attending; we were delighted by the warm welcome that we received, and we left with a renewed commitment (not that it had ever wavered) to find ways to support and promote our local indie bookstores that play such a vital role in our respective communities. It was exciting to be a part of the literary hubbub and to cheer on other indie presses that are beginning operations and to connect with and learn from those who are entering their second decade of successful operation.
Publishing can be a tricky business to navigate. In the first year or two of Regal House operations, I had innumerable questions and much to learn—not having entered the field via any conventional route—and Joe Biel of Microcosm Publishing in Portland was unstintingly generous with his time and advice (I highly recommend his recent book to any venturing into the publishing field: A People’s Guide to Publishing. I am inserting a link here directly to Microcosm’s website, since the very best way you can support an indie press is to purchase their titles directly from their website! Unless a brick-and-mortar bookseller is hosting an event – and then we would encourage you to attend their event, get a signed copy, and support your local bookstore!)
It has been five years now since the founding of Regal House Publishing, and I could not have imagined then the enterprise that we are now, with a nonprofit arm, two imprints, a dedicated editorial team, over ninety phenomenally talented authors in our RHP community, and titles being released all over the world. And in truth, ninety percent of that growth has transpired in just the past twelve months!
My strong feeling, half a decade down the line, is that our House must be built (for, indeed, the construction never ends!) on generosity and respect —with a generosity of spirit, as demonstrated by Joe Biel, to assist, nurture, and promote opportunities for others in the field, whether they be new to the publishing field or aspiring authors; and a respect for the awe-inspiring talent of the authors who populate our House, each of whom has labored many a year over the manuscript they entrust to us; a respect for our hard-working editorial staff who burn the midnight oil in advance of distribution deadlines and who unfailingly volunteer their time to work on our nonprofit Pact Press anthologies; a respect for our distribution partners, IPG, who work tirelessly to get our titles on to bookstore shelves; a respect for brick-and-mortar indie booksellers who are battling minimum wage hikes (without the option of raising product prices), price undercuts by Amazon, and the ever-pressing costs of overhead; a respect for our printing partners, McNaughton & Gunn, who work diligently to supply beautifully printed copies of our catalog, right here in the U.S. For they, too, like other printers nationwide, are battling hikes in the cost of paper, just as cheap printing rates offered by China lure business across the ocean; and a respect for debut authors who are sending out their literary everything, whose bravery astounds and humbles me on a daily basis.
The publishing industry, with all its knotted complexities, is not for the faint of heart, but I delight daily in being a part of it.
Jaynie Royal is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Regal House Publishing and the Director of Literary Outreach at Regal House Initiative. She is the author of the historical fiction novel, Killing the Bee King, and lives and works in the lovely city of Raleigh, NC, in company with her husband, three children, and a Great Pyrenees puppy called Max.