Publishing as a Creative Endeavor

I think if asked what I do as a publisher, most of my friends and family would have a difficult time explaining exactly it is that occupies some of my time. I say some of my time because this is certainly not my "job." Yes, I own a small business. Yes, I sell stuff online and yes, I have a website and social media pages but what am I trying to accomplish? What does it mean to be a book publisher and what drives me to pursue a line of business that is always changing, often frustrating, not always clear what I am supposed to be doing, and not exactly the best way to get rich quick?

This may sound strange but ever since about twelve years old I was enthralled with music. Mind you, I cannot sing or play any instruments but I loved listening to music and thought it would be the coolest thing to produce music or discover the next new artist or band. When the Grunge scene began and took hold in Seattle, often my friends and I would be checking out new bands in small venues. 

But alas, instead of pursuing a career in entertainment management after college, I went to law school. As an attorney I have practiced in various venues but for me the most rewarding time was when I had my own firm and represented the interests of my clients. Mainly as a criminal defense attorney, I walked them through a complicated process. We made decisions based upon my advice and research and experience. It felt good to be able to help and have the opportunity to impact people's lives in a good way.

Life has brought me the ability to live in various locations, jurisdictions and countries. I married a Navy guy and I have taken several bar exams but after the birth of our twin sons and a deployment to Sicily, Italy, it was time to do something new. I have always been a creative person at heart although it took me until my 30's to embrace it. My favorite part about being a trial lawyer had always been writing my closing statement. In law school writing instructors strip away any hint of creativity for the sake of the argument but I found after practicing for a few years that through creativity you are able to communicate more effectively in a brief, motion and most of all in the closing argument. It is where you have the most freedom to create and really communicate with the jury. I began oil painting in my 30s as well. Having the ability to create has since been an important part of my life. 

I began Gemelli Press in 2008 out of curiosity of the publishing industry, wanting to publish my own book and wanting to help others get published. Over the course of the last 9 years, I have learned that publishing is a mix of managing a business, gambling, walking authors through a complicated process, author therapist and most of all it is a creative endeavor. Much like discovering a new band or music artist, discovering an author that I would want to work with is much the same thing. Working with them to design a cover, typeset, market and edit is all a creative endeavor. I sort of did have my record label after all. But here's the thing. the creative life is not an easy life as much as it is rewarding. So many times, I have been on the brink of questioning it all with thoughts of quitting but for some reason I just can't.

Last year in May, life took a turn when my husband and I decided his current work situation was not working out. He was miserable and although the pay was great, he was exhausted, stressed and his health was deteriorating. We took the summer off and travelled and camped in National Parks. In the fall, I returned to practicing law part time and he took a temporary part time job. We decided to put our house on the market and soon thereafter, he was offered a job on the other side of the country in North Carolina. 

Moving across country with 2 boys, 2 cats, a dog and lots of furniture and shoes is quite time consuming and many things were placed on the back burner, including Gemelli Press. I was once again questioning what was I doing? Have I let down enough of my authors? It's tough to read bad reviews but the great reviews make up for it in spades. Was I tired of the criticism? Was I tired of putting my brand out there?  Was I tired of thinking up new ways for authors to reach readers. Was I tired of getting a new submission?

Last month I was in Barnes and Noble in Winston Salem with my sons when, I saw Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear.  I picked it up and began reading. I knew right away that I need this book at this moment. Big Magic affirmed that treating book publishing as a creative endeavor. One of my most favorite chapters has to do with persistence. Much of the book is about writing and keeping on writing and honing your skills. She recommends that you keep your day job which for me has always been lawyering for me and not to treat your creative endeavors as a career but a vocation. This makes publishing and helping others self publishing by walking them through the process something much more rewarding. So I will continue and hope that even if Gemelli Press doesn't take on your book you will continue persisting and creating.  

Kari Hock, Managing Editor

Mount Airy, NC