top of page

Dealing with Submissions as an Indie Publisher

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

(This post was first published in Jul 2022)

As we prepare to re-open our Submissions window and savour the fetid air wafting in from struggling writers who have been waiting all this time without toilet facilities, we reflect upon what we have learned about the process since our first invitation to submit back in 2020, and how we've been dealing with submissions as an indie publisher. We were no stranger to the ‘no feedback’ approach in relation to rejections; an approach that had for so long kept the writer at arm’s length insofar as communication with publishing or editing staff was concerned. Our aim, from the outset, was to be different. We wanted to engage with our potential authors, our potential clients; and more so, our fellow writers and creators. Lengthy and detailed responses accompanying rejected submissions were met with pleasant surprise and gratitude, perhaps eroding the perceived walls thrown up by corporate buyouts over decades of turmoil in the publishing industry. It was – no, it is – no wonder that self-publishing is the monster it is today.

That said, our approach was not without its pitfalls, as we encountered writers who apparently wanted opinions and advice that they would otherwise need to pay for in their road towards self-publication. Yes, there were some who appeared to have no interest in being published by us – one writer stated this clearly following our rejection e-mail. There were even those who never responded to offers of publication. A simple ‘No, thank you’ would have sufficed.

Yet we chalked all this up to learning and chose not to allow these bumps in the road to deter us. Our mission and our vision remain the same, and there are points of contact to which we wish to hold:

  • Encouraging those whose confidence is perhaps waning by offering constructive criticism as much as possible – always assuming, of course, that they’re able to handle it! If you’re easily offended, please don’t submit to us. You’re probably not right for our label, anyway.

  • Involving our authors in the creative process leading to the production of their book and the fulfilment of their vision. Our artists have to this point been patient and accommodating and all round appreciative of the chance to work with us. We remain in awe of their skills, and it is, of course, we who are appreciative.

  • Assuring that every author’s work receives the same attention to detail and investment of passion in the production and marketing of their publication (we are far from a marketing powerhouse, but we press on in anticipation of same).

  • Becoming a recognisable brand in the publishing industry through consistent brand identity, integrity and transparency. We will not take on just any titles for the sake of expanding our potential reach – we publish only what we enjoy reading, and we want our authors to feel in appropriate company as we grow. You will not see a self-help book beside a crime thriller above erotica on our website! (I have a secret stash of the latter, you understand)

From all of this, some interesting issues arise – issues of credibility. The frustration authors feel as they try to build credibility is very much felt at our end, too. For as long as we lack the credibility readers automatically afford larger, long-established labels, we will not be able to impact the market to the same degree. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, as you humans say. I never really liked the place, anyway. Too many hippies in bedsheets with leaves in their hair. But I digress…

I remember many years ago, at the London Book Fair – I was in Cosplay as a Human, you know how it is – noticing how many of the publishing labels I had become familiar with had been reduced, it seemed, to just another branch on a corporate tree. I won’t name any of these corporations, of course – it took a while and copious amounts of all-bran to dislodge the last tracking device – but if you know anything about the industry, you’ll know what I mean. My point is that to appreciate the decisions made by publishers, it is important to educate yourself about the structure of the industry. Publishing is, after all, a business, and forasmuch as we at Temple Dark want nothing more than to bring wonderful titles to market, we very much hope we sell our cow for more than a handful of beans (we paid a lot for that cow and committed a lot of time towards its development). I’ve climbed the beanstalk, and it’s all condos as far as the eye can see. Not a giant in sight! There was a lovely restaurant with goose on the menu, though…

Nowadays, the only giant at the top of the beanstalk runs a massive company named after a large river. You know the one. So, instead of you giving all your hard-earned money to publishing companies, you’re helping to prop up a megalomaniac. Go, you.

But I jest…and lest this bitterness ruin my tentacle soup, I instead look forward to the next round of vict- uh…submissions from authors who have kindly recognised the potential in our label. Perhaps you might join our ambitious ranks – it is our sincere aspiration that you grow as we grow. Our next newsletter will have all the details you require.

And now for my final pun…

Will you all please join me in reading this in your best McConaughey?

All write, all write, all write!

…I’ll get my coats.

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page