Guest Blogger: Clayton Smith on The Dapper Press Experiment

Clayton SmithIf you want to know true humility, go out and tell a stranger that your novel is self-published.

You’ll probably get an eye roll. Sometimes, you’ll even get a laugh. That’s a particularly special brand of humility right there. If you’re lucky, and the person is super polite, you’ll get a halfhearted, “Oh. Cool.” But usually, it’s an eye roll. An infinite, infinite eye roll. Because for all the major leaps forward self-publishing has made over the last few years (according to Hugh Howey’s “The 7k Report,” indie authors are now out-selling Big Five authors), there’s still one major millstone hanging from our collective neck.

The book industry doesn’t take us very seriously.

Those humility-inducing, infinite eye rolls you’ll get when you talk about your self-published work? They’re coming from publishers, and from agents, and from distributors, and from bookstores. Try getting your self-published book on a bookstore shelf, and the owner will ask you, “Who’s your distributor?” Try getting a distributor, and the company will ask you, “Who’s your publisher?” Try getting an agent to help you land a publisher, and the agent will ask you, “How successful are your current sales?” Try to sell more books by getting a bookstore shelf, and, well, we’re back where we started. Right now, it’s pretty hard to get people to take you seriously based on the merits of your book alone.

It’s a broken model, and we aim to fix it.

With myself and co-founder Steven Luna at the helm, Dapper Press is turning the page in self-publishing by setting out to elevate the industry at large. We’re still working out the kinks in our model, but what we know right now is this: In addition to existing as a full-service boutique publishing imprint, Dapper Press will also offer a la carte-style publishing enhancement services for authors looking to self-publish—or even for authors who intend on publishing with a larger house. We’ll provide assistance at every step in the process, from story development and copy editing to interior formatting, book cover design, and marketing strategies. Your book is your baby, and we want to help you prepare your manuscript to make sure it’s in the best possible shape before you present it to the world, no matter how you decide to publish it.

We’re also developing some really great educational materials for writers and a ton of fun programs for readers. While the details are still a little hush-hush right now, we hope to officially unveil the Dapper Press mustache this fall. In the meantime, head on over to to sign up for our mailing list, and follow @DapperPress on Twitter to stay in the loop on all the latest developments on this new experiment in cooperative self-publishing.

Together, we can end the Book Seller’s Infinite Eye Roll once and for all!

Clayton Smith is a sometimes-writer, sometimes-napper based in Chicago, where he uses neither his bachelor’s in journalism nor his master’s in arts management. He is often calamitous, and good at bacon. He lives with his impressively tolerant wife. Clayton will be one of our speakers at this year’s Chicago Writers Conference. To find out more about the conference, click here.

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