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Gatekeepers and Creativity


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I signed my book deal with Red Hen Press over two years ago, before COVID times if you can even remember those days! It comes out on June 7th and I’m in the freak-out-and-get-ready phase right now. The process of working with this indie press has been very positive and I’d be happy to chat about it sometime. (Do I recommend Red Hen Press for other authors? Yes!)

But the funny thing is that, while having this good experience with a small press, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the gatekeepers involved in getting a thing out there into the world. I’m using the term “gatekeepers” loosely because in some cases these gatekeepers are more in my head than in real life. But there are quite a few folks involved in the process of getting my book out the door. There is my agent, there is my publisher, there’s a publicity person, a media person, and the list goes on. I’m honored to work with these people, but it’s a lot of voices (on top of the voices in my head). There’s another element of the process around anticipating reviews from the big reviewers like Kirkus Reviews or Publisher’s Weekly. What if they love it? What if they hate it? (So far the news is good, but…) There are just a lot of steps and a lot of rules between finishing the book and sharing the book with the world.

All this to say that it takes a lot of mental space for me to manage this process and I continually re-assess whether I’m going through each step because I believe in it, or because others want me to do it. I think I’m going down a road that I believe in, but some days it feels… complicated. I have a tendency to want to please people and I have to keep that people-pleaser voice in check.

And that’s why I’m particularly giddy about how many avenues we creative people have at our disposal to get stuff out there on our own terms without any gatekeepers stopping us or assessing us. We can self-publish stories and essays and books, we can pump out YouTube videos, we can make a podcast, or TikTok our way to fame, or blog about all the bloggy things we’ve ever dreamed of blogging about.

There are many difficult aspects about what we’re facing right now as I sit here in the middle of 2022, worrying about the many things to worry about. But one amazing aspect about right now is how many ways we can share our cool creations with an audience.

ANYWAY, this little video is just me savoring this opportunity we have to get our creative stuff out in the world on our own schedule and on our own terms, even if we also embrace (and even celebrate) some traditional methods at the same time.

How do y’all think about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? Big press vs. small press? New platforms vs. old platforms? Where do you see yourself most happy along this landscape?

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About Yuvi Zalkow

Yuvi Zalkow's first novel was reluctantly published in 2012 by MP Publishing. His forthcoming novel (I Only Cry with Emoticons) will be published by Red Hen Press in June of 2022. His stories and essays have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, The Daily Dot, Rosebud, The Poop Report, and others. He occasionally makes YouTube videos and apps for iPhones. Check out his website if you actually want to find out more.

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