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Meerkat Publications
A Little Bit of History

Photo: S. Nagel, Pixabay

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       It was early 1993 when I completed my first novel, Death For Cause. Although it's hard to imagine today, the Internet was so undeveloped then that there was no online mechanism through which to self-publish. And researching literary agents and publishers required a trip to the library. So off I went to the library to compile a list of people and companies to approach about publishing my novel.
      When I packaged up my manuscript and sent it to potential publishers, I had high hopes, but they were dashed in short order. My packages were returned to sender without even being opened. So, in 1994, I decided to become my own publisher.
      A fun part of the adventure was to choose a name my publishing company. I easily decided on "Meerkat Publications" because meerkats were one of my father's favorite animals. He had recently passed away from ALS and I wanted to somehow connect my venture to him in tribute. I did a search of government records in California, where I was living at the time, and no one else was using the mark, so I adopted it.
      In early 1995, I obtained two important documents: my copyright on the novel, and an assignment of a Library of Congress Catalog Card Number with the publisher listed as Meerkat Publications. Also, using Meerkat Publishing as my newly minted company imprint, I ordered a set of ISBNs from RR Bowker.


       After getting bids from several printers, I placed an order for some copies of Death For Cause. Once I had a garage full of book boxes, Meerkat Publications was in business. I sold many copies over then next couple of years, but unfortunately I had gone with the least expensive printer and within about three years, the glue on the binding began to fail and the remaining books were unsellable. At the time, I had no more funds to devote to reprinting. But soon, self-printing became unnecessary.

       In 2000, there was a revolution of sorts. Amazon started Create Space, an online self-publishing initiative. I decided to go with on-demand printing through Amazon, which allowed me to use my Meerkat company imprint, but without a garage full of books and the hassle of handling and shipping.

       Online print-on-demand has been glorious for self-publishers. Although I still have a deep appreciation for traditional big publishing houses (and wish they'd discover me!), I am so grateful for the online self-publishing services that give small imprints like my Meerkat Publications a way to sell books and thrive.

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