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Why I Chose to Self-Publish
Mary at book signingI celebrate the value that small presses contribute to society. When "profits" and the "bottom-line" are the only considerations in making business decsions, many people with creative and innovative capabilities don't get a chance to develop their talents through meaningful employment. The "establishment" book publishing industry wants authors who can produce best-sellers, so the the publishers can sell millions of copies. They publish celebrities, many of whom do not write their own books. Sales go wild for a while, but then interest wanes, and thousands of books get sold at low prices, and many more are destroyed.

I believe that this whole phenomenon helps contribute to a "dumbing down" of the culture. It drives us towards mediocrity, rather than excellence. People with quality ideas don't get the opportunity to express them because the publishers take on projects that will sell lots of books, not necessarily lead to people living better lives with greater insight.

I speak as an insider on this subject. I would have had a very difficult time trying to find an establishment publisher publish my book., Worms Eat My Garbage. They would never have thought enough people would be interested in buying a copy to warrant investing in the project.

My goal, however, was not to make lots of money, but to influence people's thinking. To get them to think differently about waste, and give them tools to deal with it. Self-publishing my book was the way I could do that. So I learned what I had to learn to be able to do so.

If I did it once, I could do it again. So I did. I learned from other small publishers whose books taught me about marketing and publicity, and design, and what kind of numbers you need to apply for, such as the ISBN number. When a local ophthalmologist called me and said his son had written a book about diabetes that needed to get out there so teens with diabetes could see how serious the situation was, I knew I could help get the word out. A beautiful little gem of a book, Diabetes at 14: Choosing Tighter Control for an Active Life by Bill Melluish is the result.

I self-publish because I can use all of my creative abilities in a variety of ways. I do it because I can get direct feedback from the people whose lives are changed by the content and spirit of my books. I savor the fact that I can provide meaningful work for my two employees. I relish the opportunity to grow in the myriad ways that publishing demands. I love the people I meet and interact with because I put my thoughts and ideas on the line in printed form.. Small Press Publishing, to me, contributes not only to my own health, and vitality, spirit, and joy, but to the health, vitality, spirit and joy of my culture. Blessed be. – Mary Applehoff

Mary Appelhof founded Flower Press in 1976. Her self-published books include Ms. Fortune 500 (1978), Worms Eat My Garbage (1982, revised 1997), and Worms Eat Our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better Environment, with Mary Frances Fenton and Barbara Loss Harris (1993). Flower Press published The Worm Cafe: Mid-scale Vermicomposting of Lunchroom Wastes by Binet Payne in 1999, and Diabetes at 14: Choosing Tighter Control for an Active Life by Bill Melluish in 2000. Flowerfield Enterprises deeply grieves the passing of Mary Appelhof on May 4, 2005. Her energy, wisdom and laughter will be profoundly missed. Workers and friends from all over the world will strive to keep Mary's legacy alive. Flowerfield Enterprises will continue to provide quality vermicomposting products and information.

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