Savage sees start of new publishing wave

by Nathan Warner
Contributing writer

Local author Heather Savage has brought professional, affordable book publishing home to Zimmerman.

HK Savage

Savage launched Staccato Publishing in March of 2011, reaching out to authors worldwide that share her vision of what independent, local, grassroots book publishing looks like.  “We’re writers that don’t need to sell a million copies of a book to consider ourselves successful,” she says, “We measure success by the people around us that enjoy our writing.”

Savage is the author of the Empath Trilogy and “Life Blood,” which have sold over 2,000 copies and have fans in more than 19 countries. As owner of Staccato Publishing, a small-scale, independent book publishing company in Zimmerman that she jump-started in March, she publishes authors in the mystery/thriller and paranormal genres.

The company currently employs five editors and draws on a developing network of reviewers that work with new and established authors.  Far from limiting herself to local authors, Savage takes on writers from as far away as Australia and presently features the work of Jay Mims, author of “The Five Santas,” who lives in South Carolina.

Staccato Publishing offers publication through standard book contracts or Print Packages. Book contracts cater to writers who want to reach a large audience outside of their community, featuring professional publication in print and e-book, marketing and distribution. All books published through Staccato under contract are available for purchase through online stores such as and

Photo by Nathan Warner. HK Savage at a book signing at Reading Frenzy BookShop in Zimmerman recently, where the author and publisher marketed her books.

Print Packages, on the other hand, cater to people who want their book printed for their own use and not necessarily for wide distribution.

Savage has a background in print and still works part time as a senior production manager with Berthelot Marketing Services Inc.

Her journey toward becoming an independent publisher began as a writer when she sought publication for her works in the traditional vein through a literary agency.

Savage says literary agents are the middlemen of the publishing industry and act as gatekeepers between writers seeking publication and the publishing houses. She added that even if an author is fortunate enough to find a literary agent to consider their work, the literary agent must still convince publishers to publish it, which doesn’t always happen.  She says the direction the mainstream publishing industry has migrated has made the pathway to publication much more difficult — especially for new authors.

“In my case,” Savage says, “once I found a literary agent to promote my book to the publishers, they took it through a rigorous editing process and then it was edited again by the publishers until it came back to me almost unrecognizable. Between the agents and the publishers, they wanted to edit everything — including the plot!”

According to Savage, a good publisher should always edit an author’s work but only to help them clean their vision, not rediscover it for them. She decided she was not interested in seeking standard publication if it resulted in significant alterations to her manuscript, so she put her knowledge to work and started her own publication house.

Savage is not alone. She says that with the advent of the Internet, small-scale, local and e-book publishers have blossomed across the country, offering writers an alternative to elitist mainstream publishers.

“The wave of the future is going to be grassroots publishers that partner with local, independent bookshops such as Reading Frenzy in Zimmerman and feature independent authors,” Savage said.

This local publisher describes her emerging movement as highly adaptive, using the Internet and social networking tools to full advantage. She pointed to the emerging e-book market, which she says is picking up momentum and fueling the wave of publishing independence.

Savage hopes to grow her publishing business but at a gentle pace and within the mystery genre for now.

“We consider ourselves a boutique publishing company,” she said. “We’re not huge and we never plan to be.”

Staccato Publishing also offers editing services. Visit Staccato Publishing at