The Mercantile’s Guide to the Self-Publishing Revolution

So you’re writing or have written a book.  You’re tired of rejection letters from uptight publishers, bent on profit margins and markets–to hell with those pencil pushers.  Yet you cling to the belief that the world requires more copies of your work than you’re willing to print on a laser printer, photocopy, and hand-bind.  You’re in luck; these are boom-times for self-publishing.  A growing number of companies will, for a fee, “publish” your book–in paper or digitally.  Simple really.  Write the book.  Pay the people.  Collect boxes and boxes of your work.  Find interesting uses for boxes of your self-published work–improvised legs for legless tables, or ballast for your yacht.  What’s missing from this equation?  A ready market of readers hungry for your work?  Perhaps.  Which is one reason you want to think long and hard about whether you really ought to be paying to have your work published in the first place.  There’s nothing wrong with writing a work for a limited audience–family stories to preserve for posterity, for example.  To brag to your fellow bar flies that you’re a published writer.   But in the former case, why not just print out a couple of copies and have them nicely bound with the family seal on the cover?  And in the latter, wouldn’t lying be easier and, in a perverse sort of way, more respectable?  What’s really missing here is the editor, that myopic gadfly hell-bent on unraveling your intricate prose and asking annoying questions like: but what does that actually mean? and who cares? while issuing editorial edicts by red-lining paragraph after paragraph of what might in the end turn out to be completely unnecessary prose.   This is good and necessary.  This is how quality work comes to print.

If you know other literary-minded persons with time on their hands perhaps, for the price of several rounds of drinks, they will be willing to offer constructive criticism, even conduct line-edits.  This is a lot to ask, so if you are paying to self-publish, consider paying first for editorial services from, for example, Kirkus Editorial, a new arm of Kirkus Reviews, which already offers a review service and marketing for self-published authors.

Then again, you might consider publishing in blog form.  Simply shooting your mouth off (figuratively speaking, although it’s possible someone might read your blog and do that for you) and simply pressing a button to unleash your unsolicited thoughts into the blogosphere is so easy, not to mention cheap.  Mwaaahaaaaahaaa.  Click.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s an old thing revamped in shiny wrapping paper. Vanity press is vanity press.

    I think a large part of the indie/eBook boom is that eternal author desperation for a shortcut to fame, fortune, and gaggles of fangirls (or boyd).

  2. I’m all for alternatives to playing with the big boys [and girls], whether it’s through self-publishing or other DIY tactics. True, a good editor can’t be beat and, as someone who once worked in publishing [as a graphic designer, but still], I appreciate and respect the many ways in which the laborious process of working with a publisher can really transform and improve an author’s work. Still, alternatives are empowering and broaden the scope of possibility.

    BTW, an exhibit catalog that I self-published years ago made its way into a book about self-publishing, put out by a major publishing imprint, and no one asked for my permission to reproduce the work — how’s that for irony? It seems that even big publishing companies take shortcuts.

  3. Just like Disney. Well I hope you threw the book at them.

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