As my nifty little wireless Brother laser printer churns out pages behind me, in preparation for a video I’m making on making my own books (stay tuned), and the massive hurricane Sandy makes its way up the coast to turn off my power, knock down my neighbors’ trees, wreak celestial havoc, and generally maybe just eat the East Coast, I just wanted to get in a post on great new stuff from Poets & Writers magazine, where, back in the days when I was working in publishing, I once applied for a job, and which, also many years ago, ran a piece of mine on simultaneous submissions.
(For my money, P&W mag, even in the old days when I first subscribed to the magazine called Coda, has the most news writers can use. Some right thinking philanthropist needs to help P&W get their whole magazine on line, for electronic subscription. Seriously. P&W, how much would it cost?)
Talk about your serendipity. In the new edition, which arrived in my mailbox on Friday, there’s a substantial piece on independent publishing, featuring the family affairs that are Two Dollar Radio, Ig, and Small Beer Press, which publishes the awesome Elizabeth Hand. Continue reading
If you’re reading this, the answer is pretty simple. At the most basic, nothing you don’t already have—if you have content.
According to Bowker, the company that will be happy to sell you some ISBNs, nearly a quarter of a million books were published—self-published—last year. So you don’t need anything more than all those other publishers do. A computer, sufficient software to create the book block (all your content) and your cover, and an Internet connection. That’s it.
As I said in an earlier post, the barrier to entry is pretty darned low—so low that last, dying ant in my kitchen could drag a dog over it.
The one thing you won’t have that a “real” publisher will have is a sales force. Yes, Amazon or whoever else will “stock” (virtually) your book, but it is highly unlikely that it will get into brick and mortar bookstores because you will have no leverage to make that happen.
So why would I want to do this? Good question. I’ll see if I can answer it one way or another. Stay tuned.
When I started looking for a job in publishing after moving to New York many years ago, the reason was simple. I wanted to know how it worked. It seemed a sensible thing for a writer (who at that time had written two unpublished novels and was working on a third) to know.
At that very early point in my literary career, my sole publishing “success” was a letter to the editor in Harper’s magazine. The letter, which I still have somewhere, was in response to a piece by Madison Smartt Bell (wow, Dragon Dictate got the correct spelling of his middle name) on “brat pack” fiction.
John Gardner, in an interview, said an editor once told him about his novel The Sunlight Dialogues, that it needed to be cut by a third. He retorted, he said, Which third?
When it was finally published, it went on to be a bestseller. I remember reading in in paperback when Gardner was recommended to me by a teacher, the novelist and short story writer Richard Bausch. It’s been a long time since I read it, but one of the things I remember about it was “the Sunlight Man” delivering long, hectoring lectures to the main character, Fred Clumly. And I remember feeling a little hectored myself, and skipping a lot of that. Continue reading