• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Did You Write the Book of Love

One topic I have avoided over three years of blogging is self publishing. Here is a link to the 2011 self-published bestsellers. Has anyone read any of these? Has anyone self-published?  I’m all for it, even if it cuts out the middle man, ahem. Getting your work out there is all that matters. Finding readers. And it looks like at least these folks have figured out a way to monetize. Other things this blog endorses:  self-love, self-loathing, selfishness, self-centeredness, Will Self, self-cleaning, self- absorption and self-satisfaction

Are you tempted to self-publish?  How do you want it to go down?

47 Responses

  1. I’ve not read any of these. But I have read Averil’s Wet Sand and The Key and devoured them both in about 4 sittings.

    As a counter, I’ve read some of the “best books of 2011” (on all the lists) and many a bleh reaction.

    Will I do self-publish. No. I wish I could tell you why …

    • i can tell you why i don’t want to right now:
      too much work
      the entire agent-editor-publisher menage-a-trois romance is part of this dream for me (i guess its more of a menage-a-quatre if i’m in the mix too, but as the writer, i’d really prefer to watch once it got to a certain point.)
      i want to be on an end-cap of the book aisle at target
      too much work. writing a book to the very best of my ability is all i can stomach right now. editing, book design, distribution, marketing, PR, handjobs, brown-nosing booksellers, booking author events…i’ll do what i need to do once i get there, but the idea of adding all this to my to-do list immediately defeats me and paralyzes any original thought i can muster.

      of course, if one day, every single agent, editor and publisher listed in the 2053 Writer’s Market has said “no thanks” then…

      • (please forgive the typos above …. I should never press “post” with such small print and no glasses). But I agree with AmyG, I want to be writer, public reader, arranger of readings, but otherwise recognize the need for professional help. Like that question last week about psych meds — give me the drugs. I can’t do it all by myself.

    • And here I was, bragging on your fine taste in books. Oh Teri.

      Actually, those novels were not self-published, they were smut-published. I’m not convinced it was a good move on my part, though the publisher did provide me a copy editor and they handled the formatting, etc. But so many other things were out of my hands (the covers, for instance, which I would have preferred to design myself).

      If I can’t get an agent with the next book–and if the people I trust think the work isn’t embarrassing–I’d consider self-publishing. Though Ellen Von Unwerth would probably make more from the cover image than I would for the novel.

      • phil–are you here tonight? please give us the scoop on your latest self-publishing coup. i saw your posts re: your upward mobility on amazon recently for The Throne and was meaning to ask you for more details. (congrats, btw. i really like your cover for that book.)

  2. I’m tempted all right, because I’m not patient, and then I could be in control. But being in control when I don’t know what I’m doing doesn’t make a lot of sense, so there’s no imminent decision on this. My editor says, “No, don’t self-publish!” so I’m going along with that for now. But I like having options. I’m really good at self-loathing, when I’m not indulging in self-love, so then I assume no one wants to read it anyway. But I’m so self-centered that then I think, “Who wouldn’t want to read it?” And I’m so self-absorbed that I don’t care what anyone else wants.

  3. I’ve considered it for two projects. One, a picture books (the saga of which I discuss here: http://wp.me/p1NlZX-8I

    The other, a MG adventure for boys that everyone seems to like but no one believes in. It’s had two agents (almost three, if I can convince my current agent to take it on) and incited many discussions at acquisitions meetings I’m sure, but no cigar. So maybe I’ll go all Eragon on it’s ass, I don’t know.

  4. I’ve published traditionally and intend to again, but I just indie pubbed my YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One, that my agent’s sent out and gotten rave ‘no’ letters (we love this, it’s inventive and amazing but…). I had an absolute blast putting together a wickedly great coalition: cover artist, book designer, editor–and doing illustrations, as I’m also a published artist. No regrets. Now, the blog tours. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Why can’t writers mix it up? It’s the right time and place for that.
    Check out Fireseed One for yourself. I won’t put the link here, but you’ll find it on almost all formats.

  5. I did. It’s an ego thing. I could not take the query process. But I have no problem throwing all this stuff out in public. The first bad review made my forehead all hot, (you know what I mean) but I rationalized it away. I’m good at that. And a good review is the greatest thing. I read one last night and laid on the bed in the dark with my hands over my face saying , “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” The last time that happened I think there was an Italian guy with me. The promoting was the worst, but you get in a groove. Never having published the “real” way, it’s all I know. Monetarily: pure profit. Not much, but very pure. But it is only the curl on the DQ.

    I have many different ways to define “whore” and this one is easy and sweet.

  6. i couldn’t read the list because i’m too cheap to join the website…

    i have self published and while it was a great way to share my writing with about 50 people, i’d much rather work with a professional who knows what they’re doing when it comes to marketing. i’m a great social marketer and tout my blog, but i don’t know jack about distribution channels.

    if i have to self publish my memoir i’m in the midst of editing, well, then i’ll pray for a miracle or some sort of enlightenment on how to sell more than 50 books.

  7. Yes, I wrote the Book of Love. Seven different variations of it.

    Publishing shmublishing. It’s hard to know how to care anymore.

    I wrote a book in 2010 and made some attempts to get it published, then got bored with all that and told myself, It’s timely, why make it wait? Last autumn I posted it to my website in daily installments. That was fun. I think it got one reader. I won’t embarrass her by saying who she was.

    I have other books. Short story collections. Poetry cycles. Other stuff. I still look for publishers for them. I don’t know what else to do. Sure, I could self-publish. I could whack off in front of City Hall, too. See which one draws a bigger crowd.

    Self-publishing is not the dream I dream. If a tree of photons gets turned into an electronic book in an empty expanse of white noise, who the fuck cares. Anyway, I have other rows to hoe. I have a full-time day job, a full-time marriage, and a home to mind. Then there’s the actual writing to do, the crafting of the art. That includes reading. There’s not enough of me left over to become a publishing company. And resources are finite. As it is, I don’t have money for groceries or time to shit (good thing I don’t have money for groceries).

    Oh, bitch bitch bitch. Bitchy bitchy bitchy bitchy bitch bitch bitch. All I know how to do is write, send my work out to publishers, hope, and despair.

    It’s hard to know how to care anymore. Oh fuck, I already said that. Time for me to go piss and moan someplace else. Should I wake my wife? Do I dare to eat her peach? I have heard the mermaids screaming, screech for screech.

    It’s too late for me. Good night.

  8. This is a tough one for me.

    To have a book published by a publishing house I recognize, large or small, has always, always, been the goal. Because that would mean people who know books and make money from them think I’m good at this thing I want to do.

    But what if my book was published and no one wanted to read it outside my circle of friends and the people my mother can bully into buying a copy or two?

    To self-publish has, until recently, seemed to me like cheating, somehow — like playing Guitar Hero for month and then telling the hottie at the bar that you sit in with Metallica. Even though you only took those two lessons and then quit because the instructor said your F-cord was shaky. (and maybe you have serious stage fright and auditioning is too scary . . .). It’s not Real™.

    But what if self-publishing, as it is today, really does work? What if my book was uploaded and people gave it a try and told their friends to try it and so on and several people gave it good reviews and it ended up with fairly respectable numbers? Wouldn’t that mean that people who know books and want to give me money for mine think I’m good at this thing I want to do?

    I still think I’d like to go the traditional route–I don’t know what I’m doing and it would be good to have a guide or two or three along the way, and more resources than I have alone. But now there’s the Real™ option of going it on my own and seeing what happens . . .

  9. I like the old ways. Have dreamed of them. But I have at least 2 more books I want to write so if the draw bridge doesn’t come down soon this serf won’t take any of her corn to the castle.

  10. Ah, the list and the shifting publishing model conversation. It’s all so jumbled up now. Editors of respectable houses leaving the hallowed marble stairwells and working for the new breed of no-advance start-ups–I’m really curious how it’ll all unfold.

    When it comes to selling a book (or a house or an advertising campaign) I’m a believer in the team effort. And having a whole bunch of smart, seasoned folk on your side. Until critical mass changes the how those teams are formed and who’s on them, I’m going with old guard.

    Besides, if I self-pubbed, I know I’d crack open my book and see a bunch of glaring typos and want to shoot myself.

  11. One of the books that came into my letterbox years back when I was tired and thinking about old-school self-publishing was Betsy’s The Forest for the Trees. Not wishing to sound like an idiot, it made me turn around and go back to work with revising, querying and eventually securing two book contracts.

    My publishing house is small but passionate, and as it is expanding I think I have come on board at a good time.

    I would still buy self-published books with no qualms, just admiration for the amount of decision-making involved.

  12. Maybe self publishing is the way forward for some of us, but isn’t publishing our work about looking for approval from other people.
    There are huge hurdles to get over, I know. I’ve got enough rejection letters to start another book. (I suppose I could call it a comedy,so that other writers can have a giggle at my expense. Like Tetman, I don’t care any more…about the sniggers at least).
    But deep inside I’m still looking for a pat on the head from my English teacher, a reward for all the hard hours, a lolly pop to endorse my creativity. It would be nice.

  13. The way I see it, if I totally ignore the fact that books can be self published, and don’t have that possibility to distract me, then I will at some point manage to produce something worth publishing.
    And when I do, someone will want to publish it, and I will be the puppet that does my share of the marketing as I am told to by those who know best.
    And that way, maybe, my brain won’t explode.

  14. Self-publishing is starting to tempt me, but only because apparently the writer can keep more control. The big down side for me is the self-promotion. I live behind pseudonyms and personas.

    But. I understand that having a blog and amassing followers will help with the self-p, so I’ve started a secret, practice blog to see if I have what it takes. I’ve told no one where it is or what it’s called, but my gravatar keeps trying to out me.

    Pay no attention to the silhouette in the corner!

    • I could easily self-publish, because I’ve got a tribe to sell to, even if only a fraction of them would like my stuff. I’m not courting them, however, so I want to try for an agent and a deal first, while also building a readership with a blog over time. But it’s not just a blog that gets you noticed (how does anybody know to find you in the first place?), it’s shmoozing at all these other writers’ blogs and social networking sites. It’s a lot of work just to get people to notice you.

  15. Lord. It MUST be the lunar cycle: went to a Women’s National Book Assoc. mtg last night and the presentation covered e-books and “direct publishing” (the new term for self publishing). All the people promoting direct publishing had a combination of: a rich spouse, a close family member that works for Microsoft and/or the rights to their out-of-print books. The literary agent to my left and the publishing house staff to my right sat frozen in their chairs. I admired their self-control.

    As a still-rejected writer, abandoning the query-process-to-publishing has some allure. Yet, it still feels like going to the prom by myself.

    • ‘feels like going to the prom by myself’ — perfect analogy!

    • The first time I went into a restaurant by myself and sat down to order and eat, I was thirty. There were lots of people that talked to me and interacted with me, not just restaurant personnel. Another thing I wish I knew way earlier on.

      Quite a few people have asked me to dance at this particular prom, and some of them told me they enjoyed it and would I please dance with them again.

  16. There’s still this thought in my head that if it’s good, it will see the traditional publishing light of day. If it’s not good, if there is no market for my book, I want to hear that, too. I trust my instincts, but I’m reluctant to enter into business relationships that require significant monetary output.

  17. When I was Editor of Peninsula Poets (Michigan), we decided to use self-publishing. We had so many issues before it was through. The color was never right, the cover was a long time getting it right, the galley proofs were rejected several times because parts of poems were missing, or on the wrong page, etc. So, when I ended my dragon book, I decided to try being traditional.


  18. Yep. In October 2010, I went down the often thrilling, often scary self-publishing road.

    I came to this road kicking and screaming. I’d longed for the validation I felt an agent and traditional publishing deal would give me. Then, I had an epiphany in the summer of 2010 after re-reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. In the chapter on publication, she quoted from the movie Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team and how the coach said (I’m paraphrasing) that if you’re not enough BEFORE the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it. Being enough has to start from within. I’d read this chapter before, of course, but for some reason it really resonated with me in that sweaty moment in July.

    At the same time, I’d started hearing about the ease of publishing through Amazon. I thought, “Why not?” I had a bunch of short stories, a couple of which had been traditionally published in small print and online journals no one has heard of. This concept always frustrated me: we writers work HARD on our short stories and spend months, even years, trying to get published, often in wonderful, but small journals with few readers — I wanted a wider readership than this. I owned the rights to my short stories and figured I had nothing to lose.

    So, I dipped my toes in (this was before I’d heard of Joe Konrath and before Amanda Hocking took off). I did my homework (I’m a marketing copywriter by day, so I had a leg up here) and launched an author website and FB page. I hired a professional cover artist and book formatter (and copy editor for my novels). I released the short stories first. Then I released my debut novel, which I’d been working on for 10 years (and had been riding the query-go-round with). This past fall, I released my second novel.

    Would I do it again? Depends on the day. It’s a lot of work. But it would likely be a lot of work if I had a traditional deal as well. I’ve reached a lot of readers (“a lot” being a purely subjective number — certainly more than I would have reached over this last 1.5 years had I not self-published), and I’ve picked up some genuine fans who aren’t related to me. Reviews have been mostly positive; all have been fair.

    Regarding Betsy’s “middle man” concern, I think agents will still be important to us self-pubbers (or “direct publishers”). I’m still open to the right traditional deal or, more likely with the way things are going, a hybrid deal a la John Locke’s deal with S&S.

    This is an interesting time, and it makes me happy that we’re having this conversation (a few years ago, we’d be hard pressed to find any agents recommending self-publishing, and I’d have been sitting squarely in the middle of the “I would rather die than self-publish” camp). Never say never, eh? 🙂

    • Thank you for this glimpse into self publishing. I agree that a few years ago this conversation probably would not have happened. These are interesting times — I only hope I can keep up.

    • Yes thank you for this thoughtful share of your experience. As Marsha McLuhan said —“there’s no such thing as inevitability as long as we have the willingness to contemplate what is happening. ” I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of publishing partner I’m looking for and so far not finding.

      • My pleasure, CJ and Mike D — I think it’s important to share info and experiences. Happy to answer any specific Qs, either here or privately via email. Cheers! 🙂

  19. I really don’t want to self-publish. I have the performing gene, the improv gene, the writing gene, even the checklist gene; but I don’t have the publicist gene, and I know it.

    So I’m aiming for an agent. Eventually.

  20. Well, you all know I did because I wrote about it right here on this very blog. It’s a lot of work to get it in shape and then try to promote it oneself. So far it’s been slow, but it’s picking up a bit–the way self published books grow and sell is completely different than that of traditionally published books so you know, patience grasshopper.

    It’s been the most fun when I’ve just embraced it as a chance to experiment with this new medium of publishing. I still get really excited every time someone buys it. Every. single. time.

  21. Done it. Not a bad thing when all other paths have been exhausted. The manuscript is developed and you have a lot of control over what the book looks like. You keep the rights, so you can still submit it as a more polished property. And you can sell them, though rarely in a way the old-school distribution could deliver numbers and money.

  22. So in Calloway’s book of love, who is the fictionalized author?

  23. The day I see a really beautiful self-published book with a good cover and pages with nice font/spacing/kerning is the day I consider self-publishing. Sadly the wind seems to be in the other direction and more and more I see hideous, cheap and glossy-covered, crappy-looking books put out by “legitimate” publishers.

    What: are they thinking, “The Kindle’s ugly as sin, so why should we shell out to be beautiful?”

    Book people: Please, turn this ship around.

  24. I think self-publishing has characteristics in common with crime since so often it exploits those who have delusions that it will lead to the recognition they so desperately crave.

    I think this is especially true of novels since there are no other ancillary
    benefits like supporting a business or professional practice of some sort. With poetry, you know you’re fucked so it doesn’t make any difference. But with novels, you’re letting yourself be ripped off.

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