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Essentials of self-publishing

May 25, 2015

Tags: DIY publishing, self publishing, DIY

Practical tips and insights, pros and cons, do's and don'ts, of self-publishing. Self-publishing is thriving, but if you are going to do it, go into the venture with your eyes wide open and be willing to hire the professionals needed to help you do an acceptable job. Here, from a special issue of Pasatiempo, are key passages from that excellent series:

Bucking the establishment: How self-published writers can sidestep literary-world snubs (Jennifer Levin, Pasatiempo, 2-6-15)
"The quality of micropublishing tends to be so high that at “Pasatiempo” such books are assumed to be from small, regional presses. In a way they are, because though micropublishing usually requires some financial commitment from a writer, it is repaid in printed books that the writer then sells, and the process benefits from experienced editorial oversight."

"The power brokers of [the mainstream literary] world — New York publishers and agents for fiction, and academic and established small presses for poetry — are protected by a host of gatekeepers, including tenured professors and their students in colleges and universities who staff literary journals run by MFA programs. For the last 30 years, master of fine arts programs in writing have proliferated all over the country and exerted what many feel is undue control over what is considered 'good,' and therefore worthy of attention. Some writers accept the rules set forth by this world, and some don’t."

“The MFA is essentially a pyramid scheme that creates lots of people with terminal degrees in literary writing who have no employable skills other than teaching terminal degrees in literary writing....So unless this expands forever, the market will eventually collapse.” ~ Jonathan Penton, founder and editor-in-chief of Unlikely Stories/Unlikely Books, a small collective

Independents days: notes on self-publishing (James McGrath Morris, Pasatiempo, 2-5-15)
from Jamie's excellent overview: "In 2013, the last year for which one can plumb the murky statistics of book publishing, nearly half a million books were self-published in the United States."

"Authors who self-publish soon discover that manufacturing an interesting, well-designed, and appealing book is only half the battle. Reaching readers takes money — frequently, money no longer available once authors have sunk all their funds into making the book."

"Publishing and manufacturing a book are not the same thing. To a publisher, the actual manufacturing of a book is secondary to its writing and editing. In fact, it often comes as a surprise to many authors to learn that most publishers don’t own printing presses. Rather, publishing is an intellectual and marketing business."

Filling the void: 4 authors on why self-publishing works for them (Loren Bienvenu, Pasatiempo, 2-6-15) Four authors agree on many of the advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of self-publishing. Author Debra Rosenman: “'Marketing should start the moment you decide you’re going to write a book,' she offered as one example of a lesson learned. Like all the authors interviewed, Rosenman stressed that the process of self-publishing is rewarding — but not for the faint of heart. 'Let me tell you, this has been a herculean task. I feel like I should be getting a Ph.D. at the end of this in self-publishing.'”

The tome depot: DIY publishing


The home team: Local services help writers get polished, published, and promoted (Paul Weideman, Pasatiemp., 2-6-15)

"Why would an author or an artist choose to take the self-publishing route? To begin with, the option is no longer associated only with “vanity” books. And self-publishing offers you control over content, appearance, and marketing; it is much quicker than the process with a traditional publisher; and it often yields higher profits. On the other hand, you have to pay for everything yourself, and you don’t have the wide distribution, or the cachet, that a traditional publishing house offers. Such a publisher has to be convinced of the merits of your book project, and even if you’re articulate, you’re going to need an editor. In self-publishing, the authors are often budding at best."

Book publishing coach Maggie Lichtenberg: "The way I say it is that you have a discoverability challenge. There are four pieces to the marketing. First is social media. You must get out there and become known. Two, public speaking. Then publicity — possibly hiring a publicist. Four is distribution.”

From Pasatiempo, the weekly magazine of arts, entertainment, and culture of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Thanks to Jann Gilmore for mailing me a copy of that issue--luckily, you can also read it online.