If you're telling yourself for the 57th time, "I could write a book," but you don't have a direct line to the editors at Random House, it may be time to consider self-publishing. Don't knock it: James Redfield's "The Celestine Prophecy" and John Grisham's "A Time to Kill" started this way.
Of course, what they fail to mention is that for every "A Time to Kill" there are a hundred thousand other self-published books that came out stillborn, gathering mold and dust in basements and garages across America. And the article breathlessly insists that self-published authors must shell out the big bucks to ensure their book gets noticed by the masses:
Make no mistake: All this will be costly. Steve Boorstein, the Bethesda-based host of the syndicated radio show "The Clothing Doctor," says he spent $7,500 on the first printing of his book, "The Ultimate Guide to Shopping & Caring for Clothing." That covered the initial print run and paid for an illustrator, a PR firm, an editor, a designer and a self-publishing consultant, he said.
This, of course, ignores the fact that most first-time novel advances hover in the $5,000 range. How, pray tell, is the self-published author going to break even, much less make any money on the deal?
I once tried to start a writer's group while I lived in Temple. It was an ill-fated, painful experience. One "writer" refused to bring any written copy to be critiqued, because her writing was so personal to her and she couldn't bear to have anyone see it. But her husband told her it was great, and since the major publishing houses were a big in-crowd scam, they'd decided to pony up several thousand dollars and publish it through a vanity press. You tell me what's wrong with this scenario. The family is willing to empty the ol' piggy bank to produce a bunch of unedited, over-priced novels that will be locked away in their garage because the writing is so "personal" she couldn't bear to have even her writing group see it. This is the point where I begin banging my head into the wall. When I tried to point out the flaws inherent in this course of action, I was patronizingly told I'm naive and don't really understand how publishing works.
Fortunately, I don't have to rant about the Washington Post article (aren't you happy). Instead, Nick Mamatas does it for me with his blog entry How To Lose Your Money And Waste Your Time. Kudos go out to Bookslut for starting me out on this tear.
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