Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Kirby Gann

This is an interesting and anxiety-producing (on the part of being an indie publisher, and being a literary writer) topic; it's true that publishers are relying more and more on their authors to help get the word out. As a writer, though, it seems to me that there are some difficulties ahead if going the self-publishing route: 1) the amount of time it requires to move a book through production, from manuscript to published book -- who does a self-published author turn to for help with editing, copy-editing, etc? (Authors can't be relied upon to catch every typo themselves.) And then, of course, there's the work required in preparing a book to market, to reach an audience. Which leads me to point #2: distribution. One of the great aspects about publishing with even a very small independent is the prospect of having your book distributed nationally, and to have it eligible for book reviews in a variety of venues. It's true that reviews don't appear to have a huge effect on a book's final sales -- but reviews DO help garner attention from booksellers, who will then hopefully stock a book that appears interesting to them.

Without the proper distribution and the ability to have a title noticed, the risk a serious writer runs by self-publishing is that attention and energy are going to be sucked up by the necessary efforts required just to alert anyone (outside family and friends) that a book exists, and then convincing these others that the book might be worth their time.

One can imagine that authors then might become completely localized, or, at best, regionalized artists -- making appearances at book fairs, et cetera. To my mind this kind of thing would result in even further balkanization of the literaray and cultural world than we're suffering now.

Outer Life

It's all about the words, isn't it? If it's all about the words, any development that increases the distribution of the words while decreasing the compromises needed to distribute the words must be a good thing, right? POD is an improvement, to be sure, but isn't electronic publishing (aka blogging) the easiest and purest method of word distribution ever invented? Sure, it doesn't pay, and it won't make you a star, but then it's all about the words, isn't it?

Jeff VanderMeer

What about the role the editor plays in the process? I think self-published authors would miss out on the accumulated experience of a professional editor working for a professional publishing house. And if they had to hire a freelancer to get that experience, then that 10% royalty rate from an actual publishing house begins to seem okay.


Gotham Image

Thank you very much.


Glazer talks of how the Times doesn't review vanity press books. For an exception, see here:

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