As I get closer to polishing up a poetry manuscript, the Specter of Validation pops by more frequently. He’s not saying much just yet. He usually just scans my poetry collection, perhaps flips through a volume before tossing it over his shoulder, and leaves. But soon enough he’ll show up, bags in hand, ready to camp out.
One of my least favorite things in the world is writing checks to publishers, which was a large part of the reason I took a break from po’biz. The last straw was a brief email exchange I had with a fairly well-known poet. I forget the exact circumstances, but she had seen some work of mine and was very complimentary, even going so far as to ask why I hadn’t entered a couple contests she had recently judged. I had. The manuscript never got to her, twice.
Interesting, now excuse me while I find something to smash.
So, this time around I’m weighing the pros and cons of doing it myself. The major con: while the self-publishing stigma seems to be weakening, should I ever want to apply for a higher-level teaching gig, a self-published book might as well be no book. Then there’s the slim chance of being reviewed or “taken seriously.” The pros: complete control of the product, design, and marketing, not to mention royalties of 100% (minus the increasingly negligible costs of production). There’s little money in poetry, unless you’re famous and/or dead, so why not keep all of it?
Just yesterday I had this conversation with a colleague who writes fiction. He has several quality journal publications, edits an annual fiction anthology, and just turned down a third publisher’s offer on his first novel. The reason – little money, less royalties, and virtually no promotion. Apparently, the burden of marketing and promoting a book is increasingly falling on the authors themselves. He’s considering the self-publishing route, reasoning that if he’s going to do the lion’s share of the after-publication work anyway…
So I’m curious. How many of you have considered it? Are doing it? Would never do it? And why?
Oh, and there are a couple new pieces on the Official Statements page. I just discovered through the WordPress help section that pages can be structured in chapter format (so that serialized projects read in order), but it takes a little tweaking. So, to the two of you who look at it, if it disappears, it will return shortly.