Archive for March, 2012

Hi there.

These Parts (2 & 3) of Careers in Writing trail Part 1 by a few months and make Many Claims about Many Things.

This blog is




I’ve been distracted lately. Writing revisions. Writing an artist statement. That’s two writing-things, so that’s good.

I also have a massive thesis hangover, as well as a touch of post-thesis malaise.

I’ve ALSO  had to go to bed early sometimes. I have a job now.

I decided to prepare a character for myself to inhabit while I work tomorrow. I don’t know what that means. I hope by tomorrow morning, I will. Because I am clumsy and slow and off  in story-land. I like story-land. I want to stay there. So, for less than twenty hours a week, I must become a different person. It could be fun.  I will speak loudly and will not hesitate; I will make such a clatter. Meanwhile, I will secretly remain in story-land.

This is my plan.

Part 2 of Careers in Writing: Genre vs. Literary (“The Fiction Friction”)

Anything that can be easily categorized (like genre fiction) generally sells better.

Something that can be easily categorized or that sells well is not necessarily bad.

However — I prefer things that resist and insist.

However —




Part 3: Self-publishing 

All along, I’ve also been thinking of self-publishing, and also about people who do things themselves, because  it takes a fascinating set of neuroses to want to do everything yourself. (The masturbatory implications are quite difficult to avoid, aren’t they?)

What is self-publishing? And why does it feel so good?

You might print some shit out and staple it and you have, my friend, a Product. And if you photocopy it and hand it out to all your friends, you are Distributing A Product To Your Audience. You have Published with your own two hands, totally DIY, and fine job to you. Your are now An Author. Looking sweet. Feeling sweet.

You could self-publish in any number of interesting and amazing ways. You could also promote and share your work in those ways.

These are not necessarily self-published writers, but this shit is cool:

Henry Real Bird rode a horse around Montana passing out copies of his poetry to people he met.

The writer of Finch approached a band, Murder By Death, to compose a soundtrack to be released with his book.

Electric Literature has created an ongoing series of one-sentence animations, such as this one for Lydia Davis’s “The Cows”:

Of course, you might be able to do all of these things if you work with a publishing house, but it could be harder … I’ll get to that later.

Usually when people talk about self-publishing, they mean websites like CreateSpace and LuLu, which allow you design and order copies of your book. The design software is usually free, and your book is print-on-demand, so you don’t have to order a shit-ton of copies and then end up burning them for tax reasons. But unless you really know what you’re doing, and even if you kind of do, it’s probably going to turn out looking like crap. It just is. And then there’s the matter of actually selling it.

There are many sites that offer platforms from which you or I or he ore she may craft a delightfully crappy-looking book. It is possible to create a nice cover, sources say, but it costs thousands of dollars. And formatting costs thousands and thousands of hours of time.

The main things you seem to need if you’re going to successfully self-publish, if my four hours of research are anything to go by:

1) Money.

2) Expertise. Can you design a decent-looking book or hire people to design one for you? Okay. Let’s just say you’ve got a very well-designed book. That’s swell. Good start. Okay, okay. CreateSpace features your book on Amazon and gives a very large cut of the profits to YOU and nobody else. But you still have to get people to actually buy it. You need a marketing plan. These sites offer tips on how to handle promotional crap, but it’s lots and lost of work.  It’s, like, really hard.

3) Time. Oh my god, you will need so much free time.

4) Moxy. Publishing your own book means deciding EVERYTHING. Sometimes you’ll just want someone else to tell you what to do, and you won’t have anyone, and There Will Be Crying. And Daniel Day-Lewis won’t be there to club your tears away with a bowling pin. Be brave.

5) More money. If you have lots of money, you can pay experts to take care of all this for you, and you can still have the last-say and wouldn’t have to sell the rights to your book. Hells yeah! This is clearly the best way to go. 1. Get money. 2. Do this.

Why why why?

Let’s talk Total. Control. Yes, this is certainly a plus if you can’t bear not to have exclusive say on everything that happens to your CREATION, since house-publishing means selling the rights to other people who don’t really have to care what you think. When you sign on the line, you are not necessarily entering a team-relationship; rather, the publisher has bought your book — and to some extentyou.

If you’re into it, self-publishing can mean power to create something extraordinary and meaningful with virtually no restrictions. I mean, you get to team up with people you like — artists, musicians, murderers, friends, whoever — and share your work in any number of exciting ways. You might not make money, of course, but people who are in writing for the money are probably trying to telepathically urge ants to construct sad and small things for them to rule. They are deluded. And way off-point, anyway.

House-publishing — here’s the thing …

Self-publishing is expensive. Figures exist, but I’m not writing them down. This is not that kind of blog. This discusses it all very well.


You’re a writer. You don’t have money, probably.

Publishers have money.

Publishers can buy your book and hopefully sell it. They can tell you what to do and you might be contractually-obligated to do it. There’s usually a two-book contract — after which you may part ways if you so choose.

Self-publishing isn’t for everyone. A lot of writers are just happy writing, thank you very much, and they’re glad for someone else to take their book away from them and Just Do Something With It.


If you’d actually want to experience every part of creating your book — and especially if you tend to think of books as bigger than black words on white paper — there are free tools to help you and endless ways to create, and self-publishing might make you a lot happier than doing things the publisher’s way. It will be hard, but it might not be as hard — in some ways, for some people — as the alternative.

What seems to be becoming more and more clear is our need, as artists, to take care of our own damn selves as much as we can. For writers, this might be as good a time as any to seriously consider self-publishing.  If  we really want to support locally-owned businesses (like those brick-and-mortar bookstores I’ve been hearing so much about), maybe we should start with the most local — you and I and he and she, on our computers, on horses, launching poems from catapults.

Everything else is just business.


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