As the title intimates, there have obviously been many more failures in self-publishing than there have been successes, but let’s start on a high note and list a few successes. Speaking of chicken, there is Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen’s mega-successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series, now down to their final theme, Chicken Soup for The Soul of Martians. Also, we must mention Richard Paul Evans who fortunately had one million of his relatives buy his book, The Christmas Box. Though it was first printed in 1995, Evans still makes a pretty good living off the little book. Like John Grisham, they had to earn their chops in the publishing business the hard way by peddling their books out of the trunks of their cars and irritating the hell out of bookstore owners and relatives.
But since this is a self-deprecating, sarcastic, satirical blog on the negative aspects of writing and publishing, you wouldn’t really expect me to dwell on the positive, would you? I think not my imaginary readers, I think not.
So, what’s the difference between publishing your novel with a legitimate, traditional publisher like Random House or Penguin and self-publishing with any-ole-body? Well, I’ll tell you.
For traditional publishing you must first do what all good authors do: write a book. That done, the next step is to revise and then revise again and then revise again. It wouldn’t hurt to also have a professional edit your manuscript, but be aware that could cost up to five dollars a page. Satisfied, you must then write a synopsis (1 to 10 pages) and a query letter. Then you must send the query letter, synopsis, and three chapters or so to about a hundred literary agents, since 99.9 percent of them will turn you down flat.
Now, if by some miracle you get an agent and if by some miracle she sells it to an acquisitions editor and if by some miracle the publisher makes you an offer, then their editor will mark the hell out of your manuscript and demand you fix about everything, or they won’t publish your baby. After all that, it will still be about a year before it hits the bookstore. Damn.
Now, what about self-publishing? How’s that work? Well, here’s what you’ll need:
1. A manuscript.
2. A credit card number to give to the printer-publisher.
That’s it. You’re done. Now you’ll have tons of books you paid for stockpiling in your house, garage, and the proverbial trunk of your car. Books no one wants to buy or read. But don’t give up; you can always make a living submitting true stories to the Chicken Soup guys. How about, Chicken Soup for the Soul of the Unread Bloggers.
I resemble that remark.