P.O.D. …is real

And real good for authors, too:

“Citing changes in the publishing business and a desire for more control over the publishing process, Wideman said, “I’ve been thinking about alternatives for a long time. I like the idea of being in charge. I have more control over what happens to my book. And I have more control over whom I reach.” Wideman also noted his ‘distaste’ for what he called mainstream publishing’s ‘blockbuster syndrome’–the tendency for large trade publishing houses to focus their resources on books with bestseller potential.”
Adventures in self-publishing: John Edgar Wideman, MobyLives, March 8, 2010

The first big-ish author I saw do the self-publishing thing because he wanted to get the work out there was Dean Baker’s The Conservative Nanny State (ISBN: 978-1-4116-9395-1), also in bookstores and free pdf (I think, though, Lulu.com pdf’s aren’t so free anymore). Although I have some issues with Lulu.com, they do make it really easy to get your book out there.

And, y’know, that’s the main thing, the most important thing. If you look at the book I’m hawking Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job (sorry, I have to mention it as often as possible), and read the back cover, at least four publishers said they liked it but couldn’t figure out how to market it. I mean, maybe they were just being nice to my agent, but talk about risk adverse to the point of impotence. Well, welcome to the 21st Century and the P.O.D world. My book is published, those editors and buy a copy since they liked it so much and amen to that.

Recently, I had the rather strange pleasure of listening to Lawrence Weschler, the author of many fine books and essays, speak at Occidental College. One of the least charming things Mr. Weschler said was to take a swipe all this P.O.D. “crap,” as he called it, that people are uploading to bookstores on and off line. He said that P.O.D books are poorly edited, as if check-out fiction and bestsellers are edited with a microscope, thanks a lot, Mr. Weschler. Considering how much time, effort and money goes into editing a Wapshott Press book, I was somewhat offended by this blanket condemnation of publishers who run their list through P.O.D. services. Wapshott books are often better edited than the crap big publishers put out there. And it is crap because at Wapshott I publish work that I feel should be published, and, yes, because of the limited financial risk involved and my day job, we can do that. But good work that no other publisher would take a chance on (or were turned down by established publishers, such as The Wizard’s Son and Dr. Hackenbush Gets a Job), is available at the Wapshott Press. Yes, it’s well edited, but most of all it’s damn fine writing and it’s out there and available. The Wapshott Press also reaches out to writers with three journals: J Bloglandia, Storylandia, and Erotique because I can. I also think some internet writing should be in a different media, so work that’s previously been on the internet is published in these journals before it vanishes from cyberspace for one reason or another. If the work does vanish: some websites last forever, but as we learned from Yahoo pulling the plug on Geocities, sometimes they don’t. I think the greatness of old school American publishing has been in taking on books that might not be money-makers because old school editors put the work before the dollar. Nowadays, it’s up to small and micro-presses to do that. This might not be the most elegant solution, but there might not be an elegant solution considering modern publishing’s economic situation, the post-literate society, and the consumers’ dilemma of so many media choices and so little time. But this is not my problem, my problem is publishing the best books I can at the Wapshott Press in the best way possible for the work, the author, and for me. The rest is just the deluge.


P.O.D. is the future if only because, except for blockbusters, it’s too expensive to print, house and distribute print runs. Sorry, it just is, and the blockbuster will always be with us, but how many and for how long can it alone support the big publishers? I don’t know and, moreover, I don’t care.

And here ends the sermon, cats and kittens.

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