It’s time to create a thread of several posts with some advice on self-publishing. I’m generally not a big fan of it as an option. It’s just not helpful for most writers. When you hear success stories . . . the operative phrase that should pop into your mind: your actual results may vary!
And too many self-published works are, frankly, sub-par in quality and give a bad rap to the field.
Still, I thought I’d start with a more positive perspective! Here’s a link to a blog piece that speaks to the wondrous serendipity of self-publishing.
It’s an odd little story of a poetry chapbook, self-published, stapled, discovered in a used bookstore in Milwaukee . . . and taken to heart.
Here’s the link to the full (brief) piece, by Sarah Marine, a Milwaukee bookseller (with the soon-to-close Harry W. Schwartz local indie stores), who stumbled upon a worn chapbook by one Mike Balisle. An excerpt from Sarah’s post from Nov. 07:
Mike Balisle penned a collection in 1977, entitled Bonesteel. It is self-published, held together by staples and yellowed by years. I found it in a box at the Renaissance Bookshop in downtown Milwaukee. (. . .) So, anyway, I have been carrying this slight volume – Bonesteel – around for about two weeks, taking out and reciting any of the hundreds of amazing prose to whomever happens to be standing the closest – most often boyfriend type person. I have looked online and found nothing on the author or the collection.
Sarah quotes this piece:
“The White Axes of Winter”
years inside a blizzard we awaken
to the questioning of the fact
that last night pale children were stalked
by images of ice
this morning it is seen
the white axes of winter whirled until all
oaths and prayers were split from our faces
there we fell
the cold hills
drifting our shoulders
A little self-published collection of poetry. Amazing. Mysterious.
Witness the effect the published word can have on a distant someone, separated by time and space. You never really know who will read your writing, and what part of it someone might take to heart, and go around quoting it to friends.
Reminds me of Steinbeck’s thought on why we write (I’ve used it before in this blog):
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, “Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.”
– John Steinbeck
Self-publishing is first and foremost an expression of that deep human desire, to communicate, lonely writer to invisible reader.