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Should I Self-Publish?
A Blogger Inquires about POD Publication

“I’m wondering if I should use the Create Space amazon platform to publish and also what should I publish? Should I publish an anthology of my poetry? Does that even sell?”

-Brian Jewell

Brian, let’s look at the category you mentioned first.

Poetry—unless you one of about 20 long dead poets—does not sell. You write poetry for your inheritors, for people to read long after you’re dead and you write it for yourself. Some of our best prose writers wrote reams of unpublished poetry and it informed their prose. I myself, write horrible verse, but my practice in it has improved my prose, fiction and nonfiction.

This brings us to the main reason for publishing something that you are not going to make money on. I have 140-odd books published and less than 40 have made any money. I’ve basically broken even on the rest, with sales just enough to pay for my own copy. I have books that have not sold a copy! I probably own Amazon’s 10 worst sellers.

The best reason to publish—that is to publish in a form that costs you zero money [your own PDFs, kindle, Create Space] is that it heightens your own scrutiny of your work, forces another look at it from the perspective of editor, proof reader and reader. I am probably one of the three worst editors on planet earth, but my attempts to operate as an editor, while failures, have helped my writing, have helped me work with editors.

Having gotten the craft-based reasons for publishing in print—particularly in print—out of the way, here is the reason why I started publishing in print myself, and did so with no illusions that I would make any money and have indeed been shocked that I am actually making about $300 a month selling my own writing wares.

I had written about 60 books, three having made it into print under the Paladin Press imprint, and less than 10 existing as manuscripts in binders. Knowing that my work could be wiped out by a fire, a flood, a magnetic pulse triggered by a bad hair day in North Korea, or something as mundane as an invasion of earth by green haired alien cheerleader babes, resulting in a permanent distraction from my work, I had the instinct to preserve my work, knowing that most of it would be of no interest until long after my death as I am that out of step with our current reality. Looking at the expense of producing a manuscript at 7 cents per page [now 10 cents] and 1 to 10 dollars per binder, I saw that just printing out and binding my 9 Sunset Saga novels would cost me $450!.

The ghost of Leroy Slick rose up inside of me and said, “Oh, hells no!”

Then a beautiful Russian babe who I coached told me that her former boyfriend had run a POD company and informed me that I could get a single copy of one of my books made for about a penny a page, oriented, bound in trade paper back and shipped to my door, to which Leroy Slick’s ghost opined, in his innumerably varied diction, “Oh hells yes!”

Not only was I now able to buy my own hard copy of Big Water Blood Song, the book was the size of a dollar store bible rather than a five inch thick 9 by 12 inch tome that could barely fit into my backpack, let alone permit reflection on my work while riding the bus.

Publish your poetic anthology, Brian, and if you sell two copies that means you break even after you buy one for yourself. If you sell three that buys you one for yourself and one for your creepy old stick-fighting coach, who for some incongruent reason beyond the ken of Civilized Man, actually reads.

Writing Unchained

Prolific Writing by Design

Add Comment
JoeFourMay 7, 2018 4:56 PM UTC

Here's a link to a successful self-publishing author who I recently stumbled across and who offers advice to those thinking of trying to go the self-publishing route. (Off-topic note: I've mostly read his military articles which (IMHO) are thought-provoking and contrary to conventional view of the military held by most conservative Americans.)