December 9, 2008

It's time to take sides. You must now decide.

Facebook is apparently the great promoter of democracy. Our friend from Down Under, a bona fide Published Author, demands I come out on my blog and let you, the unwashed masses, decide.

Should I self-publish, or should I not?

Hold on, before you rush to stock up on Spaghettios and canned beans to survive the End of the World, let me give the context. I'm not thinking of self-publishing a novel. No, I hope one day to get my novels out the real way. (I am waiting for the offers to roll in, but some other smart guy has told me I need to send out queries first. Huh.)

I am, instead, considering self publishing The Unlucky Children of Marrow Moor, an Illustrated Compendium of Cautionary Tales. I am currently in the process of illustrating each story.

So, what do you think? Should I turn to the dark side and fly solo (solo as in "alone," not solo as in the Harrison Ford character), or can someone explain how the hell I sell something like this to an agent or publisher?

Lest we forget, our exalted guiding light, His Evilness, self published. Not that I pretend to approach even a pale mockery of a sham of a shadow of his greatness.


Anonymous said...

who published Shel Silverstein? I'd find his agent and send him a bottle of your beer with a specially made "Unlucky 26" label

lahosken said...

I flipped a coin. It came up heads. But I forgot to figure out ahead of time whether that meant "yes" or "no". When do you need this decision?

PJD said...

Thanks, Aerin. It is something I've thought of but not yet tried.

Larry, that's the beauty of this decision. I can simply put everything off indefinitely.

I was very disappointed to find that the online 8-ball (the real one that actually shook the 8-ball and displayed a snapshot of the resule) is no longer functioning. Otherwise I'd never have had to ask all of you, the unwashed masses. (I think it's time you went for a wash.)

Shona Snowden said...

Um, not yet published, other than short stories and articles, but thanks for the vote of confidence (or maybe I need to tailor the web site and add a pleading message to publishers...).

I think you should give Publishing that Pays You a swing first. No idea how you do it, though, so I'm not that much help. I'm thinking the Conduit route - try and get noticed in a newspaper/magazine/web site with one poem first?

I washed last year.

Blogless Troll said...

I clicked on the Unlucky 26 link and saw a garbled drawing of Marrow Manor, and I thought the more pressing question might be: should you self-illustrate? But it was my browser. Once I clicked refresh it cleared up. (It's very good.) I wish I could answer your question, but thanks to your clever YouTube links I'm now scrolling down my iPod looking for Men At Work. I'll probably binge on Business As Usual and Cargo for the next three days, but that's OK. Really. No need to apologize.

JaneyV said...

Honestly I haven't got a clue. (Helpful lot aren't we?)
One the one hand if you self publish you can self promote and you can find a market for your poems but it may not be as large as the regular publishing route. But then of course you'll be published which is great for getting your novels published. On the other hand the MUST be some publishing house that would be interested. Research is needed I fear.

The magazine route sounds good!

I did not click on the links - I feared that they'd be too entertaining and it's 8.10am and I'm still not dressed. I keep forgetting I have a job!

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding wishy-washy I think you could do both. Take your finished MS to the next writer's conference in SF (when's the one you volunteered at last year?) and show it to as many agents as you can.

Also, self-publish! Why let your artistic destiny be controlled by corporations? If you have art ready to be shared with the world - go for it!

fairyhedgehog said...

Strewwelpeter is still in print so presumably there's a market out there.

Following on from lahosken's comment
t, I read my tea leaves and they said: .~.::.^.:.! So there's your answer. Glad to be of help.

Precie said...

I vote for the traditional publishing route. Much as I loved the Unlucky 26 and would want to own a copy asap, I think you'd be best served trying to find it a home in a publishing house, not self-pubbing.

Anonymous said...

I fell asleep during BT's comment. Did he say anything productive?

I'd trust Precie - she has a doctorate. (Am I allowed to say that? Is that public knowledge?)

Blogless Troll said...

It's OK, Aerin. I fell asleep too.

Merry Monteleone said...

I think you're allowed to say that, Aerin... I knew Precie had a doctorate and we're only bloggy buddies...


There's a market for that, I'm sure. Look at the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books - they're half doodles and stick drawings, but the age bracket loves it.

bluesugarpoet said...

I like Aerin's idea. A good drink and a good read always persuades me to do just about anything.

Anonymous said...

Bluesugar - I'm going to remember that for evil reasons.....bwahahahahaha

Chris Eldin said...


I loved that series, very much, but felt it could use polishing by a good agent. Selling rhyme is one of the toughest markets...

Whatever you decide, good luck! It's a great, great concept!!

writtenwyrdd said...

I think it's a brilliant idea to put these out, but I'd try the standard method before going self-published. For one thing, they would market you.

Remember the "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories"? those were fantastic, and that market niche is what I think your poems should market to. (Smithmark Publishers, who put those out, doesn't seem Googleable, however.)

writtenwyrdd said...

And I'd buy at least 2 copies, :) !

writtenwyrdd said...

And I just noticed that you made all the poem titles rhyme in couplets. Cool!

Sarah Laurenson said...

OK. Here's my non-published author thought - look for a graphic novel publisher interested in breaking into the middle grade market. Your verse could be teamed with a known illustrator. Or something like that. Or check into who publishes Gorey. It's similar to some of his stuff.

Self-publishing is still frowned upon by most of the publishing houses, so if you do self-pub, you'd need a really decent number of sales (~5000) in order to claim credit in your querying.

PJD said...

OK, so the results are in. With just over 0.000000003 percent of precincts reporting, we're ready to project a winner...

And the winner is the write-in candidate, "Put down the pen and step away from the blank paper, you moron."

Oh, wait, sorry, that was a letter from my mom.

The real winner is, "If we tell him to do more research before he decides, maybe we can ensure his drivel never reaches the masses. We should get medals for this public service."

It seems that the general bent is for me to find The Perfect Agent who will sell to The Perfect Publisher. But the comments were suspiciously devoid of any helpful insight into identifying and blackmailing^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H meeting those folks. Perhaps that's what you get when you ask a Scottish Koala, a troll, a hedgehog... and a bunch of people who hang out with such characters.

Aerin, thanks for noting Silverstein. He has been an inspiration and a model. I'll think about the beer thing, but I believe unsolicited liquor sent through the mail is generally frowned upon by both agents and the US Postal Service.

Larry, still waiting for that coin to land? You're like your very own Stoppard scene, you are.

Shona, your opinion does not count since you admit that you washed. I only solicited the unwashed masses. But I will secretly take it under advisement.

BT, thanks for the "very good" thing about the artwork. Sorry about the music distraction. You weren't dancing with the koala in a kilt, were you? (I didn't see you in that photo...)

Jane, thanks for your honesty. If you do find a clue, please share it.

Tiff, I love your wishy-washy optimism. Guess what I'll be bringing you as a hostess gift next Easter?

FH, that is the first text art of tea leaves I've ever seen. Remarkable! (I wouldn't quit my day job if I were you.) Thanks for the Strewwelpeter link. I did not know this existed. Sounds fun.

Precie, you're here! But I'm not so impressed by doctors. My brother is a doctor, and all he's doing with his life is curing cancer. Pshaw.

Merry, good point on the Wimpy Kid. My younger son loves those books, and I can't figure out why. So mine must have a place because if anyone loves it, no one will be able to figure out why.

BSP... well... um... I'll get the dirt from Lily later.

Chris, tell me about it. The only agents that I've run across that don't have "I DON'T DO POETRY" blinking in neon red across their web sites are the ones who have it blinking in bright green.

WW, politically correct bedtime stories... yes, I think I remember them. Or I'm thinking of a Saturday morning cartoon equivalent... revised fairy tales? And you win "best friend of the day" for pre-ordering two copies.

Sarah, the graphic novel publisher in midlife crisis is an interesting idea. But I know nothing about graphic novels, and nothing about children's markets, so it's pretty much a toss-up there.

Gorey had to self publish his first books. So, yeah. Well.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Well. If you really want to follow in Gorey's footsteps...

Actually has come out with it's version of self-pubbing. Not sure how much it costs, but I assume it comes with an listing (which costs about $250).

FWIW: If you want a book for your coffee table, and don't get an ISBN. If you want to schlep it around the countryside and list it hither and yon and convince people to buy it one at a time, get an ISBN and hope to hell you sell a few thousand copies.

What's his name who wrote some really popular self help book that needed some serious grammar and typo checking, sold it out of the trunk of his car until it got to the point where a publisher sat up and took notice. Would've been nice if they also fixed the typos and stuff, but why bother since it was selling as is.

I actually suggest you check into the children's magazine market and start there. Pick the best of the bunch and shop it around.

writtenwyrdd said...

I tried to look up the publisher of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, but they don't have a web presence that five minutes of sleuthing could locate. But hey, I tried to direct you to a market. Don't I get bff status for that? ;)

writtenwyrdd said...

PS Maybe just submit to publishers and forget agents? I imagine some university presses would be eclectic enough to consider your cool poems.