Self publishing is for vanity writers and losers who can’t get published

… but I did it anyway!

My plan for world domination has always been thus:

1. Bank some cred by getting published in respected magazines and journals.

2. Take that cred to a publisher to produce a book.

3. World domination.

Over the past eight years I’ve clocked up a modest amount of cred: North & South, Poetry NZ, various literary journals, a few national anthologies that still sit proudly in Whitcoulls. Haven’t quite made The Listener yet …

But cred is not enough on its own. Turns out you also need a publishing climate that is not being systematically rewritten by the online universe and a worldwide recession. I’m a few years too late for anyone to take a punt on me. One literary agent I approached suggested that I need to be as famous as an All Black to get short stories published.

My attitude has traditionally been that I will settle for nothing less than doing it properly with a real publisher. Self publishing is for vanity writers and losers who can’t get published, I thought. But that was the old world. I discovered the new world last year. Cue a massive paradigm shift and my new book.

Last year the Tauranga Writers group facilitated a meeting with a print company on the topic of self publishing. I went along wearing the big cynic’s hat that I’d picked up in the old world and I left wearing a completely new hat. Here’s why.

No one is going to print your book because they can’t afford it. (In my experience, so far, that’s true. I have the rejection letters to prove it. “Not our thing.” “Entertaining light verse.” Etc. All code for “you’re not famous enough to warrant our investment”.)

Everyone has the right to be published. Not everyone has the right to be read. Aha. Wisdom. Fortunately I believe that my stuff is worth reading. And I do have some cred to back me up.

You no longer have to invest in 1000 books upfront. Technology now lets you print 6 copies or 10 copies or 50 or 2000, whatever you want, affordably. This knowledge moved me into the self publishing space.

And so I built a book and printed a few copies just to see how it felt.

And behold, I liked it.

And so did my friends.

And I thought, this is worth pursuing.

And thus came into being the Ministry of Ideas collection of total awesomeness! (Forgive the Kung Fu Panda terminology. I am trying to write with the sound of three noisy boys raising hell with cushions and pillows.)

The stressful stuff is figuring out how to sell it and make it available to everyone who wants it. Marketing and administration and all that extraneous work should be done by people in suits while I sit in my scruffy jeans with a coffee and write the next thing. Because, really, all I want to do is write, not sell.

Fortunately I’ve managed to write a book that people actually want to read. Everyone who picks it up does all the right things, namely, they can’t seem to put it down. Some of the people who have bought it have already come back for more copies to give away. This is all very good for the writer’s soul and it helps fund the next round of reprints. That’s not a sales pitch, it’s just a statement.

(But if you do want to buy it, it’s an accessible price!)