Saturday, April 29, 2006

A post on self-published authors

I can't imagine ever self-publishing anything. And I share this guy's disdain for those who do and make a fuss about being a "published author." When I worked for a newspaper in South Carolina, I would sometimes write about a new-self-published book that someone in town has written. None of them were any good, though I always wrote nice things because I knew their moms would read it. (This basic idea has many implications for small-town journalism.)

Probably my favorite was this guy, who apparently put the story up on the internet himself as I just found it by googling him. He was a nice chap, though the real excitement came from his dad, who lived outside of town and wanted to be put on the sewer system. The father complained that a main sewer line ran under his property. What the man did not understand was that this was the main sewer pipe going out of town and was pressurized. You just can't tap in to a pressureized sewer main without a whole bunch of extra equipment. If you try, you will be faced with a great deal of backflow very, very fast.

One time after one of his diatribes, the city manager and I just stared at one another, amazed that "massive sewage firehose" was so difficult a concept to understand.

But I'm getting a bit far afield from self-publishing, aren't I?

I've written quite a bit of erotica, enough that I sometimes imagine putting a book of it together. (I'd like to call it "Menage à Whatever.") I have written several novellas, a few erotic, one coming-of-age and a few literary, and am at work on what I hope will be my second completed novel. (The first one was literary and satire, the second one is satire, chicklit and a bit of mystery.) I haven't sent the first novel off to any agents because I thought it wasn't good enough. Maybe the second one will be. Maybe not.

Maybe someday I will write a novel so good, the publishers will buy the old ones. I'm not counting on it, but it did work for John Gardner.

Probably part of the reason I don't really care about being a "published author" is that in the technical sense I already am one. My college press ran a competition where the student who wrote the best 40 pages of writing got published. My novella "Home of the Chimichanga" was published my junior year. (Please don't try to find it. It isn't very good. When I write some really good fiction, I'll tell you how to get a copy, I promise.)

But anyway, winning that competition, and the ten or twelve copies of Home of the Chimichanga on my bookshelf are enough to take the shine of the words "published author."

The post I linked to above says that really famous writers call themselves "writers" rather than "published authors." Though I don't kid myself that I will ever support myself professionally with my fiction writing, the term I'd really like is "novelist," but the dictionary says that a novelist is "A writer of novels."

"Novels," in the plural.

So I guess I'd better get back to work.



Anonymous said...

I am also a writer, though I don't have anything published, and most of the things I've written need work. I have many ideas that are stuck in my brain but I haven't had time to write them. I am currently writing a fantasy novel with dragons, unicorns, faries, etc. I've also written a children's book and have several others in mind. They're all about animals. "A Bird who is Not", "Shadow's nose Knows", and a couple of others.

I couldn't find anything about chimmichangas anywhere...

Chalicechick said...

(((I couldn't find anything about chimmichangas anywhere... )))

Uh, ok, I asked you not to find it. Aren't I a strange person to complain to if you can't?

Yes, a college press book from several years ago is going to be hard to find. I'm sure someone who really wants to can, but again, I'd rather you didn't because I've learned a few things as a writer since I wrote that and I'm a little embarassed of it in places.

But if for some reason you are going to insist on doing what I asked you not to, a good start would be to spell "Chimichanga" correctly.


Joel Monka said...

Disclaimer: I am a printing salesman. Publishing is not our specialty, but we've printed our share of self-published books, and I thin the article was painting with far too broad a brush. Some of the books I've printed have been crap- but thanks to blogs and Amazon and Ebay, they sold, and the author made money, and on a couple occassions even justified a second printing. Considering that the average "published" book loses money, that's not bad.

Something I've noticed about the authors who have come to us is that often they are not driven by the desire to have something-anything- published, but because they thought what they had to say was important. That may still be ego, but it's a different type of ego than the article spoke of, and possibly less deserving of ridicule.

PeaceBang said...

Actually, what I'm really waiting for now is that collection of erotica entitled "Home of the Chimichanga."

Chalicechick said...

While "Home of the Chimichanga: The director's cut" isn't going to happen, your comment has made me realize there's a lot of food in my erotica.

Much of what I write is about people who use sex to soothe sick souls or to cement connections with one another, and people use food the same way.


Anonymous said...

Does having poems and a short story published in my high school literary magazine, lo these forty years ago, count as being a published author?

LaReinaCobre said...

I've been published in college quite a lot because I was a Journalism major and wrote for the paper, but these were not paid assignments or anything. Then there was the literary journal and also high school literary arts stuff. And a few poems I wrote have ended up in magazines and online 'zines. But I've never considered myself a published author at all. I guess I'm not sure why I would say such a thing about myself unless I was wanting to be a writer. But now I am thinking it might be one of the few things I am semi-decent at.

I would say these folks who self publish and then say they are published authors are just trying to market themselves better?