Elderberry Press vs. Random House
by Fred Reed: Oo-rah
we introduce Fred's new collection, A
Grand Adventure, containing his usual venom and billingsgate,
as well as stuff on Mexico and God knows where-all, plus buncha
photos of everything. And in which we incidentally demolish the
took a while to get from Gutenberg to Bezosberg, but we is done
did it, and the rats in New York are scurrying. Hoo!" ~ Fred Reed
you have written a book, maybe How to Blow This Pop Stand, Get
Married in Thailand, and Live Happily Ever After, and you want
to publish it as a service to mankind. How? You have three choices:
A publishing house in New York. Bad idea, unless you are Hillary
Clinton, which you probably aren't because she already is. The New
York houses are withdrawing themselves from the book racket by a
combination of incompetence, arrogance, avarice, and sloth. They
have lasted this long only because there was no choice. But now
there is a Grett Monstrous New Dog out there.
Grand Adventure: Wisdom's Price
Fred's latest collection of sedition, outrage, and affronts to civilization.
Discounts for departments of forensic psychology and abnorml anthropology.
The photo is from rural Cambodia in 1974, M16 supplied by the Pentagon.
it. We know where your children go to school.
books, New York simply doesn't work very well. It is ossified, doesn't
like writers or writing, and can barely read. You can't just send
your manuscript to New York because they won't read un-agented manuscripts.
You likely don't know an agent, so you buy Writer's Market
and guess. Your guess doesn't matter because there are only two
kinds of agents, those too important to bother with you, and those
who are straightforwardly useless. You can spend years shopping
agents who demand exclusive contracts while they don't sell your
opus somehow gets to Random House. It will fall into the hands of
a first reader, usually a Barnard co-ed with the brains of a trout
fly, who likely has never been more that fifty yards from a flush
toilet. She will know nothing about America, truck stops, life,
or Oklahoma. She will bounce your book.
Think I'm kidding?
Every so often some wag takes a classic, maybe Crime
and Punishment, changes the names, and sends it to New York.
Invariably it gets rejected, meaning that the first reader knows
neither literature nor writing. This is what you are up against.
If by some
mistake the book is accepted, you get a tiny advance or none and,
a year later 5,000 copies get printed, of which 2,000 sell, maybe,
because Random House won't promote it, whereupon it goes into remainders,
and they have the copyright. Your book is dead.
is Print on Demand, or POD. This is a better deal, if you know what
you are doing. For about a half-grand, you email your outpouring,
Sex and the Single Dromedary, to an outfit like iUniverse,
which formats it for publication and sticks it on a hard drive somewhere.
It shows up on Amazon and Barnes and Rubble just like Dostoevsky
or the Bible and people can order it, but most likely won't. This
is much better than the old vanity presses, to which you paid thousands
and ended up with a garage full of moldering books.
then pester you for the rest of your life trying to peddle various
means of promoting your book, none of which will work, as iUniverse
knows perfectly well. Every ten minutes you get a promotional call
from some twit in sales. Reading from a script, he implies without
saying that for a great deal of m,oney he will make your book sell
better than the Koran. Sure. Any day now.
is ebook, which means not only Kindle but Sony and the gang. I was
preparing another collection of my lies and distortions, hoping
to mulct unwary readers, when I got an email from David St. John
at Elderberry Press, which I'd never heard of, wondering would I
like him to publish my books in electronic form. Wow. An editor
who actually looks for books to publish? Who talks to writers?
as virgins in the seventh grade. You don't call Random House and
and talk to The Editor, or any editor, not even the Barnard trout
It gets worse
for the publishing scam. Elderberry can get your opus, Anorexia
in the Three-Toed Sloth, by email, format it for Kindle, Sony,
Apple, and probably parchment copyists and stone cutters, and put
it up for sale on Amazon and the others in about two weeks.
At that point your novel, I Was a Teen-age Breast Pump, covers
the entire earth like God and corruption, except maybe for North
Korea, where God probably doesn't have coverage. Royalties beat
hell out of New York. If like me, you want to include photos, just
stick them in. Kindles don't handle color, but iPads do. To a server,
photos are just more ones and zeros. It doesn't care.
Oh, and you
keep the copyright.
New York? A
dinosaur looking with vague unease at the thin film of ice forming
on its swamp. Physical books aren't dead, but the green lines on
the oscilloscope flatten and flatten. Kindles are selling deadly
good. Amazon says it has 950,000 books in Kindle format. Anywhere
that has cell phone coverage, meaning anywhere but the Greenland
ice cap and the bottom of the Mariana Trench, you can download all
950,000 if the urge hits you.
killer: A little outfit like Elderberry can do ebooks, or for that
matter POD, at least as well as Random House, and probably better.
Better means the quality of the editor. The rest is
software. Further, an electro-shop doesn't need delivery trucks,
printing firms, big investors, pricey offices, a thousand employees,
or chains of stores.
The flaw in
this ointment, the fatal fly, is promotion. You pretty much have
to do it yourself, perhaps with a web site, or the social media
like Facebook and, eventually, word of mouth. In theory Border's
can give you shelf space, except that Border's is dead. In a brick-and-morter
book store, what do you see prominently displayed? The Wisdom
of Oprah. And I Was Godzilla's Mother, by Janet Napolitano.
And Jane Fonda's Salad Book. And The Persephony Diet:
Lose Weight by Eating Pure Chicken Fat. Everything else is shelved
where nobody will ever see it.
Yes, I know,
some people chiefly old ones say they just love the feel
of a book, that these new-fangled computer thingamabobs will never
be as satisfying. Bet me. The rising generations don't read, but
they are happy not doing it on a portable screen. It's new world.
Countless horrible books will see publication, but also good ones
that New York wouldn't touch. Some means will evolve of sorting
this mess out, maybe websites run by tasteful reviewers who will
slog through the sludge, finding emeralds. It's going to be decentralized,
free-lance, beyond the control of big companies.
New York? Nah.
It's Kindle, Amazon, Elderberry, Gutenberg.org. That's all it is.
Well, Audible.com too. Meanwhile the New York publishers still walk
around, barely, while forethoughtedly decomposing, and then croak.
Which they deserve. I will buy a case of Padre Kino red, and dance
on their graves.
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest
book is Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit
© 2011 Fred Reed
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