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Self: Published

Your book arrived today. I have to confess -- back in the days when I was a regular reader here, I never quite "got" your desire to have a book published. It seemed unnecessary given what you have here (on the weblog.)

I get it now. The book is beautiful, inside and out. It's going to be like my hidden spot in the swamp, something I can return to again and again when I need a quiet place to escape the noisiness of this world. Like my spot in the swamp, will help to remind me of what really matters.

I've pulled this comment from a few days ago to hold before me as I try to think about why I write, about what strong and persistent force has compelled me to get the words of a year of blogging into book form, and about why I've chosen to do so in a way that feels very much like I've published my self and not just my words--giving the term "self published" a different spin than the usual "vanity press" associations often mistakenly attached to the words.

I think back on the process, and I wonder how things would be different this morning if I were still waiting--a year after the book was finished--to hear back from XYZ Press's editors about the first of a dozen hurdles that would separate the desire to have a book and actually holding it in my hands.

I think about the personal involvement behind every step as Slow Road Home has come to reality; I think about the parts of me I would not have imparted in the book had I given over the details of page and cover layout, content and timing to a ponderous and impersonal publisher who would own the very personal expression that I wanted Slow Road Home to become.

I'm glad I have done this the way I did. I know that there are some who judge a book by the presence or absence of that publisher emblem on the cover. I mentioned some examples of this bias the other day. More recently, the Public Information office at a nearby college has not responded to my email request to help publicize an upcoming event on their campus because--as I was warned by another writer--they are not warm to the notion of "self-published" books.

I'm not whining in telling this. It is just the way things are. I'll have to find my own path in marketing and promotion just as I did in writing, designing and printing the book. Some parts of the journey will be harder with a self-published book (I recently read that a self-published book is a business for the author; paying a subsidy to get published is a business for the subsidy publisher.) I just have to better understand the business model I'm trying to follow.

I will have to direct my business in some different ways than I would if I'd given over that control to a large publishing house in a distant state. I'm feeling my way through this. I have no regrets. I've carried a few readers to quiet places, and brought them to my front porch on Goose Creek. I'm satisfied with that.

You might want to swing over read what another self-published Floyd County author, David St. Lawrence, has to say about all this on his blog.


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Another reason is this: even with things like the Wayback Machine and Internet Archive, this medium is ephemeral in so many ways. There's very little chance, at least unless something fundamental changes, of someone 120 years from now picking up the contents of this or any other blog, and feeling you reach across time to your common human experiences.

That's also the reason I plan on seeding a couple of your books around the real world, so that someone digging through great-grand-daddy's library will find it and write a doctoral thesis around the movement that you were part of.

Of course, iit may turn out that someone finds a copy and starts a religion based on the Teachings of Fred. Hard to say. Would Elvis be a prophet in that one, or would it be Barbara Kingsolver?

Regardless, it's a great book, and a wonderful thing to set free out into the wider world. Thank you for putting so much work into something so cool, helpful, and gentle.

Fred, Fred, Fred, Fred, Fred! I think you deserve that wack upside the head David St Lawrence suggests. Look at your beautiful book and the wonderful writing and be okay with the truth of it. There is a huge conspiracy by huge publishers to quash the up and coming self-publishing wave of new talent. So what? True, it will take more work to self promote and it will take more time. Success will not happen at the speed of a click on your mouse. Look at what is happening in the music industry. The internet and self publishined/recorded music business has taken that industry by storm. Everybody is in the pool at one time - so, it may take a little while to differentiate and pick out the top swimmers. Trust this new process and those readers out there who are looking for good reads and be ready when the big wave comes!

Re the dope slap....

Folks must be reading into my blog posts a naivete, blindness or desparation I don't see in myself.

We're straddling a publishing world with a foot in the boat and one on the dock. While I trust the self-publishing raft to float, there are still questions of how to guide it in a time when readers still do most of their book buying in the large chain book stores and put credence in an author "published by" some name they've heard of. So, yes, I feel pulled in these same two directions and hope to be able to run the full course with the power of my own marketing to those readerships I can reach by my personal presence, the web and word of mouth. At the same time, seems to me if the book is to gain any altitude, I have to have validation by the academic appalachian lit mags and maybe eventually seek a larger, wider distribution than any of this is ever going to give me. I am expecting my wave to crest a year down the road, so am not over-anxious about instant gratification. And i am enjoying the journey quite a bit!

If a small press or trade came along with an offer to pick up Slow Road Home, I would not jump immediately at the opportunity. This would gain me some things, but I think I'd lose more than I'd get. We'll see. Not a problem at the moment.

Hi Fred - I would challenge the thought that folks still predominantly buy books in book stores. I buy several of mine after googling topics of interest and then finding a well written self published book on it. That's how I found David St. Lawrence's "Danger Quicksand." Enjoying his writings as a Floyd blogger was a bonus that came later. As much a technorati as you are, I would study search engine hits, and learn how to write about your work in such a way as to attract folks googling their topics of interest. If you want to give some "legitimacy" beyound your own site to would be buyers, consider being a reseller for Amazon, provide a link, and corner the market for selling your book there. Hope you enjoy my caffinated thoughts this morning....

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