Saturday, November 21, 2009

Publishing Angst

The last version of The Duke of Morrison Street had a few more typos. I doubt I got them all, but I can hope. I made the Salish Ponds Press live even though people can't yet order the book from the page. That will come soon. The Kindle Edition is ready for publication and I will hit the "publish" button at Amazon as soon as the print edition is live.

I am a member of Salon where I follow the politics and the arts. Laura Miller recently wrote an article about "vanity book awards." The article profiled a company that handed out awards and those gold stickers you often see on books that have won some sort of literary award. It appeared from the company website that the awards were based primarily on the author's ability to send the company sixty-nine dollars.

The article made me wince. It promulgates the idea that if you publish your own work it is a vanity enterprise. In my case, I suppose there is some truth to that. I couldn't get anyone else to publish my book (although I certainly didn't try very hard at it). I also have a vanity law practice. I didn't want to start my own practice, but after being very publicly tossed out of the legal profession and very publicly readmitted, nobody welcomed me back with a comfortable salary and a downtown office. Maybe I am more vain than other people.

Or maybe recovery people, having burned bridges to the normal sources of income and status, have to make their way in the world however they can.

The conversation that followed the article pitted two visions of writing against each other. One vision posits that there are good writers whose work, although seldom popular with the reading public, rises to the top in the form of losing money for major publishers and receiving literary awards. The other vision is of a world in which there are many voices, some of which are great to certain readers at certain times. The first vision is popular in academia; the second in the blogosphere.

I would rather be a rich writer with my book in the front window of Border's stores across the nation. I would also rather be a rich lawyer, with a corner office in a downtown skyscraper. Salish Ponds, however, is a good enough publisher for today, and my vanity law office a few blocks away keeps the creditors from the door. I doubt the two visions of writing will ever be resolved. People thriving within the establishment will look with amused disdain on those outside of it, and those outside of it will rail against the arbitrary barriers that prevent them from getting in. Until I become one of the former, I am one of the latter.

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