Self-Publishing: 1

I have recently spent some time looking into self-publishing options.  It is a huge area of growth.  Many new firms have sprung up offering just this: lulu and Pressbooks to name just two.  New technologies and the ease of their implementation have hit a sweet spot in terms of user-friendliness and the success stories of authors such as E L James have taken away some of the stigma.  (It is notable of course that many of the self-published successes have gone on to take contracts with major publishers.)

There is this: it isn’t very difficult to do, but it is difficult to do well.  It is a trope that you can take, and apply to many of the things that have been foisted back upon us in the modern first world economy and marketplace.  Think about self-checkouts, thing about mortgage comparison sites, think about utility bill saving.  These are all things that it is now ‘easy’ to do, but the question of whether we should be doing them and how well we can do this is rarely addressed.  Someone who is paid a decent wage and runs a check out all day will pack your bags more quickly and do a better job.  You’ll expend less effort and shopping is less of a chore.  Someone who knows all the mortgages on the market (a broker) will make getting a mortgage much less painful than manually trawling every mortgage providers website and catalogue and adding in your details time and time again.

And so, we come to self-publishing.  There’s no reason it shouldn’t be done, and it enables people to get their material out to the market place for others to read, and peruse and maybe even pay for.  But when it comes to an author who has the choice between a publisher and no publisher, one of the reasons you’d go with a publisher is because they offer a professional service : they pack your bags for you.  They check the market rates and discounts.  They deduct your taxes and send those off to the Inland Revenue.  They spend a while working out how big the running heads should be.

Antithesis: think about the positives of self checkouts.  You get to do it your way.  You take your time.  You don’t have to interact with anyone.  You can labour over your love.   But your time is money, too: the time it takes for you to do what ten years ago would have been done for you.  On a site like createspace you can spend hours, days, months, crafting your own book.  Congratulations!  You are now a publisher.  Only you don’t draw a salary.

It’s not like self-checkouts have made produce any cheaper: they have just cut staffing levels and saved the faceless suits a huge amount of money.

Naturally, this is just an entry point into this discussion.  There is so much more to talk about that whole books have been written about it, by people much more vested in each of the arguments than I am.   But next time you sit tinkering on lulu.com with a book and wondering what a ‘bleed’ is on a PDF and resizing a page on Acrobat or adjusting the kerning on a layout, just think: wait, this isn’t a job.  I’m at a self-checkout.  And my efforts, expert or not, careful or carefree, profitable or just for kicks, are putting people out of work, driving down the cost of labour, saving Mr Suit a nice amount in overheads and — sapping all my free time.  In fact, I’m a self-publisher! I’m so busy making books I don’t have time to read them any more.

Fridays

Miasmic kind of humidity that saps the energy.  This is the ground-down fag end fuck up at the end of the week.

SOHO and a bottle of wine in one of those fancy wine coolers that no one wants to drink and

At one point I have three drinks on this table, a whisky, a lager and a wine.   There is:

A nightclub called, in all caps, “STRATFORD’S GOT SWAGGA” and Ye Olde Black Bull is Hopper tonal colours into the dusk and we have:

A BIG shopping centre and a new(ish) train station selling all manner of worldy goods at top dollar prices.

This is the 104 bus and it sweeps past the old shopping centre and we’re onto the Portway and back into a land of aloo chana in a tray for 99p and someone is cooking something and I make some fish and chips but its battered oven cook haddock and I wonder about that aspirational quality that YOU had for the Instagram filtered perfection of a life already looked at in vintage rose-tint.

We all have our nostalgia fetishes I guess.

And her effort, overcharged

“All the life of Miriam’s body was in her eyes, which were usually dark as a dark church, but could flame with a light like a conflagration. Her face scarcely ever altered from its look of brooding. She might have been one of the women who went with Mary when Jesus was dead. Her body was not flexible and living. She walked with a swing, rather heavily, her head bowed forward, pondering. She was not clumsy yet none of her movements seemed quite THE movement. Often, when wiping the dishes, she would stand in bewilderment and chagrin because she had pulled in two halves a cup or a tumbler. It was as if, in her fear and self-mistrust, she put too much strength into the effort. There was no looseness or abandon about her.. Everything was gripped with a stiff intensity, and her effort, overcharged, closed in on itself.” [my emphasis]

D. H. Lawrence, “Sons and Lovers”