December 5, 2007

With the return of my rights to The P'Town Murders, the question of a reprint looms. My agent wants to find a new publisher who will fly with the success. While I'm hopeful such a publisher can be found (one who will agree to reprint immediately, while demand is still strong), I'm also considering other possibilities. There are viable ways to cut out the middleman and recoup a larger profit for myself, but the spectre of self-publishing is raised. Is self-reprinting (taking the opportunity to make a buck on my own work -- something a writer seldom gets to do) the same as self-publishing, if the book has already been published? And is self publishing even still a blemish on the part of a writer in this age of print-on-demand, or is it simply a smart business decision on the writer's part? (Not that writers have ever been accused of that!)

A quick look through the history of publishing shows that some of our best have been self-pubished, at least initially. Walt Whitman not only self-published Leaves of Grass, he also self-reviewed it under a pseudonym. Artistic cheating or good business sense? Now that the book is a classic we don't think twice about its origins. Similarly, Virginia Woolf's work was published by her husband, Stephen. Isn't that still self-publishing when your spouse does it for you? So why the stigma? A glance at the recent nomination lists for the Lambda Awards reveals titles from such print-on-demand publishers as I-Universe and Lulu Books. I think Walt Whitman would approve.

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