Paradigm shift

I used to think that authors who self-published didn’t have the literary chops to make it in the “real” publishing world. I have spent my whole intellectual life grasping for the gold ring of publication by the literary establishment, with everything that means to me—not retail sales but a modest succès d’estime: a half-page review in the New York Times Book Review, “Briefly Noted” in The New Yorker, perhaps a short interview on “Fresh Air.” Many people advised me to self-publish, and I always replied politely that I was too invested in the old system.

Until Wednesday. That was when I had a conversation with a writer/teacher/revolutionary who said, “Why not publish your book?”

Resolving to self-publish means letting go of a lot, but letting go feels good. I may never sell a book to the movies. The One-Way Rain may never get reviewed by a publication with “New York” in the name, nor be flogged to reading groups, nor even have a dust jacket. On the other hand, its existence in the physical world will no longer depend on the overstressed gatekeepers of a profit-driven industry, and I’m no longer waiting around for somebody’s permission to bring you a book worth reading.

Another consideration is that very few works of literary fiction are successfully self-published (though author Nathan Bransford offers an optimistic counterpoint here). But very few works of literary fiction are successfuly other-published, either. So stay tuned, and I look forward to handing you a copy of my book.

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