Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Friday, November 04, 2005

Poddy Mouth

The blog Poddy Mouth has devolved into little more than a cheering section for self-published writers. The posts consist of laudatory reviews (which all read remarkably alike) of self-published books and mentions of or interviews with the occasional rara avis, the self-published writer who secured a contract with a reputable trade publisher.

Poddy mentioned and linked to two articles today.

“If you think going POD is a waste of time (granted, it can be) take a look at this outstanding article by Elizabeth Royte in the NYTBR. Going POD is hard, but at least your expectations are (or should be) proportionate. But Ms. Royte really nails the entire publishing process down--and how it brings you down.

Every traditionally published writer I know (myself included) has gone through these phases she writes about. Every word is true. Sadly.”

Royte’s article has already been linked on a number of lit blogs. I hadn’t read it until today, and wasn’t going to.

“But excitement is a fleeting emotion, and the business of publicizing the book, so that it sells and the author can earn out his advance, quickly displaces any initial euphoria. The writer then embarks on a tortured journey toward acceptance of the fact, several months after publication, that his book isn't going to vault him into the empyrean of fame, or even improve his life. At the intersection of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's stages of grief and Stendhal's stages of love, the contemporary author trudges along a predictable path that can only be described, in hindsight, as self-induced misery.”

Royte then divides the author’s promotional effort into a number of oh-so-cute headers with anecdotes from various authors to illustrate each stage of the process. I find the effort to analogize dying with an author’s book tour to be incredibly self-dramatizing and flippant. I also happen to be tired of Kubler-Ross and her stages. Please retire this cliché.

"’I call this stage infantile narcissism,’ said Lynn Goldberg of Goldberg McDuffie Communications, a public relations company that deals with many big-name authors. ‘They're completely self-absorbed, and they can't understand why they're not selling more books or getting on TV.’"

Infantile narcissism. Completely self-absorbed. That’s exactly how I feel about Royte’s article and the whining writers quoted within it.

Poddy then mentions, apparently with approval, an article in the Orlando Sentinel about some local self-published writers.

“Many writers are self-publishing: poets, scholars and historians; artists, travelers and scientists; coaches, executives and gardeners. The are the rank and file of a group that includes literary luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Pat Conroy, Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain, according to

Any article that repeats this is misleading and dishonest. I just got through with this subject in my post about Francis Ellen and my comments to Ellen on Michael Allen's blog. I’m not going to repeat myself. This is a discredited list and a dishonest argument. I can’t say what I’d really like to about, but I certainly don’t recommend the site or anything you might find there.

This story is saddening.

“After a six-month search for a publisher for her travelogue Island White Ghost, Nani Sadowski, 31, of Orlando decided to self-publish with print-on-demand publisher AuthorHouse. Sadowski says she negotiated a deal with the company for less than $1,000. Her package included 200 soft-cover books and such ‘add-ons’ as fliers to distribute and marketing help.

‘It was actually an amazing deal,’ she says. ‘The good thing is that you have a lot of control, and they do talk you through the entire process.’"

What can I say? As Adam West’s Batman was wont to say, “You poor, deluded child.” This woman just lost her considerable expenditure of money.

Perhaps it wasn’t her intent, but by juxtaposing these two articles, Poddy is making an unfounded case for self-publishing. Getting published by a traditional publisher seems next to impossible and when you finally get there, you find that it wasn’t worth the trip. So why not self-publish? It can’t be worse. That’s the implicit argument. It’s a bad one. Even the author with the worst selling book quoted in Royte’s article will have been far more successful than almost any self-published writer.

Finally, I’m fed up with complaining writers. Writers who can’t get published complain. Writers who get published complain. We live in a culture of complaint and ingratitude. I’m sick of it.


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