To Publish, or To Not Publish?
Written by
Marri Champie
January 2012
Written by
Marri Champie
January 2012



In the days when a madrigal wrote a song, or The Bard wrote a play, or the Pope wrote a bull, the written piece—music, folio, letter, or missive—was laboriously hand copied and dispatched directly to the readers by foot or horse, boat or wagon.  In retrospect this apparently was a well-respected way for a writer to reach the reader, and was without a doubt self-publishing.


Printing, when it mechanized, became also the authority for publishing and by right of progression, took over the task of reaching the audience.  Thus a printer became a publisher and claimed the right as the goddess of words in that a printer would choose or choose not to print a writer based on economic factors some, if not most of the time. 


And so we arrive at the modern era of printing wherein publishing was only accomplished if a printer or editor somewhere judged the words, the writer, and the written good enough, or in mode for the moment, or properly intoned as to be worthy of an audience.  If these criteria were not met—the primary one of course being that someone other than the writer made the decision on all of the other criteria—then a writer was not published, the voice not heard, the story not told.  The End.


Until now. 


I grew up as a writer in a collegiate literary environment where the very idea of self-publishing was like a spoiled barrel of fish that you better not want to fish-monger—self-publishing was not for the palette of lovers-of-lean words and writers or readers of self-effacing writing.  To self-publish was even labeled; the presses who printed works for the authors were called Vanity presses and to self-published was considered the death-knell for a real writer. 


Now self-publishing presses are called print-on-demand, PODs, …or Amazon.


And self-publishing is nothing new.  It’s just got a new façade.  It’s the era of online, digital, electronic media and medium, but to use that medium to express a voice is not-so-different from a scroll carried on a caravan from Morco Polo to the Emperor of China.  But it’s a damn sight faster.


So get over yourself and your prejudices against even the idea of self-publishing, I told myself. 


And I did, self-publishing my first novel using CreateSpace last year.  I’m in the proof stage of my second novel, which I am re-formatting because I wasn’t happy with the first attempt.  There-in lies the difference. 


Publishers have polished their skills of production, presentation, and promotion to the point of perfection and those are not easy-to-come-by skills.  The frustration of trying to create your own novel and meet the expectations of the audience for appearance and editing in a high-quality product isn’t as easy as you might imagine.  It took me five days to get the last MS loaded to my satisfaction and to Createspace’s and now I am not pleased with the proof and am starting over.  I recall that it took me six weeks to finally get my already-published novel formatted and published on Kindle; it was a frustrating dance taking the MS from one program to another, only to find the process didn’t work and that you had to go all the way back to square one to fix the glitch.   Or worse still, to find an error, or a typo, and have to correct it in the original document format.


Promotion is not easy.  When you’re not a known author, what compels a reader to choose your work?  This is the part of the formulae that I haven’t yet overcome successfully.  However, it occurs to me that if I want to survive as a writer, or ever hope for an audience, I better learn this one too.  Because self-publishing has been the way of it for a lot longer than one might realize and it’s here to stay.  It has been from the very first thing ever written and presented publically, up until people got all uptight about needing someone or something to censor the individual voice in order to order the public—and published voice.    


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