Publishing on Demand
by D.A. McCall
With understandable pride you’ve affixed the last period on a manuscript. If pressed, reluctantly you’d admit it’s not Melville or Faulkner but then, ‘What do you suppose their first efforts were like?’ With a snort you opine, ‘it’s eminently worth publication.’
Never doubting your genius will be embraced you select a publishing house to bestow your creation on.
Later in the decade (after multiple) publishers have rejected your narrative you sag with disappointment at yet another form letter. Be careful what you wish for, personal rejections frequently border on cruel. They often are accompanied with pointless critiques of rancid elements of the ‘sample’ chapters you submitted. (At their request no less) You just knew they’d be enthralled. ‘Nepotism is the only plausible explanation for these incompetent buffoons.’
Don’t delude yourself, cretin publishers have not missed the next Mark Twain. Editors are ever vigilant for a would be Hemingway to show some spark of imagination along with at least rudimentary familiarity with grammar and syntax. Believe it, and you thought writing the book was the easy part.
‘What I need is an agent.’
It turns out agents are not listed in the phone book. (They’re not looking for new clients,huh?) And are as hard to come by as a competent mechanic. Suppose one does agree to take you on. Likely your unpublished ‘Pulitzer Prize’ candidate would continue to languish with one significant difference, by your own invitation you now have one more irritating distraction in your life.
Ultimately defiance sets in. ‘Fine I’ll publish it myself.’ A ‘vanity press’ is located. (This is the easiest part so far)
When the books arrive a considerable part of the garage is sacrificed to their storage. (Hey, cars are waterproof....sort of) In unabashed self-aggrandizement copies are dispatched to family and friends. With great care these tomes are autographed and personalized with wit and apropos observations. You’re giddy with anticipation, expecting favorable reactions. In lieu of that you’d settle for some encouraging words. (misguided you think family and friends will be thrilled for you) What you get is a litany of criticisms. In mock concern they point out typos, misspellings, etc. Worse, there’s even hostility asserting you’ve represented them shamefully, this despite your protests that the character in the book isn’t them. At some point you’re grateful for the many that didn’t even bother to read you.
Don’t despair, to the rescue comes publishing on demand. At the very least it’s the responsible thing to do. Books shouldn’t be printed unnecessarily. Books should be cherished.
If your yarn is gripping to no one save you, mercifully no trees ( or their inhabitants) had to suffer for your muse. Some stories are best left untold. If you sincerely believe that yours is the exception have the decency to tell it one book at a time. Books on demand take the waste out of publishing. It’s the future.
The palaver the latest preteen opus has generated has nothing to do with literary merit but rather the coffers of some publishing house must be fed. (Mentored by an idiot no harm in that) Unfortunately pap will flourish. Education is the only cure for bad taste.
Publishing on demand will have scant effect on brick and mortar bookstores. They’re still free to order any stock they like. Presumably they know what their customers are looking for.
Regardless of who ultimately publishes your creation it’s still going to require promotion for sales but, that’s the grist for another day.