Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

Publishing myths and changing times.


I meet a lot of interesting people at warcraft.

I run around with surgical techs, former prison guards, a NY accountant, several published authors, a Canadian police officer who trains rescue dogs, and a host of others.

So I should not have been surprised at all to meet more would be authors. One of them asked me the other day about finding markets for horror that were like the magazines of the Golden Age. I had a hard time explaining to him that such things no longer exist. There are a handful of struggling zines, but most of them are already overbought. None of them pay to equal that of the Golden Age.

The Golden Age is never going to return.

Another myth appears to be that all self publishers are created equal: they are all piss poor.

Well, the need for gatekeepers is great for the bulk of them, but I would like to bring up and talk further about another class of self publisher and put forth that we need a definition and a name for them. If there already is one, I will embrace it with joy.

When the corporations bought out all the publishing houses starting in the early 80s, and then large numbers of mergers caused the shrinkage of the market in general, they did several things wrong that have only been partially healed.

One of their first actions was to get rid of any titles that were not meeting their corporate concept of a bottom line. (I think most, if not all, Harvard MBAs ought to be taken out and shot for their part in this debacle or at the very least carted off to the guillotine)

They killed the back list and then the mid list. Many authors were able to make the transition from working full time to writing full time because of the steady sales from the back list. When that was wiped out, a lot of older authors lost their key livelihood. Same with the mid list. However, the publishing houses got hurt by this also.

The back list and the mid list were steady sales, but in smaller numbers than the titles at the top. The dependable flow of money from those two lists supported the development of other authors.

With the advent of PoD, many of the authors who got lost in that sea change went and tried to sell their own reprints. It was a salvage operation. And it is still going on.

The back list and the mid list eventually returned to corporate publishing, but those who had been lost mostly remained lost.

The back list, especially, is much weaker than it used to be. It never fully recovered.

A check of the books on Amazon will turn up a number of authors who have done their own reprints. I am not alone in this.

Yes, a reprint produced like this is a self published title, but it is a self published title that has already been approved by the gatekeepers at an earlier point in its lifespan.

In this sense, it fails to meet the general definition of self publishing, which in and of itself implies a lack of gatekeepers.

So what do we call gatekeeper approved self re-published titles?

We aren’t self publishers, we are self REpublishers.

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This entry was posted on November 16, 2009 by in Janrae Frank and tagged , .

Janrae Frank

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