I’m fresh from a business-of-writing meeting to this post. It was a small meeting, only three of us there. We summarized our accomplishments since the last meeting, made our commitments for next month and generally talked shop, which is always fun when you love what you do. It’s even more fun when you can do it over good coffee and a double-fudge brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream at Tina’s on Main.
We talked about editing, deadlines, publishing and self-publishing. Kim speculated that authors have to self-publish now to give publishers the idea that they can actually complete and market a book. Okay, that’s one argument for self-publishing, but I can’t say I buy it. I’ve managed to get all my gigs without a single self-published book. I’m a good writer, but not world-beating genius level, and as I’ve opined before, it doesn’t necessarily do you any good to have a self-published work of fiction out there. (I one writer who asked me for advice about publication actually said that she felt her self-published book had hurt her chances because of the grammar errors.)
There is one kind of self-publishing I really like, and that’s the kind where you make the books by hand. I’ve done that for several years, just because I love making things, and I really love playing with paper. There’s something so satisfying about starting with a pile of paper and cardboard (I like mat board for weight and stiffness), some glue and a needle and thread and ending with a little stack of hand-sewn books.
I’m particularly fond of found paper for the covers. Recently I’ve been buying my turkey feed from a place that stocks a brand that comes in paper bags printed in bright gold, red and black. Four bags should give me enough covers for an edition of twenty-five small books. How cool is that?
Pauline and Kim and I plan to have a book day in December. We’ll have the text printed up and ready to be made into signatures, and we can sit around putting books together, drinking coffee and talking. At the end of the day we’ll each have a stack of limited edition handmade books. I like to print the title, my name and my imprimature (Fox Paw Press) on a sheet of paper, once for each book in the edition, then tear them apart by hand and glue them to the finished covers.
I get a huge thrill out of seeing my name in print on the covers of those handmade books. I love starting from materials and stuff in my head and ending with something I made with my own hands. That’s the kind of self-publishing I could unreservedly recommend. What more could you want?
Okay, double-fudge brownies would also be good.