The Publishing Lottery

If you don’t play, you can’t win. This week I bought tickets to a literary lottery transporting me through A Room of Her Own, where I think I saw a Crazyhorse riding on the Glimmer Train.

Art of Publishing

In John Thompson’s Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century he discusses and analyses the art and business of trade publishing. It’s an enlightening read; the historical and cultural driving forces behind the publishing industry have given me a lot to think about as I embark on this quest. It has helped me understand why so many authors are taking the self-publishing route, although I also value the quality that publishing houses provide, and that self-publishing does not often deliver.

Business of Writing

Today, as I entered my credit card details (again), I thought about the small publishers Mr. Thompson discusses. I found an apt quote:

The [small publishing] company is commonly subsidized by the unpaid, or only partly paid, labour of the founder-owner(s), who may have savings or other resources to fall back on or who, in some cases, may have other jobs to pay their bills…and ‘We printed a whole season [of books] on credit card debt’. ( p. 159)

In the last 10 days, I’ve spent U$190 with the (vague) hope that these are worthwhile expenditures, that in the next year I either break even or make a profit.  And if I make a profit the likelihood is that I will just roll it back into the brand (the brand being Amanda J. Wood). Or just have enough to buy a latté to drink through a straw.

Playing the Game

Traditional publishers of all sizes are gambling and betting on the future, spending money with no guarantees that a book will do well, even when it is written by a well-known author.

One reason I am so interested in the literary journals and magazines is because, to me, this is small publishing at its best. Often these are non-profit groups comprised of dedicated individuals who keep the quality of writing and reading alive. The three places I submitted to this week are all like this, investing their time, energy, and money to encourage writers (and readers) to keep playing the game.


If you are interested, check out my Profit and Loss (P&L) page where I will track my expenditures against my earnings or winnings (she writes hopefully).


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