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.

P&L

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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