Day 2 of a bad toothache and I’m feeling a bit on the grumpy side.
The Passive Voice highlights an article from Salon where novelist Ted Heller tried out self-publishing. He reported back that the experience was overwhelmingly not a good one. Based on what I read though, I have to question his tactics. For example, he says:
As I write these words, I am now in my seventh week of attempting to spread the word about “West of Babylon.” I have sent emails to many newspapers, from the Boston Globe down to the Miami Herald across to the San Francisco … well, to just about everywhere. I’ve sent emails to newspapers and magazines in England, too, and to websites and book blogs.
As an employee of a newspaper, I feel it’s important to point out here that in terms of print space he’ll probably never get reviewed. The staff is generally just too small now to be able to cover as much material as they did at one point. And while he mentions submitting to websites and blogs too, he doesn’t say which ones. A quote that really stuck out to me was this however:
Our hope was that “Pocket Kings” would get positive reviews and that publishers would then chomp at the bit for West of Babylon. But it didn’t work out that way. Editors passed on “West of Babylon.” It got some great, encouraging rejections but still, nobody wanted it. (I would rather have a discouraging acceptance than an encouraging rejection.)
My take, and I very well could be wrong about this, is that there was the sense that this was somehow an inferior product getting dumped into an electronic format. Or, even given that he doesn’t believe that it’s an inferior product, he’s taken it to an electronic format as a last resort. I really disagree with this approach.
As I mentioned, I work for a newspaper. The folks from the print days have always seen the web as a bit of a dumping ground for odds and ends rather than a place to premier content. It’s just always been an afterthought. This attitude has slowly begun to change but there are still folks in the newsroom who, for example, post to Twitter that there’s a great article coming out in Sunday’s paper. Not, ‘hey, here’s a link to our great content,’ or ‘here’s a sneak preview of a great story that will be featured,’ but ‘hey audience that has never purchased a paper, there will be something in that thing you’ve never been interested in coming out soon.’
It feels like he’s doing something similar, attempting to do what he’s always done in one medium and trying to translate it to a new one. My take is that he should go back, talk to some people who have had a lot of success launching their products as ebooks and get some good feedback on how they succeeded.
What do you think, am I just being too grumpy today?