(NOVELTOWN 2.0 is on the way, an entire DIY marketing campaign filled with lights and attention-seeking fanfare… more on that in another post. Coming real soon!)
Self-Publishing Scam Can Hurt Indie Writers
There’s a trend going on in the literary world: Indie writers with books fighting through the masses, swinging as they go. They need you. And Indie publishing companies need support too.
Maybe you’re just a reader who wants to support. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a press. Maybe you’re a writer who wants to get published. What do you do? How do you even start the fight? And what are you fighting for?
If you’re a writer maybe you’re confused. Do you send your book out into the world to slog through commercial publishing rejection swamps? Do you invest your own money in self-publishing? Or, do you take it a step further and go the Indie route: submit or start your own company? What’s the damn difference?
Right away you need to get it straight. I may have published my own novel through Noveltown. But I didn’t use the fly-by-night iUniverse, Authorhouse, or Lola (kings of print-on-demand publishing). I self-published once before and that’s a killer headache unless you’re already famous or have thousands of dollars at hand for a publicist. Even my old agent who died in a car wreck had negative remarks about print-on-demand self-publishing. In 1999 he was on special assignment for ebooks & print on demand publisher, iUniverse. Yet he would call me on the phone and rant and rave about print-on-demand services being a scam.
Why the hell did he do it? He had friends in high places and probably needed a paycheck.
Those places are rape artists, scamming potential self-publishers who waste their money creating a couple of books to throw on a shelf. There’s no marketing involved from the publisher perspective, and it’s a very hard road to even make a splash in the literary community. I learned the hard way by self-publishing The Blimperwhirls. Notice I don’t promote that book on here? Why should I? I see no profits and iUniverse is just a big phony wanting people to invest their money so that print-on-demand houses get fat pockets.
Noveltown, an Independent Literary Publisher
So I took DIY (Do It Yourself) axiom to the next level. I created a company and expanded my vision. Noveltown was born out of the fight to help all Indie people. 99.9999% of the artists Noveltown has promoted are self-starters, self-publishers, self-creators: TOTAL DIY… That’s the media side of Noveltown…
Why do you think I have been talking about World Wide Spies? DIY. The Filthies: DIY.
Noveltown is publishing other authors, that’s the literary side. One of the biggest and most exciting secrets Noveltown entertains is: who will be our next author? Do we even know? YES.
It won’t be me, thank goodness. Lords: Part One was an experiment of the Indie and self-promotional kind. Noveltown had just started out. None of us with Noveltown knew the business. We couldn’t afford to take a risk with anyone else’s book. Who wants a potential flop using someone else’s art? So we used a controversial novel to kick some life into Noveltown and to stir up controversy. It’s done a decent job. We’re ready for the next step: NOVELTOWN 2.0… (More in another post)
Join the Indie Fight
Should we beat ourselves up over books?
Maybe all you know is that you need to join a literary fight somewhere. There’s room for lots more warriors. I can tell you that NOVELTOWN 2.0 will be trying to recruit you all…
But more on the Indie fight…
I’m part of the fight, Noveltown is part of it, LitPark is on board. Many fans and writers we’re affiliated with want to change the literary world as part of an Indie fight to help folks have success in a commercially dominated literary world.
In a way, it’s LIT FIGHT CLUB. Us against them, us against ourselves and the world, us against the spirit of rottenness that’s out there in big lazy television-filled living rooms that says: books are boring, pass the potato chips, send me the football stats and throw me the remote control.
Why spend all your time watching TV when you can spend your time creating change?
It’s not just a music revolution out there. Indie houses are making waves because of the ability to pay attention to marketing one book at a time.
Fighting to Reach the Few Readers in the World
This can't feel good for very long... or can it?
The Noveltown blog is part of a fight to gain readers for literary fiction and non-fiction in general (not to mention music, the arts, etc). When a mere 3% of the population is interested in books, something has gone wrong. Is it with you? With me? With our parents? With my parenting? With our ability as a society to read?
Axioms I seriously live by:
1. If you want attention, start a fight - Blanksy.
2. When the fight begins within himself, a man’s worth something. - Robert Browning, 1855
3. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 3
4. I just don't want to die without a few scars. - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 6
5. Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion. - Jack Kerouac
The Physical Making of a Company Through Building a Book
Noveltown finally took shape in 2005 when we decided to go forth experimenting with publishing Lords: Part One. We figured it was a hot topic, that the book could be utilized to raise capital to publish other writers.
The process was tough. But we thought: doable.
We had to figure out how big the book would be. We used a copy of Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels we had lying around. 5 inches by 7.75 inches looked good for several reasons: It was smaller than the 6 x 9 print-on-demand scam format, and we thought it a good size for the page count we had.
But where to print? What kind of paper? 2-color? 4-color process print job? Grayscale? What kind of paper for the cover? How did we buy a bar code and ISBN number?
We started talking to friends in the industry and were finally recommended a printer out of China. We decided grayscale was a good choice since the cover was a foggy depiction of youth gone wrong.
What about design layout? We used Adobe InDesign and mimicked layouts from favorite books. I took the cover photograph in a living room with a fog machine blasting mist into the photo’s surreal textural background. The camera was a wimpy off-brand digital piece of crap. Yet the photo works. We think it’s a good cover.
Paper is always a tough issue. We went with a nicer stock. We found out how to buy bar codes and ISBN numbers from friends in the publishing industry. Easy enough.
Money for publishing?
Money is money and is tough to come by when you’re only three people in Bakersfield with a literary vision of a publishing company. Especially with an Indie publishing company. A few people accused Noveltown of being a vanity press, or self-publishing whores—the works. Some idiots still don’t know the difference and yet are DIY themselves. As if DIY can’t affect books. DIY isn’t just about music, theatre, fine art. It’s about all the arts. Every self-publishing accusation I read has stemmed from disgruntled readers of the controversial media blog, Paperback Writer.
So, is Noveltown a real company?
Yes. Does Lords: Part One have an ISBN number and Bar code? Yes.
And yet, early battles on the Paperback Writer blog took place as a defense for local artist self starters, self-publishers. I’d love to see the stats on how many musicians out of cities like Bakersfield are actually signed to a music label? I’m guessing 99.99% of all Bakersfield bands have burned CDs out of their living rooms and spent their own money having albums professionally made.
We’re still learning and have a long way to go.
So we scraped up and fronted most of the cash. I sacrificed getting a car so I could follow the Noveltown dreams. A few hundred trickled in from friends.
Thank goodness chingpea and Matildakay are part of Noveltown.
That makes three people in the fight. They help promote, make phone calls, do the accounting, and pick me up when I’m fighting and slogging through the blogosphere.
I said it was lit fight club, right?
We’re still find answers and solutions to the complex process of creating and selling books.
Solutions and answers for a young company: You!
We’re getting somewhere. Last year we converted the Paperback Writer blog to the official blog of Noveltown. It was a marriage waiting to happen.
Samurai swords, boxing gloves, a blog and books... that's us!
That’s risky in itself: a business with a controversial blog. We didn’t want to keep the two separated anymore, especially after Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books called the Paperback Writer blog the “Paris of the Central Valley.”
That’s a big compliment and tells us that both the blog and Noveltown are going in the right direction.
Literary agent Erin Hosier of the The Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner Literary Agency recently wrote in an email:
“Paperback Writer is by far my new favorite... I am so impressed with the loyalty of its readers and the conversation Paperback Writer generates. So good for books.”
Did you catch that? It’s the community of readers who enjoy the blog and the books. That’s you. You make the idea of Noveltown work and we appreciate you.
Erin just sent me a new book to review. I can’t wait to dig in. And I can’t wait to write about NOVELTOWN 2.0. It’s all about you and community making a difference.
After all, I believe books are one of the deepest part of our cultural lifestyle that we can embrace.
We have to sell our stock of books to build our niche of Independent literature in Bakersfield. That means we need your help. Will you tell a friend? Will you help? Ask us how and give feedback by leaving a comment.
Help us grow so we can publish our next book!
More on Indie presses in part two: NOVELTOWN 2.0…
2008 nick belardes