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News Thu Apr 05 2012

University of Chicago To Publish 2008 Self-Published Book

What's the motivation to self-publish? I'd always thought there was a stigma to going this route. I thought the general opinion was that it was kind of like going to the prom without a date, that self-publishers "haven't accepted that their book isn't well-written [and] haven't developed the critical skills necessary to recognise in which ways their work is lacking" (OK, so that's just an anonymous "working writer" on an internet forum).

It seems that perception has been changing in the last few years, though. Why? Well, obviously, most unknown writers' odds of getting picked up by a major publisher are a long shot, particularly in an economy where publishing houses are forced to cut expenses to stay competitive, according to the New York Times. Self-publishing has definitely grown in popularity in the last few years. Kevin Weiss, president and chief executive of Author Solutions (which owns, among others, iUniverse, AuthorHouse and Xlibris) told the New York Times they published 26,000 new books in 2011, as compared to 13,000 in 2007. In the same article, Brittany Turner of CreateSpace (the self-publishing arm of Amazon.com) reported an 80% increase in books published between 2009 and 2010. As for proof of quality, self-publishers have gone on to become best-sellers and some have gone on to get picked up by traditional publishers, such as Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, whose expertly self-marketed book Catch Your Death went on to snag a six-figure advance from HarperFiction, according to the marketing website expertmessagegroup.com.

The latest self to traditional publishing Cinderella story is Sergio De La Pava's A Naked Singularity, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in May. Levi Stahl, promotions director for U. of C. Press told mediabistro.com "I read a review in the Quarterly Conversation that said the novel was the best [the reviewer] had read all year, maybe the best of the decade. ...I discovered...it was brilliant, and it was a shame that no publisher had signed it. I started rattling cages here at Chicago to convince people we should publish the book. Without cheap digital publishing technology, the book would never have existed; without the Web, I would never have heard about it."

 
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