This special summarizes tips and self-publishers.
BIBR has coveres the self-publishing phenomenon since the magazine launched nearly six years ago. We've run a Self-Publishing column by Victoria Christopher Murray in each issue, and we've highlighted practical advice in other features. To find earlier articles, see the BIBR index on our Web site: www.bibookreview.com, for specific topics and dates. You can purchase back issues of BIBR from the Web site or use the printed forms included in our back-issue advertisments (see page 57) in every issue.
New voices speak about the challenges and joys of doing it on their own.
ARTIST DEMANDED QUALITY
Poetry Art and Truth: A Picture and A Story, Gerome Meminger Sr. ABG Publishing, January 2003 $24.99, ISBN 0-972-57900-1
Meminger is retired from the military and lives in Hampton, Virginia. He frequently visited museums, and fine arts became his passion. Meminger taught himself to paint. His other creative side is poetry. Both art forms were merged into one book.
"My publishing company, Art By Jerome Publishing Co. [ABG], was brought about because I am an artist who markets my own artwork. I'm an author, a poet, a writer, a manager and an agent.
"I decided to self-publish, not so much to have full control of my project but to prohibit changes. I have the say-so with each book how it is promoted, when it is promoted, if it is promoted.
"The biggest surprise [in self-publishing] was the cost. My book is a hardback, full color, glossy pages and larger format [seven and a half by ten and a half inches]. I didn't realize the material I chose was for a high-end book. Because I'm the artist and illustrator for my book, I couldn't afford for it not to have the top quality to show my artistic ability.
"The greatest joys in publishing are having a person read some of my work and watching that person's eyes water with joy, because I struck a nerve. Or to have someone ask my opinion about something they would like to one day work on because they feel I am on the right track."
NOVELIST DEVOTED 25 YEARS TO PROJECT
Spirit Ran Free: At the Awakening Dawn of America by Forest Hairston ForGen Books, Spring 2004 $27.95, ISBN 1-574-79036-6
Hairston, 68, a songwriter, screenwriter and poet from West Virginia, says going to his wife's family reunion in Mississippi blew his mind. "They were schoolteachers and lawyers from all over the country," he says. "I was first in my family to go to college. [In West Virginia] we were split up and did not know much about our heritage. My father-in-law could trace his heritage all the way back to Africa."
Hairston's in-laws inspired his historical novel about the antebellum and post-Civil War South. He started writing the novel 25 years ago. ForGen is the combination of his first name, Forest, and his wife's, Genevieve. He says once he decided to self-publish his biggest challenge was finding the right printer. (See page 30 for more information about finding printers and other key publishing vendors.)
"Spirit Ran Free was a long project, and publishing companies would not take it. We sent it to several companies. No one would take it, and I put it down. People who knew me and read the manuscript kept asking 'when is the book coming out?' I picked it back up in 1997. I self-published because I couldn't get a publisher.
"The first printing was in paperback. People criticized us for not putting it in hardcover because of the content, A woman told me 'I've worn it out; I want to hand it down to my kids.' My wife told me, 'Forest, we've got to get a hard cover on this book.' Hardcovers are normally done in cloth. We found a printer who could do leather binding because I wanted file books to be exquisite. When we got the hard covers, everyone went crazy.
"Of all the things I've done in my life, nothing is more exhilarating than doing the book yourself. My wife, Genevieve, and I did everything together. She was my greatest fan. She knows how women fed and gave me feedback. Genevieve designed the cover. My wife used to model--that's her posing on the cover in Los Angeles's Griffith Park, recreating a scene in the historical novel She's a cosmopolitan lady and her imagination got into it."
URBAN PIONEER ATTACHES WARNING LABELS TO HIS WORK
Platinum Dolls by Relentless Aaron Relentless Content, February 2000 $15., ISBN 0-967-05424-9
The Last Kingpin by Relentless Aaron Relentless Content, February 2004 $20, ISBN 0-967-05423-0
For the self-proclaimed "Father of Urban fiction," Aaron's appeal apparently is in his notoriety...