Pen(wo)man Vs. Publisher

Inspired by a the innovative authorship of a one Julie Wilson, specifically her Seen Reading project, the question of publication was raised in my mind. In our increasingly digital age, does the simple magnificence of a bound book continue to hold the majesty and magic it has in past generations? For some it certainly does, but when you can download countless novels, poems and other literary pieces on your computer or mobile device, is the average individual compelled to purchase, nurture and treasure a book, if indeed they desire to read at all? One can only hope, as I do deeply, that this is in fact the case.

In reference to the actual act of publishing, some may say the publisher is the author's best friend, the corporeal connection to the business side of their art, that which allows them to realize their dreams. Other may offer that the publisher is the author's worst enemy, the one who thinks only of marketing the manifestation of the author's existence, the one who counts currency while the author bleeds brilliance.

I'm not exactly certain where the line falls on this matter, but I can certainly see the legitimacy of both opinions. For example, if I spent a decade labouring daily with stylus and scroll, scratching out my soul in simple symbols and legible letters, only to have a potential publisher off my opus as 'unmarketable', it would be equally maddening and saddening. It is, of course, the publisher's job to peruse the prose for profit-turning potential, but that is where their gaze misses that of the author. The author may not want to publish their work to conjure currency at all, they may simply wish only to see their dreams and fantasies come to fruition. I can understand this, as I'm sure the publisher would too, but they likely would not reconcile the monetary loss with simple acquiescing the wishes of the artist.

However, if I spent this same amount of time on a single work, and I had a publisher who was utterly frank with me about the fact that it would not earn me a single cent, I would appreciate their honesty. Also, if they offered constructive criticism which allowed me to reform my writing into something from which I could feed myself, I would appreciate that too. Perhaps the publisher is simple a friendly foe, and invaluable enemy.

Now, if I were actually to put quill to parchment and compose to completion, and had a final, finished product I wished to publish, I believe I would choose an unorthodox method of doing so. Perhaps I would press it myself, a hundred copies at most, and stage scenes from the novel with actors in the real world, selling the book alongside. Perhaps I would print specific pages from the book and scatter them to the winds, placing contact information in the page if a reader wished to purchase the full text from me. I might stray from the social media route. I would try to undertake such unorthodox promotional methods that they would be noticed simply for their strangeness.

Whatever my promotional methods would be, I would have to publish in print. Even the greatest oral storytellers can be eclipsed by novels. There is a romance to then that you can't receive anywhere else. Underlining passages that pierce your soul, dog-earing pages you wish to return to. Especially with used books, the fact that they have a story of their own, a tale to tell apart from the one they wear upon their pages. It's beautiful, utterly and entirely.

In closing, a short video of Julie Wilson in action.


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