On some basic level, the type of independent publishing that I’ve undertaken with Verbitrage is an expression of self-reliance. Nine months ago I turned my back on big-house rejections and small-house opportunities and seized the best tools I could find to foist my novel onto the world.

But a word about those tools seems to be in order.

Last Friday afternoon, before Labor Day, my wife, my daughter and I packed up the car, picked up my daughter’s friend, and drove to my mother-in-law’s farm for some family time. Nothing to that — just a bit of leisure to which most of us feel entitled.

When I arrived and settled in, however, I checked my email to find an update from my publicist, who reported that in the past week he’d booked me on three radio stations. As of that date, he added, it also looked like eight blogs were planning to give some attention to Primacy.

This came in addition to a podcast (with my old client, Bob Andelman — “Mr. Media”) that I’d taped two days before and three blog plugs that I’d placed myself to run last week: on the Big Thrill, Town Square Delaware, and The Worst Book Ever.

Also, earlier in the week, I’d had an extremely supportive exchange of notes with a key player at a large independent bookstore, the first note from her calling Primacy “a perfect beach read” and the second promising to “sell some books in the meantime” — i.e. before we correspond again with regard to some promotion she’s hoping to do for me.

I’m not mentioning these wonderful things in order to brag. The fact is, like any author, I don’t know whether this activity (and more to come) will sell a single copy of the book or a million copies.

Still, it has me thinking of an important distinction I’ve tried to limn in these columns between the self-published and the independently published. The fully self-published author, just like it sounds, does everything for herself, not just the writing, of course, but sometimes the jacket design, interior formatting, posting to an e-book website, etc., concluding with working the phone and the email to get publicity placement and perhaps even driving around in her car with cases full of printed books.

The independently published author, however, is doing something different. With Verbitrage I have embarked on a process that, to some extent, carries on whether I’m on vacation or busy writing my next book or whatever. This process involves dozens of people, none of them working for me exclusively but all of them putting my work into a stream of business. From design, to the possible sale of rights, to printing, warehousing and distribution of the traditional book, to formatting and promulgating the e-book, to working for media placements, to hand-selling at retail…this process goes on and on.

It’s very important to have published this way because (1) my talents are limited, (2) my time is limited and (3) I could only be in one place at a time, even if the first two points didn’t apply. Yet, to emphasize, though I am essential to the overall project, at any given moment, with or without me, the process carries on, just as it would in any well-orchestrated traditional publishing scenario.

Is this a miracle? No. As I’ve also said before, it’s just business.


Last week: Publishing Primacy — Folio 24: Where the Fish Are

Next week: Publishing Primacy — Folio 26: The Elements of Editing

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Buy Primacy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or IndieBound

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Publishing Primacy posts every Wednesday by 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

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J.E. Fishman, a former Big Six book editor and former literary agent, is author of the thriller Primacy, which Publishers Weekly called "appealing" and Kirkus called "good, boisterous fun." His mystery novel, Cadaver Blues, was serialized in 2010 on TNB and you can still find it here if you dig deep enough. It's now available in ebook and paperback. His financial thriller, The Dark Pool, was published this year, and his new series of police thrillers, Bomb Squad NYC, will be published in February 2014. He blogs here and at the Huffington Post. Please visit and follow him at his very fancy and expensive official author website.

3 responses to “Publishing Primacy — Folio 25: The Virtues of Process”

  1. M.J. Fievre says:

    Good luck with all this, J.E.! I hope you sell millions.

  2. […] Last week: Publishing Primacy — Folio 25: The Virtues of Process […]

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