Why I self-publish(.?!)

There have been a lot of people who have asked lately why I self publish, rather than pursue a book deal with a traditional publisher.  I think it comes down to a really great line from Pretty Woman,

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.”

Kit and Vivian were talking about getting a pimp, and this sentence ended that conversation.  I feel this line could sum up how a lot of people in the working world feel.  But, just like a hooker of the 90’s, the goings can get a little tough without a pimp.

kit and vivian

This is significant as it applies to why I self-publish, most recently encapsulated in my interest to apply to the #AmtrakResidency program.  This program is where a writer could stay in one of the Amtrak sleeper cars for 5 days and travel around on the rails to focus on their writing.  This sounded EXCELLENT to me. I was totally in. Then I read their Terms and Conditions, specifically #6 …

6.   Grant of RightsIn submitting an Application, Applicant hereby grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy Applicant’s Application, in whole or in part, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing, and to sublicense such rights to any third parties.


Not this girl.

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.”

It is a battle of the copyrights (I almost wrote copywrites … ), and it starts right now.  I understand #AmtrakResidency was probably well-meaning and wanted to encourage writing on it’s tracks. I’m sure there are many writers who thought “I could write the next Great American Novel” while riding along the great history and scenery of the Rail.  It’s perfect.  But… contractual language that preys on writers?  Meh… sounds more like a pimp to me, and …

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.”

My friend (and amazing author) Ramez Naam wrote a great blog piece called “We are all on the same side” about this topic (while under a book deadline).  Amanda Hocking (the most successful self-publisher), just signed on with a traditional publishing house (only after she was making her own millions through self publishing).

“I say who, I say when, I say how much.” ??

This is the reason I self publish.  My work belongs to me. Good bad or indifferent, I want to have the control to say who and when and how much. I want to be the sole person responsible for my own Manifest Destiny.  I want to be able to be free to be myself, express my art AND take full credit for the decisions  from the cover art to the editing. I get it, a check is nice. Someone taking care of the marketing is nice.  Someone putting you on tour, buying the movie rights AND getting a check is SUPER nice.  People helping you are nice.  All of it is icing on the cake.

It’s the who, when and how much questions always come down to pimping.  Money, business and now intellectual property (rather than just bodies).

I will self-publish. Until I own a publishing company, I will self publish.  It will be the “Plan B Entertainment” for writers.  I will keep control of my intellectual property just as I have kept control of my body.  Plan B is a great idea the morning after, and sometimes when I’m writing, the morning after is the hardest part.

Early-Morning-After-A-Coffee-Start-Writing (1)


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