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Patience is a virtue on the road to self-publishing

by Archives September 17, 2003

The road to becoming a published writer is long and challenging. Writing your book is the easy part. Publishing it, on the other hand, is not so easy.

Not only do you have to research publishing houses, but you also have to experience rejection until your book is accepted. And of course, one must also endure the torment of wondering if anyone will ever accept it.

What then can you do? Co-founder of writers’ support group, Invisible Cities, Christina Manolescu recommends self-publishing.

According to Manolescu, the advantages are endless.

“Complete control over the artistic integrity of the work. The ability and freedom to make public a creative work, which one believes is worthy,” says Monelescu.

“The right to keep one’s book alive, available and in print, for as long as one wishes to do so,” she says.

A self-publisher since April 20, 1993, Manolescu has her own publishing company called Prince Chameleon Press.

Something she has never regretted was deciding to take her own route in order to look out for herself.

“In large measure, it was the tremendous sense of frustration that had built up over the years, after sincerely trying to interest many of the larger traditional publishing houses in my work with little success beyond the semi-encouraging remarks, which occasionally graced their standard rejection letters,” she says.

“I took the plunge after dreaming, thinking and talking about it for many, many years.”

Although her first children’s fairy tale, “The Northern Isle of Dreams” was published by Three Trees Press in Toronto in 1982 and reviewed favourably by The Gazette, it was a mixed blessing for many reasons and propelled her to do her own thing.

Since then, Manolescu has written four unpublished novels, three more fairy tales, a three-act play, some non-fiction articles and a collection of poetry.

“Patience is a virtue and it’s true to say that although this has become a lifetime’s endeavor, I can’t imagine a better way of spending my life,” she says.

Writer and artist Raquel Rivera agrees. Since about 1992 or 1993, Rivera has self-published four books, in addition to her position of “Imperial Dictator in Charge of Everything” at Small Books, which publishes smaller-sized artist books.

Her belief? One does not decide to become a self-publisher.

“You just do it while you’re waiting for someone else to validate your brilliant work. Somewhere along the way, you realize that your brilliant work is getting attention, despite the fact that no one commissioned, or published it for you. Then, you are a self-publisher.”

Along with Manolescu, something Rivera strongly believes in is attending a support group of like-minded individuals.

She remembers when she met Manolescu at a function at La Bibliotheque Nationale where Prince Chameleon Press had a table.

“I looked at her books; she looked at mine. She told me about her support-group for self-publishers. Well, I was a self-publisher. I needed support. I went.”

And while she advocates self-publishing, Rivera does not knock the traditional methods of making one’s work known.

One can self-publish, co-publish and be published by others all at the same time. One thing often leads to another anyway. I think it’s important to keep working and trying different approaches, as far as getting work, read or seen.”

Manolescu, however, acknowledges that being a self-publisher is not easy.

Supporting yourself can be burdensome, and with complete control over one’s product she says comes “the danger that a self-indulgent subjectivity and partiality to one’s own creation may blind one to its glaring imperfections and flaws. Considerable time, effort and resources are at stake and mistakes in publishing are particularly costly.”

One way Invisible Cities helps developing and/or aspiring self-publishers is by providing them with constructive criticism on works-in-progress as well as advising them on how to avoid typical pitfalls of the publishing process before they jump into it.

Other downsides are that government grants and certain trade publisher associations are generally unavailable to self-publishers.

The hardest things are marketing, sales and commercial distribution. Yet one must not allow this to be a reason to avoid self-publishing.

For anyone interested in self-publishing, Manolescu encourages him or her to sign up for the practical, hands-on self-publishing seminar workshop that Invisible Cities is offering on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The objectives of the seven hour workshop will be to gain a basic understanding of the technical requirements and bureaucratic procedures involved in book publication, to network with colleagues and to formulate a clear idea of one’s personal book format.

The $45 fee will cover lunch as well as an updated 60-page workbook, which will be used during the session and that people can take home afterwards.

In addition to demonstration samples, instruction and advice focusing on participants’ individual interests/projects will be provided.

And while the workshop is limited to one to six participants, an identical one will run again in October if an interest arises.

All in all, Manolescu encourages people not to be overwhelmed by their fear or apprehension of self-publishing because they will miss out on trying a new way to further their literary endeavors.

“It [self-publishing] has allowed me to take my writing directly to my readers and gauge their genuine response without suppression or interference from others,” says Monelescu.

“It has also given me the means to create a personal legacy; as author-publisher, I control which of my works remain in print, and for how long.”

*If you are interested in signing up for the Invisible Cities’ self-publishing workshop on Saturday, Sept. 20 running from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., you can email Christina Manolescu at christinamanolescu@hotmail.com or call her at 847-9583. The location of the workshop is 427 Rachel St. East, near the Mount Royal metro, cross street St. Denis St.

For more information, visit http://www.princechameleon.com/self-publishingworkshop.htm

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