Jim Munroe
September 10, 2000 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Jim Munroe is a zine publisher in Toronto who wrote a couple of small novels, got one ("Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask") picked up by Harper Collins, and got out of his contract to self-release his latest book. I don't know if it surprises anyone that the mainstream book scene is about as non-lucrative and power-consolidated as the music world is, but he's posted all the gory details, as well as a detailed and friendly how-to for self-publishing.
posted by chicobangs (4 comments total)
Those interested in self publishing but unsure whether it's a good idea might like to look at Dave Sims Speech to Pro-Con from 1993. Sim has been self publishing his comic Cerebus since 1979 so he may have something useful to say.
posted by davidgentle at 6:20 PM on September 10, 2000

The publishing industry is the most peculiar business I’ve ever seen. Standard strategy:

1. Buy manuscript for several dozen dollars
2. Commission a really, really lovely cover that makes the author feel a brief, cruel pang of hope
3. Publish book
4. Hide under desk, ignoring phone, doing absolutely nothing to promote book
5. Pay author less money for next book, citing dreadful sales for previous effort

My new publishers break this mold, thank God; they know exactly what to do, and do not regard the physical process of publishing as a distasteful act that must be endured. (Just lie back and think of selling the rights in England.) When the right editor meets the right manuscript and has plenty of juice and smart bosses, nice things can still happen.

But it’s rare. Any hopeful author should take a tour of a newspaper’s book-review storage closet: tottering stacks of books, brightly bound, shiny and fresh, 98% of which will be completely ignored. And those are the books that get published.

This model can’t and won’t last, and I’ll mourn it for about six seconds.
posted by lileks at 10:13 PM on September 10, 2000

caveat browser: Munroe's site is indeed lovely and inspirational, but the "detailed and friendly how-to" is primarily useful if you live in Canada.
posted by webmutant at 10:47 PM on September 10, 2000

I agree that the how-to section could have been broadened to include more non-Canadian info, but I wouldn't say that the section is *primarily useful* only to Canadians. There's a hell of a lot of good general advice, and the references to specific Toronto independent bookstores and other businesses can easily be replaced with your own local examples. And I suspect that the breakdown of profits in commercial publishing would be pretty much the same in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

But a couple of sections definitely need work. Here's some links to help ISBN registrants outside of Canada:
American ISBN registration process
International ISBN agencies

I've never dealt with any book distributors, but this seems a good place to start looking.
posted by maudlin at 6:16 AM on September 11, 2000

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