The satisfaction of the self

Sometimes I call myself an unpublished writer, but that is not technically accurate. I had experienced the thrill of the acceptance letter, the brief realization that my writing was worth something to someone out there. Oh, yes. I was fourteen, and I had considered myself a writer for at least seven years. I kept long, glorious, passionate journals, wrote letters to Jesus, and Anne of Green Gables fan fiction. So the world was obviously ready for my peculiar genius to come into the spotlight. And those good people at could see that, too, and they took a chance on me, and published one of my semi-rhymed verses in their venerable anthologies: Gondolas in the Moonlight, I think, or maybe Saltwater and Seaweed.

Now, fourteen year old me was vain, and overwrought, and preachy. But even fourteen year old me was not stupid enough to believe my work was worth my $50, the price of the anthology. So, sadly, none of my family ever saw my immortal words preserved in leather-bound pages alongside two hundred and fifty other promising young poets. was my first (and, to date, only) experience with self-publishing, although I didn’t see it as such at the time. Later, I was able to laugh about it, only to find that several of my college friends published with that company as well, and some still labored under the hope that they were fine publishers.  That experience did make me wary of other self-publishing schemes, however. If I were to venture into more self-publishing, I would want it to be a decidedly anti-capitalist operation, and most of the current platforms appear to be steeped in capitalism.  Specifically, they appear to be operations designed to extract labor from writers while providing very few services to them or to the literary community, profiting only the company involved.

That said, I have read some delightful self-published books, some that don’t have a large enough audience to fit into a traditional publishing house focus group.  The world of ‘zines is one of empowered self-publishing, intended to affirm one’s worth and communicate ideas directly without an intermediary.  These seem to be worthwhile enterprises, new possibilities that the digital age makes possible and cheap.  While I don’t anticipate self-publishing my novels in the near future, I think some of the current technologies may make the process less exploitative.  I have enjoyed some other authors’ efforts in this vein, and I support those who wish to blaze new pathways of possibility for both authors and readers.

1 Comment

  • Kevin Wohler says:

    Angela, I too submitted a poem to in my youth. I was accepted, but like you I never bought the completed volume. It seemed like a scam.

    When I was older and wiser, I sent the worst poem I could muster. It was a rebuke of that one bad fry in my McDonald’s lunch, and I called the poem “Bad Fry.” Of course, they accepted it. The poem was so bad, I entered it in the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest and won an honorable mention. So, I guess it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

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