Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the beginning...

My name is Riley Noehren (well, sort of) and I recently self-published my first novel, Gravity vs. the Girl ("GvsG"). GvsG began as a very rough draft completed as part of my participation in Nanowrimo back in November 2007. Through a long and often painful process that spanned the bulk of 2008 (due to my pesky day job and fluctuating self-discipline), I rewrote it into a full-length novel. I sent my completed manuscript to six agents, was promptly rejected, and back-burnered the entire thing, all the while congratulating myself just for finishing it. Writing, after all, was just a hobby, and the last thing I needed was more rejection in my life. I'm sure if I had a therapist, he or she would totally agree.


In fall 2008 I read an article somewhere about how the self-publishing industry was booming due to the advances in print-on-demand (or "POD") technology. In other words, "vanity presses," as they have been disdainfully called, were no longer just for the wealthy bad author. Nowadays, even a pauper can afford to buy his name in print, as POD enables him to purchase and store a single volume of his masterpiece as opposed to the large lots previously required.

This article--like the thousands of articles just like it that have been written as of late--really hit a nerve. I did some research and instantly realized there is NO money to be made in POD (or at least not enough for me to be able to quit that pesky day job anytime soon), but I thought it would be great to hold a tangible copy of my year-long "hobby" in my hot little hands in the same way that it is fun to finally wear a scarf you spent a long time knitting. So I hopped on over to Lulu, familiarized myself with their many helpful FAQ and templates, and figured all I had to do was reformat that manuscript and put together a cute little cover. Piece of cake.


Wrong. As it turns out, being an author, publisher, editor, layout artist, graphic designer, computer programmer, troubleshooter, and promoter for one's POD book is hard work--so hard, in fact, that one is often tempted to overlook the multitude of errors and problems staring one in the face and hit that "publish" button far too early. If you scan the volumes on Lulu or iUniverse or the POD hub of your choice, you will see that the majority of POD authors succumb to this temptation and therefore crowd our world with a load of junk. I tried my best not to contribute to the junkfest, I promise, but the process nearly killed me. And only after it was all done did I finally remember that I have never, EVER worn a scarf I knitted anyway.