Creative writing students attend author’s lecture
New York Times bestselling author Steve Almond gave a brief talk on the merits of self-publishing Friday in the Honors College commons.
The audience was primarily composed of enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate creative writing students and faculty members.
Wary of the incessant marketing and limitations of publishing through a large press, Almond explained how he chose to start self-publishing his work beginning with “This Won’t Take but a Minute, Honey,” a collection of short stories and mini essays on the nature of writing.
“I was tired of having to deal with the corporate parenting of my publisher and with the availability of technology that’s made the means of book production easier than ever before, it felt like the right decision to do it on my own,” Almond said.
He described the amazement he felt as he watched his first self-published book pop out of the Harvard Book Store’s Espresso Book Machine.
“I was used to the whole 18 month process of putting a book out, with this machine it took 5 minutes. The ink on the book was still wet; it was amazing.”
Since that day, Almond has self-published two other books, “Bad Poetry” and “Letters from People Who Hate Me.”
His distribution model with his self-published books, he said, “is pretty much the same as a drug dealer’s.”
Rather than sell his books through various outlets like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, he prefers to directly distribute his self-published work at readings and at a price even financially struggling college students can afford.
He encouraged listeners to view self-published books as ever-evolving “artifacts” of creativity that can be altered over time rather than as static objects.
After his talk he fielded questions and read a few entertaining pieces from Bad Poetry” and “Letters from People Who Hate Me.”
Though it only lasted an hour, the event was a convincing argument for all artists and writers to focus on creating and sharing their work, and to not worry so much about securing whatever “legitimacy” a large publishing house may offer.