First, I wanted to publish a typically short book of poems for which there is essentially no significant market and which no traditional publisher would be likely to consider. Along the same lines, I wanted to publish a short story collection. Because I am not known for my fiction or poetry, I knew that finding a traditional publisher to take on either project would be a very difficult task, if not an impossible one. Most traditional publishers these days won’t even read manuscripts from unagented authors, and I was not likely to find a good agent to handle my fiction and poetry without a past track record of success in these fields. Agents that charge up front reading fees (or any fees, for that matter, other than a percentage of the book’s royalties/advances) are not agents I would consider in any case, any more than I would consider publishing through a vanity press masquerading as a small press. (Any publisher that requires an author to purchase a minimum number of books at a “discount” is a vanity press by any other name.) I could easily find an agent to represent me as to my non-fiction, especially my textbooks or law-related trade books. But I do not need representation as to these since I’ve never had difficulty interesting traditional publishers in such projects. When I complete my first novel, I will very likely search for a literary agent as it is a prerequisite for submitting it to most of the leading publishers today. For other projects, I’ll go it alone or self-publish. But I digress. During the summer of 2011, I needed a break from my heavy research agenda that included research for a scholarly article and work on the instructor’s manual and test bank for one of my new textbooks. So I decided to collect selected samples of my poetry spanning some 40 years and my favorite short stories written during the same time period and self-publish two books. I used CreateSpace to produce the paperback versions of my first two indie books and Kindle Direct Publishing for the Kindle version of these, later also ported to Barnes & Noble and still later to Smashwords for even wider distribution.
Second, I wanted to experience complete freedom to publish precisely what I wanted and charge a low price to encourage as wide a distribution as possible. I also wanted to offer the book in both paperback and eBook formats. That was a particularly important consideration for another work that I was working on that summer, my intellectual property general reference work. Ultimately, I published all three books.
Third, I wanted to experience publishing on my timetable with complete editorial control for the first time. There is no question that all three books would be better had they undergone the vetting of the traditional editorial process; I am not the best editor of my own work and without question each work is less perfect than it would have been with an editor to help guide and rein me in when needed. Although it is equally true that at times even the best editors can be difficult to work with, especially when their preferences conflict with a writer’s style and voice. The perfect is indeed too often the enemy of the good.