13 Ways of Looking At Self-Publishing

by | Jul 16, 2021 | Weekly Prompt

Okay, before you get mad about my tired Wallace Stevens reference, allow me to explain myself. Recently, as I was doing some research for this month’s publications prompts, I saw that the submission guidelines for DIAGRAM prohibit–specifically and at length–submissions of ”anything titled ‘13 ways of looking at X,’ when X is anything at all.” The prohibition continues, funnily but with a bit too much length, really, “Or know at least that if you submit it we will possibly Be Irritated. And it better be Totally Awesome because it takes a lot of Awesome to trump Irritation. (When that happens—rarely, rarely—it is a great feeling, though.) This proscription is because we get work submitted relatively often that is rocking the blackbird thing, yes, we’ve read it too, and it can almost never achieve liftoff.”

Funny, but a tad condescending, right? It kind of makes me want to start a journal that only publishes pieces titled “13 ways of looking at X.” 

At the very least, since I self-publish Write Away Weekly, I get to title my piece anything I want. And guess what? If you self-publish, so can you.

Virginia Woolf self-published. So did Walt Whitman. To my knowledge, Wallace Stevens did not. But the ones that did also published through more traditional routes.

I like that model. It doesn’t have to be either/or. With my writing, I find some pieces or projects that ought to be published by someone else, through solicitation or submission, and some that make more sense to publish myself. 

There are a whole lot of resources out there arguing the merits and downfalls of self-publishing, and the prospects for success (meaning sales, I suppose). I’m not here to rehash that. I’m here to prompt you, as always. 

Prompt

Self-publish a piece you wrote. Here are 13 ways:

  1. Write it on a postcard and send it to a friend. Or a stranger, like Mary Ruefle did.
  2. Start a Substack or Patreon and send your writing directly to your subscribers and patrons. 
  3. Find a local letterpress printer and commission them to make a broadside of your work. 
  4. Or make a collage with your text and then add images using this cool transfer technique.
  5. Make a micro-zine.
  6. Self-publish on Medium
  7. Convince a friend to get a tattoo of the full text of your piece. 
  8. Hire my husband, Adam Robinson, to help you self-publish your book. 
  9. Make a saddle-stitched chapbook with a home printer and a decent stapler and sell it for $2 to $5 a copy.
  10. Or get some nicer cover papers and acquire this very serviceable book-binding kit. Play around with different binding and stitching techniques, and sell it for more like $12 to $15 a copy.
  11. Ask a musician to collaborate on putting your words to music. 
  12. Post short pieces on Instagram.
  13. Or video yourself reading your work aloud and put it up on TikTok.