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5:27pm on Thursday, 20th September, 2007:

Not By Us


Some 18 years ago, I finished writing my first novel: INsightflames. I duly printed it off, sent it to every publisher of Fantasy and Science Fiction listed in the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, and waited for their verdicts.

The response was universal: this really merits publication — but not by us.

It rapidly transpired that the publishers of Fantasy and Science Fiction liked to publish material that was either Fantasy or Science Fiction; they didn't want to publish something that was the former, written as if it were the latter.

Things don't appear to have changed since then, either. Earlier this year, I managed to get one of Britain's top SF/Fantasy agents to read the book, and he said he very much liked it but it wouldn't fit on any publishers' lists.

Ha! Well that's where he's wrong! It does fit on a publisher's list — now. I set up my own imprint, Not By Us, bought some ISBNs, and stuck it on CafePress. It's split into two volumes, In Sight and In Flames, and you can buy them both from there. I've bought six copies of each myself to send to the British Library and the other five UK copyright libraries, and they've come out fine (although they're a fifth of an inch narrower than I was expecting because CafePress keep changing their dimension specs — fortunately, I left enough of a margin to be able to absorb it).

They're pricier than I would have liked, on account of how much CafePress charge to print them on demand. I looked at LuLu and Authorhouse, but neither would let me use my own imprint so that was that. I don't feel in the least bit guilty about having to ask $23.95 each for them, though, on account of how you can download the whole lot for free on my web site, and have been able to do so for years.

Yes, the phrase you're looking for is "vanity publishing"...

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).