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Publishing Day, part 2 (not)

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Several people have asked why I chose to self-publish. It was not my original intent. My work on previously published textbooks was primarily through Random House which then sold the project to McGraw-Hill which then remained the project developer of the textbooks but later sold the publishing part to McDougal-Littel. (All that took place in the nineties when the publishing world was like those cartoons of smaller fish getting eaten by sequentially larger fish, but that is another story.) Anyway, I wrote day and night for several years, sent my part off to them regularly, and voilá, sometime later three textbooks appeared in a timely manner. Because my professor/mentor invited me onboard as a co-author, it was no effort on my part to begin the work or to design it as a ground-breaking textbook series.

Back to present day: After talking with several people who were also in the process of shopping manuscripts, it became clear that this project would involve a long haul of searching for a publisher, perhaps even years. So, I would let fate decide: I would submit a proposal to two university editors. If there was no interest, then, I would self-publish. The first got back to me right away. She was complimentary about the writing, but told me the book was too long for their catalogue, so suggested I consider cutting the length by about half. It was too long, and I did cut it, but not by half. I didn't want to cut it by half because the target audience was readers who knew nothing about either David Schnaufer or the dulcimer. It felt necessary to include at least some historical and instrumental context (not to mention reams of sources at the end); otherwise, how would readers understand why what he did was so unusual? (For example, you can love the Mexican painter Diego Rivera's work for itself, but to understand its significance, you ought to know at least a little about Mexican art history--everything before Rivera was one thing; everything after him was another.)

The second university press I approached was very enthusiastic, but I never heard back after our first exchange of letters. Rather than pester, I decided to try self-publishing. How hard could it be?

Well ... let's just say, I'll never do it again. There's a reason why the print book is not up there next to the eBook on Amazon yet. It's coming, but there are more technology obstacles still in the way after the seemingly endless rat-a-tat-tat of obstacles. I'm crossing my fingers they will be out of the way in a day or two, but experience assures me there's no guarantee.

Rattlesnake Annie (another FOD's) says I will write and publish again. I will always write, but I will never self-publish again. Life is too short. I'd rather play the dulcimer, among other things.

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