I am making progress with my forthcoming anthology, The Anthropocene Hymnal. I have selected the poems to be included in the manuscript, engaged a cover artist, and the book is starting to take shape. But I am far from near the end of my publishing journey.
Publishing in my name
Rather than publish in my own name, The Anthropocene Hymnal will be published under the banner of Experiments in Fiction, which I have plans to grow into an independent publishing company. I am not yet ready to incorporate, as this book will be a charitable project, but one way or another I will be creating my first “EIF” publication.
Self-publishing, especially an anthology, is not as straightforward as it may sound. As well as an eye for how the book should look, and an ear for how the poems should sound together, you need to understand the legal connotations of the work you are doing, and the accounting implications (for example, as all my royalties will be going to charity, I need to ensure that I do not end up liable for tax on those royalties).
Then you have to find an outlet which will publish your work for you (most people choose Amazon, as they have the biggest distribution platform, but make sure you read their terms and conditions before signing up to any agreements, and also be aware that you will receive your royalties two months in arrears: i.e. they will keep hold of your money for an extra 60 days just to make profit on the interest.)
I did consider creating an e-book and selling exclusively through this website as an alternative, but I am not sure I would be able to do all the necessary conversions, and I don’t want to miss out on the sales potential of a platform like Amazon.
A pioneer self-publisher
Thankfully, I am not alone. Many people bypass the traditional publishing route these days as it is just too competitive and difficult to break into. Unfortunately, poetry does not tend to attract the attention of big-name publishers anyway, as they believe they cannot make money by selling poetry. It might be possible to publish the anthology via a small press, but this doesn’t make a lot of sense in my case as I might have to wait months for an answer, would get a smaller percentage of royalties, and what they can offer in terms of marketing potential is probably not much beyond my own capabilities and those of my network of fellow writers, readers and contributors.
An early pioneer in self-publishing was one of my favourite poets and artists, William Blake. Trained as an artist, he invented his own engraving technique in order to print his own books which are a combination of text and art (see featured image above for an example.) The process was long and complicated, so much so that he produced very few copies of his own books. But what masterworks they are, and how they are treasured today, not least for their beauty and rarity!
Though I cannot hope to produce anything as exquisitely beautiful as Blake’s illuminated manuscripts, I do believe the Hymnal will be a work of beauty. I believe in this book. Please have patience with me while I work towards its publication, as I must have patience with myself.
Featured image from Blake’s Book of Urizen, as found at The William Blake Archive (public domain).