It’s one thing when a first-time author self-publishes a book — it can be a great way to get noticed, as we learned from David Carnoy. It’s another thing entirely when a well known and widely respected author turns from traditional publishing to self-publishing. But that’s exactly what John Edgar Wideman (Fanon, 2008) is doing. (And, come to think of it, I asked Carnoy about that very same prospect.) According to a press release on Lulu.com, Wideman — a National Book Award finalist and the winner of other noteworthy honors — will publish Briefs, Stories for the Palm of the Mind on March 14, exclusively on Lulu. (A free preview is available now.) According to the release:
“I’ve been thinking about alternatives for a long time,” said Wideman, whose works of fiction and non-fiction include the award-winning Brothers and Keepers, Philadelphia Fire and Fanon. “Lulu seems to represent a very live possibility as the publishing industry mutates. I like the idea of being in charge. I have more control over what happens to my book. And I have more control over whom I reach.
“I have a very personal distaste for the blockbuster syndrome,” Wideman continued. “The blockbuster syndrome is a feature of our social landscape that has gotten out of hand. Unless you become a blockbuster, your book disappears quickly. It becomes not only publish or perish, but sell or perish.”
Wideman will also make several backlist titles available. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out, of course, but right now I have only one question: will this literary lion succumb to the temptation to give himself a good review?