I was so happy to read this post on PWxyz about a new book co-edited by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics, who you already know I love. Machine of Death is an anthology of stories from a variety of incredible contributors (including xkcd‘s Randall Munroe) spawned from a particular Dinosaur Comic about a machine that tells people how they’re going to die. I can’t believe I’m only hearing about it now, but I’m about to order my own copy.
There are a few things about the PWxyz post that warmed my cold, cynical NY heart. One was the editors’ appreciation of the efforts of people who tried to move the work through the great traditional publishing machine. The anthology’s editors worked really hard, produced what is surely a fabulous product, and found people who’d go to bat for it. It didn’t work out, so they self-published. But rather than complain bitterly about how broken publishing is and how all authors should abandon it, they didn’t take it personally:
This isn’t some vanity-press sour-grapes effort. The simple truth is that we probably can’t compete on the shelves at Barnes & Noble alongside every other book in the world. The agents and the publishers are right; it might not work for a mass market. That’s okay. We don’t need to sell it to everyone. We don’t need to sell 100,000 copies; we don’t have the rent on a New York office to pay for.
I don’t think all authors should self-publish. In fact, I don’t think most authors should self-publish. But for the right project, with the right platform, at the right time, it can be the right way to get a book to the audience that wants it, as long as you can put together a team of people who know how to get all the right pieces in place.
The second thing I loved was how well this demonstrates that people who are truly dedicated to a great idea can build a community supportive enough to make their projects economically viable. Sure, MOD-Day benefitted from the existing platforms of the people involved, but those people built their platforms online from the ground up through hard work, great content, and presumably a little luck. No one says it’s easy, but I love seeing the proof that it’s possible if you’re willing to make it happen. The internet isn’t a cornfield baseball stadium, but if you build it, and you work really hard to get people to see it, especially people with influence, and they like it, people are gonna come.
P.S. This is a great excuse to link you to a delightful recent Dinosaur Comic. You’re welcome!