Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Self-Publishing for Legends

January 25th, 2010 · 8 Comments


We’ve recently been toying with the idea of self-publishing a book, but can’t quite seem to get over the feeling that such a maneuver will result in a disastrous labor-to-pay ratio. That said, we’ve been heartened to learn that putting out one’s own book is no longer the sole domain of conspiracy theorists and frustrated poets. The great Yaphet Kotto has joined the trend with Kill Bond, an angry (and apparently poorly punctuated) account of the time he spent filming Live and Let Die in England. There is a brief teaser on Kotto’s official website; to glean the rest, you’ll have to shell out $19.95. We’re saving up now, especially in light of this tidbit from a 2008 paean to Kotto’s genius:

In 1973 he became the King of the Caribbean underworld in the James Bond adventure Live and Let Die and got lost in his role. Kotto played the dual parts of Mr Big/ Dr Kananga as a man in awe of Bond. He copies Bond’s suits, his love of women, gadgets and cars and Kotto began to do the same in real life. Outside of the film he insisted on being driven in limousines, only stayed in the finest hotels, he drank champagne by the bucket full and travelled the world like his own version of an international playboy spy. “It took me three years to stop this foolishness,” he later admitted.

For the record, we’ve loved Kotto’s work ever since seeing Midnight Run in the mid-1980s—the prototypical action buddy comedy, and one that Hollywood has yet to beat in terms of quality. And so we forgive him such recent trespasses as Witless Protection, on the assumption that he takes such gigs only to fund the Filippino “creativity resort” he runs with his wife. Anyone who care to make a donation can do so here, and snag an autographed photo for their troubles. Again, something we’re saving up for—perhaps by canceling Microkhan Jr.’s second birthday party. We’re sure he’ll understand when there’s a signed Yaphet Kotto photo looming above his crib.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • nikkos

    Had to chuckle – at myself- at the reference to frustrated poets. :) I’m thinking about self-publishing a chapbook.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @nikkos: Out of curiosity, have you given any thought to the pros/cons of publishing online vs. doing a chapbook? You lose that tactile sensation that we all associate with great poetry, but maybe a more affordable option–and one that allows for some design elements that can’t be had in dead-tree version.

    My own self-publishing dream is very much about the digital realm–taking an idea that I couldn’t turn into a “real” book and making it into a multimedia project. It’ll happen…someday. Though by that time, I may be able to simply beam my concepts into potential readers’ neural implants.

  • Jordan

    You could look into going the same route that the Daily Dish did for their “View from your Window” project and do on-demand publishing.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Yeah, no question, that’s gonna be an irresistible wave of the future for publishing. Though I’m still not quite sure how the economics will work out for big non-fiction projects that require an investment of capital (either monetary, intellectual, or both). There’s still something to be said for writers getting money up front, if only to fund the reporting/research necessary to produce quality work.

  • Jordan

    I wonder if you might be able to build a system that’s kind of like the way Threadless sells t-shirts. Basically, people who had ideas for books could do a bit of initial research, come up with a proposal and then publish it to the website. People could browse through and put down $10-15 to reserve a copy of the book when it gets published. Maybe throw in some exclusive updates while the book is being worked on to provide some extra incentive to pitch in early. That way you’d have both working capital and a guaranteed base readership to reserve a printing run later on.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Jordan: Very interesting idea, and a model that hadn’t yet occurred to me.

    My big concern with self-publishing is the time frame. I think the only way to make it work is to get the book in print within a few months, as opposed to the 2.5 years it takes for the typical book today. That’s a tall order, given the labor intensity required for both research and writing, so I fear that quality will suffer. But perhaps it’s a trade-off worth making–better to have some story than no story at all.

    The idea I’ve been toying with is to do a book as a Web serial–30 chapters in 30 days, something like that. Maybe a month to report, then a month to write, and charge $5. (Maybe on the honor system, maybe not.) It would be interesting to see how the project fared.

  • nikkos

    Brendan-

    Thanks for the reply. I’ve been posting poetry to my blog for some time and I guess the impetus for thinking about publishing a chapbook is that I would like for the poems to all be in one place, perhaps with some accompanying images. Also, I like to carry poetry books when I am traveling, particularly for business, because you can linger over them and spend a lot of time with a relatively small book, whereas I would need to lug around a large novel in order to derive the same entertainment value. So, I think the printed poetry book still has some intrinsic, practical value. I’ve also toyed with the idea of going all the way DIY: making the books by hand. I have made books by hand before and the only drawback is that it is very time consuming (and I have no way of knowing if anyone would buy one and thus justify my labors). I do think that in an increasingly virtual world the value of something handmade only increases. E.g., a blog is free to create and to consume, whereas a handmade book of poetry at least has the human investment.

    A for web serialization, I have often toyed with that idea too: my Dad has written a couple mystery novels that I think would lend themselves well to serialization online…but I’ve not yet managed to find time to devote to that project.

  • growler

    Jordan, there already is a site out there that does something just like that. Unfortunately, I’ve been wracking my brain for a while and still can’t remember its name.

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