Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Self-Publishing Without Internet Access

Out of print as quickly as it was laid down
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police don't understand how serial killer Robert Pickton was able to self-publish a book when he does not have access to the Internet.

They seem to think that self-publishing requires a person to do all the work, when in fact anyone can publish a book and never do a single thing online. All you need, in that case, are friends with computers who share your love of literature.

Mr. Pickton is currently serving a life sentence in British Columbia, and as part of his punishment, he cannot surf the Net. No googling, no e-mail, no electronic connection to the outside world. Yet he still managed to get his memoir published by Outskirts Press in far-away Colorado. Their web page, which Mr. Pickton could not have seen from his cell, boldly proclaims that it exists to help the self-publisher achieve his goal. So how could a man without the World Wide Web do such a thing?

As far as the Mounties can determine, the author wrote out his manifesto by hand, using good old-fashioned paper and pen. There are those (myself included) who really believe that the first draft comes out better when handwritten. The slower pace forces a writer to think a bit longer about each word and sentence, making for a stronger start to a long process.

With his drafts edited to his satisfaction, Mr. Pickton had only to turn to his cellmate for help. Michael Chilldres smuggled the manuscript out of the prison somehow, and it found its way to Outskirts Press. Being a criminal, the concept of honesty never came into play so whoever helped him just said that Mr. Chilldres was the author, or said they were Michael Chillldres and they were self-publishing the manuscript.

Except he wasn't the author, but again, these are men in prison we are dealing with.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to do a book tour when you're behind bars. Getting publicity and generating buzz was never going to be easy. Did the writing duo of Pickton and Chilldres even sell a single copy? Maybe they did, to someone connected with Mr. Pickton's murder victims, who would be very likely to keep an eye on the Internet to make sure the murderer didn't profit from his crimes.

The book was discovered and a petition was launched to have Amazon pull the book from its listings. Amazon being the biggest book seller, it's only natural that the petition was directed there.

Amazon responded by removing the book, and if you try to buy direct from Outskirts, you'll come up empty. They aren't going to carry the title any more either. They wouldn't want to be getting any bad publicity about publishing any and all shite that comes their way, especially when it's shite scribed by a convicted killer who isn't allowed to visit their website to see his work available for sale.

His future as an author, even one off the grid, has come to a screeching halt.

The authorities in British Columbia are now busy crafting legislation that would prevent convicts from profiting off their crimes. Currently there is no law on the books to stop Mr. Pickton from selling his prose in the province, even though other provinces bar the practice. The law exists in the U.S. as well, and when you've lost the greatest part of your market, your future in writing looks quite dismal.

Until such laws are enacted, however, the prison authorities will have to monitor phone calls and visits, to be sure that criminals are not dictating their memoirs to their visitors, who can then go home to their computers and complete the process of self-publishing. It's not as if publishing on your own really requires you to do it all yourself. You can always get by with a little help from your friends.

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