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The Howard County

I N

F O C U S

VOL.4, NO.3

F O R

P E O P L E

O V E R

5 0 MARCH 2014

More than 30,000 readers throughout Howard County

A new era for self-publishing

I N S I D E …

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER MEYERS

By Robert Friedman In the not-so-distant past, if you wanted to see your novel or poems published and were either rejected by the big publishing houses or didn’t want to hire an agent, your only option was the pejoratively named “vanity press” companies. They typically required writers to pay the up-front costs of printing hundreds or thousands of hard-bound copies, which would often fill the writers’ basements while they sought to peddle copies as best they could to recoup their investment. Well, those days are gone. With the development of print-on-demand technology and the spread of digital e-book readers and tablets, it is easier and cheaper than ever to get your works printed and disseminated, and to establish your own reputation as a writer. The Beacon spoke with three Columbia area writers who have done just that, each for their own reasons. Alan Zendell, 70, has self-published three novels since 2010. The onetime scientist, aerospace engineer, software consultant and database developer, who lives in Columbia, said, “at my age, I don’t have the patience” to go the traditional publishing route. Two of his science fiction novels — The Portal and Wednesday’s Child — have received many glowing reviews on Amazon, and an agent has just contacted Zendell to represent his latest work. Pamela Armstrong, a clinical psychologist in Columbia, has been writing poetry for more than four years. “I talked to an agent at a writer’s conference,” she recalled. “The agent didn’t show much interest in poetry. I’m 68, and I thought, ‘Why not get my work out there?’” Because she had heard “horror stories” about other poets trying to get their poems printed by mainstream publishing houses, and because she wanted to control what wound up on her pages, she worked with self-publisher Graphic Press. Depth Finder, her second self-published work, appeared in December, showcasing 49 of her free-verse poems, inspired by her work, her life experiences, and her belief in the healing power of nature. Peter Pollak, 70, a resident of Elkridge, decided to self-publish the first of his four

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Psychologist and poet Pamela Anderson has self-published two books of poetry, circumventing the traditional publishing industry. With print-on-demand technology and the growing popularity of e-books, authors can now self-publish and sell their works at much lower cost than in the past.

detective mystery novels because, he said, “I truly didn’t think my writing was good enough to deserve traditional publishing.” Self-publishing three more murder mysteries over the following three years — all available in e-book and paperwork formats — “has given me a chance to test the market while continuing to learn the trade,” Pollak said. While he often wishes that he didn’t have to spend so much time marketing his self-published works, Pollak said he realizes that “it’s up to the author these days” to sell his or her book.

due both to technological leaps and the economic downturn of the onetime monolithic book publishing houses. Self-publishing authors now can sell their digital e-books or print-on-demand paperbacks through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and other online distributors. A big perk of self-publishing: Authors can take home 80 to 90 percent of revenue from their sales, instead of the 10 percent the publishing houses offer their writers. Plus, the price for self-publishing has dropped considerably in the past decade. Self-publishing authors say they have spent anywhere from a few hundred to a

New technologies fuel boom The trend in self-publishing is booming

See SELF-PUBLISHING, page 27

ARTS & STYLE

Finding a lot to laugh about in Monty Python’s spoof on Camelot — called Spamalot — at Toby’s Dinner Theatre page 26

FITNESS & HEALTH k Vitamin E slows Alzheimer’s k Diet can alter genetic destiny

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THE SENIOR CONNECTION 16 k Howard County Office on Aging newsletter LAW & MONEY 18 k The best credit cards k Four stocks to fall in love with PLUS CROSSWORD, BEACON BITS, CLASSIFIEDS & MORE

March 2014 | Howard County Beacon Edition  
March 2014 | Howard County Beacon Edition  

March 2014 | Howard County Beacon Edition