A New Publishing Model?

I’ve got a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on that may be developing into books. Bits and pieces of these have appeared here on the blog in various forms. One is a practical guide to the liturgical year, the other is a text on liturgical/lectionary spirituality. I pitched the first to Church Publishing a little while back; they said that they were interested but that the timing wasn’t right. Of course, now we hear that there’s been a great deal of change at Church Publishing including a significant reduction of staff and therefore capability.

What does this bode for liturgical works for an Anglican audience? I don’t know for sure.

If I had to guess, however, it would indicate that the chance of being published through Church Publishing is shrinking. Furthermore, I’d imagine that they’re more likely to pick up works that are in line with the national church’s liturgical direction as exemplified by Enriching Our Worship. Material like mine with plenteous references to earlier times and other church traditions (e.g. the Missals…) may not be what they’ll be interested in publishing.

Where, then, to go? Will LTP start picking up the slack? Or is it time to look for a new model?

I’ve been following with interest the Simple English Propers Project as reported by Chant Cafe, NLM, and the CMAA. They just completed a fund-raising campaign which raised money for the completion of the project; the resulting work will, if I understand it rightly, be distributed freely on-line and for the cost of printing at Lulu. This was acheived through the use of digital micro-patronage–collections of $5, $10, $20 and, I’d assume, some larger donations that when pooled made it a viable project.

Now, there’s a certain cachet lacking in that it’s not produced by an official press. For the purpose of, say, a typical academic resume, a self-published work of this sort would have the credibility of—well—a blog posting. And the resulting work may lack something in not having the eye of an experienced editor looking it over. On the other hand…it works. It’s a means for circulating ideas, and particularly ideas that lack the financial viability need in the modern publishing market.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the patronage idea recently. I’d actually been considering making a standing announcement that I’d be willing to code a traditional calendar version of the breviary that would accept the use of pre/non-Vatican II lectionaries like the American or English ’28 versions or even the classical prayer book forms that don’t work with the current post-Vatican II scheme if I could get a patron, parish, or group of parishes to underwrite it. But that hadn’t bubbled to the putting-it-into-practice phase.

So here’s the thing: traditional print publishers are having a hard time. This is bad for niche writing and publishing. Nevertheless, there’s still interest in niche materials. Patronage, particularly in the form of digital micro-patronage, may represent a way forward for the production of work for which an author/editor deserves compensation but which can then be freely/cheaply circulated.



9 thoughts on “A New Publishing Model?

  1. Paul Goings

    How much to code a cento Roman Breviary from Anglican sources that would output to IPad or BlackBerry? And I’m only half kidding.

  2. Derek Olsen

    Well, Paul, I have made an initial study of the Stanbrook Abbey Diurnal (at Brian’s suggestion) and it looks like a good base text that would be a technically easy (though lengthy) process.

    I’d have to figure out an estimate for the work as a whole to cost it out. Coding it for Blackberry would a lot easier than creating an iPhone/iPad app but there’s been interest in that kind of development for the breviary as well. I may have to start looking in earnest and throw some numbers around the iApp development process.

  3. Jim of Olym

    Why not go with Lulu.com?

    You can ‘self-publish’ with little cost.
    Lots of Orthodox do that, why not Anglicans.

  4. Joe Rawls

    I was conditioned by grad school to regard conventional presses as the only “real” form of publishing. Having had no academic career, I could now care less. If I get around to doing any books in my retirement, they’ll be published online or via the ways referred to above.

  5. John-Julian, OJN

    I tried every publisher on earth with my 800-page “Stars in a Dark World” (stories of saints and holy days). Finally I gave up and decided to go to self-publishing, but I simply could not bring myself to list a book of mine published by something called “Lulu”, so I researched them all and went with Outskirts Press (which sounds much more like me) and am very happy with them.

    By the way, in 2003 I published a book with iUniverse (very acceptable service, actually) and this year – seven years later –a commercial publisher has asked to take it on — so getting it out and “in published shape” MAY even help to get a creditable publisher to pick it up eventually…..

  6. Bill Dilworth

    How about the Anglican Breviary? There’s at least some interest on-line, although I can’t seem to find a current on-line ordo.

  7. Robert Hendrickson

    Hello Derek,

    We have been batting around the Lulu option for a couple of different projects that SCP members are undertaking. Some are relatively short and simple things like manuals and devotional guides. Others are more complicated like Missals and the like. It seems a great option to me and a wonderful way to reach small but dedicated audiences.

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