Just in case any readers out there still needed to be walked through the intricacies of how books get published in the old-fashioned way, here’s a handy step-by-misstep guide to how it all happens pre-digital disruption, courtesy of Mariah Bear and publisher Weldon Owen. And although I do wonder why the marketing and distribution departments are mostly left out of the equation, I’m not surprised to see that Big Publishing is effectively one of the world’s biggest ultimate producers of cheese. I knew there had to be a rational explanation for that strong smell wafting out of the remainder stores …

Read. Wonder. Buy more goat cheese.


  1. Oh the misery of it all! When I first began to write, edit and publish in 1999. The chart looked like this.

    1. Write book.
    2. Save the book and cover as PDFs.
    3. Send the PDFs to Lightning Source.

    Within two weeks that book would be available on almost every online bookstore on the planet and available wholesale to most bookstores—all without my doing anything.

    That chart above illustrates just how much more complicated matters of gotten. But if that bothers you, take a look at the chart that’s Obamacare.


    In comparison, the former isn’t that bad. With a little effort, your book will be published.

    The latter is best called a ‘spaghetti bureaucracy.’ It’s central purpose is to make change and reform impossible at either the national or individual level. That’s why in 2015, you’ll hear a host of politician claiming just that about the scheme. “It’s done. It can’t be changed.”

    The results will be grim. Don’t like some about the health care that you’re getting, say dreadful doctors and a cold and indifferent hospital. Now imagine yourself pushing on one noodle in a bowl of spaghetti. The results you get with each will be much the same as if you attempt to deal with that bureaucracy.

    A budding writer with a talent for humor might want to write a novel on this theme. He or she can use as a model Charles Dickens Little Dorrit, with it description of “The Circumlocution Office.” To quote the marvelous Dickens:

    “The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office.”
    Write it—please, please, please—retaining Dickens’s brilliant and bitting humor. I’ll be glad to buy your book, however you might publish it. Heck, I’ll even help you publish it. That chart above doesn’t scare me in the slightest.

    The Obamacare one scares the bejees out of me. I worked in one of the top children’s hospitals in the country. I saw how a clumsy entangling bureaucracy could damage the care being given to some very sick children. I saw the hospital’s nurses grow so frustrated, 20% of them quit in a matter of weeks. It was grim, grim, grim. This will be worse.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of My Nights with Leukemia: Caring for Children with Cancer

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