Well, I don't have a story about self-publishing, but I do have one about a
group of illustrators, or in my case, cartographers, trying to work together
on a single publishing project, that is close to self-publishing.
Several colleagues and I started a "Guild"-not unlike GNSI on a smaller
scale-of cartographers last summer. We are all free-lance in some form or
other, and have different, but complimentary backgrounds. We are focusing on
a single project, to write and produce an historical atlas to celebrate
Wisconsin's Suscequincentennial-150 anniversary of statehood. We have
written grants and proposals for funding, produced a big hunk of the actual
book to completion, met with the big-wigs of the university in history and
geography for advice and endorsement, and contracted with a publisher to
print the results. Its been very involved, and eye opening.
Our main problems in forming a group to create a product, and have control
over it to publication, really has been the commitment to the project by the
members, and the willingness to work through problems together. It's been a
fine balance of sharing leadership, and willingness to work as equals. It is
not easy, certainly not an easy solution to working with the big guns in the
publishing world. I think the only thing that saves us is the fact that a
number of us in the group have worked together for various cartographic
houses for the past 10 years, and have a really long, and successful history
of working together. We keep our goal of publishing this book foremost, and
we go through periods of griping and frustration with each other.
It is a wonderful idea to think of having more control over your work, but
with it comes more responsibility to all aspects of the project. If you have
problems getting along with publishers, you may need to consider that you
would have some of these same problems in working with your colleagues.
I don't know why publishers insist on the "work-for-hire' contracts. I've
been told that they are find it too problematic to change. I think they see
the "work-for-hire" an easy, standard solution, and are mistrustful of
alternatives. Perhaps a direct campaign by an organization like GNSI is the
solution. To present a fair, newly written alternative to "work-for-hire"
that is presented by representatives of the Guild to lawyers and publishers
in the industry. A campaign to offer a standard alternative that carries the
same immediate understanding as "work-for-hire", that gives publishers what
they want without giving away all the rights by the artists. I'll think
about this some more.
Midwest Educational Graphics
6 Lyons Circle
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