Self-Publication? Childsplay (as long as Your Parents Foot the Bill)

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

“The first time I held my own book, it was just this amazing feeling,” said a first-time author, echoing the soaring intoxication that every writer has expressed on beholding his newborn literary baby.

Had this writer toiled for decades in obscurity, enduring rejection and and scorn, sacrificing comfort and security, tormented by self-doubt and discouragement?

Well, not exactly. This author was fourteen years old. The book in question had been self-published. Or, more accurately, Mom- and Dad-published, subsidized to the tune of four hundred bucks.

The boy was one of “hundreds of children and teenagers who are self-publishing books each year,” writes Elissa Gootman in the New York Times. “The mothers and fathers who foot the bill say they are simply trying to encourage their children, in the same way that other parents buy gear for a promising lacrosse player or ship a Broadway aspirant off to theater camp.” The analogy doesn’t really hold up, however. The child lacrosse player doesn’t automatically get a trophy, nor does the child thespian a Tony. But the kid author gets a book to show off – gets five hundred if his folks want to spring for them.

What has triggered this effusion of literary endeavor? “Over the past five years,” Gootman explains, “print-on-demand technology and a growing number of self-publishing companies whose books can be sold online have inspired writers of all ages to bypass the traditional gatekeeping system for determining who could call himself a ‘published author’.”

The low cost of self-publishing and absence of gatekeepers – other than one’s parents and dozens of charitable friends and relatives who buy copies – foster the illusion that artistic achievement is as cheap to purchase as an Xbox 360. In truth, for all but a handful of true prodigies it’s hard-won through determination, discipline and courage. “You can basically do anything if you put your mind to it,” said one young author. Your mind, yes, and your checkbook.

“What’s next?” asks Tom Robbins, author of nine novels including Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. “Kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, 11-year-old rocket scientists?”

To learn what’s next, read Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad)

Richard Curtis

Expert Publishing Blog
Richard Curtis

About Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis is a leading New York literary agent ( who foresaw the Digital Book Revolution and launched an e-book publishing company early in 2000. E-Reads ( is one of the foremost independent e-book publishers in the industry, specializing in reprints of genre fiction by leading authors in their fields. Curtis is also a well-known authors advocate, author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including several books about the publishing industry, and prolific blogger – see his hundreds of other blog posts here.


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