18 November 2000

Mightywords Stabs ELO ED in Back

Today (Internet) AP: Mightywords, formerly Fatbrain, today announced it was shutting down its revolutionary business model, previously allowing authors to self-publish their writing as "e-matter." Mightywords, along with Xlibris and Iuniverse and probably a couple other companies with silly names with fake one-letter prefixes, had dismantled the time-honored publishing model in which authors are not part of the publishing model, but sort of free-lancing, no-contract-having temp workers engaged to create one of the raw materials, words, like paper, used in book production and marketing, as minimally as necessary, to the extent that the authors were first able to market themselves to agents and publishers and editors. The phrase "you have to be published to get published," a paradox accepted as truth, appeared as though at any point it might change to "you have to publish to get published."

You have to publish to get published.
Mightywords said some shit about how it wasn't really making anough money, and they are discontinuing all self-published titles, and reverting to a more traditional model in which all but already-widely-published writers will not be considered for publication, and will be sent traditional form rejection-letters. "By email, because it's cheaper" said some schmuck.

Scott Rettberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Literature Organization, is author of "Words fit for Burning," an e-matter fiction collection for which Rettberg has already received upward of $1 royalties, and which will soon be out-of-print, or out-of-e, or something. When asked for comment, someone else pretended Scott said "Now I'm thinking of a kind of short-story Napster application. But I'm still trying to work out how to retain the high levels of royalties these new self-publishing outfits offer."

Then reportedly Rettberg shed a tear and said "Damnit, I'm trying to create the future of literature and new, equitable publishing models. I don't have time to send my fiction out to publishers. Plus, my printer is out of paper."

As of the time I wrote this, or however you say that, the World Wide Web was still not rejecting submissions and continued to quietly exist in the background of the turbulent struggle by ill-fated companies with silly names attempting to find out how to make money off writers faster doing e-publishing.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books