Fifty years ago, if you wanted to get your book published, you either had to find an agent and a publisher willing to take a chance on your writing or buy your own printing press and learn how to print and bind the book yourself.
Much like today, there were, of course, journals and literary magazines willing to print short stories and poetry, which might prove to a publisher your writing had merit, but in those situations the number of submissions always dwarfs the number of available slots.
And most journals and magazines only accept the absolute best submissions. When other circumstances, such as the editor's taste and mood, are added into the mix, it becomes more of a wonder that anything gets published at all. The publishing world is changing dramatically, though.
Recently, there has been a major rise in the number of vanity presses and self-publishing companies in the United States. These companies serve several purposes, and offer unique benefits to new or young writers anxious to see their work in print.
Sometimes, a self-publishing service will be used for something as simple as printing off a few copies of a memoir to be distributed among friends and family members. Other times, a beloved executive may be presented with a specially made biography upon retiring after years of devoted service, a practice popular in Asia, but also present here.
Writers might even self-publish copies of their novel or poetry collection so that they have something to hand out to agents or editors that they think might be interested in the work. It certainly looks better than a manuscript printed from one's computer at home, and can serve as a kind of giant business card. Some writers, however, like author Joey Edmonds of Burbank, go for broke and use self-publishing as a way to get their book directly into the hands of readers.
Edmonds, author of "Claustrophobic" and "FUN with Fears & Phobias," recently released his third book, "I Hid it in My Diaper & Other Senior Stories." The work is a collection of reminiscences from Edmonds' past, but includes a smattering of anecdotes from his close friends and relatives' lives as well.
The book itself is physically crude — without the assistance of a major publisher, typesetting and layout can be difficult to get perfect — but when reading it, one gets the feeling that Edmonds doesn't really mind.
As evidenced by the cover photo of Edmonds leaping into the air to click his heels, the author of "I Hid it in My Diaper" is all about enjoying his later years. Some of the stories are simple strolls down memory lane, but others are filled with jokes, mishaps or even nearly fatal situations. Edmonds handles each story with the same joy and enthusiasm he seems to put into everything he does.
While he may not be contacted by a major publisher any time soon, Edmonds has, at the very least, found a way to preserve his memories for future generations. Self-publishing has made it possible to turn almost any literary dream into a reality, and Edmonds has done well to take advantage of that here.
Brian McGackin is an alumnus of USC's graduate creative writing program, where he focused on poetry and literary critical analysis.
Who: Burbank resident Joey Edmonds
What: "I Hid it in My Diaper & Other Senior Stories"
Where: Available for purchase online through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
Cost: $12.99 (paperback, 106 pages)