Indie Publishing Trials and Tribulations of the Ancient Greeks

(“Oracle at Delphi” by Camillo Miola.)

by Stuart Ross

Hecuba: Grief is mine, I will repay.

Oracle: Why don’t we post the cover on social and drum up some buzz for the presales?


Achilles: I’ve got this weakness, but there’s a clear arc, and I’m willing to go deeper into it through the oral tradition, if you know what I mean. 

Oracle: How many checkmarks follow you on Instagram? 


Antigone: Hello. I am the original manic pixie dream girl. I won’t find peace until my brother’s long-read #personal essay documenting his struggle to renew his license (DMV-as-commodification-of late-capitalist-het-“romantic”-love) receives proper burial.

Oracle: Have you considered self-publishing? The stigma is gone, like with internet dating (except Craigslist). And with Amazon’s new proprietary technology you can send essays directly into your mother’s soul, with hundreds of five-star reviews.


Colson of Whitehead: Hey friends. Thank you for sending me those ARCs written by super-talented indie scriveners. It was so cold at our Breck ski-in ski-out this past season, and they sure did help keep a voracious reader warm. If it weren’t for you guys hustling down at the bottom, I wouldn’t be able to cruise on top. Now I have a favor to ask of YOU. I’m having slight troubles placing my next novel because PenguinRandomHouseSaraLee is in conversations about merging with ExxonMobilChevronBP. The suits are involved, if you know what I mean. There’s even some talk of burning my backlist for fuel. 

Oracle: Can you demonstrate to us in any quantifiable way that this has worked for you before?


Pheme: This is my best work. This is going to make me famous. 

Oracle: I heard you said this thing at a party that was different than the thing we said at the same party. Can’t you just be a decent human being? 

Pheme: No, I can’t, I’m more a goddess. 

Oracle: Kbye sorry thnxs.


Herald: Hey! Just wanted to follow up quickly with you guys. The writing conference was a blast. Did you get my thing? It’s a masterful description of a triple murder that needed to occur offstage.

Per usual, we had no budget. 

Oracle: We haven’t checked this inbox in twelve years. Do you have any coke?


The Shteyngarts of Narcissus: It’s a tale. On a topical yarn. That we overheard. At a 63rd and Park dinner party. And then we riff a bit. Mesh it. With something we overheard. Waiting for the G train. With our daughters. At a stop. Deep in Brooklyn. Where our grandfathers sold whole life insurance policies. You call it bathos. We call it tradition. That reminds us of a funny story…

Oracle: Can you demonstrate to us in any quantifiable way that this has worked for you before?


Apollo: You say bronzed cis white male with a nine pack who’s an expert with the bow like it’s a bad thing. 

Oracle: Yeah sorry we’ve got enough sonnet sequences inspired by a Twitter thread in the queue right now. 


Agamemnon: Sirs! Might you have interest in my chapbook of poems anent the westerly wind? 

Oracle: Sacrifice your daughter. Maybe we can make it happen 2026-ish. 

Agamemnon: Where do I sign?


Stuart Ross is the author of the novel Jenny in Corona (Tortoise Books, 2019) — follow his work @myskypager.

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