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?

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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? 

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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. 

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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?

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


A Review of Extreme Zeen 2

by George Pimpelton, Founding Editor of The Perilous Review

World-Renowned “Voice of the Literary Establishment”

I’ve been asked to offer an opinion on this publication apparently referred to as a premium “zeen”– I’m holding it in my hand as I write this– I can only express my most pondered puzzlement at the presentation. Designs on interior pages? A clash of colors? Quite unorthodox. Will that not in fact interfere with one’s reading? I can only conclude my opinion about this offering: Not! (Yet at the same time there is admittedly something rather appealing and, dare I say, compelling about this “new form of publishing”?)

But do we really need a “new” form of reading and publishing?

I dare say the accepted form has served us rather well for indeed rather a few centuries now. At least since Defoe, if not Swift, if I’m not mistaken. I’ll have an intern of mine look it up.

“New”! The idea is preposterous, even ghastly when one thinks about it. (I must bring this up later at the Club.) Never disturb the accepted hierarchies, I always say.

Good day.

-G.P

Extreme Zeen 2 is available here.