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Copyright © 2007 by Open Horizons and John Kremer
Last modified: 11/22/06

The Self-Publishing
Hall of Fame

John Blumenthal

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In 2000, after getting 75 rejections for his comic novel, screenwriter John Blumenthal self-published a trade paperback of What's Wrong with Dorfman?, which was selected by January magazine as one of the 50 best books of 2000. He went on to get more major reviews and finally sold the book to St. Martin's Press for a nice sum of money.

He has since written a second novel for St. Martin's called Millard Fillmore, Mon Amour. Blumenthal is also author of Hollywood High: The History of America's Most Famous Public School (Ballantine), The Tinseltown Murders (Simon & Schuster), The Case of the Hard-boiled Dicks (Simon & Schuster), and several other books.

Why did he decide to self-publish his sixth book? In an interview on WritersBreak.com, he said ...

I decided to self-publish after the book received 75 rejections. Many of the rejections were very complimentary. Many raved about the book, some for up to two pages, and apologized for not being able to accept it. It was too quirky, they said, too midlist. Big publishers said it wasn't commercial enough; small literary presses said it was too commercial. I'd read about MJ Rose's success with self-publishing so I decided to give it a shot. I wouldn't have even considered doing it if there were no Internet or Amazon.com. It's definitely easier today to reach readers all over the world.

For more detail on his rejections, he noted in an interview at BooksNBytes.com ...

The responses from the mainstream publishers (who all rejected it at first) were so great, that's what made me decide to go it alone. I got rejections like: “I laughed out loud. A terrific story.” Rejected. “Loved every page of it.” Rejected. “He's a wonderful writer. I laughed till I cried!” Rejected. I kid you not.
What did he do to promote his self-published novel?

Again, in the WritersBreak.com interview, he said ...

I sent it everywhere, hoping it would land in the right place and find a champion. Eventually it did. I also talked it up on the Internet ad nauseum. Somehow, the book got on BookSense76, then on Book Magazine's Recommended Reading List, and January Magazine named it as one of the 50 Best Books of the Year. Obviously all that helped a great deal. Plus, I managed to sell 4,000 copies.

In an interview at BooksNBytes.com, he reported how he sold those 4,000 copies of his comic novel ...

I spent almost everyday for 2 years promoting it. I looked at it as my only job. Most of my promotion was on the Internet, talking with other booklovers and authors, emailing libraries, sending out a gazillion copies, nudging Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To be honest, I was a PEST. Just like a real PR person.

When he set up his publishing company, Farmer Street Press, he invented a publisher named Jerry. As he put it ...

There was no Jerry. Jerry was me. Every self-publisher should have a Jerry, although you can call him Bob or Moishe or Deepak, it's up to you. Jerry was the front man. He put his name on press releases etc. I wanted people to think Farmer Street Press was a real com-pany. Unfortunately, I had to fire Jerry because we just didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things. I heard he's now in rehab in Kentucky.

His advice to writers who want to self-publish (from the interview at WritersBreak.com) ...

Be prepared to lose money. Don't bother with ebooks or POD's. The latter are too expensive; the former too unwieldy. Plus, you're better off self-pubbing nonfiction if it's got a good niche or hook. It's much tougher with novels. Most people aren't aware of this statistic, but apparently about 1000 books are published every week in America. And they're all fighting for attention. So it's hard to stand out.

For more about John Blumenthal, see his website at http://www.johnblumenthal.com.

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