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
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
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
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
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
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