Incognito Press

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CSIS agent Grant Bristow’s hit list

Posted by E on April 2, 2014

We live in an age where a sexist note about female pilots written by an idiot generates enough outrage to make international news. But the actions of CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Agency) agent Grant Bristow, who co-founded and led the white supremacist Heritage Front back in the 1990s, have long been forgotten.

I could write about how heart-wrenching it was for me, at only eighteen years of age, to be denied police protection after I testified against dangerous white supremacists. How frightening it was to discover that the group that had recruited me as a teenager had been founded and partially-bankrolled by Canada’s own spy agency – an agency whose overseer budget has been eliminated back in 2012. An agency that is now spying on innocent activists and groups like Idle No More under the pretext of protecting our freedoms.

I could write about the profound betrayal I felt to know that dozens of my affidavits involving Heritage Front criminal activity and illegal weapons were dismissed in a concerted effort to protect a man whose job was to  torment and criminally harass people, to incite and fuel the fires of hatred. A man who ended up being rewarded by CSIS with a four-bedroom house, two cars, unlimited long-distance phone calls and $3000 per month for several years afterwards. Despite NEVER contributing to a single political extremist’s arrest and conviction.

But why do that, when I can show you?

The Hit List: These hand-written addresses and name/phone numbers of community activists were given to me by CSIS agent Grant Bristow, who also distributed them within the white supremacist Heritage Front in an effort to incite harassment and attacks. He was never prosecuted for inciting criminal activity against innocent Canadians, and CSIS packaged him off with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

How much do you want to bet THIS doesn’t make national news?

hit list bristow

Posted in canada, freedom, news, politics, racism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

RACE TRAITOR: The True Story of CSIS’ Greatest Cover-up – Official Press Release

Posted by E on March 28, 2014


Available in e-book format only at Kobo and Amazon.

RACE TRAITOR:The True Story of Canadian Intelligence Service’s Greatest Cover-Up is the visceral true story of a teenage girl who becomes entangled in Canada’s most powerful white supremacist group, the Heritage Front – a domestic terrorist group later revealed to have been created and funded with the assistance of Canada’s spy agency, Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS).

To sixteen-year old runaway Elisse, the new friends she encounters in the secretive Heritage Front are the family she’s never had. They feed her when she’s hungry, watch her back, and Wolfgang Droege, one of the group’s charismatic leaders, introduces her to a trusted friend, notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, who provides her with shelter and work.

In less than a year, Elisse evolves into an extremist groomed for a leadership role in the far-right movement. Her loyalty earns her the attention and tutelage of Grant Bristow, co-founder of the Heritage Front, who is training a secret faction of skinheads and neo-Nazis in information-gathering and terror tactics targeting political opponents. Rapidly drawn into their web of hatred, Elisse witnesses an escalating campaign of terror from which there seems no way out.

Forced to confront her sexual orientation and secret heritage, Elisse realizes that she must fight back. But when she attempts to shut down the vicious organization that had brainwashed her and terrorized innocent Canadians, she learns that a darker force is behind the façade of the Heritage Front: Canada’s own spy agency, backed by the government that was supposed to protect her.

A CSIS cover-up has just begun.


At age 16, Elisa Hategan was an alienated runaway who became recruited into Canada’s most powerful white supremacist movement, the Heritage Front. She was groomed by top leaders to become a rising star of the extremist far-right movement. An errand girl for notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, she was a witness to the illicit activities of an undercover CSIS agent and co-founder of the Heritage Front. At age 18, she turned against the group and spied on them for several months before testifying in court and going into hiding.

Posted in activism, canada, crime, csis, news, politics, press, press release, racism, toronto | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finally, a new website

Posted by E on March 19, 2014

For the last year I scaled back on my website because I wanted to redesign it using a simpler, cheaper hosting solution. I’m not terribly excited with the templates provided, but I managed to find one that wasn’t an aesthetic assault on the senses. And finally, all the basic parts are done! I’m glad to finally cross this project off my checklist – it’s been weird not to have a website, since I’m in the book-peddling business, but I figured that anybody who wanted to get in touch would find me here, through my Wordpress blog – which doesn’t get updated as much as I’d like, but is still a non-static site (I prefer blogs over static websites, and not just because they’re free and non-redundant, so I might decide to take down the website when my hosting year is up).

For now though, it’s good to re-establish that web presence again. So if anybody wants to check it out, it’s here:

Posted in writing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The world is full of Marias

Posted by E on October 25, 2013


Over the past week I have been, like the rest of the world, captivated by the story of little Maria, the blonde and blue-eyed little girl who was thought to be kidnapped by the people who had raised her in a Greek Roma community. It was only today, when the true story came out – DNA confirmed her biological mother was another Roma woman living in Bulgaria, and that no kidnapping ever occurred — that memory flooded me. It was the summer of 2001 and I was visiting Romania for the first time since my family emigrated to Canada (when I was 11). I was in my mid-20s and eager to rediscover family I hadn’t seen since childhood. As I was waiting at the train station for my next connection, I witnessed a moment that lingered within me with such ferocity I felt compelled to capture it.

So here it is, a piece I wrote in 2001, about another Maria. (It was written before the terms Rrom and Roma became mainstream). I am posting it because I don’t think people in general (especially in the Western world) understand the fluid nature of child-rearing in close communities where poverty and poor living conditions are the norm. Taking in somebody else’s children, or asking someone to look after your own, is much more common than people in the west believe. This is all to show that jumping on the kidnapping bandwagon will only end with authorities having egg on their face — three other “Marias” were kidnapped from their parents by police in Ireland, only to be returned later when DNA showed the children hadn’t been kidnapped after all.

I am at the train station, waiting for the locomotive to Craiova. Sitting across from me, trying to pretend she isn’t staring, a middle-aged gypsy woman is perched quite comfortably on a huge sack of potatoes. Her rust-coloured dress is discoloured in patches under her arms, the result of old sweat stains that have been gradually absorbed by the flimsy cotton fabric. Bands of silver of varying widths coil around each of her chunky fingers; the knuckles of those fingers are permanently swollen from what looks like years of labouring in the wheat fields.

A little girl, no more than five, huddles between her knees. She is upset about something; she keeps her face buried in the woman’s skirt and won’t turn around, even when prodded.

“Aw, you poor wee thing,” the woman cajoles. “Come now, it’ll be all right.”

Though I’m pretending not to notice, trying to give them their privacy, I catch myself wondering what their story is. As if she’s been waiting all this time to unload it upon someone, the gypsy woman glances at me. She grins, and her wide smile reveals a row of gold teeth in place of her left incisors. She scans my face, the Swiss Army backpack next to my leg, and glances up again. “Not from ‘round here, are you?”

“Just passing through,” I say. “Going to visit my cousin in Craiova.” I realize that my accent is giving me away. The woman’s interest is piqued; it’s not often that she gets to chat with a foreigner who speaks passable Romanian.

“Bet you’re wondering what’s wrong with this lil’ mite,” she says, nudging the little girl’s shoulders. “She misses her momma, don’t you, pet?”

“Where is her mother?”

The woman’s features contort with sadness. She shakes her head. “They can’t keep her, you know. Her momma begged me to take her. I met them in a migrant camp where we were picking fruit all summer. They’re very young, her parents, so young and have absolutely nothing. Her momma saw me with my girl – look, there she is by the bagel stand, she’s all of eleven now – and said you’re so good with kids, please take my little one here with you.”

“But why couldn’t she keep her?”

The woman clucks her tongue. “Ay, if you could see them – they sleep in a tent with ten other people around, and it gets awfully cold at night. From the break of dawn they’re out in the fields the whole day, and the poor child is all alone in the camp. They worry about her, that she’s too young to look after herself. They think she’s better off with me back in my village. At first I said no, I’ve got enough trouble with my own one there, bless her heart, but this one’s momma kept imploring me to take her, so what could I do?”

The little girl rubs her face into the woman’s lap, left and right, as though she disagrees with her version of the story. I wonder if she can understand why she is being taken away. “She’s never been away from her momma before,” the woman says. “She’s a clingy one, always at her momma’s bosom. Hasn’t stopped crying once since we left this morning.”

I look at my watch. One-thirty in the afternoon. The train for Craiova is coming in fifteen minutes. I wonder when, or even if, this child will ever see her family again. The woman who is now her caretaker seems to know her way around children. She’ll be well looked after, I’m certain of it. Maybe she’ll even go to kindergarten. But her heart will always be somewhere else; to her, the transient life of seasonal laborers and nomads will be a bittersweet song. If she could have articulated it, surely she’d tell me that she would rather move with the seasons all through the continent, pitching tents in orchards and growing up to work a back-breaking job for little pay, like the Mexicans did for a century in California, than to be separated from her family.

The train’s siren whistles in the distance. It’s going to pull in any moment now. I tighten my grip on my backpack, getting ready to heave it back on. The gypsy’s daughter runs over to us, the tiny beads on her red and orange skirt making a chiming noise. She tugs on her mother’s sleeve. “Look,” she points. “Look over there.”

We turn our heads simultaneously, not toward the tracks but to the other side of the platform. The little girl’s head pops up. She squints for a second, and then the most magnificent smile breaks on her face, illuminating it.

A young woman no older than twenty is walking as fast as she can toward us, and a young man is following right behind her. As she spots us, her eyes begin to glow and her pace quickens.

The child makes a tiny sound like a yelp and jumps away from the old gypsy’s knee. She starts running as fast as her little legs can take her and leaps high into the young woman’s arms. The woman cradles the child, nuzzling her small head into her own neck. She places countless kisses on her forehead and cheeks, even as tears are rolling down her own face.

She approaches gingerly, unwilling to release her tight hold on the child. Looking at the old woman, she shakes her head. “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave my baby.”

The man has caught up to us. “Thank God the train didn’t come yet,” he gasps. He wraps his arm around the mother and child and they hold each other. In this one moment the entire platform has melted around them and they are alone – a family that has nearly lost itself.

“Thank you so much,” weeps the young woman, her shining eyes directed at the peasant woman. “Thank you for trying to help us, but we have to stay together. I never realized it until now.”

They walk away slowly, their profiles dissolving into the soft golden dust that rises in the distance. “May God look after them,” the gypsy woman whispers, staring after them. I may not be religious, but right now is one of those rare moments when I feel compelled to add my wish to her prayer.

We say goodbye to one another and I watch the gypsy woman, her daughter and her large sack of potatoes board the second-class carriage. Peasants file past me, going from car to car. Their hands show the hardship they have endured: coarse knuckles twisted like gingerroots, fingernails caked with black dirt. They live a diet fortified with garlic and onions; everything around here is seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, and many still eat onions like apples, raw and barely peeled. The sight of these people and the musty goat smell that reeks from their clothes is, like much of the natural beauty of this countryside, soon to be a vanishing sight, replaced by a page in a history textbook that youngsters will find too boring to study. I tune my music player to Va Pensiero. There’s a line in Verdi’s moving aria that always stirs something in my heart: “Oh, mia patria, si bella y perdutaOh, my homeland, so beautiful and so lost.”

I may be sitting in the air-conditioned section of my own compartment, but my thoughts trail along with that child and her family. It’s like watching my own family’s history unfold before my eyes: there’s my mother, five-year old Luci, being heaved onto a train by her own mother, soon to be dumped at her relatives’ doorstep. And then there’s my nine-year-old self, left behind at the airport, watching my mother as she departs for sunnier shores. And before us there is my infant father, curled up in an basket at my grandmother’s feet, being sent away from the father he would never know. I am part of a never-ending cycle of abandoned, traded and borrowed children; even here, on this train platform in 2001, the story repeats itself. I can only hope that in this little girl’s case it’ll have a happier ending.

Posted in belonging, children, news, press | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The end of the Euro will be bloody, but inevitable

Posted by E on March 22, 2013

cyprus-banksCyprus bank queue

By now you’ve all heard about the latest European Union bailout conditions in Cyprus, and how banks froze all accounts in preparation to spring upon all individuals who hold money in Cyprus-based banks up to a 10% forceable deduction (6.75% for accounts totalling under 100,000 euros).

That is, if you hold money in a Cypriot bank, you will unequivocably lose up to 10% of it, no ifs, ands or buts. Why is this happening? For the good of the people, of course. Because Germany is holding your bailout hostage, and without doing as the Germans say and forking over your savings, you may have to drop out of the EU (which so many would consider a blessing). So with friends like Merkel/IMF, who needs enemies? Why bother invading a country anymore, when all you need to spread across Europe is to employ the aggressive tactics of a backalley money lender slash loan shark. The thing is, Merkel and her entourage at the IMF had originally demanded that Cyprus withhold all funds over 100,000 euros, but that was seen as too radical.

The euro will fall, of course. The question is, when – and I am of the opinion that it won’t be soon enough. Not soon enough to avoid more bloody riots in the streets, money being stolen out of the accounts of Cypriot, then Italian, then Spanish citizens — and rest assured, this move is inevitable, just as a rabid animal will thrash and attack anyone in its path rather than go crawl under a bush and just die, before succombing to its illness.

But the thing is, it won’t just fall because the Euro is an unsustainable fantasy and a neverending black hole. Not just because Germany’s domination brings more than a few ugly memories in mind of their invasion and dominance of so many other nations in WW2 (although there is no more need for armies these days; economical blackmail and entire countries taken hostage by their own EU-prostrating, always-deferring, fearful goverments is the de rigueur manner in which to conquer a nation these days).

What happened in Cyprus this week is unparalleled. It is the canary in a mine that signals the end of the European Union itself. Who wants to be bullied and controlled by the IMF, told how many hours they will need to work until age 70, have their pensions taken away and the money in their bank accounts confiscated? The EU is supposed to be a place of enlightenment, not a reincarnation of communist, stalinism, or fascism.

The Rubicon has been crossed; a domino effect has been set in motion by this unprecedented move and it will lead to a bloody, chaotic dissolution. We all must understand that even if Cyprus and Greece exit the EU in an orderly fashion, the sieve is fundamentally cracked and nothing can patch the irreversable damage that the EU model has done not only to people’s lives, but to the future relations between countries.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it forever more — people don’t want this. At the grassroots level, when you talk to the average Spaniard and Italian national in the street, even the average Romanian (who wanted to be in the EU probably more than anyone else) they all shake their heads. Nobody wants this imposed upon them; everybody dreams of the times when the lira and the peseta contributed to a better quality of life. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, and this is why everybody embraced the concept of the European Union with such zest, but after a decade of destruction to their quality of life, the rose-tinted glasses have come off.

People will begin to withdraw their moneys out of banks and going back to the old communist/socialist/wartime ways of hiding it in mattresses, converting it into gold, hiding it in a hole in their backyard, in a flower pot,  under a floorboard or a crack in the drywall. The Russian mafiosos who stored approximately 20% of all Cypriot bank withholdings will now inevitably withdraw all their profits en masse. The downward spiral of losses will further shake up the country, and fire up similarly-disadvantaged citizens of countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy to follow the same desperate measures to protect their savings. Both those with meager incomes and the billionaires will all take these measures, taking out funds in unparalleled amounts (the billionaires will, of course, store the rest of their assets in offshore accounts on some Caribbean island or another).

The diminishing funds in actual banks will speed up the inevitable. It will be ugly and many people will suffer unimaginable consequences, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Euro will soon take its rightful place in the annals of history as the worst failed experiment in the history of the European continent. Let’s just hope they don’t take the rest of the world down with them.

cyprus woman

Posted in europe, news, politics, revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Doug Christie finally kicks the bucket

Posted by E on March 12, 2013


The day has come to celebrate: Doug Christie, Ernst’ Zundel’s best ally and legal counsel to Neo-Nazis all over North America, has finally kicked the bucket. And what a sweet day it is!
Unlike what most Toronto newspapers want you to believe, this wasn’t a case of “freedom of speech champion” — if you saw Ernst Zundel’s dedicated Christie bedroom in his Toronto Carlton Street townhouse (as I did when I was 16), complete with velvet red drapes and a framed portrait of Adolf Hitler on the wall, you’d know this went far beyond a professional relationship.

Doug Christie’s career as a lawyer and “defender of free speech” spanned WW2 war criminals, leaders of Aryan Nations, far-right extremists, and yes, even world-renowned Holocaust deniers and suppliers of revisionist propaganda worldwide. Propaganda that Christie enabled, by  defending Ernst Zundel for over two decades. Propaganda that was used to recruit impressionable teenagers and fueled the fires of hate and intolerance a world over. Literature that was distributed all over the world – as I can attest by the mailing lists that I stole from Zundel and provided to hate group-monitoring organizations.

There are few things more damning to one’s character than using one’s intellect, expertise and social clout to support and keep in business those who would spread lies, stock weapons, hold rallies to instigate hate against innocent people, and ultimately try to whitewash the truth of what happened in WW2.

I hate the whitewashing that goes on in the press decades after the fact, but nothing can change the definition of a contemptable snake in the grass: his name is/was Doug Christie.


Posted in media, news, politics, propaganda | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A year of new beginnings

Posted by E on January 1, 2013

new year

May this year bring all of us the fulfillment of all our dreams and ambitions. I will be mostly absent from this blog over the next little while. I am embarking on both a new manuscript and a new exploration of my family’s past — and these two paths will hopefully interact in some significant, as-of-yet unknown way.

My results from my DNA test at 23andme have returned with a bang — something I have always known within myself, yet never had any confirmation of before now — that I am indeed of a Ashkenazi Jewish background. I have over a hundred cousins with the Cohen surname from the 2nd-3rd cousin level and up. Several other spellings of Cohen, Kohen, Kuhn and Kahan also pop up, as well as similar variations. (Also related to a significant portion of Kaplans, Friedmans and Rosenbergs). Although I’ve always known I was Romanian (born there, after all!) and Hungarian on my father’s side, now I have just discovered that I am of Polish and Russian Jewish backgrounds (with some German thrown in)….as much as 40%.  From the levels of my matches, the Jewish connection comes from BOTH of my parents, which is a shock given how anti-semitic and racist my mother has been throughout her life. But sometimes the strongest persecutors are those who have something to hide. There is also notable Southern European percentage that traces back to the Iberian/Spanish peninsula, and leads me to believe there’s an influx of Shephardic blood in my dna as well.

Like I said, it’s a confirmation of what I’ve always felt — and yet to see this in person, like this, decades after my father’s death, just made me weep. I just found out a couple of days ago….transferred my raw data to FamilyTreeDNA last night, so in another couple of weeks hopefully I will have more family matches. I strongly believe in genetic memory, and after the reaction I experienced in Kracow, Poland 10 years ago, and once again in Budapest and Debrecen, Hungary, it all begins to make sense. The fog is clearing, and it feels surreal to finally catch a glimpse of the truth that lies beyond the window that was obscured to me all of my life.

So the question remains — with nearly all of my 985 relatives on 23andme bearing Jewish surnames, and both the sides of my family descending from a Jewish line, does my heritage reside in my DNA, blood and ancestry, in my dreams and my senses, in my deja vus and my physical appearance, or in what a rabbi declares I am (or I am not)?  The answer, at least to me, is pretty obvious. And such is the way of the future, both for Israel and for the notion of what makes one a Jew.

Posted in ancestry, belonging, history, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Holiday greetings and inspiration for the year ahead

Posted by E on December 15, 2012

happy hanukkah

Here’s my year-end wish to all friends near and far: Have a wonderful Hanukkah, Holiday or whatever year-end celebrations you have coming. I know I’ve been terrible not to update this blog in something like 2 months, but I’ve been swamped with various gigs and my own writing projects.

Nothing much else to report, other than last month I was able to meet with my old Creative Writing professor from the University of Ottawa, Seymour Mayne. He was in Toronto for a reading, and we went out together afterwards. A couple of weeks later, I had the opportunity to be in Ottawa and we met on campus for an afternoon of lively conversation, European pastries and bittersweet reminiscing.

Just being around him infused me with the sense of hope and excitement I used to have while in his class — the first and ONLY creative writing class I will ever take. I remember that feeling well — that all you have to do is believe, funnel your creative talents outwards into the world, and magical things would happen. An alchemy of words, energy and infinite muses would come together to show you a path to your destiny.

I got lost on that path over the last few years. Nonetheless, I must force myself to stumble forward, even when I absolutely hate it, even when I can’t see a foot ahead of me, in the hopes that the dark forest will part one day and I will reach a destination where I will feel that I belong.

And on that note, I wish the same for all of you. May we all find kinship and love among one another, even when the howls of loneliness and doubt howl at our backs. May we all find a glowing hearth to rest besidem even when the worst of Arctic winds nip at our heels and the winter feels like it will never be over.

Posted in inspiration, technology, writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy New Year!

Posted by E on September 14, 2012

Just want to take a moment to wish all friends near and far a Shana Tova for the New Year of 5773!

I’ve been pretty negligent about updating the site, but I’m swamped in projects and I’m a terrible multi-tasker.

I’m working on a new book, plus have a part-time gig I have to take care of on top of the usual editing, etc projects I’m working on. It’s a pretty hectic time, but I welcome the extra cash so I’ll stop complaining ;)

Anyway, all this to say that even though I’m not a frequent poster, I’m here for your comments and I check my email daily, so feel free to drop me a line. Will be offline for the next few days, however.

Have a great holiday, everyone! And eat lots of sweets :)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Is traditional publishing the new vanity publishing?

Posted by E on August 27, 2012

Normally I don’t tend to highlight articles, even some of the juicy controversy surrounding Amazon vs the Apple, Big Six et al collusion. But this is far too interesting not to share with you folks.

This article written by Bernard Starr, professor at CUNY, came out this past week in The Huffington Post, and as I read it my neck started cramping from all the nodding in agreement that it provoked. Yes, I too have had friends who have shelved viable manuscripts because agents or publishers refused to look at them, instead of trying to make a commercial profit from something that had taken them lots of sweat, time (in some cases, years) and grief to write. Even when confronted with the reality of being able to both monetize your career AND reach a willing audience, many of my writer friends have decided to “hold out” for a publisher – and admitted that they just wanted to be published by a trad press, period – even if their print run was in the hundreds and they never saw a dime.

This is absurd.

It’s time to peel back the blindfold and look reality in the eye. No matter which side of the publishing precipice you happen to fall on, this article will give you a lot of food for thought. Yes, it’s provocative and may rub some readers the wrong way, but if it wasn’t controversial would you be reading it? And just in case the Huffington Post page disappears or gets archived, as it so oftens in online journalism, I’m going to reproduce it here.

The old vanity publishing offered authors who could not attract the interest of a traditional publisher an opportunity to get their  books published. The process was costly and often required that the author purchase large quantities of books. According to legend, garages throughout America are warehousing these dust-gathering volumes. Some so-called vanity books were written by competent writers who just couldn’t find a way into the mainstream; others were exercises in ego building — the books were sold or given away free to family members, friends and colleagues. These authors were willing to pay the price to boast, “I’m a published author.”

Commentators on the current upheaval in publishing have observed that many authors desperately seek a traditional  publisher when self-publishing would serve them far better. Traditional publishing has thus become, in many instances, the vanity choice. Does it make sense?

The new world of self-publishing has little in common with the old vanity publishing, but  for many writers it still bears the taint of vanity.  Self-publishing has not only democratized publishing, it has opened up the opportunity for authors to publish at low or no cost, own all the rights, control the pricing and timetable for publishing, and get their books listed for sale and distribution on major outlets and platforms — e.g. Amazon, kindle,  nook, other e-readers, Google and more. Royalties for self-published books can range from thirty to eighty percent (depending on ancillary services that are selected) compared to the 71/2 to 15 percent in traditional publishing. And if you are adept at Internet marketing, you can reach large targeted audiences for your books.

Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher. And more and more writers  are awakening to the realization that if  you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond  editing and printing your book. While it’s true that they will also distribute it to the waning number of brick-and-mortar bookstores — self-published books are not usually available in bookstores — the number that actually land on the shelves is surprisingly small. And the argument that self-published books are not widely reviewed in mainstream publications loses steam when you realize that only a tiny percent of traditionally published books are reviewed at all. Add to that the growing number of  prestigious venues that now review self-published books.  Publishers Weekly devotes a quarterly supplement to reviews of self-published books and  Kirkus  Reviews, as well, offers self- published authors the opportunity to have their books independently reviewed.  Then there are companies springing up like Blue Inc., where self-published authors can pay a small fee for unbiased reviews  that are posted on the  web.

Can you count on  a traditional publisher to substantially market your book? A prominent literary agent recently told me that unless an author receives a hefty advance of  $100,000 or more most publishers will do virtually no promotion, leaving it to authors to create and exploit their own platforms via social media and networking connections, workshops and webcasts.  So when you go the traditional-publishing route, you may well find yourself self-publishing without the benefits of self-publishing.

Yet many writers who would do just fine with self-publishing — and build a following — still refuse that choice; they continue to pursue a” real publisher.”  My friend Mike (not his real name — I don’t want to embarrass him) has been sitting on a completed  non-fiction manuscript for the last three years while going through several agents and running the manuscript past numerous editors.  They all agreed that he’s an outstanding writer, but publishers rejected his manuscript because he doesn’t have a platform or relevant credentials for his current book. Mike says he would be happy to publish with any traditional publisher, even if this meant  a small print run, no publicity and high pricing. The fact that his sales are likely to be low — thus creating a bad “track record” when he goes to publish another book — hasn’t deterred him from the wish to have a “name” publisher’s imprint.

I finally realized that Mike was representative of the new quest for vanity publishing. These writers  are willing to forego the  benefits of self-publishing for the unshakable belief in the “prestige” of  signing on with a “real publisher.”

If Mike would shed his prejudice, he couldn’t help but notice that an increasing number of successful traditionally published authors are choosing to self-publish. Barry Eisler’s rejection of a $500,000  advance to self-publish has encouraged other writers to take a fresh look at self-publishing. Amanda Hocking’s phenomenal success with self- publishing has had  a similar effect.

And Mike should listen to Theresa Ragan’s story.  For nineteen years she was mostly a stay-at-home mom raising four children — all the while penning romance novels.  But she got nowhere with a few agents and was turned down over a hundred times by publishers. Although she knew about self-publishing she dismissed it as a vanity club. In 2010, while surfing the web for a  job to help pay the bills, she stumbled on an article by a successful self-published author which prompted her to give it a shot (“what do I have to lose?”).  She hooked up with CreateSpace, the self-publishing arm of and self -published her first book in March 2011 in both paperback and e-book formats. Within the first two months she was stunned by the sale of over two thousand  copies — and the sales continued to rise. To date, she has self-published four romance and two thriller novels with sales exceeding three hundred and fifty thousand copies. Theresa expects to cross the million dollar mark in royalties by March 2013. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Several top-line publishers are pursuing her.Thomas and Mercer, Amazon’s “traditional”  mystery and thriller line, will now republish her two thrillers. In my interview with Theresa Ragan on August 21, 2012, she said that prior to venturing into self-publishing, “I would have gratefully signed with any traditional publisher with no advance and a six percent royalty.” Lucky for Theresa that all the publishers passed on her.

A. J.  McDonald, communications manager at Lulu, another leading self-publishing company, related similar success stories. Lulu has also attracted five formerly traditionally published bestselling authors who are now self-publishing and still making the best seller lists — with greater royalties and  total control of all the rights.

Will the bulk of self-published authors match Theresa Ragan’s spectacular success?  Of course not — and many don’t even have that intention. If you do, you must first write a marketable book, one that will appeal to easily identified readers. In fiction, that often means mystery, suspense, and romance; so-called literary fiction tends to do less well, since the audience is much smaller. In the nonfiction world, books on subjects with a niche market — cooking, nature, hobbies, music, spirituality and travel, to name just a few — fare best.  But regardless of your topic or the size of your potential readership, the new world of publishing offers an unprecedented and unlimited opportunity to forge your own destiny.

First- time authors and those struggling to find a publisher should seriously consider self-publishing. Keep in mind that self-publishing does not close the door on traditional publishing. Agents and publishers  are cherry- picking successful self-published books for traditional publishing.  And when they do they will roll out the red carpet, offer an advance and a marketing plan — a different experience than a hundred rejections.

Think about how much you are willing to sacrifice for a “real publisher.” Is the  “prestige” of a traditional publisher’s imprint mostly illusory in the context of the new world of publishing? Ask what  traditional publishing will do for you in the long run if you don’t get effective distribution and publicity. Which platform is more likely to bring you sizable sales? Which will help you build a large following  for marketing future publications?  These are critical questions that deserve serious attention, especially if you are planning a career in writing.

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