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Five Questions for Jim Munroe

Jim Munroe

Jim Munroe, 28, operates out of Toronto's Kensington Market. He has worked as a managing editor for Adbusters and been involved with zines and indie publishing for the last decade. His first novel, Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask, came out with HarperCollins, but he chose to self-publish his second novel, Angry Young Spaceman. Check out No Media Kings to find out why.

1. You've dealt with and had success with a major book publisher, but now you're choosing to self-publish. How did this come about?

I've been involved with zines and underground publishing for a long time, so going back to self-publishing wasn't as much an abberation as going with HarperCollins in the first place was. I found being aligned with a multinational corporation to be draining on a personal level, and on a professional level I realized I could do everything they were doing for me by myself.

2. What are the greatest benefits (and toughest aspects) of self-publication?

Control of the project as a whole — publicity, production, and design — is hugely satisfying. The toughest part is getting attention for a book that's not legitimized by a company. It helped a lot that it was obvious that I had chosen self-publishing rather than it be by default.

3. Do you have any suggestions for our self-publishing authors in terms of successful self-promotion and marketing?

When writing the back cover copy and designing the cover, don't try to make it a literal reflection of the novel — make it as appealing and eye-catching as you can, while still being appropriate. Have a launch — a bar will be glad to host it for free on an off night if you can bring in more beer drinkers than they'd usually have.

4. What's the premise and mission behind your independent press, No Media Kings? How do you see NMK in relation to the constant change and flow of the publishing industry?

Self-publishing — and making art outside of a corporate context in general — can be superior to being published by a major publisher. Companies are just a group of talented people, and many people have an informal network of talented people who can serve to refine a product without big business.

5. What's your view on the role of agents and other types of industry "middlemen"?

I don't have an agent to handle my books, although I've had offers. While they work on commission, I find that the hidden cost of agents is that any risky moves you make also jeopordises their investment in you — they have a stake in your career. A lot of writers I know want an agent for prestige reasons, to make them seem more "real," and I prefer not to have a filter between me and the business end of things.