This quotation was telling:
“What’s next?” asked the novelist Tom Robbins. “Kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, 11-year-old rocket scientists? Any parent who thinks that the crafting of engrossing, meaningful, publishable fiction requires less talent and experience than designing a house, extracting a wisdom tooth, or supervising a lunar probe is, frankly, delusional.”
With all due respect, this is missing the point. The kids in the article are not-- as far as I can tell-- intending to write high literature, but stuff that they themselves like and are proud of. The impulse to spend money can be argued with, but not the drive to write and publish.
My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Mengel, was my inspiration for becoming a writer. She did something very simple: she encouraged us to write, told us what a good story had in it, and gave us lined paper, construction paper, and a stapler. We took the lined paper, stacked it evenly, put a jacket of construction paper over it, and stapled it three times on the side.
Ecce, published book.
Now all we had to do was write the thing.
Fill those bright, white, clean pages I did, starting about a dozen books (including one I still remember, "The Lost Key," which was from a writing prompt Mrs. Mengel gave to us) and from those, finished at least two. One of them became, in my teens, my first complete full-length novel written on a typewriter.
There is no reason to stop a writer from writing-- or publishing-- even if, as the article primly points out, though quoting no one who actually says this, "...[O]thers see the blurring of the line between publishing and self-publishing as a lost opportunity to teach children about adversity and perseverance."
I do not have the means to indulge my children with splashy book projects, and I wouldn't spend the money if I didn't think the book was a good one. But lulu.com will publish your book for free, and if you encourage your child to pursue the publishing project on their own, he or she can learn a lot.
There will be plenty of time for adversity later on in a writer's life, should the writer choose to continue. Lots and lots of adversity.
Some time ago under this rubric I suggested I was willing to review self-published books and that anyone interested should contact me. Then I thought, it's quite possible most self-publishers don't necessarily want a review from someone they don't know, especially if that unknown person doesn't like the book.
So I would like to modify my earlier offer and say, if you'd like me to read your self-published book and tell you what I thought, I'd be happy to do that, and if I like it I'll certainly be willing to give you a blog post about it.
There was no doubt about the quality of my most recent self-publish purchase, Bob Mustin's A Reason to Tremble. Bob is an award-winning writer dedicated to his craft, as I note in my review of his novella The Blue Bicycle.
A Reason to Tremble is a thriller that revolves around the death of 10-year old Emily Shane in rural Hope, Georgia. Since she was killed on the street while riding her bicycle, the initial focus is on identifying the hit-and-run driver. But from the beginning the father, Pat Shane, is bent on vengeance, and it's up to his brother, disabled Vietnam vet Jason, to try to find the killer before Pat takes vengeance on the wrong man.
A Reason to Tremble is a page-turner with an intricate plot that is well worth your time to unravel. As page-turners go, it's well-written and involving, though I have to admit the dialogue can get clunky and expositional, as characters sometimes seem to speak for the benefit of the reader rather than verisimilitude. At the same time, I see the exact same thing in most mainstream published popular novels. The plot's the thing in this type of read.
Bob also blogs helpfully about writing and the self-pubishing biz. Check out his work here.