Venerable poet William Blake, author of sometimes mysterious and sometimes brilliantly simple works, was a self-publishing super hero who might serve as an inspiration to would-be self-publishers. He’s perhaps best known for his illuminated “Songs of Innocence” (example plate below) and “Songs of Experience.”
He had a soup-to-nuts approach to publishing, illustrated by the unpoetic list below:
- wrote the poems
- created a new printing technique, relief etching, whereby the illustrations’ line art and text were etched on copper plates in reverse, whereby the negative and color spaces were etched away. (This is in opposition to the practice of making plates for each color.)
- printed the pages on the printing press in his living room.
- hand-colored each illustration, making each copy unique.
- bound the books and mailed them to his customers.
- marketed them, somehow, in the late 18th century.
If you see an original Blake publication at a garage sale, pick it up. It would be considered a museum piece. Then you can sell it and make the transition from waiter/writer to writer.