Publish Thyself

More and more, book authors are using the Web--without editorial middlemen--to reach readers

Editors at various traditional publishing houses, including two top Manhattan firms, loved Melisse Shapiro's first novel, Lip Service, the story of a homemaker turned phone-sex worker, but their marketing executives didn't. (Too sexy for our readers, they said.) That nixed what would have been her first big publishing deal.

So Shapiro decided to find her own audience. In June 1998 she set up a website to sell a download of her book for $12.95, under the pseudonym M.J. Rose. Then she began offering a printed version. Lip Service sold 1,500 copies online, and was picked up by the Doubleday Book Club...

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