From Publishers Weekly:
In 2008, Sergio De La Pava self-published his first novel, A Naked Singularity. It was a rollicking, looping tome, clocking in at nearly 700 pages, that followed the exploits and divergent ruminations of Casi, a young public defender based in New York City. Since then, the book was picked up for publication by the University of Chicago Press and this year was given the Robert W. Bingham Prize given by the PEN Literary Awards.
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How did you self-publish your first book A Naked Singularity?
Our decision to self-publish A Naked Singularity happened about six years ago. There weren’t e-books or Kindles and at the time [self-publishing happened] through Print on Demand, whereby the book was created if someone ordered it. It was on Amazon and you had the option of ordering the hard cover or the soft cover.
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Did you do anything to help promote A Naked Singularity?
Once we self-published the book, I got to work on a second book, but didn’t give [publicity] much thought. My wife, in about late 2008, started sending out review copies and over the course of the next couple of years a few reviewers commented on the book and that eventually came to the attention of the University of Chicago. So, if you want to call it publicity, I was fortunate that my wife was willing to identify people who might be receptive to [A Naked Singularity] and send review copies out en masse, so it eventually caught fire a bit.
How did she get reviewers to read a 700-page self-published book?
She’s very knowledgeable, and remains very knowledgeable, about current fiction and people writing about it in different magazines. There was absolutely a reluctance to review a self-published book. But what happens is it’s like anything else. One person reviews it and that breaks down the reluctance a bit. The next person who reviews it is essentially responding in some ways to an earlier review.
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You self-published A Naked Singularity after it was rejected by numerous agents tied to the world of the traditional publishing houses. Did you repeat that route with your second self-published novel Personae?
With Personae I didn’t try at all to publish it through conventional means. Personae is in many ways more unconventional and difficult than A Naked Singularity, so I didn’t anticipate a groundswell of people helping me publish that novel either. I didn’t have interest in finding out. The world of publishing doesn’t intrigue me. It’s a necessary evil that I have to tolerate to do what I really enjoy, which is writing novels. I had gotten through a psychological barrier with self-publication and at that point I’d grown to enjoy certain aspects of it.
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You mentioned that the world of publishing doesn’t intrigue you. Why is that?
I gather from your question you’re not referring to something like the University of Chicago but the large publishers in New York. I don’t detect the greatest concern with art. Maybe I’m wrong. There are always exceptions. I’ve encountered some of them with my relationship with the University of Chicago. They seem to be supportive of me as an artist and less concerned with the day-to-day business aspects of it. It’s a university press, a not-for-profit press, and they don’t generally publish novels. Self-publishing my first two novels initially at any rate — they’re now both out by the University of Chicago — just felt like the right decision at the time.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly