Self-proclaimed anarchist Jim Munroe compares his aversion to the corporate world to one’s allergy to cigarette smoke.
“You can go into a bar that has smoke in it if you really like the band and put up with it for a certain amount of time, but after that, it's not a great place for you to be,” said the Toronto author, filmmaker and independent publishing proponent, 37.
Munroe’s smoky bar was HarperCollins Canada, the publishing company that picked up his first novel, Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask in 1999. Although he’d been producing zines independently since age 17, Munroe thought it time to test the traditional publishing waters. But it did not lead to a new page in his publishing career.
“I found working within that system to be draining,” he said, “In particular, I feel Rupert Murdoch is pretty heinous and a great bad example of what people can do with too much power in regards to media. It just sort of confirmed a lot of what my previous beliefs had been.”
Munroe felt like a small element in the publishing power structure, even though it was his work being published. Even the small task of having a promotional sticker printed, however minor, required constant phone calls and pestering, but was still never accomplished, he said. “If you’re inside this giant robot suit and you’re picking up something a human can, it’s a total waste of energy. It’s just not suitable for the project.”
Stepping out of the robot suit, Munroe founded No Media Kings, an outlet for him to publish his work, but also help like-minded creators with detailed, illustrated do-it-yourself guides (like “brain dumps”, he said) on all aspects of the self-publishing process, including writing, production, distribution, promotion and touring.
“I definitely took it as a kind of agitprop, activist approach to inviting people to think differently about publishing and possibilities for individual artists.”
And Munroe is a poster child for the possibilities of independent publishing. He said his second novel, the self-published Angry Young Spaceman, sold better and received greater attention than his first and those that have followed have continued the upward trend, publishing house-free.
“It definitely seemed more fun to me to show that someone would want to publish independently and they could do it with as much or bigger splash than a corporation,” he said.
“I really like the idea of broadening the ways of making things because I think it appeals to a different kind of non-status quo person that brings new, exciting stories and art into the world.”
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