Monday, December 28, 2009

Charles Dickens Self-Published "A Christmas Carol"

I was going through my writing board posts, and noticed an interesting comment about "A Christmas Carol". Apparently, a fellow writer had heard on the radio that Charles Dickens had self-published the famous book. So, off I was on a research quest to find out exactly, was it really self-published?

I found out, apparently, yes. There is a book that details a lot of what happened. It's called "The Man Who Invented Christmas" which recounts how Dickens had to deal with his publisher to take on the book. The book is available on Here is a quote from a review done by the Washington Post that notes how he got the book published:

"His publisher, Chapman and Hall, expressed little enthusiasm for the book, so Dickens decided to have the firm bring it out 'for publication on his own account.' All the risk would be his own: 'He would be responsible for the costs of the book's production, which would be deducted from its sales. He would also oversee the book's design, hire its illustrator, and consult on its advertising. In essence, his publishers -- which would receive a fixed commission tied to sales -- had become merely his printer. In contemporary terms, then, A Christmas Carol was to be an exercise in vanity publishing."--Washington Post Review of "The Man Who Invented Christmas" 2008

You can read the whole review on under the book's listing. It's really interesting to note that he was hoping to make 1,000 pounds to pay off debt, but ended up only making 726 pounds over a few years. And in regards to the plays being done about the book, Dickens thought it was good PR.

Really makes you think about what it is to be self-published today. If Dickens had such a belief that his book was special and took a risk, why can't you? But it also tells how self-publishing has been a concept around for a while. If an author believes enough in their book, they take the risk to publish. It just takes belief that your book is special. If Dickens can do it, so can I. This fact makes me proud to be a self-published, Indie Author.

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