Proud of being a POD Person - print-on-demand, that is

How much stigma is attached to publishing with a print-on-demand press? I've realized the stigma may be greater than confessing to a psychiatric diagnosis (in my case, bipolar disorder). But I believe that's changing rapidly, and that traditional publishers are stuck in the last Millennium. What do you think?

Personally, I'm delighted to have published two mysteries POD. I'd say more, but I've already been online far too long today, and I encourage you to read my thoughts elsewhere. My garden is calling and in need of a drink.

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

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A state university.
This St. Cloud State University graduate came through well enough. I'm two years out and have drawn checks from more publications than I can count. I don't appreciate the stereotype, I.J. It has nothing to do with the school and everything to do with the student.

I just as easily could have gone to a large university, but I chose not to deal with the high student-teacher ratio and cost. I've worked with people my age who went to big universities and - surprise, surprise - I ended up supervising them.
I, too, attended a state university (Univ. of Md.) and I ain't no dummy, either. :)
LOL, Benjamin. Good for you! Let me say that I teach at a mid-sized state U, one rung down the UW system ladder, and our students run the freaking gamut. I've had kids who were barely literate, plenty who were just getting by, and a few who were certified geniuses. I've taught at fancy schools, low-cost state schools, and schools in between, and the genius-to-everybody-else ratio is about the same at all of them. More illiterates here than at Emory or UVa, of course, but that's to be expected.
I've been to your EC campus many times to visit friends. Nice town you've got there (at least of what I could tell from the bar).

I'm not saying big universities are bad, but great minds can come from anywhere. Attending one doesn't prove or disprove a thing.
Benjamin, I answered a question above. I had no intention of stereotyping state universities (I taught at one). And you are quite right that it has everything to do with the student. Too many in requirement Englih courses considered the course a waste of their precious time. And those generally failed or repeated. The students who applied themselves or who arrived with a good background in reading passed.
So, everything considered, you've totally misread my comment. The burden of it falls in any case on the lower schools that didn't prepare the students for university.
One point though: I did stereotype a younger generation who are generally less prepared to read and write than pre-television generations were.
It's really a different world now, IJ. Something like 85% of our students work at least twenty hours a week; that number was around 35% when I was in college in the late '70s. Our students are anything but lazy, mostly--they're hellishly busy, rushing from school to job to school again--and they do view apparently boring or pointless required classes with some resentment--and in many cases that resentment's entirely justified. Good teachers can make any subject interesting--a bad teacher could ruin a class in beer, skinny-dipping and electric guitars.
You cannot carry a full load of classes (15 hours) and work full-time without doing a half-assed job on the classes (and perhaps the job). In my experience, that is what students try to do. How great was the need for money? Most of mine lived at home and were on student aid. People have to learn to make some sacrifices early on so that they get better jobs and living conditions later.
But that does not address the fact that they entered the university unable to read, say, a Tolstoy story because they didn't know the necessary vocabulary. This is bound to affect their performance in other classes that require the study of somehat sophisticated textbooks.
There frequently is grade inflation under those circumstances because faculty are forced to prove "productivity" by passing significant numbers of the students enrolled in their classes whether or not they qualify. Bad grades also produce bad evaluations which affect faculty salaries. No wonder, universities balk at transferring any and all credits from sister institutions and that businesses complain about our graduates.
The U.S. lags behind many other nations in education. Democracy has been applied to educational attainments. Everybody is entitled to a degree.
That final statement of yours, Jon, is B.S. The idea that the fault must lie with the teacher is a myth and is propagated by departments of education. Teachers rarely admit publicly that it's the whole system that is sick and that they are not miracle workers. It sounds so much better to say, "I don't have any problems in MY classes. I know how to inspire MY students."
IJ: most of our kids are first-generation college students, of that number most are from working-class families, of that number most get little or no help from their cash-strapped parents. There's really no such thing as financial aid anymore, at least not for average students at public universities. Pell grants and other pots of "free" money for college have pretty much dried up, so students end up taking loans; it's not uncommon for them to graduate even from low-cost schools such as ours with thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Not being completely stupid, they work to cover at least some of their expenses. So, the jobs are very often a necessity for them, whether you like to think so or not.

As for students not being well prepared, it's my experience that that, too, is often related to class: my students at Emory were almost all the children of professionals, and many of them had attended private secondary schools: they were well-read, well-informed, and had excellent study habits (they also snorted Ritalin when studying for exams and did huge amounts of ecstasy on weekends, but that's another story). This was also generally true at UVa, somewhat less so at UW Madison, although the ratio of rich kids was still pretty high, somewhat less true still at the U of Florida (it's the South), and as I say, here we're around mid-totem-pole with maybe a third of the students I see in freshman comp classes unable to read at what I would consider the college level. Have the public schools failed them? Hell yes, and a lot of the worst readers graduated in the top fifth or so of their high school classes, able to cruise through high school curricula so thoroughly dumbed down that pretty much any fucking idiot could graduate with at least a B average. Should those students be in college? Before you say no, consider that many of them (here at least) are in non-academic fields like nursing. I've spent a lot of time in hospitals, it turns out, and I have never once given a good goddamn if the person sticking an IV needle into my arm has a solid grounding in Russian literature: I just want them to know how to insert the freaking IV.

As for your argument that a boring or incoherent or otherwise incompetently taught class is never the teacher's fault, I think we'll just have to disagree. Yes, we're failing them in higher ed, too--it's not actually possible to effectively teach a five-hour intensive freshman comp class with thirty students in it. Big classes, big course-loads, underpaid and demoralized professors, crumbling infrastructure, skyrocketing costs--it's not exactly a recipe for transformative learning, to use a bit of the current jargon. Yes, I've had moments when I've looked around the classroom and wondered if all but two or three of my students were brain-dead, but I've also witnessed some truly terrible teaching in my life, both as a student and as a colleague (I won't say where, of course). In my experience, professors who consistently get lousy evals usually deserve them. That said, it's my plan, the minute I get tenure, to intentionally court bad evaluations so my classes won't always be overloaded. Until then, A-minuses for everyone!
Jeez! I didn't know you didn't have tenure. I quit teaching in 2000. And yes, I've also seen a class difference. And I've seen lousy teachers. I've had lousy teachers, along with superb ones. Most students get a mix. The point is: don't blame the failure of the system on the teachers, and don't pretend that a good teacher can work miracles.

By the way, A-minuses won't do much except make the student believe he's an A-student. He'll give his next English prof (the one with tenure and a fierce grip on standards) a very hard time.
There's no system failure at the upper end of the money spectrum: those kids are doing just fine, as are the institutions they attend. The system failure is entirely public, and the blame lies entirely at the feet of Ronald Reagan and his ilk, who preached the faux-populism of tax cuts above all and the hell with everything else. You're well out of it, I.J.; times are grim in public university-land.

And I was joking about the A-minus thing, although you'd be surprised at the number of students who consider it the default grade.
At the risk of offending someone (okay, I.J. ;)), Jon's right about students' need to work. Even in the 70s, when I was in college, I wasn't a rich kid. Had no trust fund or parents paying my way (though I did benefit from the Pell Grant or Basic Grant, as they called it then). I HAD to work and support myself. Usually, eating beans and rice, living off part-time wages at a wide variety of work ranging from waiting tables to substitute school bus driving. (Yes, really!) Yet, amazingly enough, I came out with mostly As when my school schedule was heaviest. Weird.


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