In May, the University of Chicago Press will publish A Naked Singularity, a 700-page debut novel that Sergio De La Pava self-published in 2008 through Xlibris.
The story behind the book deal may inspire more literary authors to self-publish. In an email, Chicago Press promotions director Levi Stahl recounted how he discovered the self-published book:
late in 2010 I read a review by Scott Bryan Wilson in the Quarterly Conversation that said the novel was the best he’d read all year, maybe the best of the decade. And that praise, I discovered, had led to other critics picking it up—and they all agreed: it was brilliant, and it was a shame that no publisher had signed it. I got a copy, was blown away, and started rattling cages here at Chicago to convince people we should publish the book and give it a shot at reaching a wide audience. And in the midst of all the usual gloom and doom stories about the changing world of publishing, this one looks to be a story of success:, of a great book finding an audience—and then finding a publisher—through the conversations and opportunities that the Web has made possible. Without cheap digital publishing technology, the book would never have existed; without the Web, I would never have heard about it.
Follow this link to read the review that inspired the university press to pick up the book. Here’s an excerpt: “This book review tends closer to an endorsement than we would usually publish. The reason for this is that the book under review is atypical. It is unusual, at the least, to review a self-published book that is nearly three years old. This book, we believe, merits continued attention. There is a growing body of evidence that it is a remarkable work of fiction that has been unjustly ignored.”