Master Biographer Carl Rollyson Speaks on the Benefits of Self-Publishing

Among his tremendous portfolio of work, Carl Rollyson has published more than forty books on subject matters ranging from biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag and Jill Craigie to studies of American culture, genealogy, children’s biography, film and literary criticism. He has authored more than 500 articles on American and European literature and history.

Carl sat down with iUniverse to share his thoughts on the benefits of self-publishing.

Reasons to Self-Publish

“I have turned to self-publishing for all sorts of reasons. I began when I noticed that iUniverse had teamed with the Author’s Guild to create a low-cost program for authors who wanted to see their work back in print. has enabled many of my friends to see their books live again when publishers have allowed work to go out of print and have not seen a market for older titles. What may seem like a sale of only a few copies to a publisher, can be very gratifying to an author who wants to build up what you might call his or her own back list. Who knows when a book you have written might now seem timely, or timely again? So my biography, Beautiful Exile: The Life of Martha Gellhorn, for example, has had a new life thanks to iUniverse To be a Woman: The Life of Jill Craigie was produced by the American Association of Journalist and Authors (ASJA Press) in association with iUniverse. Craigie, a documentary filmmaker married to British Labour Party leader Michael Foot, is not well known in this country, and so I was doubtful that I could interest American publishers in a book that was first published in England by a traditional publisher.”

Revising with iUniverse

“And because I wanted to make revisions, additions and updates, I decided on publishing my Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, and Lillian Hellman biographies under new titles in the iUniverse select program. I wanted new cover photographs and cover designs for Norman Mailer. The iUniverse staff did a splendid job, especially with Rebecca West: A Modern Sybil and Lillian Hellman: Her Life and Legend. I wanted to reproduce one of her passport photographs since she was a world traveler, and I like the black and grey version of the photograph on the cover of my iUniverse edition.”

iUniverse Fit for Purpose

“It is increasingly difficult these days to publish collections of essays and reviews through traditional publishers. And I wanted my book reviews, especially those printed in The New York Sun, to have an extended life since I believe I was not only reviewing books of the moment but also having my say about the genre of biography. I made certain suggestions to the staff at iUniverse, and they were able to produce striking images along the lines that perfectly suited my purposes.”

Learn More about the iUniverse Master Biographer

Carl Rollyson, Ph.D., has self-published over 20 books with iUniverse and published over 40 in total, as well as authoring more than 500 articles on American and European literature and history. He is a distinguished journalist, reviewer, critic and playwright. To learn more about Carl and his works please visit his website.