Podcast mania

By on June 29th, 2013
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The Kickstarter Letters limited edition bookJust a brief post today to call out two podcasts. I was interviewed for about 15 minutes about The Kickstarter Letters as part of the summer podcast at WordPlaySounds. I’m the first one in the session, and I read the first letter from my collection. Sounds quite nice, I think. Play it here. This interview was arranged for me by Lori Hettler, the publicist for the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography (CCLaP). Thank you, Lori!

My publisher, Jason Pettus of CCLaP, also had an hour long rambling conversation with me that covered bits about Death by Zamboni, A Greater Monster, The Kickstarter Letters, the Chicago lit scene, self-publishing, and more. You can hear it here.

Oh, here’s a tidbit of news, which was quite a pleasant surprise. I received an email from a Board Member of the Chicago Writer’s Association. (Check out their blog here: http://windycitywriters.com/) They have an annual Book of the Year writing contest, and she invited me to be a finalist judge of the competition. She said that she reached out to me because she had read A Greater Monster and thought it was “pretty awesome” and “such a good read!”

If you’d like to pick up the beautiful hardback edition of The Kickstarter Letters, it’s available at bit.ly/THEKICK. Or the ebook is “pay what you want” at the same location. Lastly, if any of you would like to follow me on Facebook, the page is facebook.com/DavidDavidKatzman. I primarily post pictures of street art and pop surrealists that interest me.

The Kickstarter Letters published in print & ebook versions

By on April 4th, 2013
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The Kickstarter Letters by David David Katzman

After a successful Kickstarter project, my third book, The Kickstarter Letters is available to the public from my publisher, the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography. The Kickstarter Letters is a beautiful handmade book that collects 52 of my stream-of-consciousness emails and handwritten letters written to supporters of my Kickstarter project for A Greater Monster. The book features psychedelic cover art, four color illustrations, 16 black and white illustrations and three fold-out handwritten letters. The letter design by publisher Jason Pettus is reminiscent of the groundbreaking music magazine Raygun from the 80s.

The Kickstarter Letters is also available as a pay-what-you PDF or as an ebook without the artistic layouts. The cover art is available as a poster from Cafepress.

Get your Kicks from Kickstarter Letters #66

By on April 4th, 2013
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After what feels like decades of hard work The Kickstarter Letters is finally available to the public from the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography. What is The Kickstarter Letters? Why, my third book of course. The entire story of how it came to be and what it is is best told in song.

Just kidding. In video. Watch the one I created for our successful Kickstarter project.

The Kickstarter Letters is available for purchase on the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography (CCLaP) website at http://bit.ly/THEKICK. The response so far from those who have received the hardback book via Kickstarter is that it is beautiful. It’s the most deluxe book Jason Pettus, owner of CCLaP has ever released, and that’s why it has taken so long to produce the 65 copies sold via Kickstarter to launch it.

The Kickstarter Letters handmade book

Sample page from The Kickstarter Letters

Handwritten letter inside The Kickstarter Letters

color illustrations from The Kickstarter Letters

To have some fun with the awesome cover art created by my friend Mike Wilgus, I designed a photo album of cover art remixes that you can view on my Facebook page.

I’m so thrilled to be published by CCLaP, an up-and-coming indie press that has received some major press, being featured in both Poets & Writers magazine and The Chicago Tribune.
Please take a peek at the video and if you like what you see–the ebook version is “pay what you want,” and the handmade hardback version is truly a work of love. Visit the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography page here: http://bit.ly/THEKICK

In other news, I was shortlisted for another literary prize entitled The Time & Place Prize whose award was travel and room & board for a month in France at a small cottage. The purpose is to allow a writer time and space to write. I submitted a 5000 word selection from A Greater Monster as my entry. I didn’t win, but it was nice to be a finalist.

Lastly, I was interviewed by “Authors Showcase” at the Empty Bottle Pop Up Book Fair a few months ago, and I finally tracked down the video. My portion is from 1:40 to 3:39.

A Greater Year

By on January 8th, 2013
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Happy New Year everyone!

Another Failed YearI was delivered some good fortune here at the beginning of 2013 when I learned that A Greater Monster was named to two top ten lists. It was named in “Top 10 Books of 2012” by Common Ills blog as voted by members, and it was also named in a “Best of” list on Refinery29.com and described as one of “10 books every Chicagoan needs to read right now” to their email list. Refinery29 Top 10 Books

In that spirit, I’ve written four top ten lists to evaluate my success as a self-publisher and provide a little bit of advice for authors-to-be.

Top 10 Things I Did to Produce A Greater Monster:

  1. Spent seven years obsessively writing it (through fourteen drafts)
  2. Paid a professional proofreader to give it the once over
  3. Asked two excellent writers to give me their detailed thoughts on it
  4. Hired a book designer and spent six months working with him to design it
  5. Hired an illustrator and spent six months working on the illustrations
  6. Hired an animator and a musician to collaborate on the web scenes
  7. Asked authors to read the manuscript and provide promotional quotes (if they liked it)
  8. Read and re-read several books on self-publishing (my favorite) and created long to-do lists
  9. Bid multiple printers to find the best price and quality
  10. Created a video and promoted a Kickstarter project to fund the print run of 1000 copies

Top 10 Things I Did After I Published It

  1. Held a big reading/release party at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago
  2. Made the rounds to all the indie bookstores in Chicago and St. Louis, leaving them copies with a press kit
  3. Held a reading at After-Words Books
  4. Reached out to numerous bloggers across the web requesting reviews
  5. Entered twenty (or so) literary competitions
  6. Contacted numerous distributors, trying to find one who would carry a self-published novel (Hint: it’s next to impossible)
  7. Emailed bookstores occasionally when I had news
  8. Participated in a Chicago author reading tour in New York City and made the rounds to bookstores
  9. Created a postcard that highlights my literary award and an excerpt from a blogger review for bookstores to post on the shelf
  10. Hosted two giveaways on Goodreads

Top 10 Successes

  1. Made two top ten book lists of 2012
  2. Gold medal as “Outstanding Book of the Year” in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards
  3. Finalist for National Indie Excellence Book Award
  4. Received many thoughtful reviews from both readers and bloggers including The Chicagoist, The Midwest Book Review, Psychedelic Press UK, dig Boston, and the Seattle PI
  5. Interviewed for Chicago’s Newcity arts newspaper in both print and online, and by various bloggers
  6. A Greater Monster was featured in University of Wisconsin’s alumni magazine, On Wisconsin
  7. Managed to get listed with a small press distributor
  8. I feel proud of my work artistically
  9. Have sold more than 500 copies
  10. Am carried in nearly 15 bookstores

Top 10 Failures

  1. Post office lost 16 books and destroyed 8 (Lesson: always insure mailings)
  2. My distributor has done very little to promote my book
  3. One bookstore ordered 15 copies and the order never got through to my distributor
  4. Don’t have enough media attention to get picked up by a significant number of bookstores
  5. I have been disorganized following up with bookstores (especially those out-of-state) and getting paid for sales
  6. Struggling with developing an ebook version—had to fire my first ebook vendor; on my 10th round of feedback with my second
  7. Started an audio book version but put it aside due to other priorities
  8. Amazon sales have been pretty slow (bookstores have sold much better)
  9. Couldn’t get to 10 failures (oh, the irony!)

If anyone ever tells you that self-publishing is easy, they’re not doing it right. Sure, anyone can write a crappy book, export it as an epub and Kindle file, find a stock photo for the cover, submit it to Amazon, and voilà they’re published. But almost no one will read it, it will likely be riddled with grammar errors and typos, and the author will often be too close to the work to recognize its larger flaws. That isn’t to say, self-publishers can’t write great books. But they need some honest opinions and a lot of hard work. If a book is self-published in the wilds of Amazon, does it make a sound?

P.S. What a relief that this asshole lost

Mitt Romney

A Greater Monster named to two top 10 lists

By on January 5th, 2013
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A Greater Monster was named as one of the Top 10 Books of 2012 by Common Ills Blog as voted by members.

“… Beth championed it near weekly in her column for the gina and krista round-robin. It is a jigsaw of writing and you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole. ‘A book to ponder and to read for the sheer life on the page,’ Beth observed.

It was also called one of “10 books every Chicagoan needs to read right now” and highlighted on Refinery29.com.