Two podcasts and an invitation to judge

By on June 29th, 2013
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I was interviewed about The Kickstarter Letters as part of the summer podcast at WordPlaySounds. I read the first letter from my collection. Play it here.

My publisher, Jason Pettus of CCLaP, interviewed me about many topics including Death by Zamboni, A Greater Monster, The Kickstarter Letters, the Chicago lit scene, self-publishing, and more. You can hear it here.

Also, I have been invited to be a finalist judge for the Chicago Writer’s Association Book of the Year writing contest.


Podcast mania

By on June 29th, 2013
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The Kickstarter LettersJust 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.


A Greater Monster lives!

By on November 30th, 2011
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Dear Friends,

A Greater Monster cover

After nearly eight years of labor, I’m proud to inform you that my second novel is now available for purchase. You can find it on Amazon here. And on Goodreads, of course, here: [book:A Greater Monster|12480602]. It is also available in Chicago at Quimby’s Bookstore, Unabridged Bookstore, Chicago Comics and Sandemeyer’s Books. At some point in the next couple weeks I hope to make it available via PayPal on this site, if you would like a signed copy.

My book release party was a great success! There were about 45 people in attendance, and the crowd was quite engrossed in my reading. Eight people actually showed up as we were closing down! Drinks were imbibed, and good times were had by all. A few snaps here:

A Greater Monster release party pic1 A Greater Monster release party pic2

 A Greater Monster release party pic3 A Greater Monster release party pic4

 A Greater Monster release party pic5

In the meantime, I’ve been hard at work on my Kickstarter project rewards. You can still watch my amusing video (about the book. I pre-sold 120 copies through this project and all the pre-orders have finally been mailed out. I’m also halfway through writing stream-of-consciousness letters and emails that were included in the rewards. It’s quite fun but also a bit exhausting to write 125 emails and letters and keep the inspiration going.

On top of that, I’ve been trying to make the rounds to the bookstores in Chicago. Sadly, there are so few independent new bookstores left. There are numerous used bookstores, but they won’t carry any new books even on consignment.

I’m still working on landing a national distributor for the book as well. Was turned down by Small Press United, which was my first shot. They sent a form letter rejection without explanation. C’est la vie. The point of having a distributor, for those who don’t know, is to provide bookstores a way to order your book when a customer requests it. It will show up as available in their system. Ingram is the top distributor, but they are hard to break into. Some of the smaller distributors will network with Ingram. Createspace through Amazon supposedly gets you into the system—but then you need to accept the quality of the job they do and the large cut they take with each print-on-demand book.

A good distributor will also notify bookstore buyers that your book exists via some sort of catalog update or a sales call in an effort to get some orders. (Createspace doesn’t do that as far as I know.)

Next steps are to visit more bookstores in Chicago and begin sending out review copies and interview requests to bloggers. As well as finish all my Kickstarter rewards. I’m a busy boy.


It’s go time

By on August 5th, 2011
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(Read that title in the voice of an ironically written CIA agent character.)

The next month is going to be nuts. I’m shooting to get my book to the printers by the last week of August or first week of September, which leaves me feeling like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland … can’t stop, can’t stop, I’m going to be late, going to be late!

So, yes, I’ve decided to end my search for a publisher. I evaluated three last options then called it quits. The acquisition editor of the press that almost picked me up (see previous blog entry) offered to let me use her as a reference to get in with another press. And she recommended three presses that she was connected to personally. I evaluated these presses: their websites, their books on Amazon (how many reviews, style and subject matter), and, finally, I reviewed their contracts/author policies. I also spoke with an author who had been published by one of the presses, the one that looked the most promising of the three. My conclusion was that they would do almost nothing for me that I couldn’t do myself and would take most of the profits. They offer authors 10% of cover price, and they insist on design control of the cover as well as interior. I would have been comfortable with a collaboration, but the upfront “we control it” attitude put into writing left a bad taste in my mouth. Worse, the straw that really sucked the interest out of me was when I learned from the published author that he had actually been required to buy copies of his own book from the publisher in order to mail them himself to reviewers. Screw that.

So where things stand: I’ve been a bit delayed in the design of my book because my book designer broke his right forearm in a moped accident. He’s lucky to have survived the hit and run. Poor guy, I do love him, but why wasn’t he wearing a goddamn helmet? But we’re back on track now. I got a bid for cover art from a painter I met at the last Comicon in Chicago but decided to have my book designer do the cover art in addition to the interior design. That way, the design will be integrated with the cover text. $300 for cover art, btw.

Other actions I’ve taken so far: I purchased a set of 10 ISBN numbers and barcodes ($250), Library of Congress Number (free), and requested quotes from 10 printers. I’ve been sorting through the responses and am collecting the best bids. It’s going to be pretty expensive because I’m committed to using 100% recycled paper. But I’m willing to invest the extra money in order to feel better about stamping ink on 384,000 pages of paper. (That’s another reason not to use a small press–almost all of them do Print on Demand now, and most POD printers like Createspace or Lulu do not have a 100% recycled paper option.)

Still left to do: Create the CIP data—that’s the cataloguing data for libraries. It’s actually quite complicated, and I’ve visited two libraries so far and the reference librarians were not helpful. Any librarians out there want to help me??? I’m in the process of collecting potential reviewer names and websites. Need to find a distributor. Create some postcards. Collect a list of all bookstores in Chicago and other indie bookstores around the country. Setup PayPal and Google checkout accounts so people can buy copies directly from my website and prepare the updates for my site when the book launches. Prepare an ebook. Continue recording my audio book version. Set up a book release party. And so many more little things…I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.

Next blog entry: A taste of the pre-release promotional blurbs I’ve already lined up for the book.


Oh sweet rejection!

By on April 30th, 2011
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Dear David,
Thank you again for the opportunity to consider A Greater Monster and for your interest in [PRESS]. I apologize a thousand times for the time it has taken for us to respond to your query. We received more than the usual number of manuscripts during this period, had less than the usual amount of publication slots available, and our team of volunteer readers decreased due to personal problems; therefore, we have been incredibly behind in our reading, and, again, I apologize.

At this moment, we are going to pass on further consideration of your manuscript; your project was among the last few we were holding onto from the open submission period, and that is because it is a great fit for [PRESS]. Our readers praised it for gorgeous graphics, material resistance and interplay with the plot, its questioning of the human as master/center of time, space, reason, and language, and its exquisiteness and brutality at the level of the sentence. Incredible sentences verging on poetry. Existence at the realm of the nano, the infinitesimal, the letter, the typographic shift-. We passed on it because of our current lack of publication slots, but please send us more material, either during our next open submission period or during one of our blind-judged contests. Thank you again, and I hope you find a publisher quickly for this extraordinary work.

Sincerely,
[NAME]
Acquisitions Editor
[PRESS]

The above email arrived in my inbox Friday. What a wonderful rejection! The editor also kindly offered, in a subsequent email, to provide me with a more eloquent promotional quote (such as for the back cover or the interior), when my book is published. And she also recommended a couple presses I could contact and use her name as a reference. However…I’m back to my old conundrum: Is it worth it? What will these small presses do for me that I can’t do for myself? And if I self-publish, I will always maintain the rights to my own writing. Of the three presses she recommended, only one of them seems to have their act together online. And when I check their books on Amazon…only a few reviews for each one. The author still has to hustle for professional reviews, press coverage, distribution (getting it carried), marketing, etc. And the reward is 10% per book of the cover price…as opposed to 40% – 100% depending on whether you sell it directly, online or through a bookstore. If I’m going to work my butt off, shouldn’t it be for myself?

The other big minus, of course, is more waiting. Even if I get lucky quickly, my book would likely not be available until late 2012. Depends on how long their queue is. If I self-publish, I can release the book later this year, hopefully late summer. I’ve had a long enough gestation period; I want this thing out of me!

The biggest plus of finding a publisher, of course is that I get more credibility and reputation being published by someone else. So, theoretically, that means I can get publishers to take a more serious look at future query letters. But is it really worth it?

Right now, I’m leaning toward no.