The cover, the quotes, the Kickstarter

By on September 10th, 2011
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I’ve completed the book design for my second novel, A Greater Monster. The cover is done and below for your viewing pleasure. I’m quite happy with how it came out. All the design elements that make up the face are related to scenes in the story.

A Greater Monster Cover design

If you are looking for a talented designer for a project, talk to my friend Mike who did this cover as well as the complex interior layouts: mikewilgus.com. Super talented guy.

Next step is getting a print-on-demand printer to create about 20 galley editions with a plain cover to send to pre-publication reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly and the Kirkus Review. If they review it, that helps get bookstores and libraries to order it. There’s no assurance that they will review it, however. I also plan to take a couple galley copies around to bookstores in Chicago to see if I can get employees to read it and land an in-store review. I highly recommend authors take this approach themselves.

The quotes. As promised in my last blog post. I have been very fortunate to meet several authors who generously spared time from their incredibly busy schedules to read an early manuscript of A Greater Monster and provide micro-reviews that will appear on the cover and interior. The full quotes are a little long for this blog post so I’m sharing the abbreviated versions here. I highly recommend these talented authors’ books, which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading (links provided).

“Brilliant, insane, and utterly unique…”—Jen Knox, author of To Begin Again

“I can’t express how brilliant my favorite scenes in A Greater Monster are. In this extraordinary work, Katzman pushes language to do things, which are truly astounding.”—Carra Stratton, Editor, Starcherone Press

A Greater Monster is…a spiritual (and carnal) quest that reads like Alice on acid, while channeling every trash sci-fi nightmare Creepy Tales had to offer.” —Charles Lambert, author of The Scent of Cinnamon and Any Human Face

“Beautiful mystic-schizo DayGlo wordage. Poetic, peripatetic and diuretic prose that befuddles, enchants and amuses the reader at the same time.”—Lance Carbuncle, author of Grundish & Askew

“This is bizarro fiction at its most intense. It contains scenes and unique designs that seem engineered by some Mad Hatter and Chuck Palahniuk cross-breed.”—Lavinia Ludlow, author of alt.punk

A Greater Monster is a highly creative and original story combining poetry, imagery, and prose—all working seamlessly without a break in momentum. —Charlie Courtland, author of Dandelions in the Garden

Finally, for authors who are self-publishing and feel the premise or nature of their work might intrigue individuals who like unusual, artsy projects, consider submitting your project to kickstarter.com.

It’s a cool site that has gotten a lot of buzz from NYT, CNN, Wired, etc, as a new way for artists to pre-fund their work. First, because it’s a curated site you have to be accepted based on the artistic quality of your concept. Second, you have to offer creative rewards for donations, so one of mine is obviously that you can pre-purchase the book, but I also offered rewards that include a stream-of-consciousness email inspired by your name, a hand-written letter or an original short story inspired by anything you request. Thanks to 84 generous individuals, I just reached my goal and the fundraiser still has two weeks more to go. The book is being printed on 100% acid-free recycled paper, which is more expensive than regular paper, and that has added significantly to my printing costs.

It helps to create professional quality video to garner interest, so check out what I did. Making it funny and entertaining helps as well.

My Kickstarter project

And Kickstarter blogged about my project here.

I’ll be going to press in about two weeks.


The paint dries

By on November 27th, 2010
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I’m in the waiting room of Operation: Get a Publisher. I sent out twenty query letters to small-to-medium-size presses and emailed four literary agents. All were contacted on September 17. Two months later, where do I stand?

2 literary agents said, “Thank you, it’s not my genre.”
1 literary agent never replied (I just emailed a follow up.)
1 literary said, “Sounds interesting, send me the first 10 pages.” That was on. 10/6. Nothing since. (I just emailed a follow up.)

12 presses sent me no response whatsoever. Not a word. Nada. Bupkis. Zip. Silent treatment. Cold shoulder. I’ll just shut up now. (Like them.)

2 presses sent me a polite, “Thank you, this does not fit our interests at this time.”

2 press sent me a polite, “Thank you for submitting, we’ll get back to you.”

1 press (Soft Skull Press) sent me an email on 10/15 saying, “Thanks for submitting. We changed our policy (and closed our New York office). We no longer accept un-agented submissions.” Skull-fuck you, Soft Skull. Just kidding.

1 press said, “We’re sorry, we’re not considering new books until 2013.”

1 press said, “We’ll take a look, but just so you know, we’re now looking at books for 2012.”

And 1 press responded on 9/22, “Thank you for your interest in XXXXXX Press. We’d like to take a further look at your manuscript. I love fairytales, and psychedelic ones are even more exciting. “ I’m censoring the name because I don’t think it would appropriate to publicize it here, but…yeehaw!!! I consider this quite a victory. Even if they don’t publish it, I’m still quite pleased that I got past the query letter with one of the presses. They indicated that they take about six months to evaluate a book so I won’t hear back until March.

In the meantime, I’m living up to my recommendation that a writer should never sit on her heels while waiting to hear from a publisher. I haven’t started my next book, but I am following the self-publishing path just in case I don’t land a publisher. I’ve managed to come to an agreement with a designer to design my novel for publication. He’s a friend who also designed this website. I got a friend discount, but at the same time, my book will be quite complicated to design because there are multiple fonts, visual text poetry, images, and a couple scenes where several conversations are occurring simultaneously. So it will be a bear to design. But if you’re wondering how much it costs to hire a talented designer, I’m paying $1500 in three installments—each time we’re done with 1/3 of the book, he gets $500. My book will be roughly 300 pages long, but I would assume for most authors interested in self-publishing, they could probably get a cheaper rate if they don’t have fancy formatting.

My goal is to have the book ready to send to the printers by May. If I haven’t gotten a solid bite from a publisher by then, I’ll be ready to pull the trigger and my book will be out by the summer. A great beach read. If you like to trip balls at the beach, that is.


My book is going nowhere, and I like it

By on May 10th, 2010
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Book ‘im, Danno. Book that guy because his book isn’t going anywhere. But before you do, tell me what the heck kind of name is Danno, anyway? Is that really a name for a grownup? Let’s not dwell on it. And also, don’t dwell on your novel when you are playing The Waiting Game. (It’s like The Crying Game except with more crying.) I’m being obtuse so permit me to be a(bit)cute instead.

My second novel is at a standstill because I’ve handed it off to two of my friends to read. Cheers to friends! As I’ve said in several previous posts, whether you’re trying to land a publisher or you’re self-publishing, getting outside feedback before you submit is essential. I spent six years in my own head—now I want to see how my head bounces off some other folks in case it bounces a little wonky here or there. Is that metaphor strained? So is my neck. Several bits may have been left in my brainstem instead of on the page.

I will probably have all notes back from my wrecking—I mean writing—crew by the end of May. So far, the one I’ll call my first friend merely because it’s convenient to number him as first (who is a writer and literary critic) has provided me fifty pages, and he’s got another fifty or so waiting for me to snatch and grab. My second friend (who is a writer and editor) read the entire book through without making notes and is now going back a second time. He sent me a wonderful email as follows:

I didn’t get as much done while in Iowa as I’d planned, but I did get the whole thing read through once. It’s REALLY great–I like it a LOT. Just some really beautiful stuff in there. So now I need to go through it and mark my thoughts, reactions, editing stuff…But first reaction is WELL DONE!

So, yay to that! What am I doing in the meantime? How should one fill up the Waiting Room of Eternal Writerly Frustration? Here’s the advice: don’t let the dust settle, work on your next book. Whether you have submitted 20 query letters and have to wait six months for a reply, or you have your book with a proofreader for two weeks…wherever it is in limbo-land, don’t stop writing. Move on to your next piece, which might be even better than the one you just completed. I’m currently working on a children’s book with two collaborators—an art director and an animator. And I’m nearly done writing it, too, while waiting. It’s actually going to be an interactive children’s book. We’re going to build a demo of a couple sections of it and then pitch it to publishers. My advice, keep writing. I’m always pullin’ shapes, you dig?


Where am I write now?

By on December 6th, 2009
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I am write, my friends. I am write.

1) I’ve completed my first final draft! ?!?! (See 3 below)

2) I am waiting on my illustrator. One scene in my book is fully illustrated (without text), and I’ve reviewed about 90% of the sketches so far and received about 2/3 of the final ink drawings.*

3) I will be soliciting some feedback (as well as submitting it to a professional proofreader to help catch any typos–it’s so easy to read your own material a hundred times and miss something because what it’s supposed to say is actually more in your head than on paper) and then making revisions as I see fit. After feedback revisions, I will have my second (and hopefully final) final draft. I like to name these drafts because when a process takes six years to complete (as this one has), counting drafts has allowed me to feel like I’ve made some progress. It’s an affirmation. After a few years of writing story material without needing to shape it, I went through eleven drafts to get where I am

I believe it’s important to solicit feedback, especially as a self-published author. I’m quite happy with the book as it is … actually I love it … but I would like to get reactions from a handful of other writers and friends before I start sending out query letters to publishers. I will consider all feedback (What is confusing? What did they love? How did they interpret/misinterpret some parts of it? etc.) and decide what, if anything, I want to change from there. I am comfortable with quite a level of misinterpretation of my themes and visions, but there may be certain things (wait…I didn’t want anyone to think that) that I want to revise. This feedback will be limited but useful as a sounding board.

4) I am waiting for a friend of mine to build a single-page mini-website for me (based on my design) that will function to play a song that I composed with a sound engineer and three musicians. This is the last piece of my book puzzle. There is a scene in my book where several characters play instruments together … a web address is mentioned indirectly, and if you visit the website, you will hear the music that the characters are performing.

5) After completing the next draft, and adding the illustrations and posting the song, I will write query letters to publishers and literary agent and pursue the self-publishing process simultaneously. Onward, ho! (And stop calling me a ho.)

* I essentially worked with the illustrator as a writer of a comic book might: I wrote a description of every image in detail and even took photographs of friends posing in every position I wanted represented. Then I worked with the illustrator for about a month to get the character sketches to a place that captured my vision. She has sent me pencil sketches of each frame, and I commented on them before she did the final ink drawers. They have actually come out quite beautifully!