My blog is focused on one topic alone: the process of publishing my second novel. I’m seeking a publisher, but if one to my liking doesn’t bite, then I will self-publish. If you’re interested in the process of fiction writing, publishing and self-publishing, then I hope you’ll find a few nuggets of useful information herein from my blow-by-blow reports, my successes and failures. And please feel free to post any advice or suggestions you have as well. Here’s to creativity.

The Illustrated Tanzer

By on July 12th, 2012
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As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I went to New York City last month for a reading tour along with several other writers who have been published by the Chicago Coalition for Literature and Photography (CCLAP) press. Ben Tanzer was one of the writers who performed with me at the KGB Bar, and if you ever get a chance to hear him read, do take it. He’s charming and hilarious, and his stories are great to hear aloud. Ben’s most recent collection of short stories, entitled The New York Stories, was released in a beautiful handbound, limited edition book with illustrations by CCLAP.


A few weeks ago Jason Pettus, the editor and owner of CCLAP asked me if I would be interested in interviewing the artist who illustrated Ben’s book, and I said I’d love to. The illustrations are righteous, and the book is gorgeous. And available for purchase on the CCLAP site here. So without further ado, here is my interview of Laura Szumowski.

DDK: Thanks for coming on my blog, Laura. I got a copy of Ben Tanzer new book, The New York Stories, a while back, and I really liked your work. It’s quite sharp. How were you introduced to Ben, and how did you get the job to illustrate this collection?

Laura: Thank you for having me! I was originally approached by Jason, the owner of CCLaP. We were at Quickies, and Jason introduced himself and said he was a fan of my work and had a project in the works that he would love to have me illustrate. At that point, I didn’t really think of myself as an illustrator, but it sounded like a really fun, interesting project.

DDK: So you mostly have thought of yourself as a fine artist then? Do you primarily produce paintings?

Laura: No, although I did start out as a painter. Over the past six or seven years, I’ve been writing and illustrating my own books, but for some reason had never really broached the idea of illustrating other books. Writing and illustrating felt very contained; I hadn’t separated the two.

DDK: Interesting. Where could people find your own books? And did you have a general subject matter you were writing about?

Laura: All of my work is non-fiction, and my main focus is women’s health. I also started a small press, ZMK Press. My books are all listed and available on my website I also branched off and wrote an illustrated guidebook to Chicago.

DDK: So were you formally trained or self-taught?

Laura: I was formally trained in drawing and fine art– I received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. However, as far as writing and publishing books is concerned, I am completely self-taught. It’s been an interesting challenge, to say the least!

DDK: When you are writing your own book and then illustrating it, what is generally your process of going from text to illustration and how did that vary when you were working with another author’s work?

Laura: With nonfiction, choosing what to illustrate is often pretty straightforward. However, I’m also trying to take subject matter that some people may find taboo or uncomfortable and make it approachable. Because of that, I always try to be aware of what type of message the illustrations send. For example, I’ve written both of my women’s health books with non-gendered language. At the same time, I also like to throw in drawings of cats or an accordion, to keep it interesting, friendly, and a bit playful. For Ben’s stories, it’s a bit different. I read through each story several times, highlighting key words and making notes about characters or aspects of each story that stood out to me. In that case, I felt there was a little more play, and I was able to take quite a bit of artistic license with what I chose to illustrate. Sometimes there was a specific character or moment that I found moving or particularly interesting—and these weren’t necessarily the main things that would jump out to every reader.

DDK: I like that. It causes the story to interact with the reader in a different way. Tell me about this one image of the house in flames. It has a very interesting dimensional effect to it. The fire looks like it is alive.

Laura: That illustration is from a very small moment in the fourth story, What We Thought We Knew. This story, in my opinion, is about adolescence and how volatile and out of control it can feel. It’s also about sexuality and desire, and how life sometimes happens around us in a way that we see and feel but can’t seem to touch or control. In the story there is powerlessness mixed with violence, and for me it culminates in this house being burned down. I like that you think it looks alive.

DDK: Yes, the flames seem to reaching upward with a force and dimension. I can see an analogy to desire in them, as if they are exerting their will to escape the house. Is there anything you want to mention before we close?

Laura: Only that I really enjoyed illustrating these stories– and thank you for taking the time to interview me and share my work on your blog!





News York

By on June 17th, 2012
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A Greater Monster by David Katzman

My New York reading tour was a blast. Some great fellow readers, too much alcohol, not enough sleep, and … New York! Most exciting city in the U.S.A. I did sell a few books while I was there, met some interesting people, and walked about 50 miles.

I visited 25 bookstores and shared with them my new press release—about my literary award “Outstanding Book of the Year” in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards—and several of them seemed quite interested in ordering it. The manager of the Strand Bookstore, which is the largest in Manhattan, emailed me a few days ago that he was in fact going to order the book from my distributor Last Gasp. When you self-publish, and even when you are published by a small to mid-size press, an author needs to do a great deal of her/his own publicity. That’s just the way it is.

Lori Hettler, who runs The Next Big Book Club, came out to the great Sunday reading at KGB Bar, and took videos of all the readers. She broke them up into roughly five minute chunks, so mine is in two parts that you can view here.

It was a great trip all around! Some photos below.

And I came close to winning another literary award. I was named as a Finalist (one of three Finalists), but not the winner, in the 2012 Indie Excellence Awards, Fantasy genre. I’m going to read and review the winner’s book on my Goodread’s page, The Ghosts of Watt O’Hugh after I’m done with Have You Seen Me, which was written by one of my fellow tour authors.
















Monster News

By on May 1st, 2012
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A great deal has happened in the span of the past 24 hours. My book tour in New York City has been finalized, and I won a book award!

First, the award. A Greater Monster, has won a Gold Medal as an “Outstanding Book of the Year” in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. So say the awards: “These medalists were chosen from our regular entries for having the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society.”

Phew, that’s long-winded but very flattering. There were only 10 winners in different categories out of 4000 entries.

IPPY gold medal

Now, onto the tour. I’m joining several other authors who have been published by the Chicago Coalition of Literature and Photography (CCLAP) on a four day reading event in New York City from May 31st – June 3rd. All shows take place from 7 to 9 pm, with performances generally starting around 8:00.

I’ll be reading at the following venues: On THURSDAY, MAY 31ST, at the lower Manhattan performance space Le Poisson Rouge. []

On FRIDAY, JUNE 1ST, at a Brooklyn bookstore Book Thug Nation. []

On SATURDAY, JUNE 2ND, at the Brooklyn experimental performance space Vaudeville Park in conjunction with New York jazz band Battle Of The Camel. []

And on SUNDAY, JUNE 3RD, for the largest showcase of the tour, at revered lower Manhattan “lit bar” KGB. []

The Brooklyn events were graciously organized and sponsored by the arts-and-entertainment website Brooklyn Spaces [] and Oriana Leckert.

Get more details, including the other authors being featured at CCLAP or on the Facebook event page.

My last bit of news is that, at last, I have a book distributor. Bookstores can order my book from the fabulous Last Gasp who produce and distribute many gorgeous art books from the likes of Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, and many more.

Last Gasp
777 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
phone 415.824.6636
fax 415.824.1836
Email: Kristine at lastgasp dot com

An author’s job is never done

By on January 15th, 2012
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Good news: I was fortunate to receive a nice review from Midwest Book Review this week—a not-for-profit website of unpaid reviewers who focus on small press books. They’ve been around for about 11 years and seem to have a particularly strong relationship with acquisition librarians. Here are the highlights:

[When] we see something unusual, we rarely expect it to be the tip of the iceberg. A Greater Monster is a novel from David David Katzman who brings readers into a unique alternate reality that has many twists and turns […]. With unique humor and plenty to think about, A Greater Monster is a fine and much recommended choice.

This could potentially lead to a slew of orders from libraries … it really depends on whether it catches their eye, and they go to the trouble to contact me.

I’ve been working furiously over the past few months to finish all the emails and letters that were included in the rewards for my Kickstarter project. I dedicated anywhere from one to three hours to each letter and with about 125 letters to write …! You’re probably better at math than I am so let me know how that works out. I’m grateful that my project was successful, but now it’s back to making A Greater Monster even greater.

I’ve submitted the book for several small press publishing awards and other general fiction awards. The best resource I’ve found so far is Poets & Writers magazine. Each issue includes a list of upcoming deadlines and the general requirements.

I’ve been making the rounds to bookstores in Chicago bit by bit and asking them to carry it. Don’t forget to support your local bookstore! A Greater Monster is now available

… in Chicago: The Book Cellar, Unabridged Bookstore, After-Words Books, Quimby’s, Sandemeyer’s Books, and Chicago Comics.

… in St. Louis: Dunaway Books, Subterranean Books, Pudd’nhead Books, and Star Clipper Comics.

… in Austin, TX: Book People

And for those of you in other cities … yes, Amazon here

Next Steps: get into more bookstores, find reviewers/bloggers who appreciate edgy, experimental literature, and lastly hook up with a distributor. More on distributors in my next blog post.

A Greater Monster lives!

By on November 30th, 2011
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Dear Friends,

A Greater Monster by David David Katzman

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:




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.