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Monday, April 16, 2012

not for everybody



Have you ever read Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse?  Then you will be familiar with the warning:  "Not for everybody!" and "For mad [wo]men only!"  Which I believe should be a warning that accompanies every book.  When I read the biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser, titled Why This World, I discovered that she was influenced by Steppenwolf.  Which makes perfect sense.

I knew when I was writing Hive, that it was going to be ridiculously difficult to find a publisher.  I was foolishly encouraged though, when I handed it to one editor who read it late into the same evening and wrote me how much he liked it the very next morning via email. I mean, this was a very encouraging email. A year later, I was told he couldn't convince the powers that be to go along with him. The general story with publishers has been that some of the committee will love the book and some will not.  A couple of years of some very nice rejections, and a lot of no-response-responses, not to mention the repeated bouncing back of an email from one press (are they out of business? is their email folder full? have they forgotten to update their website with a new address?), has led me to consider other options.  There are a few other presses I could send it out to, but none of them publish anything resembling Hive.  The average wait time on hearing back from presses seems to be nearly a year.  Fair enough. Even if a publisher were to miraculously take it, I'd be looking at several years before publication.  This is the usual.

So that's the rather slimmed down version of how I got to where I am at present. I've been exploring other modes of publication for some time now, looking at all the pros and cons of such an endeavour.  The book world is in flux right now, to say the least, and while there is still a stigma attached to self-publishing, I think that's changing.  In the end, I just want to get this book of mine into a few hands in a timely fashion, and let some friends read it.  My goal is to sell a hundred copies, and if I accomplish that goal, I'll also do an e-version.

I've designed my cover using CreateSpace on Amazon, and the book will be available there ere long. (You will be hearing a lot more about it in the coming weeks). Part of me wants to apologize for publishing my book this way, but then I remember what Julia Child said, in another context granted, about never apologizing.  I've been doing one last once-over of the text this past week, and have been thinking, hey, this is a book I'd like to read.  I've also been laughing a bit, because the book is about forgery, about remaining hidden as an artist and how to accomplish that.  Well, perhaps my fake book, my forgery, is most appropriately published by what many would deem to be a fake publisher.  The book, though a fake, is a real fake, or as close to one as I could make it.

In the end my decision to publish the book myself comes down to remaining true to my own creative process.  And remaining true to the work, the hive, as well.  To let it languish for several more years would, for me, feel like a betrayal.  Also, I have so many more ideas and several projects that require my attention. I want to honour the work to come in this way.  

In Rootprints, Helene Cixous talks about "the famous metaphor of the bottle on the ocean, which Celan uses, which Mandelstam uses." She goes on: "It is really the fantasy of the poet who confides his written heart to a vessel, but the most lost vessel in the world, to the smallest chance."


Hive is my vessel, then. Written towards the smallest chance, written to a possible accomplice.  Written for madwomen.  Not for everyone. But perhaps, for you.



12 comments:

  1. Yes, definitely for me! And I look very forward to hearing more about the process as well. I was recently talking to another writer about publishing options as I have a manuscript that I haven't sent out because it's one over which I want complete creative control.

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  2. Sweet! thanks Brenda. I mean, I think it's also not right for every manuscript/book either. But for some, yes, it is.You'll def. be hearing more about the process : ) It's an experiment, that's for sure.

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  3. I'm greatly looking forward to reading it, S...

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  4. So lovely, so very lovely...can't wait to have it. And you should also sell a voice print of the whole gorgeous text.

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  5. thanks guys : ) your support means a lot to me!

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  6. Yay! The world of publishing is changing. I also would love to hear about the process - you are at the forefront of a new movement. Plus I can't wait to read your book.

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  7. Something new. I vote for the self published vessel. A pioneer, a maverick. Always good to add new titles to ones bio.

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  8. Glad I tuned into Google+ for once, Shawna! Kudos on a very brave step forward. Any plans for an Edmonton launch? I'm definitely intrigued...would love to read this one.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Jeff Carpenter

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  9. Thanks Anon, Lucy, Jeff. Haven't thought about a launch....maybe a cocktail party or beer at a pub to celebrate? : )

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  10. That is an absolutely stunning cover, S. I can't wait to read the entire thing! xo, t.

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  11. I will be the first of the madwomen lined up to buy it. I can't wait! And I'll be at that launch. --lee

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