Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Book Itself

This is the story of a book.  Because in addition to telling stories, books are themselves stories—how they came to be created, not only in terms of the creative act of writing, but in the larger psychic space that engendered the actual composition; & also—but crucially—the process of actually creating “the book” as an object that exists beyond random word processing documents or even—for the luddites amongst us—separate sheets of paper. 

Then, too, in our digital age, “books” can exist in a number of ways—they can appear on blogs in serial form or on static websites; they can be assembled by the writer using her/his computer to generate copies; they can be constructed objects with little reference to the digital—think scissors & glue & paste—or they can appear as a published entity—a “book” as we know it in some Platonic sense.  Are all these forms & their many permutations “books?”

But this is the story of one particular book, The Spring Ghazals, which contains poems I wrote between the spring of 2008 & early 2010.  If I could I’d take this blog back in time to comment on & record in real time the composition as it happened, the decision to publish as it first came into my mind, the doubts, the exhilarations, the desperation, the desire that were part of the process.  When I do write about these—to the extent that I can—they’ll be from memory, & so will be filtered by intervening experience.

In brief: The Spring Ghazals was originally self-published on in February of 2010.  Not counting copies I gave away to friends, it sold exactly one copy.  This was a psychological burden, I must say, because I know the poems to be good.  The burden was eased by the fact that friends who read the book—by & large writers & other creative folk—praised it with what I believe has been sincere commendation.

At some point this summer, I decided I would re-publish The Spring Ghazals.  The first go-round had been the most bare bones operation—there was no ISBN, no distribution set-up.  I believed—wrongly, as it turned out—that I’d be able to sell the book thru my Robert Frost’s Banjo blog. 

Yesterday, I began that process.  I “retired” (in lulu speak) the first edition & uploaded a slightly revised version—the revision didn’t affect any of the poems, but it did affect other “matter” in the book.  I got an ISBN & I purchased the GlobalReach package for $75, which will provide distribution to Amazon (both in the US & overseas) & Barnes & Noble, as well as making the book available upon request to brick-&-mortar retail outlets & also listing the book on bibliographic databases.  There is a “proof-approval” step in this process, so at this writing, the book isn’t actually available.  The old version is out-of-circulation & the new version is awaiting approval.  But of course, the “book” exists—at least in my mind.

Hope you’ll follow along as I continue to record not only the book’s ongoing process but also explore in memory the many steps along the way. 

& of course, you’ll get a shout out here when you can actually buy a copy!

Pic: Is this book for real? The original edition.


  1. Fascinating stuff! I love the idea of tracking a book's birth, to published status. It's still new to me: the business of self-publishing -- and publishing in general! Something I need to think about more often.

    I'm sorry the first edition only sold one copy. I bet it'll help, having it listed on Amazon, and being able to sell it in actual bookstores.

    Now what are the Spring Ghazals? I remember thinking 'Gazelles', but I'm an idiot.

    -- I had to go look up 'engendered', 'luddites', and 'permutations' in the dictionary! ;)

    Anyway, I loved those poems your wrote earlier this year. Is that what they are?

    Best of luck with it, no matter what's in it.

    This blog looks great, the header looks great, the book and picture look great. I truly hope more people take notice, and give your book, and its history, a chance.

  2. Hi Ginger! So good to see you--I need to get to Asleep in NY soon--glad to see it's back.

    A ghazal is a Persian poem, usually about lost love. I wrote a sequence of around 20 in the spring on 09--I think you probably saw them--they were all on Robert Frost's Banjo. They're combined with some poems I wrote in 08 & also some from very early this year--all are thematically connected.

    Yes, am hopeful that having an actual distribution package will help!

    Thanks for being the first follower here!