When I started Bacon Press Books, I needed to re-issue a real book to make sure I knew how to do it.
Judith Podell, wonderful writer, friend and neighbor generously agreed to let me use her book – Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obsessions - for my first trial.
The title story –“Blues for Beginners” – had worked its way into national consciousness as a story so smart and familiar it seemed to have written itself.
Nice for Judith that the story was so popular, not so great that she didn’t receive credit every time it appeared. Blues for Beginners was included in the humor anthologies Mirth of a Nation, and May Contain Nuts. Susie Essman recorded it for the CD..
Judith gave readings. Won coveted places at all the prestigious writing retreats. Got an MFA. Made friends around the world and then her small publisher went out of business. Her work was only available to the lucky few.
So, yes, she was willing to let me learn the independent publishing ropes with her book. She even did the cover art.
I made a few mistakes. Did a few things right. Still, we were both pleased with the results.
I wanted to hear Judith’s thoughts 10 years later.
I knew Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obsessions deserved to stay in print, so when my original publisher, a well respected small press, went out of business,
I recognized that it would be up to me. I’d always envisioned myself as one of those cult favorite type writers, like Eve Babitz and Lucia Berlin, but didn’t want to wait to be rediscovered.
Actuarilally speaking, time was running out. I’ve been thinking about the marketing and publicity angle and conclude that burden is always on the writer. Short story collections like mine do not receive the same kind of in-house support as self-help books written by celebrities and never did.
I had the resources for a low-key l DIY campaign of readings in bookstores and writers conferences, namely a blog http://www.memphisearlene.com, 900d Facebook friends and lots of spare time.
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