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Publishing an E-Book

My favorite fictional form is the novella, popular in Europe, but not in the US. My agent likes/admires my novellas, but can’t sell them. I’ve placed a couple in literary magazines and even won a prize for “Water Baby,” but none of that makes any (marketing) difference. My first collection, “Sitting for Klimt,” did well as an iUniverse/Barnes & Noble co-publishing print-on-demand venture and is permanently on the shelf at the Neue Galerie where, so long as Klimt’s portrait of my protagonist, Adele Bloch-Bauer, is on display, my book will live with her in the same building. I hope. Of course, it might get pulled off the shelf, but it will never go out of print.

I have just published my second collection of novellas, “Water Baby” as an e-book, an experiment. My daughter designed the cover and my cousin donated the cover image. It takes a village. I’m pleased with the collection as a literary endeavor and enjoying the congratulations and praise from other writers who understand the effort it takes to draft and polish a work before publication. The technical challenges of getting the book online have been daunting for me, however. They are similar, I’ve decided, to launching a website, as opposed to preparing a manuscript for print publication. I’ve uploaded, there are numerous formatting errors, and now I can go back in and tweak if only I could figure out how to do that. Truly, I wish my daughter, a graphic designer, would have had time to help me out, but she didn’t, so I did it all on my own. It was—and still is—thrilling as well as frustrating. All so fast, a friend in the UK wrote, even though the book took me five years to compile, send out to readers, revise. Many long hours of work. Yet, it took only minutes to get it “published,” and went “live” before I understood what I’d done wrong with the upload. I had dreams about correcting/editing and thought about nothing else during my lap swim this morning, but when I went back onto the site, it wasn’t available for editing. And it was only when I was swimming that I realized why the cover hadn’t appeared in front of the text: It’s all one document and though I’d uploaded the cover, that was just for the data base, and I’d left it out of the text, and so on.

You can see, dear reader, how the publishing an e-book process might become obsessive and obliterate all creative thought. Luckily I am taking a play writing workshop this term to relax and my NYU class meets on Wednesday and Thursday I’ll be flying to California for a few days on family business. I’ll take my Kindle, of course, and leave Hayden Herrera’s large, hardcover biography of Arshile Gorky by my bedside.
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