What’s So Great About Publishing Anyway?

Reading The Altered I at Sundance Books and Music

I had to clear up some misconceptions some of my friends had about the business of publishing. Perhaps I was in a sour mood, or I was tired that day and didn’t want people having fantasies about the wonderful world of publishing. I don’t know. At any rate, I told them that the business end of writing a book was not as glamorous as they thought it was. In fact, it’s a lot of work and worry and time spent trying to figure out where or who your target audience is. Publishing for a writer is more than good formatting, perfect editing and a pretty cover. Part of the work involved is distribution, making your book accessible to the readers, and before a reader can get their mitts on it, the bookstore owners need to see it in a catalog and order it. It can be frustrating, and sometimes daunting.

But then, as I usually do, I cheered myself up with some positive thoughts about publishing. Without getting a book published, whether traditional or self, I wouldn’t hear what people thought about the book, the topic, the writing, or any of it. And when it comes down to it, that is the fun part, the real glamorous part, in my opinion.

Nevada Humanities recently invited me to participate in their inaugural Literary Crawl in support of Reno’s Artown project. It was the most fun I’ve had promoting the book. It was one of the shortest times I’ve spent, but the most gratifying in that all I had to do was read a passage to some book lovers. There was no big two hour long presentation with power point, or sitting at a table hoping some people interested in my genre would stop by and talk to me, or maybe want a signed copy of the book. I was scheduled third to read at a local bookstore, but there were twenty-two authors scattered about mid-town at various locations doing the same thing.

As I arrived I saw a large crowd of people. I wondered if any would stay to hear my reading. After the poet ahead of me finished with her reading, people took off for the next reading on the list, but some stayed and some new arrivals joined the waiting audience. I was so nervous. Probably because several of my dearest friends showed up to support me. I’ve been publicly speaking, and reading, and signing books for several months, so I didn’t need to feel nervous, but I was scared out of my mind! Also, reading in a real brick and mortar store just sent me over the moon!

I read from the Prologue, which is not too long and not too short. Although, I’ve been toying with the idea of adding more to the reading, like a small section of the first chapter, or just jumping to a more tense section of the book. But, for this venue, the Prologue was about right. Then there was a question and answer session, which I always love. My total time was a mere thirty minutes, but people stayed after to talk a little longer.

One college aged boy stopped by and said he had picked up the book mark for the book somewhere (I suspect one my library presentations), and he had been using it to hold his place for every book he had been reading. It was funny, because on the book cover is a large blue eye, and that is the section of the book mark that stuck out of the book, the eye just watching everything.  Then he told me he saw the advertisement for the Literary Crawl. Featured as one of the books to be read on the crawl was the cover from my book (which matched the book mark!) and he just had to come to the reading, where he purchased the book.

Another young lady remarked on the byline of the book. It is rather unusual. It doesn’t say “by author so-and-so” rather it says “As told to” because in all truth, the story was told to me. I translated that story into the written word, and hopefully added enough descriptive language to enhance the reading experience. The young lady remarked that she liked that it was “as told to” because “You aren’t saying you wrote it, it’s his story,” she said. I took that comment as a compliment. I try to be humble in what I’ve done, and take myself , as the author, out of the story and make room for Joe to tell his story.

Those are the beautiful things about being a published author, sharing the story by reading parts from it, giving presentations to school kids, or library folk, and hearing what readers have to say about it. That’s the great part about publishing. The rest is numbers, charts, and graphs–business as usual.

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THE ALTERED I: MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR is available at Amazon, Google Play books, and LeRue Press.

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