publishing a book

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publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:10 pm

So, about two years ago I left a large publishing house to return to teaching, and developed an interest in starting my own press. Originally, I thought I'd publish my novel, or the work of friends like Ferlinghetti did with City Lights. In any case, a manuscript came my way, and it gave me a focus. I decided to publish either writers or writing that "exist in the margins." The manuscript was that of Arthur Longworth who is fairly well known in the prison writing community. He has the distinction of having won three national PEN awards.

Early this month, I'm happy to announce I published that manuscript. I had to learn InDesign, I had to purchase ISBNs, I had to reach out to people to review, and I had to find the right distribution model that would have a digital reach. I decided on Ingram Spark. Wherever you are in the world, go online and check out your most popular online book retailer. You'll likely find the print book. I'm pretty happy with that, but my big goal is to get it into the library system. That will be a coup for a number of reasons.

Here's what one reviewer had to say: "America's deranged experiment with mass incarceration has generated a continuing fascination in the media. Television shows like Prison Break, Oz, and Orange is the New Black have dramatized the prison experience for millions of viewers. Arthur Longworth's "Zek" provides an insiders account of prison life that is every bit as compelling as these shows, but with a depth that goes beyond what television can offer. It is a remarkable effort."

I've also got a website up for more info--I know a number of you are tech savvy and probably could provide pointers about the website (feel free, I'm all ears): http://www.gabalfapress.com

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Anyway, I had to share what I feel is a small triumph. The book will not be for everyone. It's an unsparing prison narrative. That said, it's literary and engaging.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby nausearockpig » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:47 pm

that is soooo cool! Congratulations!!
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Re: publishing a book

Postby kv » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:43 am

That's sweet congratulations
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Re: publishing a book

Postby SR » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:34 am

No small triumph at all, and in such a small window of time! I'll put this on my list to read.

How was your personal experience with Arthur?
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Re: publishing a book

Postby Artemis » Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:07 am

Congratulations, BC! It's a huge achievement to actualize your dream. :tiphat: :rockon:


I too will be adding this book to my reading list. Also, it will make a great gift for Secret Santa 2016.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:59 am

Thank you all. And I've already received feedback about the website. I really appreciate that. I should have the book available in e-book form shortly also.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby mockbee » Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:26 am

This is really great!

No small task to pursue a dream, nice work.

Did you do the book cover graphic design? It's very engaging.

:tiphat:
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Re: publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:02 am

mockbee wrote:This is really great!

No small task to pursue a dream, nice work.

Did you do the book cover graphic design? It's very engaging.

:tiphat:


I didn't do the book cover design, or the image. That's courtesy of a group called Raw Love productions in Seattle who are working on a documentary on prison life. I'm not sure what prison is featured on the cover, but it extends to the back of the book which provides continuity. I did, however, do the interior layout. That's where I've had the most fun in this process. I think it looks really sharp. My goal was to ensure it can stand next to any book from the big 5 publishers in NY or Boston. And, in fact, I'm reading a book by Edward Bunker right now called Education of a Felon published by MacMillan, and I'm shocked by the unintentional shifts in font size and other small, but noticeable layout issues.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby Pandemonium » Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:12 pm

Very impressive you're seeking authors who fall outside the so-called mainstream and looking to give them a means to get their work out there. Are you sticking to a certain (non-fiction) genre such as social subjects or is it anything goes?
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Re: publishing a book

Postby Bandit72 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:28 am

Excellent stuff. Is the photo of the terraced houses straight from the valleys? Reminds me of my Grammas house.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:14 pm

Bandit72 wrote:Excellent stuff. Is the photo of the terraced houses straight from the valleys? Reminds me of my Grammas house.


:lol: Nope. I believe this is a prison in California or Washington state. Not sure which one.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:22 pm

Pandemonium wrote:Very impressive you're seeking authors who fall outside the so-called mainstream and looking to give them a means to get their work out there. Are you sticking to a certain (non-fiction) genre such as social subjects or is it anything goes?


Thanks, Panda. Not sticking to a particular genre. There was some back and forth on how to label this book. I choose to categorize it as fiction. The author originally labelled it creative nonfiction. He also said it more closely resembles "lore" and prison lore specifically.

One idea I have for a book would be to focus on the experience of either one or a group of immigrant farm workers in California. One idea I had resembles "Whores," an oral history. So, for example, I might interview five different people on their experience crossing the border and making their way north, and then edit the narrative to include their various voices. I'd also just like to meet an immigrant who also happens to be a writer.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby nausearockpig » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:54 pm

blackcoffee wrote:
Bandit72 wrote:Excellent stuff. Is the photo of the terraced houses straight from the valleys? Reminds me of my Grammas house.


:lol: Nope. I believe this is a prison in California or Washington state. Not sure which one.



Well.. it could still be his Gramma's house.... depends on where she lived.......... . :bigrin:

Sorry Bandit... :lol:
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Re: publishing a book

Postby mockbee » Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:44 pm

blackcoffee wrote:
Bandit72 wrote:Excellent stuff. Is the photo of the terraced houses straight from the valleys? Reminds me of my Grammas house.


:lol: Nope. I believe this is a prison in California or Washington state. Not sure which one.



Appears to be San Quentin State Prison, in San Rafael north of San Francisco.

Image
The yard of San Quentin State Prison on January 29, 2015


Image

I used to go by it all the time on my north bay rides. :bday:
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Re: publishing a book

Postby kv » Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:41 pm

Good eye
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Re: publishing a book

Postby Bandit72 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:30 am

I'm on about this photo. Which CLEARLY isn't a prison :eyes:

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Re: publishing a book

Postby nausearockpig » Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:37 am

Bandit72 wrote:I'm on about this photo. Which CLEARLY isn't a prison :eyes:

Image


Some would argue that urban living is in itself a prison.... Not me tho.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:14 am

Bandit72 wrote:I'm on about this photo. Which CLEARLY isn't a prison :eyes:

Image


Vintage shot of a neighborhood in Wales....very near Gabalfa, but not Gabalfa according to my dear old mum.
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Re: publishing a book

Postby nausearockpig » Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:11 pm

Cool shot!
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Re: publishing a book

Postby blackcoffee » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:39 pm

A review!
From the Seattle Weekly (but simultaneously published in Seattle Review of Books

http://www.seattleweekly.com/arts/zek-rips-the-walls-away-from-a-prison-in-eastern-washington/

‘Zek’ Rips the Walls Away From a Prison in Eastern Washington

An underground classic in prisons, the book is being published for the public for the first time.


One day in the not-so-distant future, Americans will look back on the way we currently treat our prisoners with shame and regret. Over-incarceration abounds — particularly of African-American and Hispanic men — and rehabilitation is barely an afterthought. Drug crimes are still hugely over-represented (as of 2014, half of all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in prison were there due to the War on Drugs) and the race and class issues in our prison system are so glaringly obvious that to call them “subtext” would be insulting to the very concept of text.

One of the main reasons why America’s prison problem has been allowed to run wild for so long? Prisons are behind giant walls which do more than keep prisoners out—they prevent us from looking in. By keeping prisons outside our field of vision, and by making sure that prisoners can’t communicate with the outside world without intense scrutiny and censorship, the problems tend to recede from everyday life. “Out of sight, out of mind” is more than a cliché — for prisons, it’s practically an operating philosophy.

Arthur Longworth’s novel Zek: An American Prison Story begins with a prologue in which an unnamed prisoner finds a contraband copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s prison novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. (It’s perhaps not too much to assume that the prologue is at least partially autobiographical; Longworth did time at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for murder before his release in 2012.) He opens the cover and then…

Several hours later, he let the book’s cover close but continued to stare at it for some time. Any other book he would’ve rationed — reading a page or two at a time, holding himself to only enough per day to keep his mind from eroding, yet still have more to read for the next day…He set the book down slowly, almost reverentially, and rose from the bunk. He began to pace the length of the cell — two-and-a-half steps in one direction and two-and-a-half in the other. Reading the book had triggered something inside him, although he didn’t yet understand what.

Zek is a book-length homage to Solzhenitsyn’s classic novel, though you don’t need to have read Denisovich to follow the story. Now published for the first time by Seattle’s Gabalfa Press, the back cover informs us that early drafts of the book were prison system underground classics, “passed among prisoners and prison guards for over a decade.”

Simply, Zek is a day in the life of Jonny Anderson, a prisoner in the pen at Walla Walla. Jonny, a young man in his late twenties, has been in jail since he was a teenager. Like every other kid in their twenties, he’s still figuring out who he is and what he wants to do; at some point he’s going to get out of prison, and then he’ll have to figure out how to make a living in a country that hates and ignores ex-cons.

The writing in Zek is simple, straightforward. It’s not beautiful, but the bluntness of the language suits the subject matter perfectly. We see the prison through Jonny’s eyes, and the unadorned vocabulary and sentence structure matches his pragmatic worldview. From the complex social maneuvering of the overloaded shower room, where the only way you can grab a few minutes of hot water is with the help of a group of friends maneuvering around the shower in an unspoken dance of awkward eye contact, to the complex efforts to learn the individual peccadilloes of every single prison guard, Jonny’s no-nonsense observations help the reader navigate the confusing social structures of the prison.

Jonny has been inside for so long that he’s starting to forget what it’s like outside. His mother doesn’t write to him that often; she’s an aggressively superstitious Christian woman, and Jonny’s prison number — #666605 — and the prison’s address — 1313 North 13th St, Washington State Penitentiary’s real address — make her highly uncomfortable. And whenever he does talk with her, he lies to protect her emotions:

He had told her that he was in auto mechanics school, which was what he had always wanted to do. But there was no school for anything there anymore. Education inside prison had long since been gutted by state officials because, as they said, they did not believe it was right to reward people for committing crime.

Zek is a short book about an institution which is designed to create monotony, but the day in the life that Zek presents is a momentous one. It’s the day when Jonny decides his future. Will he find a way to stay out of prison, or will institutional destiny take hold, pushing him back through the doors of the prison as soon as he leaves? You’ll be repeatedly stunned by the barbarism of Zek, at the way the whole prison system works to crush the individual spirit. But if, in the middle of the story, you find Jonny’s experience too much to handle, I suggest turning back to the front of the book and reading the prologue again. It’s right there in plain English: one book can make a difference.
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