Preparing to publish a new book of poetry

Exciting news: After nearly a year without a response (hopefully, people saw my submission guidelines & took my advice about going the self-publishing route for electronic publication), Modern Evil Press finally received its first submission, and it was a good one. A poetry collection. Within just a few minutes of reading the poems, I immediately thought to myself, “Hey, I think this person actually read my submission guidelines – this is just the sort of poetry I’d publish! This reminds me of my own depressing poetry!” (My guidelines include things like “read my books” and “know what I publish” before getting to anything like technical requirements.) I continued reading, and continued to appreciate what I saw, and have been going back and forth with the author for the last several days, and it looks like I’ll be publishing a new collection of poetry soon. The title is Unspecified, the author is Yoshira Marbel of South Africa, and the poetry cuts deep.

As you probably know if you’ve been following my work (or this blog) at all, my publishing model (to be sure books are, if not profitable, at least don’t lose money) has two parts: 1) Electronic publishing, which doesn’t cost me much money, and I’ll do for any book I publish (eBooks and audiobooks, for free and for sale), and 2) Print publishing, which costs a couple/few hundred dollars for setup & initial printing), and I’ll only initiate printing after I’ve raised sufficient capital to pay those up-front costs, usually through the sale of the original artwork I design for each book’s cover. The time and effort it takes to get the book ready for publication is roughly the same whether I’m only doing one or I do both, and since I only publish books I either love or wrote (preferably both), I don’t count the time & effort spent to publish a book against its profitability. (Yet. Perhaps someday I’ll sell enough books to be able to pay myself a salary. Heh.)

As it is with my own books, so it goes with the new one. Yoshira and I would really like to do a print version of the collection, so while we’re still selecting poems and crafting their order, polishing the front matter and end matter, designing the cover and writing the copy, I’m getting started on the fundraising. Immediately upon reading her poetry, which hews toward themes of heartbreak and sadness, I knew I could use my painting ‘without you’ to raise at least part of the funds.

If you haven’t seen it before, yes, those are real razor blades. They really cut into the canvas. I actually forced red paint (no, not blood) through the cut canvas to get the drips just right. I painted it specifically to capture an emotion I was sure razor blades were the only answer to. Alas, it was not really appropriate for the cover of this collection… Still, it matches well enough with the book that proceeds from its sale are definitely earmarked for covering the costs of printing this collection.

I spent a few days thinking about creating a new painting for the cover, reading and re-reading the poetry, immersing myself in it, trying to appropriately capture visually what the words expressed. Several of the ideas I had seemed to be gravitating back toward something I’d already painted, ’embers of you in a sea of me’. I spent a few hours throwing together a basic design so I could get Yoshira’s impression of what I was thinking for her book cover, and she thought it was great, too, so we’re going forward with part of this painting as the basis for the cover design. I’ll post again when we’ve got something close-to-final, but here’s the full painting:

It’s nearly all black, but the black isn’t a perfect darkness, and there are tiny bursts of color swirling throughout. I think it’s dark but hopeful, in a way.

If you’ve seen these paintings before and have considered purchasing them but hadn’t made up your mind about them, now would be an excellent time to do so. Even if you’ve never seen them before but one (or both) of them speaks to you, please consider adding it to your growing art collection. Perhaps you’d like to do your part to support independent creators such as Yoshira and myself, or to support small-press poetry publishing, or you meant to chip in to one of my earlier books and didn’t get the chance or didn’t have the cash; here’s your opportunity to become a patron of the arts. If you do decide to buy one, in addition to the painting itself, an original one-of-a-kind work of art, you’ll receive a print copy of the finished poetry collection as soon as I have it in hand, and a copy of the eBook as soon as it’s published.

If neither painting sells in the next couple of weeks, we’ll start a Kickstarter fundraiser with the paintings as rewards alongside copies of the paperback and eBook editions. If the Kickstarter fundraiser doesn’t get funded, we’ll probably just publish the eBook version at first, at least until one or both of these paintings sells (or until revenue from eBook sales covers the cost of the print edition, whichever comes first). I’ll be able to share a couple/few of the poems with you here, soon, too, to give you an idea of the sort of work you’ll be supporting when you purchase this art. For now, hopefully the art itself and what I’ve told you about the poetry (and my enthusiasm for it) will be enough.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

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