The Selfie Side of Publishing
So I decided, I’ll self-publish my next book. I have essays, commentaries, OpEds, thought pieces, going back twenty years. A few of them have been published, in newspapers, or otherwise appeared online. And I thought, what good are they doing just sitting as files on my computer, let’s get them out into the world.
I loved that my first novel was published, it’s a charge to see it in hard copy. to see it as a Kindle, to have been the Barnes & Noble Nook Book of the Day. But truth to tell, it’s not exactly a means to retirement. I cherish The Story Plant and Lou Aronica for editing and publishing it, but for a book of my essays, a “slim volume,” I thought it makes more sense to self-publish, since the paths of promotion and such aren’t much different than going with a small house.
The first question, then, was what to call it. You read up about the game, and the title is a critical element in the hoped-for of getting at least some attention. With the cover the next most important piece (more on that in the next post). Oh yeah, the content matters, but how you intrigue people to take a look at it is the crucial starting point. So I gather.
My first thought was to take the piece that is fairly current, and so has come inherent currency for getting interest. That would be my piece “Liberals Barbecue Too.” The essence of the piece is that rural conservatives don’t have a righteous monopoly on values such as family and country, and liberals shouldn’t concede such ground to them. More, that underneath the names there could be genuine meetings of minds and souls around the elements of what is important in life.
But hmmm. Doesn’t using that as a title immediately limit my potential audience? Not what one wants, although of course in this day and age “appealing to your base” is much in vogue.
I should add that the foreword to the book is written by the President of the ACLU, my very good and rather extraordinary friend Susan Herman. And I certainly want to put that front and center, to add credibility and gravitas for my works. No doubt that will have a combination of culling and attracting effects.
But still, the title is important. I next thought of adding after that title “Essaying America.” I love language, and like the play on essay and assay, taking the measure of the country. That became a more solid choice, I thought, than Liberals Barbecue, which after all is just one of the 20+ works in the book
But is that too obscure or oblique to arouse interest, would it just be passed over with glazed eyes looking for something catchier. Even the two titles combines didn’t seem to work.
I thought more about my way of looking at the world. Re-reading the essays, many seem prescient in their assessments and predictions, but let’s face it, they weren’t picked up and admired by the various OpEd editors I sent them too. Even my book – which really has some terrific writing and thoughts in it – wasn’t the viral sensation.
I’ve always thought I was somewhat orthogonal to the world, pitched at right angles to its norms, its conventions and paths to success eluding my nature. So....
Views from the Side Mirror. That’s what I came up with, my glances at the America of our lives and times, going back to the imperative days post 9-11 and all that followed, where new bulldozers revised old landscapes. Human nature doesn’t change, as we see with the venality of the tech companies that initially were supposed to bring new paradigms of business decency into their operations. No, human nature just finds new ways to express itself.
So I started polling people with the various alternatives.
· Liberals Barbecue Too: Essaying America
· Essaying America: Views from the Side Mirror
· Views from the Side Mirror (by itself)
· Views from the Side Mirror: Essaying America.
What’s your choice?
In the end, I thought Views, by itself, while intriguing, needed some more connecting to the themes, so I chose Views from the Side Mirror: Essaying America.
Here’s hoping I can reduce my right-angle relationship to the world to something more congruent!