What does it mean to be published?
Yesterday was a big day for me. Lots of stuff arrived in the mail. I always like getting stuff in the mail–though not that junk that says Resident or occupant or notice of past due payment. It feels like Christmas or some other present-y holiday, except I paid to have my latest present mailed to me. The price was quite reasonable, however.
If you’re new to my blog, you may not know but loyal readers will recall that I have been painstakingly putting together a novel for the past seven years or so. Last night I received my latest draft of that novel, via Fed-EX. It looked beautiful. The white (what Fed-ex calls “frosted” cover and the vynl black back-cover. 212 eight and a half by eleven pages, coil-bound. I love holding the book in my hands and realizing that, without me, without my efforts, that just doesn’t happen. I created that moment through hard work and patience. Patience I didn’t know I had.
There are some authors who can write a novel per year. I admire this ability, and the work ethic it must both require and, eventually, engender. But that’s not me. It’s just not. This novel of mine took exhaustive editing, re-writing, re-positioning of chapters and evens, not to mention a few scenes that received outright deletion, and while I love writing and want to make it my career, there were many tears.
Many authors can write a novel and then quickly move on to the next. Some have to do this, to meet their deadlines (see the novel-a-year-paragraph you just read). That’s not me, either. Short stories I can do. Novels are a different story (literally!).
So I’m sitting here now, a copy of my book in hand, thinking, What does it mean to be published? Published. That word really does have different meanings to different people, doesn’t it? Some would say paying a company to release and distribute your book is publishing. And while I have done it in the past, and there is one book for which I did it of which I remain deeply proud (“Prose From A Grandson To A Senior Fellow, a collection of poetry I hope you’ll consider purchasing; it’s a small morsel perfect for stocking stuffers or e-readers), I contend here that is not publishing. Not the Print-On-Demand part of the process, anyway. E-readers are a little different these days, and that is a form of publishing, because anyone who wants your book can have it in moments. The on-demand-type is printing, though, in the same way that “On The Road” wasn’t writing, argued Truman Capote. “That’s typing.”
I don’t know when my actual release date will be. I don’t even know the people behind the company who will be granted the honor of releasing it. (I consider it an honor, anyway, not to sound pompous in any way, and I hope they will, too.) I can only hope that when it surfaces, all of you will be there to celebrate with me. And I can also thank my current publisher and bringer of joy and Christmas-morning-like smiles: Fed-Ex.