Tuesday 25 October 2016

Bartleby goes publishing

‘If you create something that is of some interest, and then make it unavailable, it starts to build its own momentum.’

My italics. I read that sentence yesterday (it’s Chris Petit in interview with The White Review, 2013).

A couple of months ago I mentioned to an author that I’ve got this hankering to publish a book next year in this way: no chasing after puff quotes from known names to put on the cover; no preparation of blurb and cover six or nine months before publication, as sales and publicity schedules require; no advance reading copies to send round to possibly influential people months before publication; no entering the book for prizes; no sending out a pile of copies to literary editors; no tweeting, no Facebooking, no launch party, no readings. Just this: have the book printed, take a couple of boxes to the distributor, put it up on the website. A sort of anti-publishing.

Oh, said the author. But please, not one of my books.

I can see the contradiction in the Chris Petit sentence – how is anyone to know if anything is of interest if they can’t get hold of it? – but oh, I can see the attraction too.

Some of those things (no advance reading copies, no launch parties) I’ve already done – or rather, not done – for some of the CBe books. I don’t think it’s made much difference.

There are Bartleby authors: Ferrante, Salinger, Pynchon ... The most conspicuous(?) one on the CBe list is Andrew Elliott, who is invisible (no photos, doesn't do readings, I've never met him), whose book I'm proud to have published. But publishers? I'm supposed to make money, I think.

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