Currently listeninig to Living Colour. God, I love this band. Love love love. They are so tight musically, and lyrically, and are still kicking ass well into their 40s. When they first came out, everybody was golly-gee-willikering about a black hard rock band. As if, you know, Jimi Hendrix hadn't redefined rock just 20 years earlier. In turn, critics ignored that this was a hugely talented group of musicians. Guitarists don't come much better than Vernon Reid (if you remember the "Cult of Personality" video, he's the one in the tie dye Zubaz pants), and Corey Glover (neon yellow wetsuit) is a legendary frontman. And they weren't just rock. They dabbled in every genre. Country, calypso, soul, whatever. From the very onset, they showed a versatility few bands even think of.
But what I find most amazing is that they were commercially successful, while at the same time being conscious. Decades ago, they were fighting gentrification with "Open Letter to a Landlord." My personal favorite of theirs is "Wall," a screed against prejudice. Think about the giants of the late 80s hard rock scene. Metallica. Megadeth. Guns & Roses. Motley Crue. Living Colour were making political music at a time when rock was dominated by drug-addled, narcissistic sociopaths. Have you ever read the Motley Crue biography? Even with music to calm their destructive tendencies, they still managed to kill one or two people. Living Colour was actually on some grown man shit, talking about issues relevant to the world.
Found this awesome rendition of "Bi" the other day, from an early 90s episode of the Tonight Show. You can tell it's the early 90s because it doesn't have Kevin Eubanks barking like a circus seal in the background. Watch Corey Glover tolerate the presence of Roberto Bennini.
Is it just me, or is Leno trying to make out with Corey? I can't say I blame him.
Hard Times Blues/Once Upon a Body
Ten days into this most magical month of October, and we're revving up for hard times. The release date is scheduled for December 8th, just in time for my book launch in Lafayette. With this settled, the small press gears are in motion.
Pre-orders. We discussed whether to handle pre-orders through Kickstarter or Indiegogo, which, though few seem to grasp this, are pre-order sites. They are ways to simultaneously take pre-orders while judging the actual demand for the product. Ultimately, Christine and I chose to cut the middle man and do pre-orders through her site, www.quailbellmagazine.com.
This ultimately puts more work on us, as far as keeping track of who orders the book and ensuring they get a copy. Six Gallery is a small operation that is currently doing overhaul on their online presence. Doing pre-orders through Amazon might have once been an option, but this book is not being printed through Createspace, Amazon's printing arm.
As I said in previous blogs, Createspace, being lame, doesn't do upside-down print. Apparently, some issue arose with the Pittsburgh-based printer we were going to use, which created all kinds of annoyance for my colleague Dan McCloskey (whose book comes out this month). The new printer is up in Massachusetts, and there's a possibility Dan can pick up his books while he's on tour in New England. I've been talking with my editor about possibly having the Hard Times Blues/Once Upon a Body galleys ready for him to pick up as well. So what we have is an adventure across Massachusetts to manually pick up our books. I wish I was coming along.
The number of books ordered depends entirely on availability of funds at any given time. Sometimes it's been the press' money, lately it's been my own. As I haven't toured lately, I've been ordering books for scattered readings (like the few I just ordered for World Fantasy). That said, there's never a ton of books to go around. Dan paid for his books out of pocket. and I will most likely have to drop cash for my own tour in december, at 2 dollars and change per book, if I want an adequate quantity. The small amount of books proved an issue with my first tour, in which I ran out of merchandise. A flattering problem, but still a problem. The count for December tour looks to be between 100 and 500. Again, this depends on the press' funds and how much I can chip in.
Which makes budgeting essential. I'm no longer putting any energy behind consignment, since I don't sell books from brick and mortar stores anywhere but Pittsburgh. And the corners I could cut in the Bay (such as using Bay Area Alternative Press to print hundreds of fliers, most of which I didn't need) will not fly now that I'm in the south. Hell, putting together CDs for when the audiobook comes out will probably have to go on an order by order basis. The good part about that is that nobody is bottomlining the auiobook but me. It's fun to be the sole actor on a creative project, and all the variables, good or ill, lie at my feet.
So my focus for gettting this next book out is word-of-mouth and online sales. As we are no longer printing through Amazon, the press has to ship them a number of books to sell, as opposed to the perpetually in print status of Jack Daniels Sessions. The downside: more work. The upside: we keep more of the profit, small as it is.
As you can tell, we're playing everything close to the hip. Christine handles presales. Cover illustrator picks up galleys directly from printer. Hell, Christine's book was written in the same coldass house in coldass Pittsburgh where I wrote my first book. That's one of the upsides: there's honesty and forthrightness when the people on your team are your friends.
All this talk of printing and distro only goes so far, as none of us are making tons of money. I mainly see this newest publication as an impetus to tour and perform, which is how I reach people, and connect, and make the most of this opportunity that's been given to me. I've been speaking with some New Orleans-based writers about doing a southern tour, and booking those dates is going on the list of 15,967 things to do between now and December.
I've seen the .pdf for the book and it's beautiful. Christine's section is more beautiful than minie, as it has a cover. A hell of a cover, actually. http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/6/post/2012/02/cover-once-upon-a-body.html. But mine is getting there. Okay, I don't have a cover yet. Maybe, in keeping with the retro theme of the project, I'll just have no cover, like an old beat-up copy of Dune you find in the used boosktore, the psychedelic cover ripped off so you're looking on grainy paper, a title, and "$3.00" penciled into the upper right corner. Anyway, as soon as I have a cover, I'll put it up.
I regret that one thing I've had no time for is new work. Charles de Lint once said that, as soon as he finishes one book, he starts another. Sound advice. Well, I finished one book, and I'm kind of floundering in short story land, adding phrases and sentences to stories that are simultaneously long and aimless. Not a good sign. Idid manage to get ine piece in for an anthology, and I'll tell which anthology it is after it gets accepted, because to start crowing and then find out it was rejected would be embarrassing. I plan on starting my next doomed NaNoWriMo novel on November 1st, so I guess this is my between-book rest period.
It's been a pleasure working with Christine through all the ups, downs, transcontinental communication, drugged-out hippie house shenanigans, and blown deadlines. If you check her site, I think we've had this book scheduled for release every month of the last year and a half. My own personal Dance With Dragons. But the ultimate pleasure is seeing such a talented young artist publish her first work.
In fact, a few of my friends are becoming first-time authors this year, with bigger presses than the ones I run with. One of my Mills sisters is putting out her first, http://www.facebook.com/TheAftermathMemoir, and one of my IWL sisters also put out a book, http://www.nayomimunaweera.com/#!contact/c1et. I know they worked very long on these projects, so it's even cooler when I can say I know these Published Authors. Dan's book is waiting for him in Massachusetts, and Kim Vodicka put out a book as well. Maybe times aren't so hard after all.
Oh, yeah, and tomorrow I'm seeing Nightwish in New Orleans. Nightwish. My first time in Nawlins. Yes!