A link, via Clay Shirky, serves as a reminder to me to explore poetry more often

 

Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles

by Billy Collins

It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.

"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed To Be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem."

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.

Source: Poetry (June 1999). [Via Poetryfoundation.org]

San Francisco Book Launch

Photos from my 1st-cousin-once-removed C'Anna:
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"Dinah gets some help serving drinks from a tall handsome stranger" [who was at Alembic Bar when I was there before the event]

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"This lucky fellow won a traveling cocktail bar courtesy of Dinah"

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"Kelly quite conveniently won the other portable bar"
[She was super excited about that bar! She and her pals were very keen competitors in our game.]

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Announcing The Art of the Shim—a new book from Dinah!

Hooray! My second book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, is now out in hardcover and ebook.

Building this book has been a fun time and—due to an aggressive sub-one-year production schedule—a challenge, but the results are beautiful. Kelly Puleio's photography is even better than my high hopes and the production quality on this, the first offset printed title from Sanders & Gratz, is excellent. I'm very happy that the book has the sturdiness to serve its readers many years on their bar shelves.

Along the way I've been expanding my skills even further into the publisher realm. (Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff is print-on-demand in its paperback form, so inventory management and distribution is a new adventure.)

Some of the lessons have been painful. I've now learned the hard way that Amazon's record of a book can apparently get messed up if the release date is before Ingram has their copies on hand—or at least that's the only explanation I can find for Amazon suddenly switching the book's status to "Out of Print–Limited Availability" sometime between midday Saturday and midday Sunday last weekend. We're now on day four of no order button for the hardcover, which is enough to make anyone trying to launch a book tear their hair out.

In the meantime, I'm keeping fans of Bibulo.us and the book updated on Twitter and Facebook. Also taking deep breaths and saying "calm blue ocean" a lot.

Copies of the book are now in stock at Ingram's Oregon distribution center and lots more will be arriving at their Tennessee one today or tomorrow. Perhaps that will help kick the Amazon status back to normal (though I fear that if their techs don't identify and eliminate the bug, the problem would just come back the next time Ingram or their on hand count hits zero).

Next Tuesday (9/17) will be the New York launch at Pouring Ribbons bar and a week from Monday (9/23) will be the San Francisco celebration at The Booksmith bookstore. Looking forward to those events very much!

Even with bumps on the road, I'm having a great time as an author and a publisher!

The first book from Bibulo.us is out!

The first book from Bibulo.us is out!

It's been a busy week. Thanks perhaps to favorable winds over the ocean, we got the surprise call from our shipper to coordinate delivery of 2000 copies of The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level a week early. Whee!

Due to a series of mishaps denying us expected resources, Dinah unloaded all 101 boxes before assistance arrived. Yes, cocktail nerd, author, stevedore; the complete Renaissance woman.

By this afternoon, books are scattering toward their future homes. Those of you ordering from bookstores or Amazon will be gratified to learn that your copies are already making their way to the distributor and thence to you. Ebooks will soon be available through multiple sources.

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Createspace? Lightning Source? Where to self-publish?

I weighed in on this independent publishers discussion with the following comment:

This is good advice and matches what I learned with my first book, Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff.

Buy your own ISBN from Bowker (or, realistically, a group of 10 if you're also doing ebooks so you also have ISBNs for the EPUB and Kindle editions).

Sign up for Createspace and use them for their excellent prices on proof copies (also handy for creating review and Goodreads giveaway copies). Get your book looking great and prepare to build buzz. Do not use Createspace's Extended Distribution.

Sign up for Lightning Source (LSI) with the final version of your book now that you've done some proofing passes with cheaper copies from Createspace. Use LSI for reaching libraries and booksellers. Resign yourself to not making much money per copy through LSI and set the discount low enough that a bookseller will consider ordering from you. Bear in mind that LSI and Ingram or Baker & Taylor are both taking a cut out of that discount and that the bookseller also needs to cover their costs and make their profit in that slice. Once you add it up it's easy to see why booksellers aren't likely to even do special orders for something that's only got a 25% discount, especially if it's non-returnable.

Offer the Kindle version through Amazon's KDP program.

Offer EPUB versions through Apple's iTunes Connect and either (or both) Barnes & Noble's Nook Press and Google's Google Play. (Note: I have not yet published through the latter, but it is an alternative to the (in my experience) very low-selling Nook/BN.com world. If you want to reach a broader audience, it's important to have a non-Kindle, non-iTunes way for people to buy your EPUB edition, particularly if part of your audience prefers DRM-free books.

My second book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, is full of great photography and, while the color print-on-demand (POD) quality from both Createspace and LSI was very much better than I expected, it's not yet "coffee-table book quality" and my partner and I have decided to use offset press printing. We still used Createspace for proof and review copies.