Monday, September 5, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'Disinheritance' John Sibley Williams

John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Controlled Hallucinations (2013) and Disinheritance (2016). A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Midwest Quarterly, december, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod International Journal, Hotel Amerika, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 

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About the Book:

A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into “this amalgam of real / and fabled light,” these poems
inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one’s own hands.

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  • Disinheritance is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I had maybe six or seven publishers whose editorial vision I felt matched the themes and poetic structures in Disinheritance, and luckily it only took a few months for Apprentice House Press to accept it.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

I have enjoyed a number of Apprentice House poetry and fiction titles, so I had a good feel for their vision. And as they are a university press, I knew they would take the editing, design, and marketing seriously.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

As the majority of poetry collections hover around $15, I am very happy with Apprentice House Press’ decision to price Disinheritance at $11.99

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

The press and I decided on September 2016 to allow for an extensive Advanced Reader Copy stage.

How did you choose your cover?

Apprentice House and I worked closely together on the cover. We decided on this photograph for so many reasons, though the most significant considerations were the color and composition and how closely the piece echoed the overarching metaphor of the poems.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

As crafting a poetry collection is quite different than a novel or nonfiction work, my process wasn’t as linear and easy to describe. Each poem has its own process, its own inspirations, and some take hours while others take months to complete. I tend to revise individual poems mid-composition by reading each line aloud over and over until the sound feels like it’s appropriately echoing the meaning. After having a substantial number of poems completed and published in literary journals, I weed through the hundreds of pieces to find similar themes, styles, and structures, and I order the poems according to the momentum they create.     

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

For each collection I design postcards for mailing to my contacts. If I am touring to support the collection, then I usually have bookmarks and a small poster also. Finally, I often create handmade poem booklets, to give away at readings and as a thank you for those who preorder my books.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

In such a crowded book world, I understand the importance of reaching readers via any possible method. I am always happy to host giveaways and to provide complimentary copies to professional and amateur book reviewers.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

1)      Research research research! There are dozens (in some cases hundreds) of magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts, event venues, bookstores, libraries, and book awards that might be interested in your work. Well before the book is released, research every possible marketing, sales, and event opportunities.
2)      Ensure you are actively using social media and befriending authors you admire, book clubs, bloggers, literary organizations, and any other person or group within your genre. Keep up to date with their posts, and steadily post information about your upcoming book in a non-salesy way.
3)      If you are able to acquire galleys at least three months prior to publication, send these to every reviewer and interviewer you can find. Do not be shy about offering complimentary galleys to professional media and to readers who regularly post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The more reviews you have pre-publication, the stronger the release will be.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

1)      Create a professional press kit, and use it when querying all the media and sales/event venues on your previously researched list. Contact them either just before or just after the book is officially released.
2)      Be open to whatever opportunities may arise. If you are an emerging author, there is no venue too small and no magazine too new. Every bit of publicity helps. Every single sale helps. Every reader you meet at an event is a potential life-long fan. So foster your new friendships and broaden your circle as far as possible.
3)      Never give up. Not all events will be packed. Not all reviews will be glowing. Not everyone who reads your work will be a fan. And that’s okay. We all write because we love the process, we love the possibilities and the power of language, so just let that passion spill over into your marketing too.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

In addition to the normal social media pre-publication work, I mailed postcards to my contact list, sent galleys to dozens of literary magazines and blogs, sent galleys to various book awards, and designed book ads for targeted media.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

Whether you are a regular reader of poetry or someone with an emerging interest in it, I truly hope the themes and styles in Disinheritance resonate with you. I would love to hear your feedback, as I am always excited to meet new readers and friends.

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