Ktismatics

31 July 2011

New Book by Patrick Mullins

Filed under: Fiction, Ktismata, Reflections — ktismatics @ 10:46 am

I’d like to draw readers’ attention to the sui generis, romantically solipsistic, oddly compelling prose-poetic art book that is Patrick Mullins’ newly-published Illegal Dances of New York City. It’s his third, following Deep Tropical Ciné-Musique, which I wrote about here and here, and Day of Ciné-Musique, which I reviewed here.

In issuing this announcement I’m reminded that five years ago I launched Ktismatics as a “platform” for promoting a book that I had just finished writing. It was my third, a non-fiction, the first two being novels. Somewhere I’d read that it’s easier to get nonfiction published than fiction, especially if you’ve already built up an audience. So I went ahead and wrote a nonfiction in order to draw attention to the fiction, which is where my real writing passion lay. I hoped that six months of blogging would generate a groundswell of enthusiasm for the ideas behind my nonfiction book. Once I had established this online platform of potential buyers, I would be able to secure the attention of an agent and a publisher for the book. And once that book got published, then the fictions would get published too.

So: I began writing a blog in order to get my nonfiction book published, which I wrote in order to get my fiction books published. Interspersed with other related material I posted excerpts from the book and elaborations on its themes. I offered to send an electronic version of the nonfiction book, free of charge of course, to anyone who asked. I was astounded that no one ever did. After six months of blogging I sent packets of inquiry, including a detailed summary and excerpt, to six agents, all of whom represented authors of recently-published books addressing topics similar to my own. Within a week all six agents had sent me boilerplate rejection letters.

I’ve found other reasons to keep writing the blog even after it no longer served its original purpose. Eventually I rewrote the book I’d originally pitched: shortened it a lot, expanded its scope, turned it into a fiction. Though the original version was good, I’m even more pleased with the rewrite. A year and a half ago I announced its completion on the blog, featuring some Youtube clips of me reading aloud from the beginning of the text. Again I offered free e-copies of the book to anyone who asked, though this time I would have been surprised had anyone taken me up on the offer. I wasn’t surprised.

I’m pleased that over the past five years a few Ktismatics readers have asked to read my other books. There were three for the first novel, all of whom said they liked it. I sent my second novel to someone who tossed it aside as a piece of crap after reading maybe a quarter of it. One blog reader has asked for my fourth book, which I finished a few months back. I’ve not forgotten: I will send it to you eventually.

I don’t know whether my prior write-ups of Patrick’s earlier titles generated a spurt of customer demand, but then again Patrick never put up his own self-promoting blog before. Since I’ve been writing Ktismatics I’ve witnessed the publication of a number of books written by other bloggers. As far as I’m aware only a few of these bloggers’ online associates have written reviews of their books. I wonder if those reviews, or other forms of blogging recommendation, generated many sales.

I have found that I’m a more credible salesman of other people’s books than of my own. There’s this friend of mine: he’s read my latest novel, and I’ve also discussed with him the psycholinguistic works of Michael Tomasello. This friend has recommended Tomasello to several of his other friends and associates, but as far as I know he’s not recommended my book to anyone.

So: follow the link, buy Patrick’s book, and enjoy. I might resent you if you do, but only if I find out about it (winky smiley).

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24 Comments »

  1. Hey John. I really felt a sense of identification reading this post. I’ve posted quite a bit of fiction online and have never generated any interest whatsoever. To me, the indifference, even among close friends, is very disheartening.

    On the other hand, I really do think my stuff is worth reading — I think it just has to be put in front of people in the right context. I have no idea what that context is, or how to get it there, but when I do get people to read my stuff, I generally get a good response.

    Part of my problem is that I go about it too softly. I think you do as well. For example, if you were pushing books, I’d expect to see – prominently, at the top of your sidebar – a list of your books with links to a static pages that summarize them and allow the download of samples in multiple formats. Also, since you’ve written quite a few (four?) it would make a lot of sense to self-publish one or two of them. Besides being a good way to get attention, it’s also very motivating to hold a finished, polished, professionally bound product in your hands.

    I thought it went without saying (but now suspect that it didn’t) that I’m interested in reading any/all of your books.

    Comment by Asher Kay — 31 July 2011 @ 11:55 am

  2. Also… congrats to Patrick!

    Comment by Asher Kay — 31 July 2011 @ 11:58 am

  3. Thanks, John and Asher both. I am going to put up a couple of new posts, including Dominic’s poem, and also a brief discussion and example of the Troll, our unique ‘Outcast Author’. He, of course, still writes at Dejan’s, and is clever in a cheap hippie-trinket way; I cut out about half of the ones we were originally using, but even the ones left are like throwing creosote on one’s Trifle or Sorbet. Then I may put some text excerpts of my own, the ones visible from the Swiss website are nearly unreadable, if not totally. Thus far, I’ve been finding images that go with the text that were NOT also printed in the book. For example, the book’s primary dedicatee is Martha Graham, but there is no drawing of her, so I did a post yesterday.

    I haven’t been good at reading either of your things, of course. I don’t even seem to read books anymore, it’s bad enough to have to write them, and I don’t know if I’ll write any more. I want to do some spontaneous cine-musiques there as well. And maybe an occasional note on debt ceiling to keep the Marxists slightly more balanced about how at least we agree that a bad job is being even more poorly done than usual. I’m not going to offer any online copies as Dominic and others have done, although they did that after they had something in print. I did offer a good number of hard copies to people of ‘Day of Cine-Musique’ for free, then I quit. John actually bought one at the severe Swiss price, but was given a free copy of IDNYC, of course, as well as having previously been sent ‘Deep Tropical Cine-Musique’ by Christian. Dominic made an important, if brief contribution, and so got a copy as well, but I would have probably given out more comps had the book not turned out to be so extravagant, not only with the pictures but also with the 20+ pages of musical scores. As it is, I gave a few comps in the early excitement of getting the first copies to people on whom they’ve been somewhat wasted thus far, so I decided to just sell. I had atrocious luck when I DID give out the free copies before, and the worst was when the weakest part of the book was singled out for personal use by a bleuger, and she wouldn’t even make a single statement about what the book was, as if I had been canonized or something, and we got a discussion of ‘Agamben’s Bare Life’, which was not even a sub-theme of the book. Not that I wasn’t to blame for jumping the gun somewhat, but a brand new book simply is not one that one refers to as if it had been around and was something many people knew about yet. When stubbornnesses collide.

    Comment by illegal dances of nyc — 31 July 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  4. Thanks Asher, and thanks also for being one of the few brave blog-connected souls to have read my first novel. For at least the first two years of Ktismatics I had three separate “pages” linked at the top of the blog. Each page consisted of a brief summary and the first page or so of one of my books, concluding with an invitation to request an e-copy of same. Since then the sidebar link has become the convention. Multiple formats? I don’t know how to do that, so I always offered in Word only. I know that you and another guy converted this to a Kindle-readable format. Nobody turned down the reading opportunity because of format issues though. While readership for the posts continued to go up, very few people clicked onto the pages. So eventually I just took down those links.

    Only the nonfiction seemed like a possibility for building an online audience. We’ve seen that on the blogs, where if people write about topics of interest to the blogging community — philosophy, politics, music — then there’s a chance of synergy. It’s also clear also that a lot of people write blogs more as a try-out for a possible future book deal rather than as a means of promoting their already-existing books. People’s tastes in fiction are more idiosyncratic. People in these circles seem to read mostly Lovecraft, whom I’ve not read since high school or maybe college. I might have expected readers of the novels from the blogs mostly out of personal connection or if they too write fiction.

    Awhile back you took your blog down altogether. Were you discouraged about lack of readership?

    You know, this idea of self-publishing a hard copy seems almost obsolete to me now — unless of course, as in the case of Patrick’s works, your book includes art reproductions as well as text. I appreciate the look and feel of a physical book as much as the next guy, but the cost of printing, shipping, and storing just doesn’t seem worth the extra cost. I got a Kindle for Christmas and found it sufficiently unpleasant to use that I sent it back. That’s partly because most of what I read I get from the library, but I also found the interface clunky especially for skipping around in the book. But these technical obstacles will be overcome soon I’m sure.

    Comment by ktismatics — 31 July 2011 @ 12:57 pm

    • I just want to write lots of shit on the internet. Then in two years release: ‘W.Kasper’s Big Book of Shit From The Internet’.

      Is that too ambitious?

      Comment by W.Kasper — 31 July 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    • Not nearly ambitious enough, W. Two years?! Six months ought to do the trick. Can you still call it a BIG book of shit if it’s limited to 25K words or less?

      Comment by ktismatics — 31 July 2011 @ 6:02 pm

      • I’ll have it in large print, with pictures.

        Comment by W.Kasper — 31 July 2011 @ 7:48 pm

      • Why wait for 25 thousand words, W., when you can publish a book with only 25 hundred words? See Dominic Fox’s Half Cocks: 50 poems of 50 words each. Your latest post — well-reasoned I believe fwiw — on the English riots comprises 833 words: that’s a third of the way there already. Just break it into 50-word chunks and poetize it a little. E.g., here’s the first 50 words of that post as poem:

        To disregard the rules of property relations.
        To blatantly oppose and humiliate the repressive
        presuppositions of ‘law and order’ and its monopoly on state
        murder.
        To acknowledge ‘journalists’ as a wing
        of the same repressive
        mechanism
        (fuck what paper they write for).
        To ditch the
        flags, badges and blogs
        to…

        Now give it a title and a page of its own and voila.

        Comment by ktismatics — 10 August 2011 @ 2:49 pm

      • What’s with the comment so long after the fact? And why not at the post itself? Join the fun!

        Comment by W.Kasper — 10 August 2011 @ 11:28 pm

      • Be careful. Telling someone he’s writing poetry when he is engaged with political rhetorics is like saying he’s talking nonsense. I worked once for a company where an engineer insulted others as “artists” when he complained about irrational or intuitive behavior instead of the application of method and discipline. Although I found this amusing I still hoped he wouldn’t call me an “artist” but see in me one of his own kind.

        Comment by Kay — 10 August 2011 @ 11:33 pm

      • It seems that joining the fun at Pere Lebrun requires girding one’s loins for battle. If I brought up questions and concerns hoping to clarify my own views through conversation I expect I’d get thrashed as ruthlessly as have some of the other commenters.

        Comment by ktismatics — 11 August 2011 @ 6:41 am

    • I don’t really remember now why I shut down the blog – I think it had to do with getting a new job that I knew would take up a lot of my time. I don’t think I ever expected a big readership — I’m a white-collar worker who has to put a lot of time in to keep my family afloat financially, so I knew I’d never have the time to be “rigorous” (as Kevin liked to say) about my philosophical ideas.

      I’m much more serious about writing fiction, but since I don’t have a lot of free time, I’ve been focusing on small ideas, so I can feel the sense of accomplishment at finishing something. I think I’ll eventually have some success with it. I’ve managed to get published once — there’s no reason I couldn’t do so again.

      My main sense of discouragement comes from realizing how few people there are who would enjoy my writing even if it’s good. Take the general population and factor out people who don’t read fiction, then people who only like mainstream or genre fiction, and you’ve got a small group to start with. Then subtract out the people for whom your stuff is simply “not their cup of tea”, and it seems like almost no-one is left.

      Self-publishing has changed a lot. The service we used for my wife’s book is print-on-demand, and the cost is surprisingly low. Plus, it was very easy to make it available as an e-book. If you ever decide to do it, I’d be glad to help out with the typesetting and cover design.

      Comment by Asher Kay — 31 July 2011 @ 7:15 pm

      • I’m not sure whether I prefer the idea of fiction as a kind of personalized communication with the reader, or as a finished piece that’s stands entirely apart from the author. A friend recently read something I wrote and liked it a lot, but wondered whether it’s because he knows me so well — so that’s a problem.

        On your blog you used to sort of fictionalize the philosophy, which added some needed levity to some overly-serious debates. I have the sense that that whole set of issues and personality conflicts has receded into the mists of time now. Thanks for the offer on the publishing front — I’ll be back in touch at some point to discuss our various writing projects. Patrick’s book is sensationally produced as a physical object, with lovely art reproductions and a stitched binding.

        Comment by ktismatics — 31 July 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  5. “I don’t even seem to read books anymore, it’s bad enough to have to write them, and I don’t know if I’ll write any more.”

    I can’t tell if my decreased interest in books is situational or chronic. I have been reading fiction more diligently in the last year or two, but rarely do I have the sense of being captivated or moved or changed, even though this seemed to happen to me fairly often as recently as 7 years ago. And I have recognized in myself the sort of attention deficit when reading longer pieces that is often attributed to too much online time, a deficit that I’ve been working to override. I also think that, while writing long pieces, reading becomes a distraction that can be counter-productive.

    Comment by ktismatics — 31 July 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  6. I’m going to comment on the Illegal Dances bleug rather than writing a stand-alone post about the book here. There I can respond to what’s put up by the author, use it to trigger my memories or to revisit the text, interact. In fact, I think I’ll go on hiatus from Ktismatics. W. Kasper’s hiatus lasted what, about five days? We’ll see how it goes for me. I’m in process of executing a sort of personal redesign, so now seems a good time for taking a breather.

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 August 2011 @ 11:27 am

    • Okay, we can discuss it there in peace, just as here, if you feel like it. Maybe you or I can just mention to people like Asher and the others when we start doing it. If anyone who hasn’t read it wants to ask things about it, that’s fine, but I’m a GOOD FRIEND to comments moderation, and I’m simply not going to have any more shit thrown at me (voluntarily.)

      Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 3 August 2011 @ 11:47 am

      • My hiatus has been ten days so far, with a relapse in the middle. Refurbishment is still underway.

        Comment by W.Kasper — 3 August 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  7. I’ve just installed comment moderation. I’m ready to restore a sense of decorum at this tea party, and surely it will be easier to head the wayward comments off at the pass rather than closing the barn door after the wolves have come in, or whatever Western analogy seems apt. My secondary agenda is to keep discussions generally on topic.

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 August 2011 @ 2:32 pm

  8. “If I brought up questions and concerns hoping to clarify my own views through conversation I expect I’d get thrashed as ruthlessly as have some of the other commenters.”

    As the internet gadflies say “What you said…”

    As the balletomane couch potatoes say “I couldn’t agree mo’ah..”

    As I’d say “John displays here a wisdom that must be veritably CHERISHED!”

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 11 August 2011 @ 8:43 am

    • I really ought to abandon the nested comments protocol. Here we’re pointing back up to a subthread of comment #4 about Pere Lebrun. I’ll see what I can do about changing the comment format going forward.

      Comment by ktismatics — 11 August 2011 @ 8:49 am

  9. Okay, so that’s done — the blog has now reordered and renumbered comments based on date. Slightly confusing here, and probably also for anyone reviewing the Ktismatics archives, but hopefully it will be less confusing from now on.

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 August 2011 @ 8:52 am

  10. John and Wayne–Christian has 2 images to post on IDNYC bleug, but says he can’t get to the Dashboard. He’s never done this sort of thing, but I signed out, then signed back in, it takes you straight there. When someone else let me sign into their bleug, I used their email and password. Isn’t that’s all that’s required. and he does have them, I checked to see that the pw is still working (it didn’t seem to ‘stick’ last week.)

    Thanks. Just wondering what it could possibly be. Wayne has Blogger, so may know more about this.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 August 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  11. I defer to Wayne, since I’ve never tried to get onto the dashboard of any blog other than Ktismatics. I set up a group blog on WordPress once: under Users I entered the name and email of everyone authorized to post. I was the only Administrator though, so only I could change the site, edit other people’s posts, and so on — which means that only I could get to the Dashboard.

    Comment by ktismatics — 13 August 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  12. Thanks, John, I then looked it up based on what you said, it’s the same as with WordPress. You have to ‘invite’ by filling in the email. Probably the other time I used someone’s bleug, he had done this but hadn’t told me, so all I had to do was fill in his email and the password. If it still isn’t accessible, he can send me attachments through email and I can post. We need some of the pictures from the book now.

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 August 2011 @ 3:35 pm


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