Wednesday, December 05, 2018

publishing, productivity and failure

At times, this year feels like a horrible tread mill, enjoyable, but always with the tinge of anxiety as I struggle to get caught up on one things and another inevitably falls behind.  I finally get one batch of things done, another thing is another fire that needs to be put out.  I've often said I have never ever been completely caught up--on e-mails, on book orders, on other tricky track writerly things, not since around 2007 when I moved into the studio and put the press & shop into high gear. But this year has been rougher than ever.  Sometimes I feel like I will never catch up, (or maybe more I do eventually catch up  but meanwhile everything else has fallen apart.) 

It started after all the stuff with my mom last holiday season, which pretty much made my November-January a wash.  When I spent the sping catching up on winter things, summer catching up on spring, and now, as we get close to the end of the year I am in a mad dash to the finish line to get all of the books that were ready to go and up for order in late summer/ early fall out the door.  I try to keep releases more on a regular schedule to allow a good pace, but in getting behind, I sometimes am over-ambitious, which only leads to more chaos.  I don't want to dissappoint my authors or our readers and sometimes feel like I inevitably do. I also feel chaotic and disorganized at times and have botched more things than usual (putting the wrong labels on boxes, stapling things upside down--mistakes I never used to make when I was less harried.)  The machine that was humming along these past years is a little faultier and less smooth.

I also still have a slate ofthe final things due out this year that I've momentarily placed on hold for most of October & November while I catch up that will be available soon to begin shipping after the new year, by which time I will have either been swallowed in an avalanche of chapbooks or will have, god willing, caught up.   The myth of "caught up" is a myth I've been chasing for years, but my processing time has steadily increased this year from about 3 weeks to more like 6, especially when it comes to new titles or really old ones I don't already have a stash available for.  I'm determined to trim it down to a 4 by New Years, 6 max on new titles  It's an embarassment of riches, to be selling so many books and getting them into hands, but I really need to move faster at getting them out the door.   I get about two hours daily of studio time, and have been able to keep up just adequately in terms of orders for author copies (which sometimes need to be done before a reading or release) and orders for things already in stock, but I am slower going on the things that demand a bit more time and preparation.

It's maddening sometimes, but I try to keep reminding myself of all the good things--the amazingness of our books and authors, the important work we are doing.  The thrill of reading through galleys during the layout process and experiencing the books I haven't looked at since acceptance and being amazed all over again.  The process of making something real and booklike.   I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.  I did lighten the load a little bit for the coming year--not drastically, but by about a quarter--taking on a few less chaps (I am in the process of sending out responses to submissions this week --a couple weeks late--folks are already querying, which is another thing filling the morass of the inbox that will be remedied soon.)

Here is hoping 2019 will be far more orderly and sane..

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