a process update

As many of you know, I first finished the manuscript for The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals over three years ago. One of my primary concerns when beginning this self-publication process was directly related to this time expanse–how would revising and preparing the manuscript go, when so much time had elapsed? The writer who wrote that manuscript had long since diminished. A new manuscript had been in preparation for nearly three years, with a style and scope in many ways far removed from Cannibals. My initial impulse was to edit Cannibals in the spirit of the original composition–to revise toward the style and ambition and tone that carried me then. Quickly however I realized that my interests and ideas related to prose style and rhythm, “narrative,” “character,” “action” etc had all changed. Time will do that. So too will the natural difference between preparing a manuscript to be shopped to publishers by an agent and preparing a manuscript for self-publication.

I’ve found that no matter by best impulses, in the back of my mind I knew that my former agent would read the manuscript, and he would send that manuscript to publishers, and so there were always limitations, placed by myself, during that composition process. Not to suggest the manuscript was outwardly compromised–but there is no doubt that I have increased freedom now. Little anxiety about what is right or wrong or how it will be received. Now I think only about what pleases me, what I believe is the correct move, and what is best for the book in my mind. I have no editor to please, no agent, no publisher. There is no distributor to please, no bookstores to interest, no reviewers…. There is only this book.

That said, this process has increasingly taught me that self-publication, the way I’m doing it, and for the reasons I am doing it, has its limits.

I am humbled that anyone would pre-order my book. But I am increasingly frustrated by the need for pre-orders, to interest readers in buying my work, just so the work can be born. I’ve been pleased with the early response, but we are still about 20-30 pre-orders from what we will need to print 100 copies, the absolute minimum. We are about 60-70 pre-orders from what we would need to print 200 books. I don’t anticipate printing more than 200 books (I don’t anticipate printing more than 100, honestly), so I have not thought about numbers further than that.

Assuming we earn enough from pre-orders to print the book, that will be the only printing. I can’t imagine needing to continue printing this book, and I certainly do not intend to continue “promoting” the work. I am not sending out copies to reviewers or anyone else, unless they have purchased the book. If physical copies are sold out, I will keep the book in print, digitally.

I’ve learned through this process that I would rather–and going forward this is what I will do–simply prepare my work for electronic publication, with perhaps 1-20 (or so) physical copies, created by hand. (At the moment I would want to create at least one, for myself.) I don’t like e-books–I don’t read them and I have no interest in reading them. But I think that is where this is going. A book created entirely for electronic publication is freed entirely from the need to acquire readers. It exists then in the vapor. In a way, it seems an ideal.

The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals

The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals, my third novel, is available for pre-order here. All pre-ordered copies will be signed by the author. The novel will be published in November 2017 and will feature cover and interior art by Matt Kish.

Excerpt: http://thecollapsar.com/2014/01/27/an-excerpt-from-the-world-beyond-the-light-by-robert-kloss/

“This is more ritual than fiction, a subtle and astounding and careful manipulation of language that is nonetheless deeply felt, even deeply wounding. Incantatory and revelatory, Kloss’s is the kind of writing that is so vivid as to make you believe your own life is a dream.” Brian Evenson, A Collapse of Horses

“Robert Kloss’s The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals manages to be a little Rabelais, a little Lynch, a little Melville, and a lot wholly original and delightful Kloss. It’s an adventure story, a love story, a dream story, a language story, and a mystery – and it’s also very funny. Welcome to the weird, generous world of Robert Kloss’s fiction: keep an open mind and you’ll always be greatly rewarded.”
Amber Sparks, The Unfinished World: And Other Stories

“Robert Kloss’ The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals manages to be at once hypnotically poetic and deeply suspenseful. This is a novel that demands the reader’s attention and earns that attention with every sentence. A utterly unforgettable work of wild and lyric ambition.” Laura van den Berg, Find Me

“I’d be hard pressed to think of a young novelist I admire more than Robert Kloss, and The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals is his finest book yet. An heir of Melville, Faulkner, and McCarthy, Kloss stands unflinching before conventional history, rich with ambition and aesthetic daring. To read one of his books is to be thrilled anew with the possibilities of contemporary fiction.” Matt Bell, A Tree or a Person or a Wall: Stories

“Epic, enigmatic, and aboriginal, the seamless landscape of Robert Kloss’s imagination is filled with irretrievable, unfathomable, primordial beauty and ripe with elegant repulsion and horror. Perhaps it will be the dull sun or the promiscuous sea that pulls you into Robert Kloss’s den of monumental chronicle of manicured anti-heroism. Perhaps you seek banality that converts itself into fanaticism and perhaps you seek things that come to full circle and old things that are made new. If so, seek nothing but Kloss. The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals will lull you into a quiet hypnotism, where everything happens nonchalantly like a Victorian-like marriage that unravels from evisceration and where cannibalistic people duel theatrical spaces in land and sea like ecstasy. Kloss’s literary creation is designed to carve a seamless arrow through language’s mind with its instinctual wild purity and fugacious immortality. You will either feel Herculean afterward or a log that has slept through a thousand years of human fable, legendary deaths with some lascivious torture, and romance for a literary language you cannot speak or memorize or eroticize. Let Kloss’s bold, inventive, lionhearted hands guide and enrapture you towards the epicenter of his narrative ecstasy.” Vi Khi Nao, Fish in Exile

Found Word Poem by Samantha Vakiener

Words Found in The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals by Robert Kloss
Poem Crafted by Samantha Vakiener

Turn by the echoing sound of her name—
least consider that there is a lady—
classmen bearing candies and flowers, play,
‘sembling the former mistress of these lands,
bladders sloshing with paint, brushes of bone
to motion by the spirits of the dead.

Only white tailed deer springing through wild dead,
the banks, weeping the alligator’s name,
watering holes now burdened with the bleached bone
sags, but to look upon you the lady
yer king decrees it time to seek new lands
commanded by unseen hands, shadow play.

Sleeping and garments to wear while at play
nights he will speak of a woman once dead
pale light called forth across a vacant lands
see me, if you wish. No one comes. Your name,
reverence, call you “Ma’am” and “My Lady,”
seen a light seem to kindle. Here the bone—

Tocks, and the grim wings of her shoulder bone
orite of your people and resumes play
your departure, a prominent lady,
living and into the dust fall the dead.
One nuzzles his hand when he speaks her name,
delivers a speech on the western lands.

I journeyed through those grim and fleshless lands,
deranged, and here scorched anonymous bone
talking about. And now you say the name,
Band. Fumes, “I don’t know what game you are play—
eems this meal to your mouth, a thing long dead—
ious benefactor to shocked lady,

Which he claims to require some lady—
wind, and perhaps she strayed far into lands,
stumps of trees, and even a freshly dead
‘ber the bird, suck the skin and gnaw the bone.
tent for performance, while a kind of play…
Ally, now you wonder of his true name.

Sage, the lady of the house grasps her bone
across the western lands they travel, play-
es, wounded or dead. Now you call the name.

Why Self-Publish

For those wondering, why self-publish:

The decision to self-publish is a decision toward freedom. It is a move toward amateurism.

Toward total control of all aspects of a finished, physical book.
From novelist or prose writer or fiction writer to a creator of books, objects, works of art, image, sound.

The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals will be created with the help of a printer.
The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals will be created with the help of an artist, Matt Kish.
A Light No More, next year to follow, will be created entirely by my hands.

No more Advanced Reader Copies, query letters, agents, editors, publicists, distributors, bookstores.
No more: submission, acceptance, rejection.

No more “Who will read this?” No more readers? No more scrounging for readers.
For the act of creation is the end purpose, not the packaging, marketing, selling of a product.

No more limits save the limits of my abilities.