My Interview at Lit & Bruised Podcast

Matt DeBenedictis and John Carroll interviewed my recently for their excellent podcast, Lit & Bruised, which just finished up its first season. These guys run a great show, and it was fun to go into the studio with them and talk about Publishing Genius, book tours, Milwaukee, and hobbies.

You can listen to the episode here or find it on iTunes.

What Your Grandpa Did in the Early 20th Century

work photo
Photo by Sean MacEntee

I just wrote an email describing what I do at my job, so I thought I’d post it here as well, since it might be vaguely interesting to my grandchildren, when they discover the internet again.

Basically, what I do is help people develop and execute their publishing plans. I think about half of my clients are self publishers, 25% are small/university presses, and 25% are businesses with catalogs, portfolios, gifts and the like.

Continue reading “What Your Grandpa Did in the Early 20th Century”

My Story, “Ollie, Ollie,” at The Collagist

If you’re looking for something apocalyptic to read, might I recommend my story, “Ollie, Ollie,” which was recently published at the wonderful online journal, The Collagist?

Here’s a representative sentence:

Because it was soon after that society blew up.

I hope that makes you feel compelled to read the whole story, which is about 3,500 words long, because I’m very proud of it.

I Saw a Squirrel Eating a Nut

Yesterday I parked my car in my driveway and before I got out I saw this little monkey carry a fresh acorn onto the log next to my door. Right away s/he started eating it and before I could get my phone out to take a video, s/he’d chewed off the brown shell. I felt lucky to get to see the whole meal, and was especially impressed by the hygienic overture at the end, before it scurried away.

Some Thoughts on Author Websites at Hunger Mtn

My website, this one,, is an author website, right?

What do I have on it? I have some links to publications, a bio (which I made available for anyone to use at their discretion, like editors or reading series hosts, as well as my photos), a way to get ahold of me, and a blog that I don’t update frequently enough. Simple.

At Hunger Mountain, I’ve published a long essay about how to build an author website, and why.

The key advice comes at the end:

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to simplify, simplify, simplify.”

An Interview at Columbia Journal

Kayla Tanenbaum included me in her series of interviews at Columbia Journal, where she talks to writers and people working in publishing. Tt was one of the best conversations about the business of books that I’ve had in a long time.

Read the whole thing here.

KT: Why do you think we need indie presses?

AR: Traditional presses aren’t handling literature in the same way that they were historically. The catalog for one of the big five publishers, as they become more and more conglomerated, is focused on the bottom line. That means that they’re publishing more cookbooks, more children’s books, more books that they know are going to be successful. They’re marginalizing literary fiction and poetry. We’ve seeing poetry become completely marginalized in the last 30 to 40  years, and it’s to the point where no poets have an expectation of getting a book published by a traditional publisher.  I’d hate to see that same thing happening to literary fiction or creative nonfiction

Amazon Essay

For Real Pants, I’m working on an essay that seeks to resolve the tension in the small press world about working with Amazon to sell and buy books. My experience was awful at first, as I was losing about 30 cents every time someone bought a Publishing Genius book through Amazon. But books just have to be there, because that’s where people buy books.

The conflict there is obvious. If selling books through a retailer is bad for publishers, what will happen to books? It’s the publisher’s perspective that they shouldn’t be strong-armed (the way Amazon bullied competitors like Zappo’s and because books are a unique product that convey our civic identity, our cultural ideas, and not just another consumer good, like shoes or baby wipes.

Along with this question of books as a consumer good, I want to explore, in an ontological way, the question of whether Amazon is bad, good, or an indifferent factor for literature. I’ll explore how their efficiencies (such as their numerous fulfillment centers, their powerful website that hosts reviews, recommendations, 1-click checkout etc, 2-day shipping and so on) promote book buying; I’ll report on their own attempts at being a meaningful traditional publisher and, relatedly, an ardent promoter of self-publishing; I’ll look at what Amazon’s affect on booksellers means for publishers.

Finally, as none of what Amazon does happens in a vacuum, I’ll consider ethical factors, like their treatment of employees and the ramifications of things like the combination of Prime and 1-hour shipping on the environment.