It’s amazing how much a simple sentence can change. Nine words. Nine simple words. How much and what it has changed . . . well, those things remain to be seen. But they’re the words that made me a no-longer-just-“self-published” author, and they’re the words that brought one of my favorite novels–as well as several others by its author–into the digital realm.
They’re the words that ended my review of Nick Earls’ Perfect Skin, and, in some part, they’re the words that are the reason I can link that title to the page on Amazon where you can purchase Perfect Skin for your Kindle (at the time of this writing, it’s still in process at Barnes & Noble, but you’ll soon be able to purchase it for Nook, too).
I wrote them here, in a review of Perfect Skin I posted on April 8, 2011, a little more than a year ago now. When I tweeted the link to that review, I included an “@” to Nick himself. Mainly because I hoped he might like hearing how deeply his novel had touched someone, and how much it had meant.
(Rereading that review, I’m surprised that the degree to which I enjoyed it seems . . . a bit subdued. I wrote positively of it, and I used words like “poignant,” but I don’t think it comes through how much I loved it.)
That review and tweet got Nick and I talking. A few weeks later, I was talking to his agent. A few weeks after that, I was talking to a lawyer and making Exciting Press a legal entity, a real company that could license Nick’s books for digital distribution in pretty much every region and territory besides Australia and New Zealand. A few weeks after that, agreements were signed, and Exciting Press was publishing Monica Bloom and The Magnificent Amberson and several short stories.
And now, we’ve published Perfect Skin.
And I love it.
I can’t very well review it on Amazon now. I’m no longer just its reader. But I became its publisher because I believe in it so deeply. And I can think of no other way to express how much I love this book than by noting that love hasn’t diminished even though I’ve now published it. Which might sound strange, but I think most writers have moments when, on its way to publication, they become almost tired of a manuscript. They’ve read it front and back and sideways. They’ve read galleys and marked notes, and the everything starts getting hazy and loses the vibrance and sheen of the newly told tale. They’re usually grateful they already moved on to something new before they submitted the book, and if they haven’t they’re ready to.
I mention that because I think I might have read Perfect Skin for at least the dozenth or so time these past few weeks. I’d read it several times in hardcover. It was a book I’d return to once in a while, thrice or so over ten years.
And then we signed some agreements, and I was publishing it, and I suddenly had to read it a lot more closely. I suddenly had to consider altering a few things. Nothing major. I had to consider readers, and how they read dialog. I had to consider the regions, and their needs. I changed “car parks” to “parking lots,” and a shareholders’ card to a discount card, and traded a “z” for an “s” in several spots.
I had to do that half a dozen times. There always seemed to be a quotation mark the eluded me. A hyphen that somehow leapt out of the text even though I was quite certain I’d coded it in.
And despite that closeness, that proximity, I still love it. I should be dying to move on to the next work (actually, I already have. There’s always more to publish), but I’m not. I’m still smiling about Perfect Skin. I’m still talking about it every chance I get. I’m still telling people “And Holy Hell, now I’m publishing one of my favorite novels of all time, and how amazing is that?”
And they all agree it’s pretty amazing. Because it is.