Yesterday, I reviewed Judith Schwartz’s book The Therapist’s New Clothes, which is printed and published using the first Espresso Book Machine in the country located at the Northshire Bookstore in Vermont. Today, Judith sits down with us to talk about the EBM, her book, and self-publishing:
L: Hi Judy. Thanks for talking with us today. First, tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write the book, The Therapist’s New Clothes.
JS: I didn’t so much choose to write the book as the book demanded to be written. Years back, as an author at an impasse, I decided to become a therapist. The rational reason was that this way I’d have steady income when I was between projects. However, the truth was that therapy had become my life and framed how I saw the world. After I went through the rabbit hole and came out the other side, I could see the huge ironies in what had happened to me, truths that I knew I would best understand through the process of writing out the story.
The book is only 144 pages long. How long did it take you to write and edit it?
The first draft came very quickly: I wrote it in about six weeks. That 90 or so pages had the basic story, structure, etc. But then I kept going back to it, adding scenes and filling in gaps, kind of a process of layering. Editing-wise, a writer friend and my agent offered suggestions. But mostly it grew over time, as I looked back at the manuscript and saw ways to make it better.
Did you explore other avenues of publishing before ultimately deciding on the use of the Espresso Book Machine?
Goodness, yes! I had a top New York literary agent who strongly believed in the book, and she sent it around. It came excruciatingly close. At one house it went all the way up to the founding editor who finally turned it down, saying he feared it would fall into the “small book syndrome”. I could second-guess this till I made myself crazy, but for whatever reason or no reason it didn’t get placed. Then I started reading analyses of problems in the publishing industry, and it started to dawn on me: hey, if this system is such a mess, why am I letting it determine my fate as a writer? I was mulling this over when I started hearing about the Espresso Book Machine and learned that the only bookstore in the world that had it (at the time) was…my bookstore, the Northshire in Manchester, Vermont.