REVIEW OIN WRITE OUT LOUD

When listening isn’t enough: Rodney Wood, Independent Publishing Network

by Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Friday 23rd April 2021 8:50 am

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Rodney Wood’s second pamphlet is an original and powerful sequence of 21 poems about a challenging time the author experienced, his own difficulties interweaving with stories told by ‘Steve’, whom he meets at a railway station after work.

Wood’s poems have a performative style that fits well with his role as co-compere of Write Out Loud Woking open mic and as leader of Woking Stanza group, where he runs workshops. His poems are characterised by keen observations expressed in striking fresh images that convey an unexpected view; revelations of sorts that always surprise the reader.

     the train turns down an unknown track / become clouds / forks of lightening

                                                                                                     (‘Bewildered’)

     tears leaving my eyes like falling fruit / I was alive but nothing made sense

                                                                                              (‘Seeing himself’)

     outstretched arms heavy with tears / the white fluid of compressed vertebrae

                                                                                        (‘Good enough to bury’)

Such epiphanies interweave in the conversation with a stranger who becomes his alter ego, a companion in an infernal journey. The innovative use of language recalls the situation the protagonist was experiencing at the time, and the problems of ‘Steve’ – his addictions, sense of failure, and depression:

     under the obvious & meaningless sun / the cage & weeds / of London Road

     my wounds have yet to heal / under the obvious & meaningless sun

     my wounds have yet to heal / the cage & weeds / of London Road

                                                            (‘Cherry Methanol & Liquorice’)

     I’ve known pain without end / I don’t want an immortal soul / I wanna die

     I’ve never been human / I’ve known pain without end

     I’ve never been human / I don’t want an immortal soul / I wanna die

                                                                                                         (‘Youth’)

In this atmosphere of dejection and emptiness, “in a world of appearances”, Dante’s Inferno is evoked in the figures of the damned, who are “buried to the neck”; they are the damned souls in the Caina, the traitors to relatives whose punishment is to be buried in different positions in the iced lake of Cocytus. The literary reference is probably not related to the sin but rather to the condition of being damned forever and to the harshness of the punishment. In contrast to Dante’s Divine Comedy, in Wood’s sequence there is no positive progression, reconciliation or redemption. The poems trace a cycle in which the end reiterates the beginning:

     the weight of London Road / at the end of the platform / with a leather hat

     Steve’s walking in circles / the weight of London Road

     Steve’s walking in circles / at the end of the platform / with a leather hat

                                                                           (‘Watching from the Bridge’)

Physical decay affects the final poems in a world that is indifferent to the protagonist’s terrible situation. Listening isn’t enough; we cannot turn our head away – we need to be involved, empathise and find solutions in order to save people’s lives.

Wood says that ‘selling the book is not my priority’ and that he is giving the book away to people he admires and to friends or is swapping it for a different book. The profits from any sales will be donated to national charities such as the Samaritans that work to help people in difficult situations. This is a compelling sequence that contributes to the awareness of the human condition by raising a flag for the unlucky ones and revealing how far we can go when desperation hits.

Rodney Wood, When listening isn’t enoughIndependent Publishing Network, £5

Background: ‘Self-publication is a perfectly respectable way to get yourself into print’ 

https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=114365

POST KDP

Getting the book printed didn’t take very long and in fact took me by surprise. It’s on Amazon now. https://www.amazon.co.uk/WHEN-LISTENING-ENOUGH-Rodney-Terence/dp/1800494602 but the book entitled “Action Steps for Expository Preachers” was written by another Rodney Wood. Selling the book isn’t my top priority. It was always my intention to give the book away to people I admire, friends or engage in “swapsies”. So I haven’t got a Facebook author page, use Twitter, Instagram or worried about Bookbub, the cream of the crop apparently when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. I do however like the idea of creating a Youtube channel where you can hear the poem and see me wearing that leather hat. I already seen to have started a blog but haven’t set up a link to my Amazon page and really tried to push it. When I get the books I’ll send some off to reviewers, although my first book was received 5 positive reviews that resulted in no extra sales. Two copies will of course be sent to the Poetry (and they’ll probably pay you). The point is I’m very relaxed about the whole affair. So far this has resulted in an article in Write Out Loud. I’ve also had the idea of donating any profits to a national charity but more about that in another post. However, I’m still waiting for copies of my book to arrive and then I have to buy envelopes, and stamps. To end here’s the second poem in the book:

YOUTH

I was bruised with bamboo canes / knew nothing much for sure

slept on boards / wore chains / I was bruised with bamboo canes

slept on boards / wore chains / knew nothing much for sure

I started cruising until / another day / another demon came along

escaped from the closet / I started cruising until

escaped from the closet / another day / another demon came along

I waited in the park for business / I couldn’t forgot that childhood

joined with a pimp / I waited in the park for business

joined with a pimp / I couldn’t forgot that childhood

I’ve known pain without end / I don’t want an immortal soul / I wanna die

I’ve never been human / I’ve known pain without end

I’ve never been human / I don’t want an immortal soul / I wanna die

POEM FROM “WHEN LISTENING ISN’T ENOUGH”

Here’s the first poem from my pamphlet. Like Coleridge’s wedding guest it starts off with someone urgently talking to you.

CHERRY METHANOL & LIQUORICE

under the obvious & meaningless sun / the cage & weeds / of London Road

my wounds have yet to heal / under the obvious & meaningless sun

my wounds have yet to heal / the cage & weeds / of London Road

& I want to talk / about everything & life isn’t the vision I had

the man comes after work / with a smoke & I want to talk

the man comes after work / with a smoke & life isn’t the vision I had

I talk / about how I’m ruined / mad & alone wearing a leather hat

how I’m afraid / a puzzle / always failing / I talk / about how I’m ruined

how I’m afraid / a puzzle / always failing / mad & alone wearing a leather hat

& the man watches as I fade / as my hat appears further & further away

the train hurtling with its ironies / & the man watches as I fade

the train hurtling with its ironies / as my hat appears further & further away

ARTICLE ON SELF-PUBLICATION AT WRITEOUTLOUD

‘Self-publication? It’s a perfectly respectable way to get your book into print’

by Rodney Wood

Friday 12th March 2021 7:13 pm

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Rodney Wood is a long-time poet and co-compere of Write Out Loud Woking. He recently decided to investigate how difficult or easy it is to self-publish your own pamphlet. Here’s how he got on:

“After you’ve been writing a while and sending poems off to magazines you obviously think of the next step, a pamphlet. You try competitions and sending to publishers who may or may not respond. It’s a lot of work, not only finding the right 20 or so poems but also writing about your poetry ‘experience’. For whatever reason, no one was going to take my poems.

What’s my pamphlet about? When working in Guildford I used to meet ‘Steve’; I never found out his real name. We fell into a routine of smoking and ‘Steve’ would tell me stories about his life. It ended when he committed suicide. All the poems share the same looping pattern.

Visiting printers at the moment is out of the question, so if you want to be involved in the process that means print on demand. The advantages? There are no upfront costs, it’s simple, quick and relatively cheap. Self-publishing has been around for years (Virginia Woolf did it, as did Mark Twain and James Joyce. William Blake did nothing else). It’s a perfectly respectable way to get a book into print.

The process is quite simple and you can redo, if necessary, any one of the stages.  The first step is to have the poems ready in Word format (DOCX). Go through them and get friends to go through them to check for typos. At the front of the document I manually added the contents list together with the page numbers on each page. I saved the file in Word format but it could just as easily have been in DOC, HTML or RTF.  In order to get an idea of the overall process read, or print out, the Amazon KDP: Complete Guide to Kindle Direct Publishing (Step-by-Step). I was only interested in a print version – I don’t like the look of poems on a Kindle. I did a mock-up at this point of how I wanted the book to look including the cover, back cover, copyright page and dedication.

The most difficult thing was coming up with the name of the publisher. Ace Press, Aldershot City Press, Applewood Press, Arcadia Publishing, Pond Books, Autumn House Press, Bruyno Press, Beacon Publishing, Bonnier Little Press, Book Publishing Of Farnborough, Bright Skies Press, Little Wood Press? I could have spent weeks trying to think of names. Instead I joined the Independent Publishing Network to solve this little problem, using their name as my publisher. It also gave me an ISBN number, but Amazon can give you this for free anyway.

For the font there was a straight choice between something unfussy and easily readable, Arial or Times New Roman, or else the more interesting looking Garamond, Didot or Perputa. I chose Arial in the end. A size of 8 or 9 point worked fine.

Most pamphlets I have are the same size trim size of (5”x8”). It’s a good idea to change the page size of your Word document to fit this size, and don’t forget to change the margins.

KDP has a Cover Creator tool which proved sufficient. I had already chosen a photo for the cover and I was given a number of different templates for the style and layout.

At this point I could preview and go back to make necessary changes. When I was finally happy I pressed Save and Publish and 12 hours later my book, When Listening Isn’t Enough, was listed on Amazon. I ordered a proof copy to check what it looked like: £1.70 printing costs plus £2.84 postage. The cost of 50 copies of the 24-page pamphlet, including the proof copy, was £95.25. So now I must order 50 copies for myself to swap or sell. And then comes the marketing stage …

Email Rodney at rodneytwood@gmail.com if you have any queries

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ON THE KDP ROAD (7)

The proof copy arrived today. The photo for the cover worked well, a few headings need adjusting and the page numbers in the contents page are a bit ragged (corrected by using tabs rather than spaces. So loaded the amended WORD document and published it. My page shows “Your recent changes are currently under review. Titles are typically reviewed and published within 72 hours. Review times vary and may take longer if publishing rights need to be verified. Meanwhile, the previous version of your title is live on Amazon and is available for purchase.” When I get the email saying this has been done I’ll order 50 copies.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

ON THE KDP ROAD (6) REASONS FOR THE POEMS

Apparently during the pandemic Amazon has decided to cut down production of paperback books. Which explains why I won’t be getting the proof copy until Tuesday, a week after ordering it. Meanwhile I’ve been going it and making a few changes. The book is available on Amazon now. That last sentence should really be in bold and sound more exciting.

Although the events happened in 2004/05 I didn’t actually start writing it until 2013. I was dissatisfied with my writing and started thinking about inventing my own form. I thought about what I liked. Repetition “in word and phrase and in idea is the very essence of poetry,” Theodore Roethke. The structure of the haiku. Blues lyrics from Leadbelly to Muddy Waters. German grammar where all the verbs go at the end of the phrase. Michael Hamburger’s “The Truth of Poetry”. John Ashbery and repetition. Add some play and viola a form I was happy with. A poem consisting of 4 (don’t ask me why) 3 line stanzas. I thought of those poems I’d written at the time and recast them in the new form. They turned into about a dozen poems called “The Night Cafe” which I submitted to a Pighog Competition where it was shortlisted. It lacked depth. I put it aside for a few years and started adding and taking away poems till they seemed to tell a story. From first meeting, I never got to know his name, through to him telling me about his life, and me witnessing his suicide. It was much more real, more true now. The title, When Listening Isn’t Enough, came very, very late in the process. I’ve had something to do with the Samaritans for a number of years and remember their attempts to stop suicides on the railways. One of the recommendations if you see someone “at risk” was to engage them in small talk. Perhaps if I’d done that with “Steve” it would have turned out differently but I had my own problems back then, mainly to do with work.

ON THE KDP ROAD (5)

The first step was to login to https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/bookshelf

Where a page like this should face you, without my book details obviously. My aim was to publish say 50 paperback copies. Click on Create a new title +paperback. Then you are taken through a number of options and fields for you to enter: language, book title, your name, description, keywords, and category. The next step is to upload the files containing the poems. It doesn’t like .kdp files only DOC, DOCX, HTML or RTF. Luckily the project folder keeps a DOCX file. It was at this stage I added back page numbers to that file.

Launch cover creator to select your cover photo from the hard drive and look at the available templates, with different positioning of the photo,title etc. It is also at this point you can add material to the back cover – biography, description and your photo. Amazon automatically adds the bar code. It would have been nice to add the price here as well but I couldn’t work out how. Then click the Launch Previewer button. This takes a good few minutes. The resulting panel told me I had a problem. The book I wanted was 5×8 but my DOCX files had a page size of A4; luckily kdp can resize the file for you but if could change some formatting. It is at the point you can see if things aren’t quite right you can you back and put them right in the DOCX file and reload. You don’t have to redo the cover. When you’re satisfied click the Save and Continue button.

The next stage was getting together rights, pricing and financial information which proved a bit of a pain. The result was I have worldwide rights on a books costing £5, similar to most pamphlets, with printing costs of £1.70 and royalty of £1.30; Amazon I assume gets the other £2, I could be wrong though. I was happy with everything so clicked the Save and Publish button. My bookshelf, see above, showed my book’s cover and said that’s it’s status was now In Review. It will take about 72 hours for my book to be ready for me to order proof copies. I’ll let you know what it looks like in the next post.

ON THE KDP ROAD (4)

So I gave the poems a run through and used the Preview feature to see what it looked like on a Tablet and Kindle.

telling me to piss off / the click of the receiver

the last words from stone / telling me to piss off the

last words from stone / the click of the receiver

The ideal would be the above with no lines running on. Alas, just about every poem had to be changed. This is a good thing strangely enough because it means you can tighten the poem up by getting rid of excess fat and find even a few more typos..

I’m ready to go and need the following information available:

  1. Your Kindle Create file: When Listening Isnt Enough_KC2.Kcb created 1 March 2021 (folder for projects kcb file and Word document within that.
  2. Book title When Listening Isn’t Enough
  3. Your cover image (2,813 x 4,500 pixels): from https://unsplash.com/ I downloaded a picture 1920 x 2800 pixels
  4. Your book description (4,000 characters or less, including spaces) WHEN LISTENING ISN’T ENOUGH is about my time working in Guildford. After work I used to go to London Road station where I would meet a man called that I called “Steve”. We fell into a routine of smoking a rollie together while “Steve” told stories for a few minutes before the train came. “Steve” had a pig of a life and his only way out was suicide. It might have changed things if I had taken the time to talk back and tell “Steve” that I was also falling apart and failing at work.
  5. Know the category for your book Literature & Fiction/Poetry/British
  6. Keywords (choose up to seven); double keyword phrases count as one keyword, e.g. self-publishing is considered one keyword: poetry, poem,self-publishing, suicide, fiction,21st Century, modern
  7. Your financial information (for your royalty payments): £5 (similar price to other pamphlets)

ON THE KDP ROAD (3)

No problem downloading the Kindle Create app on my Windows computer, or indeed loading the WORD file. It all seems so simple now. The main screen for Kindle Create:left hand column show the structure of the book (+ to expand) and is divided into 5 parts. Title page, Copyright page, Table of Contents (which is created automatically), the actual poems and the back matter. A lot of cutting and pasting and changing formatting (poem title became Chapter Titles). After an hour of two messing about it looked pretty good, The is a preview button on the top right which show me how the finished product would look. It looks ready to go my only concerns are The title page and copyright page are in the Table of Contents, but that’s not really a major issue. The project is now saved. A final ruin through I think before I self publish. More detailed info at kdp.amazon.com/en_us/help

ON THE KDP ROAD (2)

The Independent Publishing Network took their £30 and emailed me back with an ISBN and barcode that should be placed on the bottom right hand corner of the back cover. To me though one of the great advantages of using IPN was that it meant I didn’t have to think up the name of a press. Ace Press, Aldershot City Press, Applewood Press, Arcadia Publishing, Pond Books, Autumn House Press, Bruyno Press, Beacon Publishing, Bonnier Little Press, Book Publishing Of Farnborough, Bright Skies Press. Little Wood Press. I could have spent weeks wasting my time thinking of names.

The useful things I did on my document yesterday were: get rid of any bold (all headings) and italic (twice) styles. For the heading: change to 14pt and centre. Manually insert page numbers at the bottom of the page and centre. There was also the question of which font to use, Garamond, Didot HTF crossed my mind until I found out KDP didn’t like anything fancy, so I stuck with Arial to circle my poems with. I’m so glad the pamphlet is only 24 pages long.

Acknowledgements. There are a number of variations here. Some people seem to be saying that the poems have not been edited since they appeared in a magazine., So I made sure I said “published these poems or versions of them’. There is almost a case for actually naming the editors as well, but no one does, yet at least. When it comes to the magazines some just list them out while others list the magazines and the poem/s that appeared in them. I chose the latter and ended up with: Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to the editors of the following magazines who published these poems, or versions of them: Envoi (‘Youth’, Self-Portrait With Garbo’, ‘Dossing Outside’,’Lonely Nights’, ’Suicide’ and ‘Watching From The Bridge’), Message in a Bottle (‘Methadone’), The Lake (‘Bewildered’ and ‘Good Enough To Bury’), The Reater (‘The Polisher’), Breakfast All Day (’The Dishwasher’), Krax (‘Seeing Himself’ and ‘Arrest’), Prole (‘Consolations’), Headlock (‘Underground’).

Some authors like to thank all the big names they have had a cup of coffee with so you know how well connected they are. Can’t say it impresses me.