Expat Author Matt Krause, Publishing Pilgrim

It’s been awhile since we last met up with Matt Krause, author of the amazingly beautiful A Tight Wide-Open Space: Falling in Love in a Muslim Land (Delridge Press: 2011), a book I wrote about in A Love Song for Turkey and Author Matt Krause on Writing.
Cover of A Tight Wide-open Space by Matt Krause on Adventures in Expat Land

As long promised, I wanted to share with you Matt’s insightful thoughts on editing and publishing, and will do so in a moment.

But first I am excited to let you know a bit about Matt’s great adventure: a solo 1,300 mile walk across the entire breadth of Turkey, from the Aegean Sea to the border with Iran.

Set to begin in September, he’s been in planning, training and preparation mode for many months now. Better yet, he allows us to come along on his journey on his site Heathen Pilgrim. You can even sign up for weekly blog updates; what could be easier?

Why Turkey? That’s obvious given his background and his deep affinity for his eastern home. (If you’re not familiar with either, then get thee to my two post links in the first paragraph up above!)

Why walk? Because it slows Matt down enough to truly encounter his surroundings and the people who live there. Time to contemplate, consider, draw inspiration.

No rushing to catch a flight or hop on a bus, just feet on footpath, rubber on road. No wonder his tagline is ‘Walk through the world and throw yourself on its mercy’.

Matt is not only a seriously talented writer, he’s also an introspective sort up for challenges and adventure. It’s got the making of an epic journey that will spawn many a tale for him to tell.

Now back to editing and publishing…

Having launched  A Tight Wide-Open Space (ATWOS to friends) and a collection of stories called Soapbox last year, I ask Matt if he’d be willing to share a little about what he’s learned on getting a book published.

 ‘This is a self-published book,’ he responds. ‘And being that it was my first one, I cut some corners I don’t want to cut again.’

I did the copyediting myself, for example. I think I did a pretty good job, since some people I know to be real sticklers for punctuation and grammar details can’t find mistakes. But I wouldn’t recommend self-copyediting to others, and I don’t intend to do it again.’

‘As for the developmental editing (the early concept work, outlining the book, building the overall structure before you write your first draft), I cut corners on that, too’ Matt confesses.

‘I had been telling the stories to people verbally for a couple years already, so I knew pretty well how each chapter should ‘arc,’ and the book overall was just going to be a collection of standalone anecdotes, so I figured I could cut out the developmental editing.’ 

‘But I want the next projects I do to be bigger and more ambitious than ATWOS, and I know I’m definitely going to need developmental editing help for them,’ he shares. ‘So I don’t recommend that anyone bypass outside help on the developmental and copyediting. Get outside help, because if you have help lifting those weights, the scope of your project can be so much bigger.’

‘As for the publishing part, this is a self-published book,’ Matt continues. Self-publishing these days isn’t like it was even a couple years ago.  You don’t need to spend money on upfront inventory.  You don’t need to have stacks of books collecting dust in your spare bedroom.’  

‘There are passionate advocates of self-publishing, and there are passionate advocates of traditional publishing. I am a not a passionate advocate of either. The two methods are just different ways of serving the same god — putting your book in front of your readers.’

‘The Createspace/Kindle/Nook combo I’m using for ATWOS works well for readers in the US, but readers in the US make up less than 40% of my audience,’ he reflects. ‘Fifty percent of my audience is in Europe and Turkey, and my Createspace/Kindle/Nook combo doesn’t serve those people well at all. So for future books, I’ll be looking for some help on making paperbacks available to readers in Europe and Turkey.’

Matt is every bit as helpful in identifying and sharing what he’d do differently with respect to his writing, and leavens it with a healthy does of self-reflection.

‘Absolutely, there are lessons I’ve learned and things I’d do differently. If a year later you look back at a piece of work and aren’t secretly embarrassed by how crappy it is, it means you didn’t grow much over the past year.’

‘Since I released ATWOS … one of the things I think I will learn from it is that if a given piece of writing is clear enough, the moral of the story does not need to be repeated at the end.’

‘Also, it’s not enough to just spray a bunch of stories onto the pages and hope for the best,’ he goes on to say.  ‘A well-constructed book has a key note or a musical phrase that gets played periodically throughout, and your book will be so much better if you get that key note under control early on and learn how to make it pop up periodically throughout the book.’

As for where Matt currently is in his training and preparation for the upcoming journey, he recently Rolled the Odometer in Portland (i.e., hit 1,000 miles walked).  I hope you’ll follow Matt’s journey in the months ahead, as I plan to do the same.




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