Blog of Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author, Jory Sherman. Get the latest information on his books, appearances and his candid reflections on writing.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Electronic publishing is moving at an accelerated pace. This is a sure sign that ebooks are the wave of the future. Amazon’s sales figures beat this out, with ebooks selling more than hardcover books and paperbacks combined.

And legacy publishers are no longer promoting either midlist books or their authors. So, the writer must promote and publicize their books in order to compete in today’s highly competitive market.

The ebook revolution has generated an increase in literary publicists, who for fees ranging from $500 to $1500 and more will publicize a writer’s book. This involves some effort on the part of the writer, because most of these publicists will insist that the writer engage in writing blogs designed to promote both writer and book.

The publicist, however, does the difficult work of placing the books with online reviewers and setting up virtual tours for the writer.

These virtual tours mean that the writer will be contacted by several interviewers via email who will offer a series of questions regarding the writer’s book, which will then be posted online for the world to read. Many writers are doing this on their own, which is a daunting and time-consuming task.

Literary agents are becoming obsolete, since the writer can now publish his or her own book or find an ebook publisher who will take him or her on, put out the book on any number of platforms including trade paperback. So, the writer no longer has to pay an agent 15% for selling the writer’s work.

It occurred to me that a new kind of agent is called for in this fast-moving new way of publishing. The new agent would, in fact, set up all the virtual tours, arrange interviews, and post notices on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, and a host of others which have sprung up recently. The agent would of course, be entitled to a percentage of sales just as if he or she had sold the book to a legacy publisher.

But, the writer would no longer haee to hire a literary publicist which would demand and upfront outlay of cash. Having such an agent would also free up the writer to produce more books and stories since the agent would be doing all the online work of setting up interviews and posting notices on the various social networks.

I foresee a shakeup in both camps, with the publicists having to rethink their approach to handling writers and the agents having to shift gears and learn how to promote books that the writer has sold.

It’s coming. But, it can all be worked out. The new entrepreneurs will find a way to streamline the promotion of electronic books and the writers and new agents will benefit from the transition.

Epublishing is a new field and it calls for a new approach to the entire structure of author/agent/editor/publisher relationship and interaction.

Meanwhile, we writers do what we can to publish our books electronically so that they are available worldwide on, kindle, nook, ipad, ipod, droid, and other reading devices. The writer’s production will be curtailed, of course, because promotion takes up an enormous amount of time.

That’s why we need a new kind of agent who will free the writer up to write instead of seeking out places to publicize their ebooks.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


Yes, Charles Bukowski, the poet, and I discussed poetry in his apartment on Mariposa and the one he had on DeLongpre. But, the conversations were not academic.

There was no talk of iambs, pentameter, tetrameter or hexameter. No discussion of dactyls or caesuras. For all I knew, Hank thought a dactyl was a three-toed prehistoric lizard, and stressed or unstressed syllables or the foot, held no interest for him.

Bukowski wanted blood spilled on the page. He wanted agonized screams from the bars on Western Avenue. He was fascinated with the dog shitting on the lawn outside his window, the whore who lives upstairs, the amber glow of the beer in his hands.

He wanted to use a hammer and a bludgeon to forge the lines in his poems, yet often it was a silversmith’s hammer tapping the delicate crystal of a glass chalice. He loved to talk of Robinson Jeffers and the hawks of Big Sur, the lean prose of Hemingway, and Celine. He did not know of Verlaine, Rimbaud, Neruda, or Lorca, for he was more grounded in the sensory impressions of his own world in the ghetto of West Hollywood where the streets shrieked in blaring red and yellow neon and the beer bottles clinked together on the bar while he eyed a black woman’s short skirt and ebony legs.

The floor of Bukowski’s apartment was strewn with the sheets of typing paper that bore our poems. We read each other’s work and I always marveled at Hank’s ability to capture glimpses of life and paint a vivid picture of the most mundane events and imbue them with larger and deeper meanings. He was sketching from life, while I was delving into my own psyche and winding my way through the human mind and experience.

When I read a poem written by another poet, it is the same feeling I get from listening to the orchestral arrangements of the great composers. It is a journey through the labyrinth of the human mind. In the words of a poem, as in the notes of a great musical composition, I can trace the writer’s or the composer’s thought processes.

Sometimes, it is like entering a huge empty house. No one is there, but you can see the rooms and all the furnishings, the personal items of the inhabitant, and feel a presence there that is palpable. In those deserted rooms, there is the architecture, the wood, the polish on the floor and tables, the scent of flowers and perspiration. The person, the writer, the composer, has left behind a mansion full of wonders and indelible secrets. I feel the pulsebeat of the house and its owner, I hear the heartbeat of the poet in the creak of the frame and flooring. It is a magnificent experience and I never fail to marvel at the intricacy of the human mind, just as I marvel at the complexity of the universe itself.

I go back there, to Mariposa St. or DeLongpre Avenue and sit and talk with Bukowski because I have his poems and his stories on my bookshelf and when I take one down to read, I am transported back to those early days of our friendship and realize how rich I am. I was there, at the very dawn of creation, and was a part of the powerful Chi of life, the dark matter and the dark energy flowing through me and guiding my mind and hand to create something out of nothing, to fashion a universe of my own making, one with rhythms and symbols that form symphonies of language and indelible art.

A collection of my poetry will soon be published. The book is called Reflections and is meant to be a companion to Bukowski & Me, already published by Rebecca J. Vickery and available on Kindle at, Nook, Lulu, Smashwords, Ipod, Ipad and other electronic reading devices. The poems were published by High Hill Press and the cover is a mountain scene that I painted with acrylics. The cover of the Bukowski book was painted by my son Vic (Jory V. Sherman).

Both books will take you back to those times when Bukowski and I read each other’s poetry long before they were finalized and published.

I hope you see and feel what we saw and felt way back then,
when we talked poetry and heard the music of the spheres.

Friday, June 03, 2011


Ever since I finished writing my memoir, Bukowski & Me, (Rebecca J. Vickery, publisher), the poet Charles Bukowski has been an almost ever-present specter in my thoughts. I remember so many moments with him that I did not record. Perhaps it was because there was a distance between us that began to grow long before his death, a distance created by that monster called Fame, a hydra-headed demon that grabbed both of us, but wrapped Hank, as we called him, in its tentacles and surrounded him with sycophants as he glowed with that bright light that Fame drenches us with like some demonic strobe.

In the early days of our friendship, Hank would invite me over to his apartment on Mariposa Street in West Hollywood. I was living in San Bernardino at the time, either tending bar or driving a taxicab and writing poetry whenever I was not working. He was expecting me, so when I knocked on his door, he’d yell from the kitchen: “Come in.” He would be sitting at a small table in the kitchen in front of his upright Underwood. He had a little red radio on, and it was tuned to a classical station in Los Angeles. There would be Berlioz or Beethhoven, or some other composer pouring through the speaker. A poem under construction was in the typewriter. He got up and took the six pack of Miller High Life from me and took out two bottles, put the rest in his horror of a refrigerator. He opened both beers and handed me one as I stared at the sink full of soiled dishes, the counter a shambles of chicken bones on plates, fatty rinds from steaks, bowls of dried chili, half-eaten dinner rolls or biscuits, an ashtray full of cigarette butts. The music played on and I glanced at the poem in the Underwood. The paper was filled with words and sentences marred by ### strikeouts of words or sentences he had eliminated. He swigged from his bottle of Miller’s and lit another cigarette. We walked into the livingroom after he turned down the radio so that it became a soft undertone to our conversation.

We sat. I took a chair, he sunk into his couch. Poetry journals were strewn around the room and there were sheets of paper on the coffee table with his latest poems in disarray, all turkey-tracked with ###s. Smoke from his cigarette scrimmed his scarred and pustule face as he stared at the manila envelope in my lap. I lit a Pall Mall with a Bic lighter and sipped on my bottle of beer.

“What you got there, kid?” he’d ask.

“Some new poems,” I said.

We read each other’s poems and then discussed which poetry journals might publish them.

In those early days of our friendship, Bukowski said he didn’t have any friends and didn’t want any. As I look back at those times, I think Hank was trying to discover who he was. He had a burning desire to write and that consumed him in his off hours from his job at the L.A. Annex Post Office.

His poetry eventually told him who he was and I think mine did the same for me. We each found our voice and the poems gave us a deep spiritual life that obscured the world outside our windows.

Beneath all the writing was the music, and the music changes language in some mysterious way. I just finished listening to Steven Tyler’s wonderful book, “Does the Noise In My Head Bother you?” Tyler has a brilliant gift for language and is a superb musician. And, like Bukowski, he has the soul of a poet.

Bukowski has faded into the distance since his death, but his poetry and stories are close at hand and I draw memories from them that may never be expressed. They are, as the distance stretches and Father Time breathes down my neck, very comforting and real to me. It’s as if I’m sitting with Hank in his apartment on Mariposa Street, smoking and drinking, listening to the music that only we could hear.