Exciting news reached the Public Texts program this week when Janette Platana, Public Texts alumna, launched her new book, A Token of My Affliction, on Tuesday night in Toronto. The book is a collection of 21 short stories, published by Tightrope Books.
Just after the launch, I met with Platana to discuss her experience publishing her first book and see if she could share some insight with current and future Public Texts students who are looking to publish their own books.
What was your focus during your M.A. in the Public Texts program?
Platana said that she was in the thesis stream of the program and worked to “find out if punk was a public or a text. It turns out punk was the public and punks were the texts. Music is one part of the discourse.”
How did studying in the Public Texts program impact your experience publishing this book?
“The book was written and the contract was signed before I started the Public Texts program in 2011” says Platana, “Before doing the Public Texts program, I had typical author anxiety concerning things like originality and valorization. Now I see my writing where it exists in relation to other writing and where I am in relation to other authors. Doing the Public Texts course made me aware of how no writing and no writers exist in isolation; there is a public of readers and writers. No writing is made without being in that public.”
How was your experience of the publishing process? Was there anything that surprised or interested you that you did not know before you published?
“I had no idea that being edited by an editor was going to be so satisfying. It changed the way I think about editors and editions. Deanna Janovski at Tightrope was an extraordinary reader: should no one else read my book, I would feel well and truly read. The writer and the editor make a public of two. We feel loved inside publics. – This is the secret I learned from public texts.”
Platana also was able to identify how writers understand their publics in the publishing industry: “Sometimes markets look like publics, and publishers look at their markets the way we look at publics. There are broader publics, multiple publics, the general public; the public of which you are constituent is what allows you to write. For writers, find out who the market for the publisher is, because that’s the public you will find yourself a part of.”
What advice can you give to current and future Public Texts students who are interested in writing and publishing their own books?
“The business of an artist is to make art, and to know the public in which you’re circulating,” says Platana, and she stresses: “If you’re a writer, and you can read, you’re not alone.”
To purchase a copy of A Token of My Affliction, and to check out Janette Platana’s website, janetteplatana.com.