Matthue Roths lat­est book, Auto­mat­ic, is now avail­able. He will be blog­ging here for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing all week.

Here’s the thing about being both an author and a blog­ger: It makes you impa­tient. When I write a rant or draw a car­toon, I scan it in, click a few but­tons, and — zoom­ba! — the world gets it. Or, you know, any­one who hap­pens to be look­ing at my Twit­ter page at that moment. When I write a book, I send it to my agent, the edi­tor, the pub­lish­er, the copy edi­tor, and then, three years lat­er, you can walk to a book­store and pick it up.

I’m sure there’s some Jew­ish les­son I should be able to glean from this. Like, how Jerusalem was­n’t burned in a day or how over a thou­sand years passed between the time the Gemara was writ­ten and the time it was print­ed up in its first print­ed ver­sion, the Vil­na Shas, the kind that we read today, with all the wacky columns and stuff.

Except, not real­ly. Because the Tal­mud is called the oral Torah, and the essence of a sto­ry is in the telling, not when it’s writ­ten down and print­ed with a day-glo green cov­er and sent to a book­store. There’s some­thing about the imme­di­a­cy of sto­ry­telling that the three-year pub­lish­ing process, which is stan­dard for the indus­try, has missed out on. And, weird­ly, I think the Inter­net is bring­ing it back.

So, part­ly because I’m a nat­u­ral­ly impa­tient per­son — and also part­ly because it’s 15,000 words, which is a weird length that’s way too long for a short sto­ry and way too short for a nov­el — I put out this new book, Auto­mat­ic, and I did it myself.

I did­n’t just write it in a day. I spent most of a year edit­ing it. I’d prob­a­bly still be edit­ing it, except that it’s sort of about the band R.E.M. (it’s also sort of about my best friend dying) — and, one day a few weeks ago, R.E.M. broke up. It’s now or nev­er, I told myself. In the space of half an hour, I’d signed up for a Kin­dle author account. And then I hit send, just like send­ing an email — and, zoom­ba. I’d pub­lished a book.

Ama­zon is sort of a dou­ble-edged sword — yes, it’s crazy that they own half the uni­verse, but it’s an author’s dream because THEY ACTU­AL­LY SELL BOOKS. Peo­ple who nev­er go to book­stores, peo­ple like most of my fam­i­ly, will click on Ama­zon and buy a book in a sec­ond. (I also put it on Smash­words as a pdf — also $2 — if you don’t have a Kindle.)

But I’m old-fash­ioned. I don’t own a Kin­dle and I don’t like read­ing long things online. Plus, I’m a design slut. I like things that look cool, and books that open like toys, and books that smell like books. So I designed a non-Kin­dle edi­tion that does all the things ebooks will nev­er do — it has hand let­ter­ing and easy-on-the-eyes lay­outs, and lay­outs on the page that (hope­ful­ly) make you feel like you’re lux­u­ri­at­ing in some­thing, not just squeez­ing the words out of a mass-mar­ket paper­back. (But, I promise, no annoy­ing­ly coy stuff or Fun Fonts). I also made a die-cut front cov­er, because, dammit, books are meant to be touched.

I showed it to my friend/i­con/if-I-was­n’t-a-Hasidic-Jew-I’d-say-“idol” Richard Nash, who said, Oh, it’s a zine!” And I thought, Oh, yeah — that’s it exact­ly. Fif­teen years after being a teenage zine-mak­er, using a copy machine at my sum­mer job, I’ve revert­ed to being exact­ly where I start­ed. It isn’t glam­orous, but hope­ful­ly, the prod­uct is. And there are worse things in the world. 

I know self-pub­lish­ing is still a dirty word — it’s like Aman­da Hock­ing said, authors should­n’t have time to do all the stuff involved with pub­lish­ing; we’re too busy being authors. And I’ve been real­ly for­tu­nate to have peo­ple like Scholas­tic and Soft Skull to take the foot-drag­ging stuff out of my hands for my big projects. But it’s also nice to fin­ger this lit­tle hand­made thing in my hand and say, dammit, this is mine.

Matthue Roths newest book is Auto­mat­ic. He is also the author of three nov­els and the mem­oir Yom Kip­pur a Go-Go, and is an asso­ciate edi­tor at MyJew​ish​Learn​ing​.com. His screen­play 1/20 is cur­rent­ly in pro­duc­tion as a fea­ture film.

Matthue Roth’s newest book is My First Kaf­ka: Rodents, Run­aways, and Giant Bugs, a pic­ture book, which will be released in June 2013. His young-adult nov­el Losers was just made a spe­cial selec­tion of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion. He lives in Brookyn with his fam­i­ly and keeps a secret diary at www​.matthue​.com.