In this post, we review Dr. Angela Lauria’s Book Journeys interview with author David Patten, author of Dummy, A Memoir.
David Patten is not only a dyslexic but also a high-functioning autistic, which means that his IQ is at least 70 and that he doesn’t have any other intellectual disabilities, other than the aforementioned dyslexia. As this wasn’t widely known at the time that he was growing up – 1950’s, in Chicago – he would inevitably be viewed as a “dummy” by teachers while he was growing up.
David wrote the book out at a time after he lost his job and was reflecting on his life. Merely thinking about it didn’t help, so he began writing it down to get it out of his head and to get clear on things. As he couldn’t read and couldn’t write, he spoke his words out to a computer, which read the transcription back to him, and this method had its drawbacks, since there were errors in the computer’s transcription which caused a lot of back-and-forth between David and his editors, due to all the errors in transcription.
David didn’t experience writer’s block, and, as he admits, he had no self-discipline. He would write continuously throughout one entire day, and then not do so the following one, but he attempted to average the equivalent of three or four hours of writing every day, per week. Indeed the initial manuscript, which took him three years to complete, was 1,700 pages long, and from that he pared it down to 310 pages. David also mentioned that he needed to go to places within himself that he didn’t necessarily want to go into, and it was in exploring these that wound up being the best parts of his book.
David initially didn’t want to publish his book, as it was very personal to him, but after his friends and his wife said his story was an interesting one which might help out others, David finally relented.
Selecting an editor was vital for David, particularly given his challenges. At first, he went with an agency called the Pen Group, whose editors were, themselves, published authors, and when these didn’t work out David then shopped around for other editors, eventually settling on two in particular who helped him out greatly.
David originally went through the process of finding an agent and a publisher, then dealt briefly with a boutique publisher or two, and when it became obvious to him that the latter weren’t going to print the book the way he wanted he cut off ties with them. He eventually settled on self-publishing, going with CreateSpace so that he could get online exposure via Amazon, and also with Lightning Source, so he could get his books in bookstores. At present, he is using Bookmasters as his book warehouse, as this sends, receives and replaces books as needed, and he also noted that he has sold a thousand copies to date.