In 2004 when I had just graduated from college with a degree in political science, I decided to write a book. Armed with public administration, political theory, and civil philosophy concepts, and the experiences of growing up in a neighborhood surrounded by street gangs, I merged the ideas into a working theory of how gangs functioned. I know it might sound rather abstract, but I wanted to describe how politicized street gangs were. Over the next few months I brainstormed different political behavior that street gangs adopted like political parties, special interest groups, budgeting principles, among others. When I had enough material I began writing a treatise modeled after Rousseau’s social contract and when I was almost finished, I was interviewed by KPFK (NPR) on the overall subject matter. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a few independent publishers and unbeknownst to the publishing world I went with Authorhouse, which is a vanity press. For any of you out there considering this route I will advise against it. They charged about 600$, and claimed they would send my press release around but I never received any publicity on their behalf. That money was also supposed to be used for editing, proofreading, book formatting, copyrighting, ISBN number, cover design, book signings, and any other concerns associated with book publishing, but I was somewhat disappointed by the result.
I had my first book signing at a bar in Redondo Beach. It was supposed to be at the Moose Lodge next door where special events were held prior, but at the last minute there was a logistical problem, so the bar next door saved us. It was an unusual cultural event, considering I was getting a live tattoo by Stan Corona from Good Time Charlie’s.
Some local bands played at the event as well: The Pacific, The Weather Underground, The Whirling Dervish, and Casper. It was a great turnout, I sold many books that evening, and my father gave a speech during the event. Overall it was a success, which was related to the efforts of close friends and family who put the event together. After that, I had more book signings and my book was sold in some independent bookstores throughout the L.A. County, and online. I was thrilled by the idea of people reading my material and it influenced me to continue writing, so I did. However, I decided to go through the traditional methods of submitting to publishers via query letter, sample chapters, and snail mail. At the time I was living in South America, so it made the process more difficult. I received a collection of rejection letters, which made me question my capabilities as a writer. I took a break for a few weeks and researched independent publishing since the internet has allowed the DIY culture to really take off. So a few years later when I returned to Los Angeles with five completed manuscripts, knowledge of how to start and run a publishing company, and prior experience in setting up and having a personal business, I helped cofound Steam Press Publishing Group.
So now, Urban Politics: The Political Culture of Sur 13 Gangs has a new life with a new label. It is a revised edition that just went live this week, so get your copy at:http://www.amazon.com/Urban-Politics-Political-Culture-Revised/dp/1480205028/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366900011&sr=1-1#_
and keep an eye out for our book signings and events. Support local and independent work!