Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Author Holiday Monday: Another Royal Wedding

Monday, January 10th, 2011

The recent Christmas and New Years holidays (along with the never-ending Bank Holiday Mondays we get here in ol’ Blighty) have got me thinking. Yes, I do this on occasion. Having worked through the holidays nonstop, including Christmas Day and News Years Day, I began to wonder about those such as myself who spend our lives toiling in alternative forms of labour – ie authors and other creative individuals who don’t take home a regular pay cheque or get requisite days off (let alone sick days). Wouldn’t it be nice if WE got a special day off?

Yeah, I know it’s a lot to hope for, but what’s life without a bit of hope?

You’re probably asking what I was so busy doing that I couldn’t even take a minute to myself. Okay, where should I start? There’s this little matter called a deadline that had to be dealt with. Publishers set them – and it’s your job to meet them. So I was correcting the galleys for my upcoming book Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts (going over them twice, I should add). In addition, I was putting together a book trailer and website for the title, while also working on my new anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe (which likewise has a looming deadline), reading material as it came in and working closely with writers whose material I was keen on (I mean, being an editor does require some actual… errr… editing!). In between all this, I had to keep myself fed and watered, attend to my social networking responsibilities (and they are massive), do housework, and look after a rambunctious young bear, who doesn’t like being neglected. There was also the issue of a new vacuum cleaner that needed attending to (the previous and now-famous one having died on me right after the warranty ran out). Oh, yeah, and I was busy fighting an annoying cold I’d picked up from some germy bugger on an overstuffed tube train in London one night when I was on my home from The Smoke. Imagine the footage you’ve seen of passengers in India clinging vicariously to the sides and roofs of train cars and you get the picture. Though at least the Indians don’t pay the equivalent of a London pub lunch for the price of a tube ticket.

Of course I realise that I’m not the only person in the world who has a ton of things to do and not enough time in which to do them. But when you actually have to force yourself not to send out rejection emails to hopeful short story contributors on Christmas and New Year’s day, fearing it would make you look like “Mrs. Scrooge the Anthology Editor,” you know it’s time for an official day off.

A Facebook friend of mine suggested that maybe two authors should get married and give us a public holiday, a la Will and Kate. Since that seems to work as far as adding to the British Bank Holiday curriculum vitae, I said yeah, good idea. So I thought we can play matchmaker between Salman Rushdie and Jilly Cooper (that should get some notice!). Whether either of them is already married is beside the point. They can always get a quickie divorce in Mexico and hurry back here in time for their wedding.

Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I mean, no one really gives a darn about us poor writers toiling away in our dark and dusty garrets. The public reads our books, but do they care about how we are? Hell no. If we need someone to make us chicken soup when we’re sick do they come running with the ingredients and a cooking pot? Hell no. When they see us on the street, do they drag us into Starbucks and treat us to a latte with extra whipped cream? Hell no. They just use us and forget us. (Hmm… kinda like men, eh?)

No, it seems we’re on our own in a big old scary world without a proper and legally recognised day off. The entire world goes off on holiday and there you are, still slaving away and seeing your life flash before your eyes. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Even my gym kept shutting early because no one wanted to work. Blimey.

So on behalf of all us poor overworked authors, will Salman Rushdie and Jilly Cooper please hurry up and get married and give us an official day off?

I mean, is it really so much to ask?

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Self Publishing: Good or Evil?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Mwah-ha-ha!

I guess that depends upon whom you ask…

An interesting debate is going on about the issue of self-publishing. Now I’m not referring to vanity press publishing, I’m referring to bypassing the traditional route to publishing – and therefore avoiding such obstacles to success as literary agents and submissions editors (or their assorted lackeys), who appear to operate as the sole arbiters of taste for the entire world’s book-reading public.

So what exactly is self-publishing? It is taking control of your product and seeing that it actually gets published. This generally happens via electronic books (e-books) and print-on-demand (POD) publishing platforms, both of which are available at little to no cost to authors. These very same platforms are now being utilised by traditional print publishers such as Random House, who have discovered that they can continue to sell their back-list and dead-wood titles without spending any money, not to mention flog additional copies of their more viable books – again, without spending any money. Sounds like a good deal, eh?

Then why is there such a negative connotation placed on authors who also choose to follow this same road? I guess in this case, what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.

The consensus seems to be that traditional publishers dislike authors who employ these forms of self-publishing. It kinda makes you wonder if maybe they’re seeing the writing on the wall. I mean, if more and more authors go this route, there will be less books on offer to publishers – and less books means less revenue. Just think: what if authors decided to avoid the endless hassle and rejection of dealing with agents and publishers and opted instead to do it themselves? Can you imagine if Stephen King told his publishers to go take a flying leap and went into full-on DIY? Imagine how much money his publishers would stand to lose (and how much more he would make!). Oh man, doesn’t it just get your mouth watering?

Granted, Stephen King has a name; he doesn’t need to worry about his books sitting all lonely and unloved in a corner of a bookshop near the toilets. Not a lot of authors are as fortunate as he is. They need to rely on their publishers to push their material into the public arena, to actually SELL it. Err… hang on a minute, did I say “sell”? Aye, there’s the rub. How many publishers put forth any real effort on actually selling a book? Sure, each book gets a marketing budget, but more often than not, it’s barely enough to buy a pack of chewing gum. And don’t think just because you have a big publisher they’re going to break the bank to promote your little book – not when they have to earn back all those ridiculous advances they’ve paid out to their so-called “star” authors.

Now most people who know me know that I work my backside off promoting myself and my various projects. Heck, if I don’t do it, who will? So when my efforts start to get attention from the right people, I expect those who handle “marketing and publicity” to at least follow through when I place leads into their laps. After all, I’ve pretty much done their work for them, right? What I do not expect is to see these leads ignored because said marketing person’s either continually out of the office and not replying to phone and email queries, or just can’t be bothered to do his/her job. For example, awhile back I found out that a television producer had been trying to find me and not having any luck. He later informed me that he’d pretty much given up hope after three attempts to contact one of these aforementioned marketing persons for information on where to reach me (his phone calls were never returned). He finally had his assistant Google me, which resulted in my email address.

So much for the advantages of traditional publishers and their marketing and publicity departments.

One of the main arguments used against self-publishing (which tend to be put forth by traditional publishers) is that self publishing will diminish the quality of books on offer. Really? Have you been down to your friendly neighbourhood bookseller lately and seen some of the crap on offer? I mean, did someone actually wake up one day and decide to publish say, Katie Price‘s scintillating series of memoirs or autobiographies whatever in hell they are? Whether they sell or not is besides the point, especially when the argument these publishers are brandishing about is that the “quality” of books and literature on offer will be severely diminished by these nasty evil self-publishing authors.

I talk to a lot of writers, and I mean published writers, who’ve been there and done that in the traditional way – only to see all their hard work go nowhere (that’s if they even get a book deal). Many of these writers are now realising that they can enjoy a very high royalty rate in this self-publishing game – and they don’t have to share the pot with any literary agent either. Not only do they get to control their product, but they can avoid a lot of ulcers arguing with book editors over editorial changes that may (or may NOT) improve the work. Sure, they may have to work harder to get the word out, but is that any worse than seeing your “baby” being neglected and shunted aside? – only to later be told that it didn’t sell very well, if at all? Well, of course it didn’t sell. No one made any effort to sell it!

The point is, the days of self-publishing have changed. No longer is it your senile old granddad publishing his war memoirs to give the grandkids at Christmas. You’ll be seeing more and more talented and name-known authors going this route, as traditional publishing continues to push more and more talent away from their doorsteps in lieu of publishing more and more tripe they can’t sell in their endless game of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Well, perhaps Peter has finally had enough!

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend