Thurs. July 20, 2017: Reinventing the Marketing Wheel — A Personal Journey

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Yesterday, I promised some thoughts on marketing, so that is what this post focuses on today.

At this point, the bulk of marketing falls on the author. Traditional publishers get books in bookstores and to distributors, which is an enormous part of the equation. Some of the smaller publishers give as much support as their overextended staffs can. But the bulk is up to the author.

I just wrote an article for WOW-Women on Writing on how to track the results of where you put your marketing dollars to get the best return and to decide where to put the money for the next go-round. I was lucky enough to have several generous authors and promoters share their expertise. I will post the link when it goes live; it’s a piece of which I’m proud — there’s good research and work put into it, and I think writers across genre will find it useful.

This post, being on a personal blog, is more personal.

I’m preparing my backlist for re-release, and hoping to build on whatever momentum I create to move forward in my career.  Traditional publishers want something new; most of them are reluctant to take on a backlist, unless you’ve hit major traditional best-seller lists.  Many of my decisions are the result of sitting down with people I trust to discuss and figure out what I want and need from my career moving forward, and what was working and not working FOR ME. “This is what’s done” isn’t working FOR ME, and I need to create campaigns that work on both creative and financial levels. Sticking to someone else’s formula limits me. Therefore, I have to come up with my own.

It’s not that I have the ego to think I’m so brilliant that I can create an entirely new model. But I want to find a way to engage and expand my readership with my backlist that encourages them to continue on the journey with me for new releases, some of which will be released traditionally, and some of which will be released in channels that haven’t been invented yet. I have to find the best marriage for each individual project. I need to balance business and creativity.

If I’m only going to focus on sales, on the business aspect, I might as well work full time for a packager and only do for-hire work. Nothing wrong with for-hire work; it can be great fun and a way to build craft, especially if it pays fairly. But the reason I write is to make sense of the world, and to find a greater understanding of the people in it. That means I need to work on whatever interests/bothers/upsets/intrigues me. Which may not coincide with what is thought to “sell”. And yet, it may be what certain readers are looking for or yearning for.

Agents and publishers don’t know what WILL sell. They know what HAS sold. Every submission is a gamble, and they have to make their best guess.  They want the next big thing, but no one knows what that is until it’s there. They have to be careful where they invest their time and energy. Where are they willing to take chances?

I completely respect that. Some projects I write will resonate with them; some will not. It’s like dating — you’re unlikely to find your soul mate the first time out. You keep going. And there might be a few heartbreaks along the way. That doesn’t mean either party is “bad”; it means they’re not a good match. You learn and move on to a hopefully better one.

Far too much of the business is run on “everyone does this” and “that’s the way it’s done.” Not every channel works for every book and author. Readers want good deals; bookstores and libraries face ever-tightening budgets, and they have to be particular about where they spend their money. Amazon, for all its convenience, seems to be turning to a model to actively prevent authors from earning a fair return on their work, between the bots that manipulate rankings, arbitrary dismissal of legitimate reviews in favor of badly written, poorly spelled reviews by unqualified individuals with an axe to grind, and sabotaging publishers by pushing cheaper second-hand deals.

I have several re-releases I want to put back out into the world, with the hope that they’ll start earning their keep, continue to build an audience, and pave the way for the next books in their series, and help build a solid platform while I continue, with new work, to pursue more traditional outlets. The goal of each book is that the storytelling and craft improves from the previous book, which means every book becomes a better experience. For re-releases, I can apply what I’ve gained in craft to the release, and thereby position the next book even more strongly, because I’ve got a firmer foundation on which to build.

But the books still need to find their audience.

The plan and execution for each re-release is easier, at least on the emotional level. Far too often, working with some of the small publishers, I’ve taken the “partner” aspect seriously, working with them on ideas and campaigns, only to have the publisher not fulfill what was agreed, and simply shrug it all off. ARCS not sent to reviewers as promised, books that were ordered far in advance not showing up for special events, “forgetting” or “misplacing” information sent for multiple-author promotions. The most destructive, in my experience, is refusing to put a solid release date into the contract, refusing to commit to a date, and releasing a book when the publisher “gets around to it.” Even if the author is doing the bulk of promotional work, you can’t build a marketing campaign that will get a return without solid information.

Being responsible for all the aspects of the backlist releases myself takes much of that frustration away. That’s why many of the traditionally-published authors I know have decided to go indie or hybrid. It’s not because they “can’t” get published by a more traditional outlet. It’s because the publisher isn’t giving them the support that will actually give a reasonable return.  Granted, they start out with a major advantage over me — they had the support of the traditional publisher to build their audience in the first place.

I’m also tired of all the marketing campaigns being so similar. Far too often, I’m scrolling past book promotion posts, because it all sounds the same. Covers are too similar. Cover blurbs don’t hook me. If I see a review quote from a site I know charges authors for a review, I dismiss it.

How does one set oneself apart?

There’s argument that one shouldn’t. This is what readers are used to; this is what they want. I think that underestimates the reader. Yes, there are readers who read to escape, who want something safe and familiar. They want the category romance where the only thing that changes is the character name and location. They are happy with the ever-more-restrictive formula for certain cozies that is more intolerant, that dumbs down character and motivation, and reaffirms their own narrow view of the world.  They’re free to read whatever they want, and I believe there’s a need for every type of book and every type of reader.  We all have days were we want to escape, and not be forced to think too much, or have our views of the world challenged. If that’s ALL a particular group of readers craves, they’re not the readers for whom I’m writing, so I’m not targeting them.

I’m on the hunt for something different. I have three major releases coming up in the fall and early winter, and several short releases. I have to build the individual campaign for each, and I have to integrate and cross-promote where appropriate. Each campaign has to be unique to the release, while building momentum.

I’m going to experiment. Yes, I’ll use some tried-and-true techniques, but I’m also going to come up with some things that are different. I’ll be sharing them as I figure out what they are and how to use them.

I’m starting with the following questions:

–Who is my target audience?

–What elements have given me the best return in the past, and can I adapt any of them for this particular release?

–As a reader, what catches my attention? Can I adapt any of that?

–As a reader, what turns me off? Can I avoid that?

–What makes my book unique, and what tangible aspects of that uniqueness can I use in promotion?

The answers for most of those questions will be slightly different for each release. Since I write in different genres, the target audience for each of the big releases (paranormal romantic suspense, contemporary mystery, paranormal mystery) will be slightly different. There’s room for some crossover, which I hope to exploit. But there will also be differences.

Elements that have worked for me include good media kits and individual outreach (absolutely no generic email blasts). Radio is also always one of my strongest aspects.

What catches my attention? Hard to pin down, but I have to.

What turns me off? Constant demands that I buy the book; poorly written cover copy or excerpts; covers that I’ve either seen on other books or that are so similar to other books I think I’ve seen them.

Two of the biggest turn-offs tend to happen on Twitter: one is a series of identical promotional posts that are scheduled and keep turning up in my feed. The other is when a new-to-me author follows me, I follow back, and get an immediate direct message demanding I buy the book. For me, that’s an automatic unfollow.

Another thing I don’t do is author photographs. I get a lot of flack for that. I write under multiple names in multiple genres. What I look like has NOTHING to do with my writing. I’m not an actor. I’m a writer. My words are my instrument, my words are what I share with the world. My life (which includes my looks) are separate. Readers don’t need a photograph. I have icons that designate the different pseudonyms. It’s even in my contracts. I’ve lost contracts when I refused to supply a photograph instead of the icon that is recognizable for any specific name. Interestingly enough, the ONLY time that’s happened is when the venue didn’t pay, and they wanted to run a piece of mine for “exposure.” In other words, no loss there. Unfortunately, I lost paid contracts when a newspaper ran a photograph of me that it had agreed not to run (I explained my contract). I should have sued the paper. I didn’t, but I lost a series contract thanks to that, as well as a stand-alone contact.  Because it was specified in my contract that I do not do author photographs; I only agreed to the newspaper interview because they promised NOT to run a personal photograph (I provided professional photos of the topic of the interview, which wasn’t even writing-related).  They lied to me and cost me book contracts, which means income.

I’m sick and tired of fighting with people when I hang out and they want to take pictures to post on Facebook. No. I don’t do photographs. Period. I have personal photographs that are in frames or albums with people in my life who are important to me.  I am not part of the “selfie nation”.  I could go into a whole rant on it, but people would feel I judged THEIR choices, which I don’t.  They can take and post any photo they want — as long as it’s not of me.  I have no interest in posting a selfie of me in front of something. To prove I was there? I don’t need to prove anything. That is my choice. That is my right. People can share whatever THEY chose, and it’s not up to me. But I can also choose what NOT to share.

Social media has done a great deal to expand my work’s reach. At the same time, I’m not willing to stop being who I am for fear of offending readers. I’m politically active — in life and on social media. At this particular juncture in time, my very life and that of my family depends on my so being. I’m not going to stop. That may turn off readers. Chances are, they are readers who wouldn’t like my books anyway, because my characters stand up for social justice and tolerance, and fight against oppression, tyranny, racism, bigotry, misogyny. Readers who don’t believe in those issues aren’t going to like my books anyway. Nor will I let them bully me by threatening not to buy my books if I’m politically active. Then don’t buy my books — you are not my target audience. It is your choice where to put your money. I’m an advocate of conscientious consumerism, and means respecting the choice of those who’d rather put their money elsewhere. We’ll go our separate ways. YOU are not going to change what I write. I write what I write, and I endeavor to get it out to the widest audience possible, who then CHOOSES if it’s what they want or not. It’s fine to be “not”. There are plenty of books and authors that don’t work for me. I wish them well in their careers and move on.  I don’t argue with them or publicly trash them.  I move on.

In fact, an author whose work I used to read fairly regularly (although I feel she’s dumbed down her last few books) complained about authors being politically active and threatened to stop following or supporting any authors who remained active. Although I consider her a midlist author, she is traditionally published, and believes that her platform has strong influence. Fine. That’s her choice. But she’s now dropped from MY list. I wish her well; I hope she’s happy and successful. I didn’t argue with her or try to bully her into changing her views.  But I choose to spend my hard-earned money on other authors, and I choose to spend my time with people who respect my beliefs, even if they don’t always agree with them.

As a dedicated member of PEN, who used to work on behalf of incarcerated authors all over the world when I lived in New York, walking my talk is vital to who I am and what I write. I’m not going to dilute it because it threatens certain readers’ narrow frames of reference.

Again: they are not my target audience.

And the rule of marketing that works, after “write a good book” is “know your audience.”

My goal is to create interesting, engaging campaigns for books in which I believe. I want to expand my audience. I want to write books that interest, entertain, and maybe make readers look at the world a bit differently. I want to create marketing campaigns that are less of “Buy my book, damn you” and more “come play in this sandbox for awhile — you might enjoy yourself.”

I’m still working out the details. I know I’m going to pursue interviews (blogs, print, radio). Once print editions are available, I may start pitching for appearances again. My media kits are vital tools, and the Media Room on my website is the one of pages with the highest traffic.

I also spend time dissecting what is unique about each release. Themes, characters, leitmotifs that turn up in the books. I want to build aspects of each marketing campaign around that, to make the campaigns more unique. I’m not sure what all of those are yet, but I’m working on it.

Will any of this work? I won’t know until probably 2019. I’m going to try different elements. Some will work. Some will not. I’ll adjust.

One of the biggest challenges is handling of all this, keeping on schedule, and maintaining momentum while staying on track with new projects and with the freelance writing that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head, AND dealing with the difficult personal issues that I’m currently dealing with.

But, most important of all, I will keep writing.

I hope you continue on the journey with me. I hope you will learn from my experience. If my mistakes can prevent any of your own, that will be a positive, in my opinion.

Namaste!

Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career

Friday, December 2, 2016
Waxing Moon
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday, I got some errands done and then started on the rewrite of TAPESTRY, which needs to be done in mid-January. I had forgotten how much fun that book is; definitely quirky and breaks formula a lot. Some of it I can make work; some will have to be rewritten, because there are logistical problems. I’ve tweaked the frame of the piece a bit, which I think works better, but kept the action in the mid-1990s.

I’m also starting a binge read of the books by Vicki Delany. I read her Constable Molly Smith novel NEGATIVE IMAGE and really liked it, so I’ve ordered everything else I can find by her from the library. And then, yes, I’ll be BUYING her work, because I believe in supporting living authors with my dollars. Dead ones, not so much. It’s not my job to support their descendants. Living authors — we all need to support each other to make sure we can continue writing.

It took awhile to get gussied up for the Spectacle of Trees party, but it was worth it. Used every Broadway wardrobe trick in the book on myself, and it worked. The party was a lot of fun, the wreaths went for good sums of money. I helped clean up, got home, and got right into my jammies. We needed something sparkly and joyful after the month we’ve lived through. And I got the sweetest thank you from the event organizers this morning for all my extra help.

The last of the books I need to finish the play arrived, so I can dig into that either later today or tomorrow. I want the play (with a new title, I hope), out the door by next Tuesday. Then, the attention goes back to JUST A DROP, and also to the short story I have to submit for inclusion in the anthology.

Yet my mind is churning with creative ideas; I want to keep WIPs on track, so that there’s material ready to launch as other pieces fall into place, especially where the various series are concerned; I want to revise, polish, and get out some of the projects I put aside out of frustration, but which have potential.

It’s about finding the right people to partner with, not just trying to change material to please them. If I’m going to do the latter, it’ll be a for-hire contract with a big paycheck up front; if it’s going to be MY vision, then I need to be true to it and not compromise on elements that dilute the work. The work needs to be as strong and unique as possible, and that’s what will enchant the reader.

If all I do is try to conform to formula, it will dilute my unique, quirky characters and stories, go against the themes I’m trying to explore, and not engage the readers I want to engage. Readers who only enjoy tight formulas and want the comfort of knowing the ending when they start the book aren’t the readers who will respond to the themes, characters, and situations I write anyway. Rather than trying to please them, it’s far more important to please myself (within the context of always improving my craft).

Every book or story I write needs to be better than the previous one, on a craft level and every other level. If I don’t like the other books an agent represents, it’s probably not the right agent for me; same thing with a publisher.

I’ve been truly lucky in most of my editors with my published work. They’ve understood what I was trying to achieve and guided me to make the material stronger without losing what makes it unique. I am so grateful to my editors.

I want the security of a traditional publisher with a recognizable name, only that security doesn’t exist any more. I watch the authors I like reading best dropped from their Big Five contracts, and authors whose work I don’t like (because they’re bland, lack craft, and, in some cases, the protagonists are bigoted, racist fools, and not because the author is trying to communicate that’s a negative) being heavily promoted.

The books I enjoy are, for the most part, coming out of small presses and, in some cases, independently published. Indie publishing is always hit and miss, because so many of those books are so published because the author lacks the craft to land an agent or a traditional contract. Yet, more and more ARE well-crafted, and have more interesting characters and situations and a broader context than that coming out of traditional houses.

Small presses are great because they are small, and they’re willing to take chances on the unusual. If you find the right small press with which to click, everything is possible. Of course, because they are small, even if you, as an individual, do your part, if every other author in the stable isn’t holding up their end, the publisher can burn out.

There’s a difference between incorporating notes/feedback into a manuscript to make it the best it can be, and changing it to fit someone else’s formula. If all they like and all they can sell is X, and I’d rather do Y, then I have to have enough savvy to realize that when they want it to conform to X, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s to make it better. It’s to make it fit. I don’t have to fit, if I’m willing to put in the thought, time, and effort, to do something else. It means not signing with them, but so what? The advances have gone down considerably in most cases, and few traditional houses are putting effort into promoting anything that doesn’t have to do with manipulating the so-called “best seller ” lists.

It wasn’t until I worked in a library that I realized just how much manipulation goes into those lists, and how little has to do with the actual worth of a book.

All of that has to be taken into consideration as I make my decisions in the coming months. I also want to redefine how I promote my work. I don’t WANT to do the same thing everyone else does — there’s a saturation of desperate promotion that works for very few. Instead, I want to craft campaigns that are as unique and quirky as the material I’m promoting.

The next couple of years should be interesting, craft-and-career-wise.

In the meantime — I have a play to finish!

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 10:14 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 2, 2016: Redefining How I Want to Handle My Writing Career  
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Sunny and warm

Woke up at four, but that was too early to get up. Went back to sleep, slept through the alarm, and was late going for the run. It was so light, and I felt so exposed. But I did my double circuit anyway. I prefer to go just as dawn breaks, experiencing the changeover from dark to morning. And there are fewer people and cars out, too. Although the guy running with his golden retriever on my last circuit was pretty funny. The dog. The guy was fine, but the dog, in typical golden retriever fashion, came over and was all, “You wanna run, right, right, right? Play? Play? Pet me, pet me, pet me? ‘Cause you wanna play, right, right, right?”

One of the struggles I have with POWER OF WORDS is that, no matter how strongly its story wants to be told, I don’t see where it will slot once it’s completed and polished. It’s going to be a damned hard sell, and I worry about spending time on it when there are other projects in the queue that are more likely to sell. Since this is how I make my living, I don’t just get to write whatever I feel like writing. I have to balance it with what brings in the money in a timely fashion. It’s finding a way to juggle the multiple projects without anything getting dropped that’s always the challenge, charting out the individual day to get it all in, and make sure there are enough short turn-around, quick-pay projects to keep the bills paid. If I try to ignore the project that’s calling loudest in order to work on something that’s ahead of it in line, the creativity freezes, the muse turns her back, and that’s it. NOTHING gets done. But unfinished projects drain creative energy, so putting something aside to work on something else is also counter-productive. They have to be worked on in tandem, and that becomes a challenge. Someday, I hope to get advances large enough to cover a few months’ bills and royalties coming in that are large enough and regular enough so I don’t have to worry about short-turn-around, quick-pay projects. If I want to take on something like that, I can. Frankly, working on a short story in the middle of a novel gives me energy, because I’ve got the momentum of completion on my side and I can funnel that back into the novel.

So I hear Matt Smith is awesome as the new Dr. Who. I loved David Tennant’s work — but then, I love most of his work. When we get the new DW episodes over here, I look forward to seeing what they do with it. Those of you in the UK, what do you think?

All kinds of technical difficulties on the workshop forum made the weekend particularly frustrating.

I need to take a breath this week and really think about whether or not I want to teach another workshop for this group again. I truly appreciate the students. I pushed them very hard, didn’t cut slack, and most of them rose to the challenge; but, overall, it has not been a positive experience, and cost me far too much in time, lost income, and creativity. Because the lost income influences the other two enormously, that’s been the biggest issue. What I was paid was out of proportion to the amount of time and energy necessary to make the workshop valuable. I’m not going to punish the students because of the situation and give them less than they signed up for because I made a mistake in the negotiation. Live and learn, right? Honestly, at this point, I’m ready to say I’m done with teaching ANYWHERE, but that’s not a rational decision, it’s coming out of a huge place of frustration and anger, much of which is my own fault. So, I’ll take a breath, try to negotiate some more safeguards, and make choices from there.

This past week in general was a test on several fronts. On two occasions, I chose to be gracious instead of confrontational. Not because I wanted to be a hypocrite, but because I felt erring on the side of politeness would get us all farther in the long run. I nearly bit my tongue bloody, but I got through it. Hopefully, the gamble will pay off.

I am just tired, tired, tired. It doesn’t matter how many hours I sleep, I’m still exhausted, because it’s about so much more than actual sleep.

I read Book 3 of CE Murphy’s Walker Papers series, COYOTE DREAMS. Again, I really liked it. Normally, the amount of narration she uses would drive me away from the books and make me cross my eyes and put it down. But she uses narration actively and specifically, even when there’s a lot of it. And, let’s face it, it’s the best way to communicate the shamanic journeys. She’s chosen the best and clearest way to tell her very interesting stories, and it works. I’m learning as much about craft as I am enjoying the books just to enjoy them. I also recommended them to the class. I want to track down books 2 & 4 now, and her other series.

The writing has not gone well these past two weeks, and that has to change. I’ve got deadlines coming up, and if the work I submit is crap, it won’t matter that I met the deadline. If I miss the deadline, I miss my shot. So, not only do I have to hit the deadline, it has to be GOOD.

On an up note, I got a request for a partial from an agent. I’m pleased, and I’d like to find a partner in the business aspect of all of this, but agents have to be so specialized nowadays that I despair on finding someone who will represent the whole package of the writing, not just a piece of it. I’m simply not going to stop writing in different genres. I’ll write in whatever genre serves a particular set of characters best. Nor do I want to stop writing plays — I love them too much. The theatre is my home, on many levels. I don’t want multiple agents — I want one person who believes in my work and my worth. That’s why, to this point, I’ve only worked with a lawyer. But I’ve got too much going on to deal with every nut and bolt myself — I need someone used to kicking in the doors and doing the negotiations so that I can get my work done.

Can I just say this is all way too much like dating until you find The One?

Because, really, I’d rather not be a Literary Polygamist (which is what I call having multiple agents). And, as in dating, there are plenty of agents with whom I interact regularly whom I really like and respect, and yet who I know are not the right match.

This week, I’ve got to deal with the scumbag landlords.

AND, my new play opens this week, which I kind of keep forgetting, because of everything else that comes up. I know, how could I possibly forget something like that? Just shows how much is going on. I hear it’s going well, although they had to cancel a preview because they “weren’t ready”, which concerns me. Yes, that’s common in production, to push back a preview, but it still always worries me.

Elsa felt well enough to play with the Easter eggs I brought back from Prague (those intricately decorated ones), so that’s a good sign. Of course, then I had to dig Easter eggs out from under all the furniture. But, if she’s getting better, it’s all worth it.

A batch of ideas hit me all at once, and I scribbled some notes. A few of them are, I think, short projects, and I can get them out relatively quickly. One of them is longer, and I’ve started a notebook for the research and the situations and the details I need to figure out before I can even start a Writer’s Rough, much less any pages. Gotta love Strand Books — they get something in that ties in with a current project, they get it out to me. I love them madly, and they are the Bookstore O’ My Dreams. I’m so lucky that I can spend time there, or, at the very least, order from them when I can’t get there in person!

Finished the material for Confidential Job #1. Will send off the notes today.

I am so looking forward to having tomorrow and Wednesday off!

I had a GREAT writing session this morning, set in Jain Lazarus’s world, but with a different set of characters (not Hillary, from the story that moved from San Antonio to Bath, ME, but really wants to be set in San Antonio). Obviously, I’m missing Jain’s world, but this book, although there’s a loose tie to the same organization, definitely stands on its own. The entire story came to me yesterday, after I overheard a remark spoken in an interview by an actor whose work I admire. I was going to write an article in response, supporting the information in the interview and going further, but It got me thinking. Instead of treating it in its original realm of non-fiction, why not push the possibilities into fiction? I did some research, Edwina started kicking my ass and telling me I damn well better pay attention, and the whole structure of the piece revealed itself. I made a lot of notes, and the first 1600 or so words flowed easily this morning.

I’ll go back to finish the work for Confidential Job #1 and then do some work on the novella. I’ve also got to finish prepping an interview that goes up on BIBLIO PARADISE tomorrow. And wind up the workshop.

It’s the first really good day of writing I’ve had in far too long. If I get everything done that I need to (which includes some errands), I’ll treat myself with another session on the Edwina piece.

Back to the page.

Devon

Thursday, September 17, 2009: Guest Blogger Colin Galbraith

Colin’s one of my favorite writers and my favorite people. He kindly agreed to guest today, with some opinions on why literary festivals are so important.

Publishers and Literary Festivals: Why We All Benefit
by Colin Galbraith

Literary Festivals in Britain were once a very sparse commodity. In 1983 when the Edinburgh International Book Festival began, there were only around 30 literary festivals in the whole of the UK. Now there are over 300 and their burgeoning popularity can be attributed to several important elements, not all of them what you might assume.

Despite the mistaken belief that the sale of books is in decline brought on by the worldwide recession, more books are now being sold in the UK then ever before. Some economists commented that the public’s drop in disposable income might lead to a decrease in sales, yet with more people looking for new and cheaper forms of entertainment within their homes, the good old book seems to be benefiting greatly from the credit crunch.

This increase in book sales is often attributed to the popular market for of so-called celebrity biographies. A girl/boy band member or popular sports personality that sells their story before Christmas will usually be guaranteed a best seller with massively hyped royalties. However, scan your eyes down the best seller lists on any given week and it’s clear to see that celebrity tell-alls are not the only thing people are buying in numbers. As I write this article, the UK fiction chart lists such writers as Gregory Philippa, Kathy Reichs, Mark Billingham and Danielle Steele. Score the celebrity entries out with a pen and it becomes clear to the naked eye that something great is happening in this country—mainstream and literary fiction are in huge demand.

The publishing industry has come under much scrutiny for the manner in which it has cashed in on celebrity non-fiction books, and while I can personally think of nothing worse I’d like to read, I think there is a side benefit to having these books on the shelves.

Put simply, the money generated from them allows publishers to bankroll new writers. It gives publishers the confidence to bring in new and fresh talent, and to take risks where otherwise they might not have.

It’s also a way into reading for many readers who may have forgotten the pleasure that can be gained from reading a book. Maybe they’ve begun by reading a personality biography, found they liked the act of reading and so end up walking over to the fiction shelves in their nearest book shop.

And as the interest swells and the money flows, publishers over the last few years have realised the benefit in bringing everyone together under the one roof, and thus the dramatic explosion we have seen in the literary festival.

Literary festivals are a great way of increasing the interest and keeping readers and publishers in touch, and by doing so, the cycle of publication is strengthened allowing more good books to find their way into the market place, and therefore, new writers.

Without readers there can be no publishing industry, and literary festivals take full advantage in exploiting this to everyone’s gain. When the Edinburgh Book Festival first set out it had small dreams but it is now widely regarded as the biggest in the world, laying claim to almost a quarter of a million people attending during the two weeks in August it runs. This year’s festival saw 1.8 million ticket sales and a running capacity of 80%. When one considers these phenomenal statistics, it becomes clear that something great is happening again in book-world, and everyone is benefiting.

At literary festivals, established authors get the chance to talk about themselves and their books, they get the opportunity to meet their fans, receive adulation, and feel gloriously important. They get to show off! Considering they spend most of the year with imaginary people in solitary conditions, who can blame them for wanting to get out and socialise with their industry colleagues?

And for those writers who have not hit the top 5% of writers that don’t have to worry about how the mortgage will be paid, they are able to gain the reassurance that there are other writers out there in the same boat. They get to brush shoulders with agents and publishers, promote themselves, and of course, learn from their contemporaries. Sometimes, as in the case of my own feelings towards the Edinburgh Book Festival, for example, just being around other readers and writers is enough to motivate me.

But it’s not just readers, publishers and writers that benefit from literary festivals, so too does the surrounding area and the economy. With the arrival of all these different literary groupings, hotels, bars, restaurants and book shops fill up rapidly. Everyone’s a winner!

So when you see Katie Price’s next novel on the book shelf and hear yourself moan about the decline of standards in British publishing, think about the roll on effect that her book will have. Writers, readers, agents, publishers, book shop owners, coffee shop managers, hoteliers, bar owners and everyone else who has a vested interest in ensuring that the publishing industry gets stronger and stronger, and everybody gets a fair share.

Reading fiction or poetry may not be seen as fashionable or trendy, but tell that to the millions of people who enjoy it, and the thousands that earn a living from it. You certainly couldn’t tell if you had joined me in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh this August. An underground movement perhaps, but the people are speaking, the people are shouting: “let’s celebrate the book!”

Bio
Colin Galbraith has published two books of fiction and two books of poetry. He writes the occasional article, and is the News of the World’s “man in the east” for music reviews. He can be found at www.colingalbraith.co.uk

Copyright © Colin Galbraith 2009

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 1:49 am  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

I’ve never been good at waiting. Patience is not one of my virtues. I can be patient with a rescued animal, trying to gain its trust; I can be patient getting to know a horse. But people? Not so much.

The contract requests are in to the publisher. They’re small tweaks, but very important to me, and we’ll see if they’re accepted. They both deal with contexts of my work beyond any single piece, which is why I keep them consistent from contract to contract, no matter which publisher is involved.

Still waiting to hear back from the producer – which is fine. For crying out loud, it takes more than a day to make a decision. But I don’t want to work on FEMME FATALE or SIDEKICK until I know I’m going in the right direction with tone, style, content, etc. with MATILDA MURDERS.

Still trying to figure out how to structure the next sequence of scenes on the adaptation, and didn’t get anywhere near enough work done on the anthology story. Yesterday wound up being more about admin work than creative work, which is a little frustrating, but it was necessary.

I’m out of the house today by ten a.m. and not home until midnight. I got called in for another photo call for the show, and then, well, there’s the show!

I started the pre-Belmont article, which I’ll finish tomorrow and get out.

The listings on the job boards have been frustrating: either the pay is insulting or the topics are out of my range of . . . let’s say, willingness to work. I wouldn’t be good writing about real estate because I have such a low opinion of most of the people I’ve met in the real estate and development business. So I stay away from those listings. And listings that are vague or don’t list payment – usually they’re by those site owners who want a slew of articles per week for a pittance – again, not worth my time.

I better get cracking on those brochures. I’ve been putting together a list of prospective clients, and a new brochure and another print run of snappy business cards will be a step in the right direction.

I’m out the door – have a good one.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 6:08 am  Comments (7)  
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