If You Want to Self-Publish Your Book, You Should Know about The Book Designer

I’ve subscribed to the Book Designer’s newlsetter for years. It’s an amazing resource and you might want to check it out at bookdesigner.com. Not every post will speak to you equally of course. But these are some of the most detailed and best ideas available, written by a number of people who practice what they preach, with great guest blogs too. If I had a rating system I’d given this one five our of five, or ten out of ten, or, okay, maybe 95 out of 100–nobody’s perfect. If you subscribe, remember, take what you like (or can use or may not want to hear, but know to be true)and leave the rest, because there’s a lot to take in here.

And write on!

What’s a book? Who’s an author? What’s a publisher? A Rant-let!

Years ago, an old friend/colleague, a sales and marketing director in various well-respected, even high-toned literary, houses, once told me this is what publishing is about: what do you buy and what do you sell. In those days, as an editor, I was buying projects that interested me, that I thought fit in with our publishing program, and that had merit–were well-written, presented new ideas, etc. And none of that mattered to my colleague if he couldn’t sell the idea of the book, the author, the book. (And in those days there wasn’t as much direct selling to the reader as there is now. So we were selling to people who were going to sell the book. And of course that still goes on too.)

A few weeks ago I read this article posing the question: is Twitter a book publishing company? Now if I had a dollar for every publishing is dying/changing/being disrupted article I’ve read in the last forty years I could go on a very nice vacation.  (And yes, these articles have been going on for forty years. Those of you who are old enough may remember publishing jobs that no longer exist–typesetters, keyliners, typists.) So why do I keep reading these articles?

Because we are in a sea change. (Not the only one in history, maybe not even the biggest one–printing presses people!) A more recent sales colleague said, somewhat bitterly, he thought there may be more people writing books than reading them. I’m pretty sure that’s not literally true. But a lot of us have a story to tell, information to share. And everyday it seems there are more mystifying, sometimes scary, sometimes exciting, ways to get the word out.

I don’t think the name of the game is keeping up with technology. I don’t think anybody can. In the past week I’ve heard of at least seven new (to me) on-line marketing sites, at least three new independent/self-publishing companies. I’m happy to know about these things exist. I’m excited that there is a revolution in communicating, telling stories, writing the news, writing to celebrate nature, kids, animals. All of that and more. It’s a great time to be alive. But it is not a great time to think any one of us knows it all–the present or the future.

So I’m not going to tell you what a book is. Who an author is. What a publisher does. But if you want to write, and if you want to share your worldview, your story, your dream with readers, you will figure that out for yourself. You’ll spend time surfing (and yes going down rabbit holes) and trying things out.

Oh, yes, and you’ll probably spend hours tearing your hair out to get the structure just right. And more hours in the pure pleasure zone of seeing your ideas and stories come to life on paper or screen.

Write on!

Discovering New Stories, New Writers, and a Computer Glitch or Two Too

Short story: Here’s a link to a great list of recommended reads: http://mic.com/articles/90453/14-brilliant-pieces-of-literature-you-can-read-in-the-time-it-takes-to-eat-lunch. I love collected lists that tout great reads. It’s like those little handwritten shelf notes written by thoughtful people who work in really good bookstores. Only it’s online. And the best part is you can click on the link and the little blue “here” and read them instantly or not.

Longer version: A while ago I signed up for an aggregator newsletter at a site called Stumble Upon. You can tell it what you’re interested in. Then, every once in a while something that leads you on a merry chase through the never, never land of reading interesting stuff instead of marching down your to-do list pops up in your email. So today a piece entitled “14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time It Takes to Eat Lunch” showed up. I love some of these writers. I think Margaret Atwood’s short fiction is BRILLIANT, more brilliant than her novels really. And Lydia Davis and John Updike and Sandra Cisneros and Ray Bradbury. How often do those people show up in one place? And even though I’ve read some things by most of this gang of fourteen here was a list of stories I hadn’t read. And happy day, I could, or so I thought, have instant access to them.

I followed directions and clicked on the little blue “here” to read for free. And nothing happened. Then the smarmy Firefox (which I don’t ever use anymore, but some people do, apparently) showed up to say somebody’s Adobe Flash was outdated and the requested thing was being blocked. Okay.

So it’s from somewhere, this story. Stumble Upon found it, and they give credit where credit is due, mic.om.  I went there and you can too. (See link above.) The same lovely blue “here” was there. I clicked and was sent to–wait for it–Google Books, where I could buy Lydia Davis’s collected stories.

I may well buy Lydia Davis’s collected stories because decades ago in a class Bob Gluck, a brilliant writer and teacher who introduced me to so many writers I didn’t know, put a Lydia Davis story in his reader for a seminar on writing experimental short fiction. And I’d forgotten about her. I don’t remember the name of the story, but if I went into the closet that’s becoming my study and dug through a few boxes I could find it. Or I could order the collected short stories online or better yet see if my favorite bookstore has it in stock.

What I can’t do, with it or any of the other thirteen stories, is click the button and read it here now. So there are some glitches in our instant gratification culture. Maybe it’s because, although Stumble Upon found this article and put it in my inbox today, it was actually written in 2014, I think. And the woman who wrote it has a blog on WordPress, but she hasn’t written anything in it since 2013. Oh dear, I hope she’s okay!

But, I digress. . . What I wanted to say is here’s a great list of short stories I’m not familiar with by readers I love. And one of my great joys in life is being introduced to new writers or different things by writers I know. So I wanted to share this with you. And I am. You have the list. Maybe you’ll be able to click and read. And, if you do, please tell me how you did it.