Going back to book basics

One of Alison Flood’s well-read books!

So it seems like every week there’s a new ‘app’ for books, a new platform to read them on or sell them on. E-reading technology is moving so fast that it’s pretty hard to keep up with things. And sometimes when I look around the room at all my bookshelves, I think that maybe I don’t want to keep up with things! That’s why I really loved this article by Alison Flood I found on The Guardian.

Yes, REAL books, with REAL pages, made on REAL printing presses still exist! And not only that, REAL people actually read them! Now this article’s author is pretty dang rough on her books. In fact, I know some people who think that treating your books the way she does is almost blasphemous.

There are some books in my collection that I treat like special jewels (especially hardcovers), others that I don’t care so much about, and those ones I’m happy to lend to people. And that got me to thinking about why we keep as many books on our shelves as we do? I mean, there are probably only one or two in my collection that I’m going to read again – so why do I keep the others? There are probably some books on those shelves that I didn’t really even like very much, but they’re still there!

I think it means that even though we can get a digital copy of pretty much any book out there instantly, with the touch of a button, there’s still something pretty darn special about reading a physical book. This quote in the comments section says it all: “Reading is sacred. Books aren’t. How would I find passages I’ve loved again if I didn’t turn down the pages? How could I relax into the plot if I was worried about breaking the spine? I say, lose yourself in your books! The more dilapidated they are when you’ve finished the more you’ve enjoyed yourself. A messed up book is better than any book review.”

So how do you treat YOUR books?

Self-publishing gets a boost!

selfublishI read something pretty interesting in the news today. It looks like a university in England has created a master’s degree in self-publishing! I was just as surprised as I’m sure you are!

And as someone who self-publishes, I was pretty excited to read this. And the article explains why. We are constantly having to defend ourselves to authors who are already established in the industry. And that’s the main point: the people who are most critical of it (Jeffrey Archer, Sue Grafton in this article) are already published, and they’re always going to be published. I wonder if they would have said the same thing back when they were starting out? I have my doubts!

Because anyone who knows how publishing works, knows that having a good story to tell is only a small part of the battle in getting your book to print. Part of it is about timing—what’s most popular in book sales and what the editor at the time is interested in. A ton of it is about who you know. And a big chunk of it nowadays is having people know who you are. More and more often editors aren’t willing to take a chance on an unknown—and that’s so sad! Just think of all the wonderful stories we might be missing out on because all the big publishers are busy concentrating on people who already have ten or twenty traditionally published books under their belts.

And really, that’s why I decided to self-publish. My first book, An Elk in the House, was published traditionally. But when it came to other manuscripts, people kept telling me I had great stories, but that they just weren’t the right fit, and that I wasn’t well-known enough. So it certainly wasn’t because I didn’t want to work hard. Because I can tell you, self-publishing is really hard work.

Now I’m not sure whether an entire post-graduate degree dedicated to just that is really the best way to spend your valuable tuition money. Or why exactly you’d want a degree in self-publishing—I would think that if you’re already going to go to university for that long, maybe you’d want to spend that time writing and improving your craft! But either way, I’m glad to see that academic institutions are understanding the value of self-publishing.