Saturday, 29 August 2015

Bedside Books


As most of you probably know by now - and if you do not, where on earth have you been - I write Victorian detective fiction, and am published by an independent book publisher called Crooked Cat Books. In October, they will publish the third book in the series, called Death & Dominion. It will be my 14th published novel; there are many many more unpublished ones festering in the ether drawer.

When I signed with Crooked Cat, I was going through a difficult period in my writing: I'd been published by OUP, and Usborne, two 'big' publishing houses. I'd been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for various other awards, but my (ex)agent had failed to place subsequent books with them, or with anyone else

What was fascinating was seeing the varied reactions to the news that I had been signed up by a ''small Indie''. The overwhelming response was positive. Lots of lovely cyber-hugs and congratulations. Lots of tweets and complimentary comments. A few people even hinted to Crooked Cat that they were lucky to sign me!! A statement that, in hindsight, they probably regard with a degree of wry amusement.

However, there was one sour note. A former contact (I maintain very few now) in the literary world suggested that this was a retrograde step for a writer who has always been published by mainstream publishers, and that I would be better off biding my time and continuing to beat my bruised and bloodied (my analogy) fists on what was clearly a very closed door (my interpretation).

A picture of the current 'To Be Read' pile on my bedside table provides an interesting commentary upon the suggestion. Top of the pile is The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Pure escapism. Mainstream published. Stocked in every bookshop and hugely popular.

Next on the pile is a non-fiction book. I always have a 'non-fiction' book on the go. Usually historical. As I'm writing Book 4, I need to get back into the Victorian world. Apart from my own extensive collection of novels and books on this period, I have 4 books I borrow on a rotating and continuous loop from the library. Currently it's Judith Flanders' 'Victorian City'. Mainstream publisher again. Not widely stocked, as not a ''popular'' title.

Third on the pile is Personal Retributions by Andrew French. This is a fast paced spy thriller, set in the 1980s. It is self-published. I know Andrew from social media, and my husband is a great fan of his books.

My point is that all of these books, published in a variety of different ways, have one common denominator: me. I don't really care what route the writers took to bring their work to market, I just appreciate that their books are there for me to read and enjoy. They all end up on the same pile anyway. Or have I missed the point?

16 comments:

  1. I have a sudden urge to jump up from my chair, clapping wildly, while shouting 'well said' at the top of my lungs. A reader doesn't necessarily care about the publishing aspect, they just want a good story. Great post, Carol.

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    1. Thanks Shelley..I have encountered such book snobbery in my writing life!

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  2. I agree Carol. I don't care who publishes a book if it is well written. My to be read pile is of a different genre to yours but I do have a non fiction book there. I love that bed.

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  3. Of course you're not missing the point - and it's one reason why the whole publishing game is so exciting at the moment. The big houses will always have their big names, but there's a wealth of small houses and self-publishers happy to contribute. These are great times!

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  4. Variety is the spice of life Carol and it matters not how a book comes into my hands, I'm always just delighted it's there. Let's all just be thankful that there are different routes to publishing now as otherwise just think about all the books that we wouldn't have the chance to read.

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  5. I say Carol, would you recommend being pubbed by an indie publisher, as opposed to staying on your own? Can they help to sell books do you think? Or is it mainly that they do the editing etc? Like everyone else it's the selling which is my main problem, and I suspect they cannot help there

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    1. Geoffrey..I have blogged about this very thing before. My experience is that NO publisher, mainstream/Indie etc does much promotion nowadays, except for a very few and then only for select authors. You are expected to do the lion's share yourself.alas.

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  6. I absolutely agree. When my (almost finished) novel is ready for the 'bedside tables' of the world, I won't care how it gets there.

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  7. Before joining Twitter I was happily oblivious to who published what; books were always bought or borrowed on premise or liking an author. Since my publishing 'awakening' I'm quite stunned by the snobbery (can get very ranty too!) I'm just very grateful Twitter has made me aware of smaller publishers & the much wider scope of books than I've seen before. I still choose by story or author but will now actively peruse a specific publisher's catalogue as I grow to love the books they champion.

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    1. Smaller publishers themselves are looked down on by the Big Houses...and bookshops like Waterstones are reluctant to stock them unless they get the same 45% discount the big guys offer. I only get stocked as I have a track record. It is sad...the demise of the bookshop is not just Amazon's fault!

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  8. It's why when I do my lists of 'my favourite books of 2014', or whatever, I don't make it 'my favourite indie books', or say whether the book is self pub, small press pub, or trad - a book is a book :) I think the only way for small press pub and self pub to be completely accepted is NOT to emphasise the difference - it's like all this 'women writers' stuff - I find that incredibly sexist!

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    1. ... although their blog hashtag is useful...we do like to categorise, sadly... I agree, a good self pub (by which I mean a writer who has paid for professional editing and cover) stands alongside any small Indie book. A lot of the snobbery comes from critics in the media who refuse to review them, and Big Publishers who like to diss them. More fool them.

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  9. So true, my reading is so mixed up: trad, indie, paperback, hardback, ebook...it's the story that makes the book!

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