Thursday, October 4, 2012

Death of a Bookstore



Remember the movie, “You’ve got Mail”? Meg Ryan, the cute and perky owner of a small bookstore wages a pointless war against the big-box bookstore and eventually loses. She gained Tom Hanks in the end, and though he’s NO Chris Helmsworth, she seems happy. But I digress.  

The only bookstore in my city has become a Staples. That in and of itself is fifty shades of sad. And it got me wondering. If Hollywood was to do a “You’ve Got Mail 2”, where would we find Joe Fox, the big-box bookstore owner? 

Because the world of online books has literally exploded in the last few years, he would probably be fixing to close many of the same stores that put the little mom and pop shops out of business just ten years earlier.  Dare I say, Fox books might even be heading toward bankruptcy and Mr. Fox himself would be looking into to taking a senior management position at…Staples?

I loathe that my bookstore is gone. I sit with the horse and buggy bunch, constantly cursing both Amazon.com and the Model T. But as an author in this brave new world of books, just as the buggy makers, I have to innovate along with the times or be left in the dust. 

My first novel is coming out as an e-book and Print-on-demand from Amazon, no bookstore necessary- since there’s really not many even around anymore. I’m lucky enough to have a publisher who is reading the market and staying slightly ahead of the curve since the publishing world is changing so quickly. Facebook advertising, website book-tours, the world of traditional publishing is dying a little more every day.

So, we say one final adieu to the old ways of publishing. You’ll find me reminiscing fondly about the smell and sights of the good ol’ bookstore, but bravely marching forward into the new world of publishing, and there's nothing traditional about it. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dog Days

They say every dog has his day...or her day, in my case.
Something all kinds of wonderful has happened, something four years in the making.
Someone said yes.
Someone said, "Hey, this book isn't half bad. We'd like to publish it."
I am just waiting for the contract to come.
And you better bet I am waiting by my hotmail account with, you guessed it, dog-like obedience. 
Big day.  HUGE day. My day.
So break out the milkbones and call me Lassie. Today is this pup's day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top Ten List

Top ten things to do while you wait to hear back from a publisher about your submission:
10. Check your email...every ten minutes- hey, just because your answer didn't come ten minutes ago, doesn't mean it isn't there now...right?
9. Read...and try not to get too jealous that the book you are reading got published when yours is at least 10 times better that it and you keep getting rejections. Where's the justice?
8. Relax- yeah, right.
7. Clean the house- there's something about scrubbing a toilet that kind of resets your brain.
6. Query, query, and query some more.
5. Contemplate self-publishing...again...and then talk yourself out of it...again.
4. Stalk the mailman...and then try not to scream at him for not having your publishing contract in his hand.
3.  Daydream about finding your name at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list.
2. Daydream about finally paying off your student loans from your massive royalty checks that just keep showing up in the mail.
1. Shake off the frustration of not hearing anything today and get ready for tomorrow- hope springs eternal.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Good Advice, Gross Guy


A friend of mine recently told me about a writing exercise she uses for her advanced writing classes. She first asks the students to write a six-page paper on the subject of their choice. They turn that in as a rough draft. The second draft needs to be three pages long. Then she asks them to distill that three page paper down to one page. Then the students write one paragraph that covers the subject they started out writing six pages about. The final draft? One amazing sentence that says everything the teacher needs to know about the subject.
Brutal.
But what an amazing writing strengthening exercise! When querying, publishers ask for anything from a five-page synopsis to a one-sentence hook. It was fairly easy to distill my manuscript down to five pages. That’s a lot of space. But one page? A sentence? Well, that takes a good writer. I’ve found that the more I practice writing, the less words I have to use to get my point across.
As my eighth grade English teacher once said, “Great writing is like a woman’s skirt- long enough to cover the subject, short enough to keep it interesting.” Great advice from a kind of gross guy. Either way, thanks Mr. W for some of the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting into shape

It's always interesting when I am reading the classics, something that was written 80, 100, 200 years ago, and I come across a thought that rings true to me in today's world. And I am embarrassed afresh at my teenage self for ever having said, "But mom and dad, you just don't understand!" Of course they understood. They understood everything. As did their parents, and their parents' parents, etc. There must be something timeless about the human condition so as to make things that were true multiple decades ago still true today.
A quote by Charles Dickens from Great Expectations caught my eye this week:
" I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape".
I love that quote. We, as writers, are working on our craft. We get bent and sometimes broken when rejection comes, when writers block rears it's ugly head, etc. But I look at my work today and feel like not just my work, but myself as an author have become better because of the bending...and the breaking.
If it was true 150 years ago, it is true today. We can be bent and broken, but it is all worth it if we are, in the end, in better shape because of it.