A Print Book Out There

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Last Tuesday the print version of where the heArt is was launched at LILAC, Wellington’s lesbian library, quite possibly the only one of its kind. It’s a subscription library and describes itself as “for women-oriented women.” Find out more at its website at: http://lilac.lesbian.net.nz I had been asked to say something about writing and about publishing and to read from the book.

“The best training for writing is reading’ I said; not an original statement, but one I believe to be true. I talked also about content—as in feelings, experience, imagination, thought—and craft, the “how to” of good writing, using Elements of Style, which I mentioned in my last blog entry, as an example of a useful resource.

Deciding what piece from a novel to read to an audience involves considerations of the plot of the book and not giving too much away. So I read the first chapter.

In talking about publishing I referred to the range of ways you can publish, from chapbooks, which are hand made and usually given away to friends and family to publishing by an established publisher with all their weight of expertise, marketing and distribution to bring to your book. The latter, of course, is accomplished by a tiny percentage of people who write.

So I identified a whole bunch of other ways of getting readers, from posting short pieces on Facebook, or your own blog, or entering competitions. Publishing an ebook requires less outlay than publishing a print book, though it’s a mistake to omit editing and design from the process, and it requires time and commitment.

Getting an agent I referred to in passing; it’s not something I’ve ever done myself. Join the New Zealand Society of Authors (www.authors.org.nz/‎), I suggested, for reliable, New Zealand-based information. Poking around on the internet for writing that relates to your own was another idea, you never know who or what you will find.My final piece of advice was to follow this blog.

An option I had forgotten about until my partner mentioned it after the event, is serialisation on the internet. Renée is publishing her book Once Bitten a chapter a week at her website www.wednesdaybusk.com

However anyone decides to seek readers for their writing it takes some effort, you can’t just plonk your story/ poem/ essay/novel on the internet and wait for people to find it. The good news is that there’s plenty of ‘how to’ information out there, just be wary of anyone who wants money before they’ve done anything.


It’s a Book!

There’s something about having your writing in a printed book that’s missing from an ebook. I’m not referring to the book as an object in the hand with heft and smell and texture here, I’m talking about the finality of printed pages. There’s no changing the words, no more editing or design tweaks. You can’t fix that typo or anomaly and upload a new version or make your name bigger on the cover. What you are holding in your hand is what it is. The book.

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(I took this photo on my computer, using Photo Booth, so the image came out as a mirror image. I promise the real book doesn’t look like this.)

The ebook of where the heArt is went out into the world last year. This week three boxes containing a hundred printed copies arrived at my door. I wrote in an earlier blog (January 2013) that a friend who had completed a course on publishing wanted to do a print layout of the book to practise what she had learnt, and she did, with great care and attention. She also designed a better cover, using a photograph I had taken at HIghgate Cemetery in London.

I’ve sent two copies off to legal deposit at the National Library, inscribed one for my partner and keep thinking of more people to whom I want to give one. As long as I sell enough to cover the printing cost …

Anyone who wants a print copy, email me at peajayar[at]gmail[dot]com. It costs 30NZD, which includes P & P (no, not Pat and Prue, packaging and posting).

Here’s a hint about buying this, or any other book, as an epub ebook (for every ebook reader except kindle): go to the unity bookshop site and click your way through their ebook links to the kobo site and buy it from there. To buy it for a Kindle you have to go to the Kindle store. Or you can buy it from Smashwords.com for any ebook.

To buy a print book you go to a shop, hoping they have it in stock or will get it for you. Or you buy it from a website and wait for delivery. Buying ebooks sounds complicated when you list the options, but in fact we generally learn how to do it for the ereader we own and leave it at that.

The reason I go through the Unity website to buy a book for Kobo on my ipad, is that this way Unity Books, my favourite independent bookstore, gets a tiny credit, both in money and in being part of the ebook thing. I think the future of books is in both print and electronic form, so I want to support Unity in both.

One day soon I’ll write a blog about why I prefer not to buy from Amazon.