Thursday, 10 July 2014

Writing - Venture Galleries and devaluing books

Caleb Pirtle & Stephen Woodfin

The two gentleman pictured are the godfathers of the Venture Galleries website and Caleb (on the left) has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award for which I am extremely grateful. It entails submitting things about myself (included below) and nominating fellow writing bloggers. As I was preparing this I thought I would share some of what will be shown on the Venture Galleries website in the next few days.

Seven Facts about me:

·         I consider writing as much of a hobby as anything else. I had wanted to write over a number of years but it wasn’t until I was working part-time that I felt there was the time available to do myself justice.
·         I greatly enjoy cooking although I’m not claiming to be a good cook. These days cook for myself only but started creating regularly when my mother, now deceased, could no longer manage for herself. I have no particular favourite recipes but do like to eat Italian.
·         It is counter-productive to be negative in life so even though there are down sides to writing I try to get over them as quickly as possible. I’m not keen on editing but that has been me in all aspects of life. Once I’ve completed a job I have never liked going back over it again. However, if I’m to be negative about anything it would be about selling and marketing. I have often been heard to say that I couldn’t sell fridges in the desert so selling books – I’ve no chance.
·         Apart from writing I do have other interests that consume my time. I have relatively recently taken to writing letters in long hand to Bert Carson, I am fully involved in church activities and particularly as part of the team that tend the graveyard which is large and requires a fair amount of attention.
·         Music is an important part of my life and had been for the last 30 years. It should really have been for longer but I didn’t discover my abilities until a friend at church and another at work pointed out that I had some talent. As a result of their kind words I have sung at an amateur level for an operatic society, a Gilbert & Sullivan society, the church choir and the Huddersfield Choral Society. The latter has had me performing in places in the UK such as Royal Albert Hall and on TV but also as far afield as Osaka, Japan and various venues in Europe.
·         It would be remiss of me not to mention that I’ve been a sports fan all my life. Following in my father’s footsteps I played football and cricket then when in my late 20s took up running. Although never having completed a full marathon I’ve completed a number of runs half of that distance until injury interrupted my running and now I’m the finest armchair sportsman in my house.
·         Finally, although I live alone, I have three children from two marriages all of whom I’m immensely proud. The youngest, my daughter, married earlier this year and announced recently that she is expecting a baby herself so roll on the New Year.

This may well turn out to be a first attempt.

Stephen Woodfin

I read Stephen's blog this morning. He produces many thought provoking pieces and this was one on how books are devalued!
The premise being that rubbishing the author because of the price or mode of publishing devalues books in general when in fact Stephen argues that it is having your work sitting on shelves unread which is at fault and I don't think you can disagree with that. He states that we need to make positive steps to sell our works.
Now this links directly back to the Award I wrote about at the beginning because it is about getting yourself known but there is a psychological problem for many human beings. As a member of the 'baby boomer' generation I was brought up not to push myself forward before other people and pushing my books feels 'wrong'!
I don't think that I'm incorrect in saying that the majority of ordinary folk would fit into that more reserved pattern of behaviour. 
This situation makes it difficult to sell and I have often said of myself that I couldn't sell fridges in the desert but here I have an opportunity. 
So what do you need to do?
Well you could beg!!!!
I do use social media - results are poor down to pathetic.
Personal contact - this has been the most successful but even that is relative.
On the pricing of books I feel that is quite a tricky matter. I recently bought J K Rowling's (writing under the name of Robert Galbraith) Silkworm costing £6.99 for Kindle - it is almost £14 for hardback copy. Now I could price my books at that level but I don't believe that would help sales. 
The price of a book is made up of many factors - printing costs, editing and design costs, advertising, the agents cut and the publisher's cut - this is not an exhaustive list. Add to that the level of consideration you have to give to the current market price of books and you have some ideas to the scale of the problem. For writers who publish independently the expenses are slightly different and not as great, and added to that is the fact that we don't have a 'name'.
I have a 'b' in my bonnet about the accepted publishing route which is not unreasonable an opinion to hold. Publisher's need to make money and that simple fact colours the way they look at totally new writers. An untried author is a risk whereas a famous footballer, jailbird MP or pop singer have 'a name' and part of the marketing war is won. It may only be one battle but it is significant.
So how do we establish a name?
Answer - I have no idea other than to suggest published reviews and word of mouth are probably as helpful as anything.
If you come up with anything please let me know.

God Bless