I've received questions and the blog has received searches for an entity called "Bookbeat TV."
This blog is unrelated to any other media organization. I've been writing my Book Beat column since 2005.
So whatever the television outfit is, it's got nothing to do with us.
Best to all, Kay B. Day
P.S. If you're an author and you want to be on television with your book, pitch a mainstream station. Or start a blog and upload some video of yourself. And unless you're on a popular talk show like Oprah, television (or any other media) is not a magic bullet.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
First in a series of meditations on options for authors
Self-publishing causes more waffling than a politician can exhibit.
Many mainstream reviewers won’t touch a self-published book, and many bookstores won’t stock them. I’m not sure why reviewers won’t touch them, because many books that go through a publisher and a filter aren’t much better than vanity books, and nor are they more honorable. James Frey ring a bell?
According to the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 22, ’07), “the top 12 consumer publishers in the U.S., as measured by revenue, generated about 67% of consumer sales of $8.88 billion, in 2005, or $5.94 billion.” WSJ quotes Albert N. Greco, professor at Fordham Graduate School of Business. Greco studies the book industry.
And you thought Wal-Mart had the corner on monopolies.
But what about all the book sales that weren’t measured? What about sales of books at coffee shops, independent author readings for groups or schools, and online sales directly from author sites?
I’m not so sure the book industry can be accurately measured anyway. How many of those “top 12 consumer publishers” received substantial returns? It’s common. Would those returns change the figures? Were they factored in?
The brouhaha over self-publishing isn’t going away any time soon. And lately, I’ve talked to a number of reputable authors who agree sometimes, self-publication can be the right thing to do.
Say you get a book published traditionally.
If you go with a big house, you’re going to need to sell around 20,000 books to justify your existence. Chances are you will not have a p.r. person to hold your hand. You’ll handle much of the legwork for a tour (if your publisher allows you to do signings and they will not always do so). And your advance will be given with the understanding it will help cover your costs. Then you have to earn the advance back.
Go with an independent press, you’re going to need to sell around 5,000 books to keep your title active. These presses, except for those connected enough to receive some sort of government grant, will be hard-pressed to market and promote, and it will be an uphill battle all the way unless they’ve established a presence in the marketplace. That requires schmoozing bookstores and other retail outlets, and building a solid list of titles. As author, your advance will be small, if you get one at all, and your royalty will probably be a percentage of the wholesale cost, something many small presses are expressing enthusiasm for.
If you go with self-publishing, and you sell around 5,000 copies, you stand to actually make some money. But you will do all the work, fulfillment, billing and marketing.
I’ve said it so many times. The book biz sucks.
So what’s an author to do?
I’ll offer more musings on this topic next week.
Question for visitors:
How do you feel about self-publishing?
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Ray Nielson, a Jacksonville poet (far right), enjoys a stroll with his dog and a talk with some friends, after Dorothy Fletcher and I read at Walter Jones Historical Park in Mandarin.
If you’re a poet, this is a great way to spend Saturday morning. Coffee and muffins in a room that shines with old things—Civil War artifacts, an arrowhead honed by the Timucuan, a rifle so tall a short soldier would have had problems handling it.
A dozen or so people are here for poetry, one of them a talented poet in his own right.
Dorothy Fletcher and I did a poetry program Saturday for the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. We shared readings from our Library of Congress “Florida Poets Arrive” program.
Dorothy conjured imaginary blueberries, re-created her father’s favorite dog, and told stories about growing up here in the 1950s. I recounted the tale of a little white church with stained glass windows, now turned into an antiques shop. I also read an aubade I wrote for my husband, and a poem touching on our irreverence and lack of stewardship for rivers. One of my poems, The Wishing Sky, was inspired by a photo by Dan Scanlon, run in the Florida Times Union. We gave a framed copy of Dan’s picture to the coordinator of Poetry at Noon at the LOC.
Karen Roumillat, a MM&HS member, tells me the little white church was the previous home of First Baptist Church in Mandarin, a huge brick complex that has a school, church, and other facilities. We talk about the trip and our writing.
Dorothy and I (photo at right) spent about 45 minutes together, with strangers and friends, in the administrative building at Walter Jones Historical Park in Mandarin before heading outside. The society helps maintain the park. After our reading, we toured the park, enjoying a stroll through a cottage offering a glimpse into life in the late 1800’s. Karen and member June Weltman, who is the author of an award-winning children’s mystery book, kept our stroll upbeat as we walked along the river boardwalk and onto the plantation site. It’s a sunny temperate day with blue skies and no bugs. The St. John’s is shining. Other people are walking in the park. We’re having a false spring because the weather is warmer than normal (and normal is low 70s most days this time of year.)
Harriet Beecher Stowe spent many winters in Mandarin, and lines from her book Palmetto Leaves come to mind, where she describes the St. John’s River as, “like a looking-glass, the sun staring steadfastly down.”
We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier experience. Poetry, a beautiful river, fascinating antiquities, interesting people.
Afterwards, a group of us went to Truffles and had lunch outdoors. The avocado/tomato/cucumber sandwich with pesto was on special. With a glass of peach tea, it was super.
If you’re a poet, this is a great way to spend Saturday morning.
A lone fisherman enjoys a morning on the St. John's.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
We were unwrapping presents Christmas morning, and I came across one that said, “To Dad from Dad.” My husband gave himself a video.
I liked his idea so much I picked up a gift for myself the next day. I’d gone to get a book for a friend who was coming to visit. So I bought myself one too. I’ve been buying Greg this book for Christmas for at least 20 years. I figured it was time to see why he likes it so much.
There are different versions from different publishers, but I selected The New York Times Almanac of Record, 2007, for myself. There was only one copy of the almanac Greg likes; it’s published by World Almanac Books.
I’ve been thumbing through my copy, and have learned things that might be useful to me if I ever go on a game show. For instance the highest per capita personal income in the U.S. is earned in Loving, Texas ($89,471.00). Wanting to know more, I did an Internet search for “Loving.” After several curious starts, and some bizarre site suggestions, I added the word “Texas” to my search bar.
The town wasn’t named by flower children, it’s named for a cattleman, Oliver Loving. Wikipedia says the 2004 census tallied a resident population of 52. I wonder if they’re loving “Lovingers.”
Thumbing on, I came to a page listing Pulitzer Prize winners in poetry. Most of them are men. I say this simply as an observation.
If I forget my standard weights and measures, some of which I don’t even remember well enough to forget, they’re all in my almanac. I now recall a furlong=40 rods or 660 feet.
There is also a list of major earthquakes over the last 1,700 years or so.
Thales of Miletus accurately predicted a solar eclipse in Asia Minor in 585 B.C.
It’s a fun book, this almanac. It’s also inspiring. I am certain many columns, articles and poems will come forth as a result of my wandering through its pages. For instance, the National Book Awards for fiction have also mostly gone to men. Same goes for the Pulitzer for national reporting. American literature surely has a lot of prize-winning male authors. And now I know that courtesy of my almanac.
It’s a small but big gift, to me from me.