Interesting piece in the Guardian book blog: the paper’s reviewers want to cover independently published books but are unsure where to start. So they solicit their readers for ideas on how to discern the good stuff from the not-so-good stuff.
The comments are notable for a thread about curation. Wouldn’t it be nice, some say, if there were a website that helped the good stand out from the bad, the job that traditional publishers have done in the past. Hmmmm…Is that just replacing one set of gatekeepers with another? But clearly readers want reliable sources of recommendation as do authors.
Another pattern emerges from the comment stream: self-published writers apologize again and again for recommending their own books. One of them points out, fairly, that with so few opportunities for their work to be promoted, self-promotion is their only recourse. Hmmmm…why do authors get knocked for self-promotion when, surely, that’s almost the entire basis of celebrity in this culture? Self-promotion is the currency needed to get attention. When you don’t have a publisher or publicist to get attention for you, then it’s DIY time. Or as one writer put it, self-publishing=punk rock.
One commentator, novelist Alan Skinner, offers this suggestion: “Nothing will give self-publishing as much credibility as winning a prestigious literary prize. I’d love to see a self-published ebook on the long list for the Man Booker, for example. Given the nomination fee, this is unlikely to happen, though. There are other prestigious awards and prizes and it might benefit us all in the long run for a few of us to get together, find some worthy self-published contenders, and set-up a blog to gain some momentum.”
His suggestion is a smart one. Rather than self-published writers talking to one another about their books–or rather, blurting blurbs about their books at one another as in the Guardian thread–what if they banded together to professionalize their independent approach to publishing, gain credibility in the minds of readers, and create a forum for recognition and discoverability…well that would be kind of like punk rock going mainstream. And that would be a good thing.
And yet two unrelated items that crossed my desk today remain on my mind far more than that pressing issue.
The first: Snoop Dogg releases a smokable songbook. Seriously? A book that you use as rolling paper after you’ve read it? According to the Guardian, “the songs are printed on Snoop’s new king-size slim rolling papers, with the pages perforated for easy removal.”
So that got me to thinking. I publish a lot of cookbooks. Could I perhaps publish an edible cookbook? Could this be done?
Turns out I was slow off the mark, last to the party, not as smart as I think I am. Someone has already done this. Seriously. It’s a book made of lasagna pasta and you prepare it while you read the recipe. Then you cook it. You can see the step by step instructions here. Is it a joke? Hard to tell, in part because I don’t speak German, and Germany is where The Real Cookbook was created. But it sure is impressive. As a book and as a meal.
This takes Crazy to a whole new level. (And it’s far more entertaining that the DoJ.)
You simply cannot doubt an author’s commitment when he runs his first London Marathon wearing the bright orange costume of his superhero character. Especially when that character is Johnny Catbiscuit. That’s impressive: 26 miles in an orange cape.
Michael Cox is the author of many children’s books and possesses stunning writerly credentials, including air trombonist. His website is here.
It’s one thing to run a marathon in superhero garb, another to make sure the word gets out. Enter Michael Cox’s son, Tom Cox, also a writer. The most recent in his series of humorous cat-centric memoirs is Talk to the Tail. His piece in the Guardian, My Dad, the Superhero, neatly tells the story of his dad’s marathon and pulls the reader into the warmth of his family’s life. A win for both father and son in publicizing their books. (And I bet Mrs. Cox has some stories to tell, too.)
Would you run a marathon to promote your book?