Monday, January 26, 2009

Old and New Realities: Self-Publishing Gets a Nod From the Media

"Saying you were a self-published author used to be like saying you were a self-taught brain surgeon." Lev Grossman, in "Books Unbound: The Forces of a New Century are Shaping a New Kind of Literature. It's Fast, Cheap and Out of Control," in the February 2 issue of Time, reminds us, and he gives some grudging respect to beleagured self-published authors. Some of their books have gone on to best-seller status.

I've written before about the agonies and perils of the traditional publishing process: the long and often futile search for agent and publisher, the shrinking advance, the slight chance of seeing a book actually published, the quick trip to the remainder bin if a book doesn't sell well.

The traditional publishing industry is suffering, but people are still reading. What's happening? "Old publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste." Publishing as a whole is expanding in new forms.

According to Grossman, this is "neither good nor bad; it just is." Once, novels were considered vulgar and immoral, but "they shocked and seduced people into new ways of thinking." The very idea of self-publishing anything, fiction or non-fiction, still seems undignified or contemptible to many. Still, self-published books give everyone a chance at self-expression and are likely to seduce us into new ways of thinking. This is, indeed, a brave new literary world.

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Casual Musings from a Non-Bestselling Author

Occasionally I consult my profile, looking for news on my book sales there. To say that they are disappointing is to understate the case. It's a good thing I don't depend on book sales for a living.

Anyway, this morning (at 6:25 a.m., to be exact), I discovered that my little $9.95 book Seniorwriting ranked #46 in the Books> Nonfiction> Education> Adult & Continuing Education category. I've never seen it higher than the 60's there, so I was elated. It's not the money; I make only a dollar or two on each sale. I think it's just that a book is like a child to its creator, no matter how minor or insignificant it may be to others.

I still hope that this little book will help some senior non-writers get started on their memoirs, and that anyone affected by the book will contact me. Never mind that one reviewer objected to the fact that it doesn't help the reader to write "serious novels." If I knew how to do that, I'd be a novelist myself. The rest of the reviews are very positive.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Written on Moving Day, January 9: It's the Little Things that Matter

One of the saddest things about my move was seeing my former cat Lyon's favorite toys suddenly revealed when a living room cabinet was moved. There they were: a light blue catnip mouse and a red-and-yellow hedgehog. The latter was a funny-looking toy, but I still remember marveling at the soon-gone identifying label. Without the tag, I wouldn't have had any idea what it was. Both toys still bore traces of cat hair mixed with dust.

Chasing those toys, and others, across the floor, where they eventually disappeared beneath the furniture, was Lyon's favorite pastime until he got too old for such frivolity. I always tried to retrieve the toys, but obviously those two got away from me a few years ago. Suddenly I remembered those years of watching Lyon and the cats that came before him at play, and I was sad. As I approach what will probably be my final move, nostalgia reigns.

When I first contemplated this move, back in 2004 or so, I made a point of asking if pets would be allowed at The Clare. I wouldn't have signed up if the answer had been "no." But little more than a year later, Lyon succumbed to complications of his diabetes. Will he be replaced? I don't know, but seeing his old toys reminded me of pleasant years.

In the traumatic process os moving, it is, indeed, the small things that are memorable.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tomorrow is Moving Day!

I'm finally moving into The Clare at Water Tower, after many problems and much angst. Check my other blog, "Never too late!" for part of the story and two pictures.

There probably won't be new posts here for a while, but later I hope to write about my efforts to get my fellow residents writing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

On Moving to a Senior Residence: A Rictameter

On Moving to a Senior Residence

This is the week
To leave a familiar
Scene behind, with memories good
And bad, joys and problems, things to deal with.
Is anyone ready to move?
For me, a final choice.
Better or worse?

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne