Friday, 6 March 2009

Feeling a redraft

The world is changing, I can feel it in the waters. Thank you Mr Tolkein, I'll borrow your line. You have to imagine Cate Blanchett saying it though, in her best husky, Galadriel voice. If I substitute on the web for in the waters then I'll be bang up to date. If I sneak book in front of world then I will have completely redrafted the sentence. It now reads The book world is changing, I can feel it on the internet. Hmm, I might have been better to start with my own sentence after all. Redrafting can be like sitting on a whoopee cushion. 
I sense a change in the world of books and publishing akin to the revolution in the music world after the rise of the ipod. To be honest, that's because I am looking in that direction when I am on the net. I need to make it my business to know what's going on if I ever want to get published. A few years ago, I was involved in a big arts project locally. I had written a set of poems for it and was a little coy about pushing myself forward when the press officer alerted me to the fact that no one was going to knock on my door to ask me if I wrote poetry. I took it very much to heart. 
There's a lovely little piece of serendipity here. I am in my local Arts Centre (more free wifi. Yippee!) and have happed in here while there is a book launch going on yards from where I sit. When I ordered my tea I asked behind the bar who, and what book, was being launched. They had no idea. There was no signs, no info on the door. I'll go and find out in a tick, maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? Not to me much, but with a teeny bit more info, I might have bought a book and then, if I'd liked it, I might have told all my students, my book group, my writing group, my online forum friends, twitterers, facebookers plus my family and friends. I am just sooooo well connected! But I'm not going to knock on the door of someone I don't know... Word of mouth is all very well but if, and it is a big if, with the web, a book could go very far indeed. Manipulating the web is next step.
I am completely flummoxed about what to do with my latest (that sounds like I have more than two but hey, I'm bigging myself up here) novel. It is has had a couple of rejections, I have learnt from them and continued to polish and sheen is now a gleam. So? The publishing world is feeling the pinch in every direction. Printing a book is dirt cheap now, anyone can do it. Lulu, Blurb and a host of others produce high quality books. ebooks are on a meteoric rise. My US friend is ecstatic about her new Kindle 3. I'm ecstatic about the Classics app on my ipod Touch. I can read in the dark and turn the page with the lightest tap of a finger. Plus, I can eat and read without having to prop the book open and put my cutlery down every time I turn over! Hurrah! Is this the future though? Dunno. I'm going to pop along to the London Book Fair and check out the vibe (man). 

Redrafts aren't just about checking the plot makes sense, that daffodils aren't blooming in August and that the heroine only has one birthday a year (unless the story is about you know who). Redrafts are about getting right into the corners, just as a chill wind exposes naked flesh. Is the way I have written that sentence the best way to explain what I mean? Hmm, probably not, I can feel a redraft coming on.

ps. I have to say that I regard the expression bigging up as revolting. There must be another way of saying that...


  1. If you don't big yourself up, no one is going to do it for you...well except your friends of course :)
    Can you e-publish a book yourself? If so how does that work and how do you get any money out of it?

  2. Yes, I can self publish and I think that this is increasingly the way to go. It used to be called vanity publishing though and still has something of a stigma about it but the publishing industry is in meltdown along with everything else due to the financial situation. I'm not sure how many publishers will risk thousands of pounds on a new author any more. Not if they're merely competent which is where I put myself. I'm not being self effacing. I tell a good story well, that's all. Nowadays, authors are expected to do a goodly part of the promotion themselves so, in a way, self publishing seems not much different. I'm not quite there yet.