This is a new venture for me, as my site has been used primarily for displaying art up to now. The publication of my new non-fiction book “Your Turn To Find The Hammer” now in the Kindle e-book format means a “Writer’s Blog” will be more appropriate to handle any social media comments or discussion.
Mind you, few readers ever contact writers (when did you last do that?), but in this age of social media and ease of sending messages back and forth, this tradition is changing. I will use this blog with occasional entries, just to keep my hand in, so to speak.
Much of March and the beginning of April looked like this in Collingwood, Ontario, the Canadian town in which I live. Great for the ski and snowboarding crowd, but quite dangerous for the senior crowd – and at 91, I’m about as senior as they come! I got my four-wheel scooter out of storage, but managed only one trip before being totally snowed in again.
I received the first royalty statement from Amazon Kindle eBooks, and it appears I sold three copies! I never expected to sell many copies so I’m not exactly devastated. I published the book because I could, and to get it out there in case future historians might be searching for material about the early 1950s, and for my great-grand children. It was a good make-work project for much of 2017, and I have no regrets,
Our Blue Mountain Writers’ Group re-organized itself in early April, and author Kirsty Stevenson, http://www.kirsto.ca/ will chair future sessions. Kirsty was one of the founding members when I helped create the group in January of 2017. I stepped away from the group to research and write my book during much of 2017, and on my return, we decided it was time for younger leadership. Kirsty is a fireball of energy and enthusiasm and we’ve set the path to bring our group back to its original statement of intent.
This is a proposal for the creation of a writers’ group where people can come together in a non-competitive atmosphere to increase their knowledge of writing techniques, subject matter, pacing, and creative inspiration. This course does not assist writers in finding publishers, although manuscript preparation and presentation will be discussed.
Plans are in hand to produce our first Anthology of assignment projects, and to organize a public reading at our Thornbury library to showcase local writing talent.
Publishing industry’s business plan is broken
When I had my first non-fiction book published in 1968, it was a simpler time in Canada. I had been fired from my job as Marketing Manager, New Product Development at Salada Foods, in a corporate purge just before Kellogg’s took them over. I would have been fired anyway, as I had almost completed what would become “The Plot To Make You Buy” McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1968, an expose of what I thought was the exploitation of consumers through a wide range of tactics commonly used in the days before consumer regulations took hold in the late 1960s.
I had plenty of time to complete my manuscript as I made up my mind to try my hand at becoming a professional freelance writer. What happened was sheer luck and good timing, although I had no control over either. I sent the unsolicited manuscript to two publishers, one of which was McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Within days someone phoned and told me they “loved my book and people all around the office were reading bits of it.” Would I please come in and talk about it. A contract was offered, along with a small advance, and I was on my way.
Nothing like that could possibly happen today, which is why my latest book “Your Turn To Find The Hammer” has been published as a Kindle e-reader edition. Publishers refuse to accept unsolicited manuscripts unless you have an agent. You cannot get an agent unless you have been recently published – a perfect “Catch 22” dilemma.
The so-called “dead tree” editions present publishers with enormous economic risks, so their reluctance to take gambles is understandable. Everyone is looking for the next J.K Rowling and Harry Potter. Their socio-economic target group is literally dying off, as millennials and those coming along behind them, read less and less, and get their news and creative materials online through streaming services and various e-reading companies. Amazon is eating their lunch as margins fall and reliance on blockbuster projects means younger writers find it harder and harder to gain a foothold. The publishing industry has increasingly merged into a few powerful corporations whose fiduciary responsibility is to its shareholders, as it should be in our current economic system, and solutions are hard to suggest. Government subsidies are hardly the answer, although advocates try to make the point that “culture” is not a commodity like any other. I have no solutions. We are in a time of dramatic changes to our dominant social paradigm, and Amazon Kindle e-reader editions are one solution. Stay tuned.