Friday, February 26, 2010

Salt sale, hard times and doing it for yourself

My publishers, Salt, are having an amazing sale, and anyone interested in poetry would be advised to get on over there quick, while stocks last. Salt make beautiful books and some are going for as little as £1 !

There's a serious side to this, though, of course. The reason Salt are running this sale is that they need an emergency injection of cash if they are to keep going. The Just One Book campaign started last summer continues, and as a Salt author I am asking you once more to do that: buy just one Salt book - and brighten up your life into the bargain! If you want prose, you could buy one of my own Salt books: Balancing on the Edge of the World, a story collection that lifts the lid on some of the untold stories in our everyday lives, or my novel Too Many Magpies, on the surface a spooky tale of adultery but on the deeper level a study of our present sense of the precariousness of the world, and of the ways in which we think. (If you've got them already, why not buy one for a relative or friend - Too Many Magpies, since motherhood is one of its themes, would make a great Mothers' Day present!) Or you could buy a book by one of the great short story writers I feel privileged to be published alongside: Carys Davies, Matthew Licht, Paul Magrs, Tania Hershman, Vanessa Gebbie, Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Chrissie Gittins, Padrika Tarrant, and on... Or you could buy Salt's guide to the art of the short story, Short Circuit.

Times are hard, the publishing industry has changed, and all but the most commercial sectors of publishing are suffering. Last night I attended a meeting of north-west women writers, convened by the novelist Sherry Ashworth and others with a view to setting up a press to publish fiction by women in the north west, in response to these changes. The reality of those changes was illustrated by the fact that there were several writers present, both prize-winning and mass-market, who were now facing difficulties in publishing their latest books or had moved to small presses. Basically the feeling is now that writers must do it for themselves.

A propos this, my fellow Salt author Nuala Ni Chonchuir writes an interesting post on the subject of self-promotion by authors. I have come across criticisms on the web of authors who ceaselessly promote their own books, and I have to say that, although I try to do it conscientiously, it still goes against the grain for me, but the fact is that it's now an absolute necessity - most of all for authors with small presses, but also it seems now for most authors with big publishers. I'm sure that Vanessa Gebbie won't mind me replicating here her comment on Nuala's post:
I was at a large writer's convention last weekend, with talks from some senior figures in the publishing world - (Get Writing 2010 - and a speaker in question was the MD of Hachette) - it was a wake-up call for anyone in the audience who thought that all you had to do was get a book accepted and then sit back!

Cross-posted to Fictionbitch.

10 comments:

SueG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SueG said...

Thanks for the heads up, and for your honesty about Salt's plight. Endlessly frustrating to be sure. I'm off to buy a book or two now....

SueG said...

oops...a glich and I've posted something 2ce. Delete away as you wish. Sorry...

Elizabeth Baines said...

That's wonderful, Sue! Thank you.

Tony Williams said...

It does make me feel uncomfortable, the self-promotion thing. But I entirely agree that it's necessary. I think we have a duty to do it, in fact. Part of the deal is that we are willing to make ourselves look pushy, because we've entered into a contract which goes beyond how we feel personally.

I'm constantly aware of not having done enough to promote my book. But that's probably healthy, as long as I keep responding to that awareness by doing something more.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Absolutely, Tony.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

E - please also see my germ of an idea on N's blog comments - for those Salt short storyists who 'actively' give readings, workshops, other appearances...a sort of 'if you like my book, you'll love these...' pulling together?!?

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

I find the self promo thing hard, as do most writers I know, but it is also totally necessary if our books are to be heard/read.
The book buying public will only buy what they have heard of - accidental purchases are just that.
ANyway, I liked my books enough to write them so I am willing to get behind them in my own way.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Yes, I was going to comment to add to that discussion. I do actually have a lot of salt books, and I think it's a great idea to show them around when we do public stuff.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Good point, Nuala.