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 my author blog.


Bob Jacobs said...

I was at the Salt event in London in December and bought a copy of Balancing on the Edge of the World from you. It gets a thumbs up from me.

Kathleen Jones said...

Hi Elizabeth, I've just attended a London Writers Club event where a successful Random House author was urging authors to self-publish. She has just self-published a collection of short stories as a cooperative project with a group of other women. Two agents also said that they are recommending it to their clients. Apparently it is the issue of STATUS that is preventing most authors. Time for a mind-shift I think.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Well, thank you, Bob! And thank you again for buying it and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Elizabeth Baines said...

Kathleen, thanks very much for this. Very interesting to know.