Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bibliophiles Anonymous Unite!


I've mentioned my quest for the complete series of the original 56 Nancy Drew novels -- only the editions published circa 1978 - 1985, which is roughly when I was reading them as a girl. I have not yet mentioned one of my biggest hording secrets though. I own a lot of books I have yet to read. Some were gifts, some I bought and some were trades or loans. I can't stop collecting books. If I stay out of BookPeople, then I'm buying them on Amazon. If I ban myself from Amazon and BookPeople, then I'll buy more books at the airport, at Target or from the shelf by the cash registers at HEB grocery store. Call it an addiction, an affliction or a compulsion. Whatever you label it, it amounts to a lot of books and not enough time to read them.

Last book I finished: Cocktails for Three by Madeiline Wickham

Books I'm currently reading: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Velveteen Principles for Women by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio & In the Tenth House by Laura Dietz
Yes, I'm reading three books at once. I should be studying my script for two shows next week, and looking over material for an audition the following week, but I keep rationalizing to myself that I work best under pressure.

Books on the shelf waiting to have their spines cracked like so many bad backs in the chiropractor's waiting room:
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Dry by Augusten Buroughs
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck
The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein
The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey
Until I Find You by John Irving
Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland
The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
The Writer's Legal Guide by Tad Crawford
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Wacky Chicks by Simon Doonan
The Mercy of Thin Air by Robyn Domingue
Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
Marley & Me by John Grogan
Four Blondes by Candace Bushnell
The Ruins by Scott Smith
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Scottish Girls About Town by lots of Scottish authors
Finbar's Hotel Devised and Edited by Dermot Bolger
Ladie's Night at Finbar's Hotel Devised and Edited by Dermot Bolger
Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Weekend by Helen Zahavi
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Madeline is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Cat's Pajamas by Ray Bradbury
The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman
The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Italian the Easy Way by Marcel Danesi, Ph.D.
and LOTS of cookbooks, too many to list.

On my nightstand are the following periodicals:
Texas Monthly - several months' worth
Glamour Magazine, December
Rare Magazine, December
Austin Monthly Home, Winter 2007
Real Simple, December
Austin Chronicle for this week
Wired Magazine - many months' worth
Gourmet, December

I have got to stop amassing books and magazines. Help! If you see me lingering near any purveyor of books, grab my elbow and pull me away. Like so many sailors seduced by the sirens' songs, bookstores have an entrancing, magnetic pull on me.

1 comment:

prperson11 said...

Self-publishing: a phrase with a boatload of baggage, evoking stereotypes of vain, amateur, would-be authors, desperate to see their work in print at the cost of shoddy production value. Not to mention nearly losing their shirts as they purchase a garage-full of books they’ll never be able to sell. Stories carried recently in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other national publications, have related such tales of woe as if they were the only side to the self-publishing story.

Certainly, self-publishing has meant all of this to many people, but Peter Bowerman, author of the award-winning The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book Into a Full-Time Living (Fanove Publishing, 2007, $19.95; www.wellfedsp.com), as well as two other highly successful volumes for freelance writers, is living proof that a self-published work of non-fiction can not only garner respect and critical acclaim, but can also be a financial success.

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher contains advice on producing a book indistinguishable in quality from those produced by major publishing companies, in addition to packaging Bowerman’s knowledge on product and brand promotion gathered from nearly 30 years of personal and professional experience. Exhorting his readers to shed their “starving artist” self-image – the “fundamental belief that you don’t really belong” in the big leagues – Bowerman stresses that the key to sales and marketing success is a sharply focused, targeted marketing plan, and work, work, and more work to implement it.

“If you want to see a roomful of right-brained author-types sweat,” quips Bowerman, “just say the words ‘sales’ or ‘marketing’.” But “S&M,” he contends, is not an elusive or overly complicated beast. Success depends largely on employing the same proven strategies over and over again.

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher reveals how little most traditional publishing houses do to promote individual titles. “By doing a better job of marketing and promoting your title than a publisher ever could or would, you can make far more money from your book than you ever would with that publisher.” Bowerman even backs up his strategies with a 100-page ebook “toolbox” (the Well-Fed SP Biz-in-a-Box): templates and ideas for producing marketing documents such as letters, press releases, websites, samples—an arsenal of concrete, useable tools authors can personalize when going public with their books.

Bowerman is his own best test-case for the success of his methods: with over 50,000 copies of his books in print, he has built a franchise that has made him self-supporting for the last five years – no small success by anyone’s standards. Having learned from his first two books, the award-wining Well-Fed Writer titles, that readers want information spelled out in detail, he doesn’t just tell them that they need a good press release or an ezine; he provides step-by-step information on how to produce them. And, in The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, he outlines tools and strategies so that virtually anyone willing to put in the time and elbow grease can duplicate his success. As advertising icon David Ogilvy explained, “It is useless to be creative unless you can also sell what you create.”

Bowerman’s conversational, approachable style, a quality much praised by his readers, arises from his perception of himself as a fellow traveler. “I’m just like you,” he says. “I don’t like to work any harder than I have to, and I certainly don’t have it all figured out. But The Well-Fed Self-Publisher provides all the how-to stuff delivered through the filter of someone who’s made a healthy living with his books. That has to count for something.”

Stressing that self-publishing success is far more a function of process than aptitude, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher turns stereotypes on their ears. Because self-publishing authors retain complete control over their product and the outcome of their sales and marketing activities, Bowerman suggests that self-publishing, not a traditional publishing house, should be an author’s first choice.

Writers who enter the process armed with the information provided in this volume do so with the knowledge that self-publishing is an eminently viable option, albeit one requiring a tremendous amount of effort (and a fair amount of working capital) at the outset. Done properly, though, it is, indeed, possible for an author to transform a non-fiction book into a full-time living.