One of life’s guilty pleasures for me is a midday soak in a tub full of subtly rainbow hued bubbles with an old copy of the Reader’s Digest. I have to admit, the midday part is largely due to early retirement and the Reader’s Digest due to the scores of paperbacks I have dropped into the bubbles after yet another mainstream author has lulled me to sleep. On one such adventure I was holed up with the Anniversary Edition (March 2013) and having read about the delectable Sue Perkins (I am a great fan of her honesty as well as her wit and her good looks) I fell upon The Maverick by A.L.Kennedy. This article interested me greatly, because I have recently discovered the joy of Kindles and she obviously hasn’t!

This lady is a conventionally published novelist and short story writer and so has an agenda that may be different to that of the average reader or writer. The main arguments she put forward for books seemed to be that ereaders were rubbish, books felt nice in leather bound editions, and that ebooks were nasty things written in the main by incompetents. These writers were not good enough to write proper books or wrote – horror of horrors – even more of those unnecessary and dreadful cat poems. I felt I had to reply to such a scathing attack on the independent.

Yes, we are independent, but not because we are incompetent. I would happily wager that if one hundred readers read one of her books and one of mine in typed manuscript format without a name they would not find mine any the less well written, edited or interesting. I admit, I too have read a few “kitchen sink dramas” on Kindle by self styled novelists but I have also read some by conventionally published authors too. A lot of writers are independent because they are aware of how hard it is for a manuscript by an unknown to land on the conventional slush pile let alone be read through! I know of good writers who have done four or five rewrites in hopes of landing that deal. The carrot of publication is dangled repeatedly and they edit the soul out of their book only to be ultimately rejected because the editor doesn’t like his own take on the story.

Let us look for a moment at the pattern of publishing and how books are marketed. What actually sells and makes money for the publishing houses? Exactly the same dross that makes up the bulk of prime time television programming these days! Celebrity this, celebrity that and best of all celebrity “the other”…. If you are NOT a celebrity, forget writing. Attached to this is the unsavoury phenomenon of institutionalized ghostwriting whereby (I am told) you write anonymously for a celebrity airhead, he or she makes a ton of cash and you have the honour of maybe a week’s average wage. Here the carrot is “The publishing house knows who REALLY wrote that blockbuster and one day if you behave yourself they MIGHT take a chance on YOU” The stick is “That is the only real way ordinary people get published properly.”

When you reach a certain stage in life, having held down an honest job for many decades, perhaps written for pleasure in your spare time or even published via a small press (let me tell you about those another day!) you might not be prepared to receive thirty odd rejections before you hit even the slush pile. Time is of the essence, life is fleeting…. Get out there, writers, write for Kindle, write well, edit competently and watch the big publishers squirm as the market for celebrity tripe continues to diminish. Don’t let us down by writing badly, but if your soul tells you to write a cat poem or two, just go ahead! Createspace and Lulu offer you the option of the “real book in the hand” which is great because poetry sucks on Kindle. Readers? Why not take a chance on new writers? Amazon Prime membership offers you a wide selection of books that are free to borrow – one a month in fact. Follow Goodreads to see what real readers rate highly.

Real books are a joy, especially the real books that were written at a time when publishers were real publishers – but for many the Kindle is a liberator! Just don’t drop it in the bubbles….

Lisa Marie Gabriel is a UK based author who writes music books, poetry and recently released her novel The Cougar in paperback and on Kindle.

This is her author page Lisa Marie Gabriel – UK Author

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