The bittersweet taste of traditional publishing

book-436507_640One of the many reasons I have been more than usually absent from this blog in recent months is a rather large side project – a non fiction book. Now that we are in the final stages of reviewing the contract with the publisher, I think it may be worth adding my two-bobs worth to the discussion about self publishing vs. traditional publishing.

The new book, which will be about playspaces, came about in the most unlikely of ways. A chance in a million. On a whim, back in the dim dark days at the start of the year, I entered a competition on Goodreads. Remarkably, I won it, and some time later received a lovely hardback edition of a landscape design history book. Finding it hard to maintain the CPD points I need to maintain my qualification with a bub, I inquired of our professional magazine if they would like a review of the book, to which they agreed.

Now comes the remarkable part. I wrote to the publisher, asking for some of the images from the book to accompany the review. They forwarded these, and then came back asking if I would be interested in writing a book on playspaces. It’s a little eerie to know that you’ve been googled.

Joining forces with a friend of mine, we spent the next three or four months nutting out the exact contents of each section – chasing contributors from around the globe, and writing the first chapter. My other books have been much more ‘pantzer’ enterprises – they have been organic, growing during the process of writing. This one is firmly a ‘planner’, which is a real novelty for me. It remains to be seen if it will remain so, or if the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ shoot us into uncharted territory.

After that, it was all bundled off to the publisher, and went into limbo while it was reviewed by them and independent experts. All very rigorous, and very serious. Then suddenly, after a little back and forth, we have been offered a contract. Hardback and paperback, worldwide distribution. Hooray!

But wait…

The contract, as far as we can tell, if quite standard for the industry. It is, as a friend said, “no crapper than anyone else’s”. However, after getting used to the idea of 70% royalties in the self-publishing world, 6% on received royalties seems, frankly, more than a little exploitative. We worked out that on the first run, assuming all copies are sold, we won’t make enough to cover our communication, let alone any of the hard labour in writing the thing.

The other major difference of course is that we will have little or no control over the appearance of the book, where it is sold, or the marketing of the text (which may be a bit of a relief!). My other books – ‘The Artemis Effect’ and ‘The Milk of Female Kindness’, I have complete control over, and it may not be easy to let that go. I chose to self publish them for exactly that reason.

So – nearly a year down the track we are faced with a hard decision. Should we go ahead, on what is basically a pro-bono basis? There is the intellectual challenge, the kudos, and maybe the hope of improving playspaces around the world. One the other is a serious time and mental commitment when I have a small child, work, and have other things I would like to be writing. My co-author is trying to run her own business.

It looks like I may end up writing in every genre after all: Science Fiction and Parenting – done. Speculative Short stories and Poetry – underway. Non-fiction – pending.

I suspect we will go ahead, but I’d be interested to hear about your experiences and thoughts…

Little guests in the Moon Palace

Chinese space

Returning to the subset of science / sci-fi focussed posts on Writer’s Block, I came across these wonderful Chinese posters, glorifying the Chinese Space program. I understand that the program started in earnest after a satellite was successfully launched in 1970, which continuously broadcast Dongfang hong (东方红, The East is Red), one of the best known Chinese tunes, which eulogizes Mao Zedong. The program stalled during the 1970’s with the Cultural Revolution, and these posters date to that time and the early 80’s.

Rather like traveling, they give you a bewildering glimpse into a different culture, don’t they? I can’t help but wonder if they would have been received more cynically in the West, although of course I don’t know what the reception was within China either. I do love the colour palettes used. Can’t miss the appeal of socks and sandals teamed with a space helmet though! ;)

My thanks to http://www.chineseposters.net for this information.

Makeover

Nylon sculpture by Rosa Verloop

Nylon sculpture by Rosa Verloop

If I were made of Play-Doh

I’d peel off my flesh -

an easy efacement

of all those minor imperfections

which combine to disgust

like finding a hair in nougat

I’d roll them together -

a smooth ball of muscle, fat and skin

spiked with fingernails and teeth

and re-sculpt to my liking

Pushing my thumbs into the pliant mass -

keeping the basic armature

of bones, dreams and intellect

But smoothing plastically away

my accumulated patina.

Fashion Friday – Guest Post

Today, I’m guest posting at the excellent and varied Sappho’s Torque blog, which is written by author Angelique Jamail. Angelique has recently released her first novel Finis, so I’m delighted that she has taken time out of her busy schedule to host something from me.

Somewhat out of the usual cast of posts here, I’m writing about my take on Fashion, so please do pop by and feel free to cast mud at my opinions (or cheer them on, alternatively, and much more pleasantly!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Thanks!

Reviews for THE MILK OF FEMALE KINDNESS and Links to Buy FINIS.

katkasia:

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, but have come back to the great news that the highly talented Angelique Jamail has snuck out her new ebook while I was away! Looking forward to reading it. :)

Originally posted on Sappho's Torque:

By now you now that this week, my newest publication, Finis., launched. I’ve tried not to overwhelm the Interwebz with announcements of it, but I admit that Tuesday, Launch Day, I was online most of the day just trying to keep up with the traffic and buzz about it and reactions to it. It was a great day, and I’m so grateful to those of you who’ve already bought the book, read it, and given me reviews. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far! (Links to places where Finis. is currently on sale appear at the end of this post.)

cover design by Lauren Volness

cover design by Lauren Volness

This Sunday is our official launch party, and if you’re in Houston that day, please feel free to drop by! It will be at The Black Labrador from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in their Churchill Room.

Finis. is an ebook only at this time, due to…

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Cynicism

Hi! It seems like ages since I last posted. That’s partly because life is, as ever, a merry-go-round that’s spinning slightly too fast for comfort. Partly because I’ve been feeling just a tiny bit cynical about the cyber-spin of social media: the flash card life of Twitter, Facebook and even this blog. I’m sure I’ll dive in again soon as whole-heartedly as ever, but for now here’s a few lines I penned on the subject.

 

Strut upon the stage

of social media

An electronic confection

as flimsy and addictive

as spun sugar.

.

Masked and blinded

shout into the darkness

Here is my soul

but not my real face -

Desperate for approval

.

Cyber cocooned

the intangible audience

Each one misled

A galaxy of unfound stars

Wit and thought pulped -

by repetition.

More morning poetry

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, some mornings I leave ridiculously early to go work on the train, and for some reason this seems to result in little haikus popping into my head. Maybe it’s having an empty stomach, or just seeing the sun come up over the city, but I think I’m coming to quite enjoy these relatively quiet moments in a busy day.

Here’s a few more for you to take or leave as you will.

Faces downturned

A seething speeding capsule

Passions on their laps

 

Balloons in the dawn

Pinned improbably still

Hanging like dark stars

 

Cold sky fire

Charcoals graceful branches

Before speeding train

 

Possum on the wire

Racing electricity

Towards morning star

 

Blur of morning fog

Jealously hoards the light

A soft eraser

 

New colour and form

Scribbles bloom on railway walls

Illegible fame

The Milk of Female Kindness

katkasia:

A wonderful review by Michelle of Book Chat. She says: “…each entry in this anthology stands on its own – its intensity, its honesty, and its diversity. It is a book I will go back to often.”

Originally posted on BOOK CHAT:

THE MILK OF FEMALE KINDNESS is a collection of stories, artwork, and poems about mothers and motherhood by twenty-nine women of different nationalities.81IWszqC5eL._SL1500_

I felt the warmth and love of those who contributed to the book throughout. There were stories that made me chuckle, and some that made me cry. From the funny and honest Reasons to Breastfeed by Alison Bartlett to the wonderful The Welsh Shaw by Ceridwen Masiulanis to the honest Full of Abundance and Feeling Heavy by Jessica Kennedy to the heartfelt Something Like Survivor’s Guilt by Angélique Jamail, this is an earnest collection of personal experiences by women willing to share their thoughts and experiences to be read again and again.

Written about motherhood, everyone should read this. Do I have a favorite story? That is hard to say because each entry in this anthology stands on its own – its intensity, its honesty, and its…

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