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Putting Your Shoulder to the Wheel

Putting Your Shoulder to the WheelNumerous book and publishing-related articles are sent to my Twitter account each day. Here are some of the headlines as I toggled through the first couple of pages late one night:

iPods and iPhones: death for the book trade

Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops to close

Books: Will big names lure readers?

Barnes & Noble Announces Elimination of Corporate Positions

Publishing Sales Sink at Courier; Closes Print Plant

Book fair crowds fall

Book publisher to make additional layoffs because of economy

November Bookstore Sales Plunge

Yeesh. If I allow myself to adopt the big-picture perspective permeating the book industry, it becomes almost understandable to hear a relatively unknown author question the time, money, and effort that goes into a book. Almost. But at the end of the day, I still refuse to accept this logic. I would rather encourage writers to serve, and do what they can to preserve, the sacred institutions of reading, writing and publishing. And if that means my career as a promoter sinks with the ship, I promise you I’ll go down with a good old-fashioned book (rather than an iPod or iPhone) in my hands.

Am I being too set in my ways? Maybe. But if that’s the case, here are three fundamental reasons for my stubbornness—–

  1. Custom and tradition. From the Gutenberg Bible to the dime novel era to the explosion of book clubs and reading groups, the reading of published books has been both an educational and enlightening escape for more than 500 years. The experience has changed lives, expanded imaginations and brought millions of families together in the process.
  2. Responsibility. Book lovers like me depend on you. Dozing off with a book in my lap has been a part of my daily procedure since I discovered my first Hardy Boys mystery. Can I find those manuscripts on the Internet? Sure. If I want to drag my laptop into bed and risk sterilizing myself in the process.
  3. There’s a job to do. Traditional book publishing is in ICU right now and is dangerously close to life support. We are the keepers of the watch. It is our duty to put our heads together and execute a plan to save the institution that has given us so much over the course of time.

Let’s end this rant with a dose of reality. Technology has paved the way for the digital book era, and it is here to stay. As a book promoter interested in continuing my career, it would be foolish not to accept the changes taking place and advise the authors I work with to give the inhabitants of Cyberworld what they want. Anybody reading my posts of the past two years has seen that I do. But at the same time, I am holding out hope that we can figure out a way to preserve a place on our bookshelves for traditional books.

Questions about how to get your next book out there may be directed to Michael R. Drew at the Austin, Texas, headquarters of Promote A Book: 512-858-0040. You can also contact Michael via email at michael@promoteabook.com.

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2 Responses to “Putting Your Shoulder to the Wheel”

  1. Lee Abraham January 23, 2009 at 4:37 am #

    When Television was introduced decades ago, many experts predicted the death of radio. Didn't happen that way, but things did change. And technology will continue to change. However, there is one thing that will never change: people will always seek education, expression and enlightenment.

    As a writer, I am ultimately a "content provider" and creator of "intellectual property." Yes, I also need to focus on promotion and marketing, but new and emerging media vehicles that become popular for delivering content to the public is a function of macro-economic conditions and technology advances way beyond any one person's influence.

    My reaction is to simply focus on the things I do have control over: creating content of value and adapting to technology as it changes.

    Whether it be through good old fashioned ink and paper, or some other form, the challenge of converting "consumption" of creative material by the public into income is nothing new. Making money from writing remains a labor intensive aspect of the intellectual property game that will never go away.

    Most creative people are not great at business. That's why a team approach is necessary. Now, more than ever. Change is not only here to stay, it is picking up speed.

    Bottom line: Success in any business requires vision, flexibility, determination, and team work. Easy? No way! Fulfilling? You bet!

    Thank-you for your determination to remain a key player on the team of so many writers who are trying to make a living in these challenging times. By providing great information on this website, as well as your professional "Book Promotion" services, you are doing your part. Now it's time for me to do mine and get back to writing – thanks again!!

  2. mj claire February 17, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    I totally agree with this sentiment. A book is a beautiful thing. It should be beautiful to look at and comfortable in your hand. It should transport you to other worlds.

    With the multitude of titles coming off of POD presses today, some of that is being lost: generic covers, uninspired design and, most of all, unedited text.

    The convenience of reading a book on your Kindle or computer monitor is undeniable but is no substitute for a beautiful book, a glass of wine and a warm blanket by a toasty fire.

    At the end of the day, not everything has to be about convenience and speed.

    My first publication, 'Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow' (a YA fantasy) will be released in May. It is a huge undertaking. I have found the information on this site to be very helpful. The progress seems slow at times, but for me it is of utmost importance that my book be of top quality. I want both the cover and the story to draw the reader inside.

    That kind of an effort takes time, so I find it infuriating when people talk about putting their files together and uploading them the next day for publication. I hope, in the future, that there is more focus on quality control and less on speed, because above all, a good read should be a leisurely endeavor.

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