Who is on the plum tree?
I am a writer, always have been, always will be, because I am addicted to it. I need to write like...well…breathing!
That said, I have now found myself falling into another role: that of publisher. I tend to plunge head-first into new learning curves, whether it’s wise or not ~ and every so often, when I am drowning, I manage to surface and gasp for air. Publishing is like that for me. Publishing seems to have found me. I didn’t go looking for it. I keep discovering things that need to be published. I just can’t help seeing the beauty and potential in things and delighting in finding and sharing people’s talent.
The other side of publishing ~ the nitty-gritty, hard-work-technical side of it, which I hope to talk about in subsequent weeks, is a different story. Suddenly, I have to think in ways I am not used to ~ like data uploading. That, in itself, has been a HUGE learning curve. Dealing with the minutiae of data and form-filling is like being asked suddenly to become good at sport or sums! You wouldn’t believe how much data needs to be uploaded to all the various distributor sites such as Amazon. And they all want it delivered differently.
Navigating Amazonian territories in order to become a seller/publisher of the printed word is tantamount to drowning in an ocean. That’s how it feels. Or perhaps, slaying a Hydra might suggest a more imaginative analogy. No matter how many times you try to communicate with Amazonees over a particular issue, they respond by growing another head, asking another question about something entirely other than originally asked. Do we speak the same language, I wonder? Seriously! They NEVER answer a question, but respond by demanding the same information already given them many times over. Those faceless people on the end of forced form-filing exercises certainly don’t value a customer’s time. And they seem to hate writers. I lament they’ve ever studied Comprehension at school. That was about reading and understanding what was written ~ right? (I live in the UK, so if I have a problem with Amazon.com, I cannot have a phone call.) Amazon responses are laid out in list-like certainty, in pre-ordained rote. It’s how they have to do it in order to ‘rationalise.’
Let’s face it, we live in a world of automated responses to categories. If your problem doesn’t fit one of those categories, you can literally feel virtual wires frazzle, sizzle and snap. Don’t ask an Amazonee to think outside the box or deal with you as an individual. This is a luxury for which you have to pay extra.
I mean, a book has its own identity and destiny. It’s a new soul to which both writer and publisher have given incarnation. It has to have the right birth date, ISBN information, page count, weight, description, cover, price and keywords so that the search engines pick it up. And it has to be slotted into the right categories if it is to find its way into the main-stream.
I have never been good with categories. And it’s so difficult to categorise a book. For example, you might have a story written for adults, but which children can read. You might write Magic Realism but don’t want to be in the Fantasy genre, as it’s littered with things you wouldn’t identify with. Magic Realism is totally different in essence to Fantasy, yet Amazon doesn’t allow you to give a book one label without it becoming a sub-stream of another. In real life, fully-developed individuals who think for themselves don’t fit categories, neither should their books. A reader wants to enter a new world created of another’s mind ~ the heart and soul of it, with all its quirks and nuances, which might otherwise be suffocated if forced to live inside a category. What’s a writer to do if s/he hopes to be found? What’s a publisher to do if s/he hopes to sell books? Would a particular book be refused publication because it doesn’t fit neatly into a specific category? Would a writer write to rote (that’s a nice phrase) in order to secure a publishing contract? Or would a publisher take a risk and publish something for the very fact of its originality? Likewise, does the writer write because s/he has to, must as a matter of life and death ~ ’cause what’s within burns and must be given life?
Unfortunately, we have been forced into participating in Amazonian market domination.
Writers think outside the box; Amazon sells our books, so maybe they should try it too!
Here’s to thinking outside the box ~ always, no matter what the big corporations dictate ~ which is why I am doing this! Oh! And I love making beautiful books!