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The Writer/Publisher Corner With Niamh Clune ~ Thinking Outside The Box.

I am a writer, always have been, always will be, because I am addicted to it. I need to write like...well…breathing! 

Heracles slaying the Hydra on www.plumtreebooks.co.uk

Hercules slaying the Hydra

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!

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About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamh.co.uk

9 comments on “The Writer/Publisher Corner With Niamh Clune ~ Thinking Outside The Box.

  1. Naomi Baltuck
    December 10, 2013

    More power to you! Thirty years ago I had to learn to balance a checkbook in order to become a storyteller and run my own small, but it was worth it. I love that you are doing what you love and making good things happen for many.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      December 10, 2013

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, Naomi. It is much appreciated.

      Like

  2. Daniel Vimont
    December 10, 2013

    Yes it often seems that the learning curve with these new endeavors proves a lot steeper than one might at first expect. But the good news will likely be that your subsequent expeditions hacking through the Amazonian underbrush will get easier, and your hard-won knowledge of how the Amazon systems work (and, perhaps more importantly, how they do NOT work) will prove more and more invaluable to all the authors that you are helping.

    Like

  3. Patricia Tilton
    December 11, 2013

    Glad you’re taking the plunge and allowing us to watch. It’s not an easy path. Good luck!

    Like

  4. thiskidreviewsbooks
    December 11, 2013

    Great points! 🙂

    Like

  5. Jamie Dedes
    December 11, 2013

    The learning curve would be overwhelming but for determination, Niamh. You are coping well, I think, with the frustrations. I once worked in a “survival job” as a manager with a large bookstore and the frustrations regarding categories et all was much the same … and when writer’s came to see where their books landed, you could see the dismay plainly written on their faces. As with Amazon, there were strict rules about placement.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      December 11, 2013

      Yes! It is overwhemlming ~ but, I hope…worth it!

      Like

    • ontheplumtree
      December 12, 2013

      The learning curve is often frustrating and so time-consuming. I can only do my best.

      Like

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This entry was posted on December 10, 2013 by in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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