Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Deliberations on Publishing in the 21st Century.

Indie publishing has developed in a way that offers a varied range of opportunities as far as writers are concerned.   The freedom involved now that most of the traditional barriers have simply disappeared is almost bewildering.   Then again, maybe younger writers don't see it that way.   I had written a great deal as a teenager, pieces emerging out of interviews with pop singers, musicians and actors.  Most of the time my articles were returned by the youth publications I submitted them to and it was somewhat disturbing but not totally unexpected. When I first started writing on a commercial level it was in England,  via short stories for women's magazines (`Woman', `Women's Own', `Women's Weekly', etc).   The procedure was simple.  I typed up my two thousand words neatly double spaced on my Olivetti portable typewriter and having checked carefully for errors of spelling and grammar, posted the top copy to the Editor's office addressed to someone called Sandra or Mary or Helen.    There followed a wait of perhaps six weeks before, luckily for me, they were normally accepted for publication.  I had clearly happened upon the right genre at the right time.  Another four to six weeks of waiting before publication day when I would be sent a complimentary copy of the magazine.  But, of course, by that time I had usually already rushed out and bought at least half a dozen copies. Some weeks later I received a cheque in the post, usually for forty or fifty pounds
A few years later I had drifted towards articles on childcare and preschool education for various periodicals, similar in their lack of intellectual challenge called `Young Mother Magazine' or `Mother & Child' or `The Pre-School Child'.    The process was not dissimilar.  The cheques were usually for the same amount. 
My first book was published in New Zealand and was written in conjunction with South African journalist, Terry Bell and published by Gordon Dryden.  It was a long time ago and the whole process seemed to take for ever.
Over the years I progressed further into the field of education and home educated two of my children for almost a decade.  During that time I was asked to write two books for Ashton Scholastic adapting themes from my home curriculum for the classroom (Creative Pathways I & II).  A totally painless writing and publication process.
In the 1980s we made a TV documentary hosted by James McNeish and due to his input and enthusiasm my book on home education followed (Putting The Joy Back Into Egypt).
Apart from my faltering start, overall I had been spared a great deal of the usual pain and suffering involved in submitting manuscripts to less than enthusiastic publishers - which was not necessarily a good thing.  The result was significant surprise when I realised at the dawn of the brand new century that for the most part having books published was a torturous process. 
But not for too long because Indie Publishing had been conceived and was about to burst upon the world of writers.    I who had been totally accustomed to allowing the Publisher to handle all the knotty problems like ISBN numbers, Book Launches and Publicity, approached the dawn of the new age with a great deal of caution.     I certainly am not a fan of the amount of self publicizing that of necessity is involved.  It has been a very steep learning curve.   Nevertheless, as with all major societal changes I suppose we all have to accept that the old ways have gone, undoubtedly for ever.

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