the Unending Journey of the Wandering Author

A chronicle of the unending journey of the Wandering Author through life, with notes and observations made along the way. My readers should be aware I will not censor comments that disagree with me, but I do refuse to display comment spam or pointless, obscene rants. Humans may contact me at thewanderingauthor at yahoo dot com - I'll reply as I am able.

Location: New England, United States

I have always known I was meant to write, even when I was too young to know the word 'author'. When I learned that books were printed, I developed an interest in that as well. And I have always been a wanderer, at least in my mind. It's not the worst trait in an author. For more, read my writing; every author illuminates their heart and soul on the pages they write upon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What All Writers Want for Christmas

I've been aware of the problem for some time, but Holly Lisle just published a post detailing the harm chain bookstores do to writers, readers, and just about everything and everyone but their bottom line. Holly, God bless her, is trying to start a campaign to save the independent bookstore. Let's take advantage of the momentum!

I know many of my readers care about writing, and about reading. I hope you will consider this issue important enough to act upon. More than one talented writer has found themselves stranded after three books, because bean counters soullessly suck the lifeblood out of their careers, killing unborn books many of us would love to read.

Do I sound upset about this? You bet I am! It is getting harder and harder for decent writers to build a career, while O. J. Simpson got a nice little advance for a tasteless little exercise in sensationalism was only kept from clogging shelves that should hold good books thanks to a huge public outcry.

If you write, or you simply care about reading, and you aren't furious about the current state of things, I can only assume you don't understand how the industry works. Holly Lisle is a successful author, and even she has trouble with this system. But she does have enough of a following that, if we all help her to publicise this issue, we may gain some attention.

Please, consider writing about this on your blog. Ask your readers to write about it as well. I know it's the Christmas season, and you're all busy. I'm busy too. But consider giving the one gift every writer whose work you enjoy can appreciate. Write a nice, long post, get involved in the campaign yourselves, and urge all your readers to do so.

Boycott the chain bookstores. Not just Borders, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, and, but every bookseller who has more than two or three locations. Pass around petitions for others to pledge to boycott them, and bring them to the manager of your local chain. Only if we hurt them in the pocketbook will they stop fouling the nest that hatched them.

If you can't locate an independent bookstore near you, try to locate one near where you work, or any place you visit frequently enough. Try to locate one that does business on the Web. Post about any independents you find. Give them free advertising, and tell them why. Don't risk their growing large and arrogant.

If you have any other ideas, post about those as well. The Web offers us a chance to make our voices heard. Let's take advantage of that, and save what we can. Thanks in advance for the Christmas gift. One more thing; Holly Lisle started this ball rolling. She has a series she desperately wants to save. I haven't read it (yet) but I can understand her feelings.

She may have personal motives, but she's also doing this for writers and for readers everywhere. Let's all give her a big Christmas gift as well. Read this post, then go out and buy as many copies of Talyn as you can think of a use for.

Give 'em as Christmas gifts. Give 'em to your local library. Give 'em to friends. And, if you can afford it, buy the earlier books in the series as well. Get them from your friendly local independent bookseller. Or from your friendly online independent bookseller. Please, let's all see if we can give Holly a nice little Christmas gift.

Now, if you'll forgive me, since the blighted and tasteless wasteland where I live barely supports one or two struggling used bookstores and a chain outlet, I'm off to find out where the nearest independent is. Yes, I'm going to definitely find it a pain since it will be so much harder to get to a bookstore, but I've been unhappy with the selection in my local Barnes and Noble anyway.

They didn't even have any of the mysteries in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis the last time I was there. I walked out muttering that it wasn't really even worth going in there. So, time to act on my beliefs. If I have to visit a bookstore less frequently, or pay more in gas and time to get there, so be it.

I will be repaid by a better selection, more knowledgeable staff, and the warm feeling of knowing I'm doing all I can for writers and for readers. I hope each and every one of you will feel the same way. And I hope, between us, we can spread this idea far and wide enough to force any chains that survive (yes, I'd be happy enough if they all went bankrupt, clearing the way for more independent stores, but I don't expect that to happen) to listen to their customers instead of a bunch of bean counters.


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Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Hi WA,
It's kind of you to do this. I know you well enough now to say that when you believe in something, you take it up passionately with all guns blazing.

I know quite a few writers who did not have their publishing contracts renewed from having been bullied by this system (and this, discounting the scene in Asia, of course). But I don't know whether it's accurate to make a sweeping statement such as this, WA.

Last year, while Waterstone's in London engaged in these buy-2-get-3 books campaign for instance, it also conducted many thoughtful promotions for serious literature that helped introduce me to books, I would never thought of, with which to broaden my world, otherwise.

Plus, a discerning public always has the right of space and time to choose. What do they really want to read at the end of the day?
All the bookstores are doing in reality are pandering to their shopping tastes. I believe it's the public that subtly call the shots.

So readers' & book-buyer opinions must count too. They must surely want to see beyond their nose when they're made to encourage to buy something they wouldn't really.

And they must want to make a difference to give more avant-garde and newer reads a chance.

I know this system hurts and it happens even in Australia.
Let me think about it awhile.
Thank you for fuelling our thoughts in the way you did, WA.

Hope you had your good long rest. ;) Missed you.

December 04, 2006 1:49 AM  
Blogger erica said...

Chain bookstores are a good cause, but they are not the only chain stores we should fight. It is definitely more of a hassle and usually spendier across the board to support local, independently owned businesses, but in the long run it's more than worth it. Money spent in locally owned businesses stays in the area 300% more than money spent in other businesses.

December 04, 2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Thy said...

chain bookstores are a little inevitable--they make some money, build another, make more money, build another...

i'm happy with any book, really, but its always nice to see a good ol' bookstore. i like the used bookstore.

do you have an literature you think i should read? whenever i go to the library i never know what to read. ihave a couple favorite authors that i've exhausted but i have no idea what to read now.

December 04, 2006 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an aspiring writer I can only agree with much of which you so passionately protest.

Yet, as someone who once studied business and marketing, I also sympathise with the publishers and chain stores who are there to make money at the end of the day. Any decent business responds to what the market wants/expects/demands etc.

Therefore, maybe the people we should be aiming at are the readers? They need to be steered away from their dumbed down life of lit-lite celebrity fascinations. Educate the buyers and the sellers will change.

The blogger in me thinks the net and self-publish is still a revolution that will shake up publishing in the next 10 years. And maybe this is where the change will eventually come from!

Great thought provoking post! Viva le revolution!

December 06, 2006 5:06 PM  
Blogger [Ischelle] said...

thank you for your comments to me...
they are not only flattering but mean a lot.

December 06, 2006 8:36 PM  
Blogger sp_isme said...

I don't feel like I know enough about the issue to make an intelligent comment or post, right now.
But I have read somearticles about midlist writers being pushed out of the market and I assume that has to do, in a way, with this chains store issue.
It is a scary thing to contemplate for an unpublished writer. Because I wonder if their will be room for me in the marketplace.

December 14, 2006 2:56 PM  

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