Posts Tagged ‘writer’

An Early Indie Writer

July 28, 2012


Helen Beatrix Potter’s Frederick Warne & Co.
Original Edition “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” © 1902

Helen Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866 – December 22, 1943) was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books which celebrated the British landscape and country life, featuring animals such as those in the still beloved The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

However, what you might not know, the book, and her black & white illustrations for it, were originally rejected by publishing houses. Not to be dissuaded, Potter published her children’s book privately, at her own expense. In today’s climate of electronic indie publishing it’s not something unheard of … but it was exceedingly rare in 1901.

A family friend, Hardwicke Rawnsley, had great faith in Potter’s simple children’s tale and made the rounds of the London publishing houses with her self-published work to represent her.

It was Frederick Warne & Co., who had previously rejected the tale, who reconsidered and accepted the (as they called it) “bunny book.” Potter agreed to add color to her pen-and-ink illustrations and, on October 2, 1902, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was officially published.

It was an immediate success. Beatrix Potter continued to write, illustrate and design spin-off merchandise based on her children’s books for Warne until she had published a total of twenty-three books.

Potter left almost all the original illustrations for her books to the UK National Trust. The copyright to her stories and merchandise was given to her publisher, Frederick Warne & Co, now a division of the Penguin Group.

Today, 110-years later, Potter’s books continue to sell throughout the world, in multiple languages. Not bad for someone who was originally an indie writer. Perhaps there’s some hope for me yet.

Happy Birthday, Beatrix.

What Am I Waiting For?

July 16, 2012


“The Mailbox” © R.L. Herron

I took this picture of a rural mailbox some time ago. I’ve used it before, but it seemed somehow appropriate to use it again today. Why? Because I’ve just been sitting around, waiting, as if there were something coming in the mail I didn’t want to miss.

This morning I couldn’t have told you what it was I might be waiting for. Not even if you held a hot poker to my face and threatened to brand me. I honest-to-God didn’t know what it could be.

I thought perhaps it was that elusive noun called “inspiration” I was trying to find, now that the nine-to-five routine is behind me and I’ve taken to writing full time. But that wasn’t it. My mind is full of stories.

I published my debut novel last March, and completed two different short story collections in May. I tell everyone I’m working on my next novel, but my normal writing routine of a thousand words a day is woefully behind schedule.

For the past two months I’ve been trying to figure out how to get some positive marketing out for those first books. How to drive traffic to this blog or to my web site, Broken Glass. Despite being in advertising and marketing for all those years, it’s hard work.

On the plus side, my novel, “Reichold Street” is one of the finalists for the 2012 Readers Favorite Award and I’ll be heading to the Miami International Book Fair for the ceremony this fall.

I’d much rather be writing, not that it’s easier. It isn’t. It’s damn hard work. It’s just more fulfilling. Not writing feels like giving up. And, as I rediscovered talking to one of my blog followers today, it’s something I promised not to do.

So, I’m headed back to the keyboard for a while to catch up with the number of words I should have cranked out by now. Thanks again for the reminder, Pop.

Print on Demand

July 8, 2012


Photo © Judith K. Hackstock

I know a lot of people who swore they would never buy an e-Book. “Why would I want to curl up with a computer to read? I like the feel of real books.”

Many of these same people now carry around their Kindle, or Nook, or i-Pad everywhere they go and, guess what? There are an awful lot of books downloaded on these devices.

Publisher’s Weekly announced that unit sales of print books fell 10.2% in the first six months of 2011. In a survey taken six months earlier, PW found that, among the major formats, e-Book sales across all categories had risen 38.9%.

Is this the demise of printed books?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I used to think print was here to stay. As a writer, and an avid reader, I really, really liked printed books. That was until I ran out of bookshelf space.

Last year alone, I donated 175 hardcover and paperback books to charity, because I no longer had any place to store them, and they were worth more as a donation than I could get for them anywhere else.

I bought a Kindle and was amazed – and delighted – at the 30 novels downloaded onto it for an extended absence from home. Simple and convenient, and astoundingly easy to use, it was a most convincing argument for the death of printed books.

Then I recently read a fascinating blog that told me about a new print-on-demand machine sold by On Demand Books that allows you, for about one cent per page, to print and bind a novel in the time it takes the barista at your favorite coffee house to make your double latte.

(more…)


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