The death of the novel is greatly exaggerated.

WillselfauthorI was reading an article recently by the  literary novelist Will Self in which he proclaimed, if not quite the death of the novel, then certainly the demise of literary fiction. You can read his full piece here.

His central argument is that the serious literary novel has been pushed from the mainstream and has become more like classical music, the preserve of an interested minority.

While I do believe the novel, and reading generally is being changed by the digital age, I’m not sure I buy his idea about this shift in the place of the serious novel. I mean, it was always a minority interest wasn’t it?

41P7822EM1L._Does anyone really think coal miners got round a table in the pub in 1913 to discuss how DH Lawrence had portrayed their lifestyle in Sons and Lovers? Then as now the serious novel was the preserve of the few who felt motivated to pick up the books.

And, in the days when literacy rates were a lot lower than they are now, it was also the preserve of an intellectual elite.

Probably still is come to think, that hasn’t changed. If you have never been exposed to the magic of great books then sadly, you might never discover it for yourself.

But what impact has digital technology made? The temptation is to say that it has stopped people reading books – we stare at tablet screens and mobile phones now, we are hooked up to laptops and video games, even television is feeling the pinch, never mind fusty old reading.

But, when you examine things closer, reading books as an activity seems to be in rude health. No writer, or reader, could immerse themselves in social media today without coming to the conclusion that there are an awful lot of other readers and writers out there.

Doubtless the business model for publishers and writers is changing significantly. Will Self alludes to this in his article when he’s talking about the difficultly of making a living out of literary fiction and the need to do something else, such as teach creative writing, to make ends meet. But again, wasn’t it always difficult to make a living as a writer? And the more serious your work, the more you cut down your potential pool of readers by aiming at a small proportion of them, then the fewer books you would sell.

Now at least there is a connected community of readers around the world – so, as a writer, it is easier to reach your readers than it ever has been before. And those readers can be truly international, even for first time authors like me.

Perhaps it is the case that, overall, fewer people are reading books, and perhaps it is also the case that the books they do read have taken a dive down in class on the scale from literary to pot-boiler. But it is also the case that those people who are interested in the literary novel, and in writing as an art form, can find new books and connect with their authors more easily than ever before.

Song of the Sea GodDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USAhere.

Guest post – Why self-publish?

Today I’d like to welcome a guest blogger to my blog – a young Californian writer called Daniel Wallock who has just started to self-publish his work. Self-publishing isn’t my area but I can see it’s making massive strides in the publishing world and becoming a real force to be reckoned with. I thought I’d ask Daniel why a young writer like him would chose to self-publish his work rather than going down the traditional route of looking for a publisher and an agent. Thanks to Daniel for coming along today!

headshotsmallwebI never thought I would self-published.
I didn’t ever imagine getting a cover, an editor, and all of the stuff that came along with the decision to self-publish. It started about two months ago while I was doing a writing internship at the Kim Maxwell Studio in Ojai, California. The internship was very simple. I got to the studio and then had to figure out what I to do with myself for the next seven hours. The first few days I wrote poems and flash nonfiction. About a week into the internship I was on a walk with a friend and I was ranting about how I just wanted to be read.
I kept saying, “I don’t want to wait. I have a dream and I just want people to read my stories.”
My friend who is middle aged turned to me and said, “Don’t wait. You have a story to tell! Go share it.”
I looked at him and yelled, “F*** waiting! I’m going to self-publish.”
It was that simple.
Within twenty-four hours I had a cover designer. The story was previously professionally published which made the publishing process a lot easier. Within forty-eight hours I had my story professionally formatted, lined up with blurbs from serval different authors, and it was published on Kindle. The next few days I contacted every news station and news paper from Santa Barbara to Los Angles. Of course almost everyone of them didn’t respond, but one or two did. I was featured in an online news paper called Edhat, and I had a few interviews set up with other organizations.

rightheartedThe first few days of publishing my short book entitled Right-Hearted: Finding What’s Right With a Wrong-Sided Heart, I had received around two hundred free downloads.
For the week after publishing I went on a promotion streak! I posted the book all over the internet and I tried to email all my contacts asking them to download the book. I even spending some money on websites like to promote the book. All day long I thought about different ways I could promote the book. I was obsessed with getting more downloads. Each day I wanted to rank higher on the free bestsellers list then the day before. The book became my life; it still is.
After two weeks the book had been download 1,400 times in five different countries!
This is when I decided it was time to get the print version ready. It took about $100 to get everything including formatting, design, and finalized edits until the book was ready for print. I ordered a few different sets of proofs because each time I got one I noticed a few errors I had missed before. The process was awfully annoying. Having to wait six days for the proof, then reading it to find errors, and then paying for another proof. This helped me realize next time editing has to be way better before I order the a proof copy.
The day the book came out I found out that it had been download, and or sold in around ten countries!

You can find Daniel’s book Right-Hearted here

and meet Daniel on his blog here.

Word cloud

SInce Song of the Sea God came out it’s been compared to all kinds of work by other writers, as well as to movies, TV shows and so on – here are some of those comparisons as a word cloud.

Don’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God. You can read full reviews, look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.