What’s New, Pussycat?

14 Oct

cover illustration-100

According to WordPress (and I think they should know!) this is the 100th post to this blog. Who’da thought that on April 27, 2010, when the first post made its appearance?  There have been a number of changes in my own life since then, including a move to my current – and hopefully, final – home, on the shores of Lake Erie, on Cleveland’s east side.

Not quite four months after that, I self-published my first book on Amazon.com  – a reissue  of my first published book Secret Shores, under my own name.  As usual, I did the Kindle version first, then followed with the print (plus Large-print) edition. Last month, September, 2014, I did my most recent book The Regency Christmas Duo (as my Regency alter-ego Hetty St. James). In and of itself, this fact isn’t vitally important, except for one piece of data. Amazon issues a project number for each book it publishes, and in between these two books some 4 years and 1 month apart in time, Amazon’s CreateSpace issued 1, 536, 815 other print books, some few of which were mine!

Kindle operates a bit differently, so I don’t think I can compare those numbers, but I’ll bet it’s ten times as many! And now, there is the option of an audio book for any author interested in reaching that market. I hope to do that – in the next calendar year – 2015 – for my Regency stories. The others are way too long for me to attempt at this time. But still, it’s fascinating to realize how the publishing world has changed in such a short time!  When Secret Shores was first published (Berkley, NY) in May, 1993, there was not yet any Amazon other than the river in South America.

Not to mention there was little known about this new-fangled thing called the World Wide Web, or as we now know it – the Internet.  iNet, for short.  There were some few writers using the new electronic mail service known as e-mail. And we’d only just really discovered faxing, as the machines became easier to use and less un-wieldy. Wow! All these dandy new things – why, there was even a portable phone that one could use in a car, although it was much tooo heavy to be carried around. NO, it was not a cell-phone. Not yet.

But progress won’t be denied. And within a short time, it was possible to send an e-mail message to anywhere in the world, providing both the sender and the recipient had a working computer and internet connection. Said connection being a dial-up connected to your regular telephone line. Wow!

Of course, there were still problems with incompatibility, and no, I don’t mean between people! The machines and networks had to be compatible with each other, as well.

I would go off to work on Saturday evenings, leaving my computer and modem turned on, and hope to goodness that thunder and lightning didn’t appear to mess up everything.And hope that maybe somebody had sent me something for the newsletter. Still, every day was like opening a treasure chest – you never knew what you might find in your inbox. But then, as always happens, some devious souls discovered the business of phishing and/or scamming, or some other even more evil tag-along, and what had once been fun now became the serious business of trying to keep your computer virus free. Ugh.

As to submitting manuscripts? Well, first it had to be painstakingly typed on paper, double-spaced, with wide margins all around – but the pages could not be bound together in any way! Then, it would be bundled up and carted off to the Post Office, or perhaps a courier service. It was not cheap – especially for those authors out of the US, who were submitting to US-based publishers. And then, it was wait, wait and wait some more. With any luck someone at the publisher’s office would deign to admit they’d actually received your baby. How long would it take to receive any other communication? How long is a piece of string?  Sometimes a week, sometimes a year, sometimes never. And you didn’t dare intrude on the publisher’s privacy to inquire. You might accidentally disqualify yourself!

Now, of course, EVERTHING is done electronically. Fast, faster, fastest!  But reading is still a rather time-consuming activity, especially when trying to determine the quality of a manuscript. Sometimes a book starts slowly, but might be fixable, if the overall quality is high enough to warrant having extra time spent on it. Sometimes, it’s all too evident that this particular manuscript is a no-go. At least to this publisher. It might be acceptable elsewhere. It was always a constant guessing-game as to where was that proper place!

But if we hadn’t gone through all these birthing pains, we wouldn’t have the accessibility that we now enjoy. One can read a book or a newspaper or a magazine in several different electronic guises. Even your cell phone! I write too long for folks to read easily on their cell phone, but I’m not going to apologize for that either. Less is not always more. Nor is it always a good thing. At least to me, it isn’t.

What’s your opinion of all this?  I’d love to have your comments or questions:  bookmechanicATgmail.com

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