Monday, October 23, 2006
As I continue spending a lot of my free time and energy on Zarahemla Books, it's been interesting to make the switch from thinking like a would-be author to thinking like a would-be publisher. You always hear publishers say it's irritating when authors pitch them projects they don't do, and that is so true! I don't love it when someone e-mails me an idea that is clearly outside my focus, but what I really dislike is when someone gives me the hard sell on the phone or in person. I'm going to have to learn to shoot people down faster and earlier, or at least not feel guilty about not following up with them.
Also, although I won't do the bulk of my submission reviews until December or January, I'm already hearing echoes in my own mind of what I've heard other editors say. For one, as I consider a possible project, I find myself wondering how much work it will take. That's a big reality--only so much time and energy is available! The other is that I have precious few slots I can fill, and they will fill up extremely fast. So now I can understand better some of the pressures publishers are under.
Another thing I want to vent about is my irritation about websites and DVDs that provide too much information. I know that nowadays people love to be saturated in all kinds of peripheral info and extras, but I personally do not relate to this and find it highly off-putting. Instead of a movie taking two hours from my life, now it wants to take four hours or more, robbing me of time to watch all the other movies on my list. As a result, I NEVER look at DVD extras--I'm sure there's good stuff on them, but life is too short. By the same token, I've had several people tell me that I should make my Zarahemla Books website all content-rich and community-oriented and stuff, but I just don't feel interested in doing that because it takes time away from READING THE ACTUAL BOOKS. No wonder people are reading so much less these days--all this electronic media is just sucking up all their time. If I wanted some great website that built an incredible online community, I would have started a website, not a book publishing company. Oh, I know that other publishers soup up their sites and maybe it's overall better for branding and for carving out a distinct readership, and maybe eventually I'll have to hire a webmaster to do me a better site, but for now I like my plain e-commerce site with its one, simple, direct purpose: to sell books.
Anyway, I'd like to get back into real blogging again here, with actual original thoughts and ideas and confessions on at least a weekly basis rather than copying and pasting promotional text here once or twice a month (not that I won't also continue doing that too, from time to time). I received some funds from a family member to help with half of Zarahemla, so now I stand to lose only $4,000 of my own money, which I think is an OK amount to spend on one's midlife crisis and as an experiment to see if there's a readership to support an ongoing business. My catalog goes out this week, and I'm hoping for a 10 percent return of 500 book orders. We'll see!