Saturday, May 15, 2010
Guest Blog: Jenny Gardiner
Dramatic changes have been underway in the publishing industry in recent years—changes that--combined with a faltering economy--have left traditional publishing in a bit of a tailspin. While the cumbersome infrastructure of the publishing industry is perhaps not quite nimble enough to as easily embrace and adapt to these changes, authors are on their own figuring out how they can achieve their end goal--to reach readers hungry for their work.
I've been fortunate to be teamed up with a literary agent—the wonderful Holly Root—whose agency (The Waxman Agency) is an innovator and has undertaken a bold new program of offering up high-quality books to the reading public via a digital imprint called Diversion Books.
I jumped at the chance to be part of this program because in many ways I am a convert to e-reading and I believe that society is on the cusp of a major shift in how people read books. I've always felt badly that there is a tremendous amount of paper waste with books—that books that don't sell get sent back to the publishers and ultimately destroyed. And as one who has on many occasions found at least three books lurking in the bowels of her purse (which gets heavy!), I love having all of my reading neatly compiled into one small, lightweight and very portable device. And strangely I find I can focus more readily when reading in a public place with an e-reader. Go figure.
I think that as competition increases with the introduction of new e-readers, and prices come down in the near future, soon electronic readers like the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader and the iPad (of which 1 million units were sold in 28 days) will become as commonplace as cell phones (with smart phones already an e-reading option for many).
Are e-books the perfect solution? Not at all. I hate the idea that e-books contribute to marginalizing wonderful independent book stores, and hope that somehow some of the talk—of e-book downloads being available at stores, perhaps, will help to mitigate that. And I hate to sit back and watch layoffs and consolidation in the publishing industry, as really good people, fabulous editors, publicists and artists are squeezed out as the business changes. The music industry experienced these same sea changes and frankly nothing about it is easy. But as the mainstream industry goes more and more toward sure-bet books to the exclusion of the vast mid-list, which is really like the middle class of the writing world, more authors will by necessity seek alternatives to continue to pursue their passion and to reach their readers.
I decided to publish digitally with Diversion Books rather than cold turkey on my own because, alas, I am such a Luddite. Well, not fully. But I am technologically stunted and I don't have the time in my life right now to figure out how to do this on my own, and I am happy to be able to work with such wonderful professionals to collaborate on an end-result we can all be proud of. It's early enough that I can't tell you how the outcome will be, but so far so good and I really just hope I can get the word out to enough e-readers about the book—I do find that those who are early adapters with e-readers are enthusiastic to buy books, which is a good thing for everyone in a market in which so few books are being purchased. And I hope that my readers will be able to access this book.
Of course tangible paper books aren't going to go away, but the convenience of downloading books and carrying literally hundreds of them in such compact form is awfully hard to beat. And I'm thrilled to be at the forefront of such exciting innovations and to be able to offer up a book that I absolutely love and think that you will too.
Many of you may know me as a novelist who was able to successfully market my way into a publishing contract with my first novel, SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, which was the winner of Dorchester Publishing's American Title III contest a few years ago. Back then I sort of stumbled into the frontier of capitalizing on what would soon become the most comprehensive way to market and publicize books—via networking on the internet.
Since that time, the industry has shifted in none-too-subtle ways as the internet has become an integral part of the publishing picture. So much so that e-publishing, which used to be considered an unconventional means of publication, is clearly being viewed now as the wave of the future. The future is already upon us, and I hope that you will join me in this brave new "frontier" and check out my debut e-novel, SLIM TO NONE, in which Abby Jennings, Manhattan's premier food critic, is outed on Page Six of the New York Post, and to her chagrin she realizes she's too recognizably fat to now remain incognito in her job. Her editor gives her six months to shape up or ship out, and so this ultimate foodie--a woman who is paid to eat for a living--must vastly curtail her eating in order to continue being able to make a living.
SLIM TO NONE is a story near and dear to my heart. Like probably every female out there with a heartbeat and a stomach pooch, I have been on the dieting treadmill since I was oh, born. Well, wait, I guess after I started walking. It was then that I knew I needed to stop cramming down the Froot Loops my mother kept insisting was the only thing I would eat, and instead turn to steel-cut oats direct from Ireland for the best proper nutrition.
Alas, Froot Loops won the day, over and over again. In what seems like an omnipresent dietary smackdown between Brussels sprouts and Fluffernutter sandwiches, the latter prevails every time. And with that has been the roller coaster of dieting and hating to diet and then never having pants that fit and a closet full of awesome clothes collecting dust that I really ought to just purge and give to someone thinner and more deserving, but instead I hold out mournful hope that I again will jam my fat ass into a size 6 pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (yes, friends, it has been that long).
With that albatross secured snugly around my neck, I decided to tackle the ups and downs of this way of life in a novel—and decided upon a foodie for whom food had to become the enemy. I loved the idea of taking someone who has to eat for a living then not be able to eat in order to continue to be able to eat for a living. Such a quandary! And then of course I wanted to pile her up with all sorts of issues that she has to overcome.
I hope you'll join Abbie on her journey of self-discovery and while you're at it enjoy many of the yummy recipes you'll find within the pages of SLIM TO NONE.
Jenny Gardiner is also the author of the recently released WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO'S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Simon & Schuster's Gallery books), and the award-winning SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER (Dorchester books). http://jennygardiner.net/
Take a sneak peek at the first chapter of SLIM TO NONE here:
Here's a link for the amazon page for Slim to None: