Help get books to those who need them

It’s only now, writing and publishing, that I’ve twigged how the powers of commercialism control what we read.

I should have guessed really; commercialism controls most of what we do. But it always comes as a surprise to know to what degree.

Big publishers only publish what will earn them big money. And mainstream bookshops usually only stock books that do the same. They are businesses after all.

And you probably think that writers earn thousands as it’s usually only the writers that do, like Dan Brown or J K Rowling, who get the coverage.

The truth is that most writers will be earning less than the minimum wage. And many will be covering subjects dealing with issues that are not mainstream and therefore not going to earn big money, so will not have big marketing machines behind them. Which means that it is harder to get titles out to the minorities who need it.

So you can see how those minorities often don’t get the books they need to support them.

With the chance to publish independently now, and the whole publishing process made more accessible, micro publishers like Bird’s Nest Books have a better chance of surviving and supporting writers like me who write about marginalised subjects.

But we still rely on your invaluable help.

Mainstream book companies are the ones that get all the attention – they can afford to pay for it. Publishers pay huge sums for shelf space and for stocking their books in the first place. This involves fees that small publishers cannot afford. So this boils down to the fact that what you get to see on shelves in bookshops, and consequently what you get to read, is controlled by them – if the book’s not got the potential for big bucks, it won’t even get published in the first place! That’s a fact.

For example, celebrities can write absolute crap yet it will appear in your face because big money got it there. If you’ve got a burning issue to write about but there’s no big money to be made – you won’t get it published and people won’t get to read it.

Many writers like me have a message or support they want to share that has nothing to do with big money. Consequently it is hard to get it out there.

This is where your help means so much.

Come and meet me, the illustrator and publisher of 'Who's Not in School' at the Wisbeck LitFest on Saturday

Come and meet me, the illustrator, and publisher of ‘Who’s Not in School’ at the Wisbech LitFest on Saturday

I am indebted to all the people who have bought my books, shared them around, mentioned them online and networked them about, passed on my messages, promoted my work, donated to libraries, written reviews, and mentioned them on forums, blogs and Facebook. Your work doing that has meant that many who wouldn’t know this work’s there to help them get to hear about it. Thank you.

Both the publisher and I depend on the word of mouth and networking power of you our wonderful supportive readers.

And your support might one day sow a seed of hope in the hearts of a family whose children’s are suffering in school, yet who didn’t know alternatives existed.

It also shows that minority communities can survive and thrive even without a big commercial machine, on the kindness of strangers.

More than just helping me, your support goes so much further. And I am humbly indebted to you for it.

6 thoughts on “Help get books to those who need them

  1. I read about your new book on another blog and made a ‘Suggestion to buy’ at our library. And finally in the last week, there are now 10 copies of your book in the library system here in Auckland, New Zealand! I enjoyed reading it, and I brought it to the local home educator’s meeting so I suspect there will be more of us checking it out and enjoying it here, half a world away. I know 10 copies is probably just a drop in the ocean but I hope you will still find this encouraging.

  2. Hello to Kevin, you are right that small niche writers can get out there on social media etc.. and in theory the situation is not how it used to. However, in reality, things are really not that different. Unless you have money to spend on advertising or have nothing to do but drone on about your stuff on Facebook all day, you will not be getting much of a showcase.

    Furthermore, even though I believe wholeheartedly in making a profit because we all have to eat, the most important aspect of children’s books, to me, is the effect it has on its readers. At the moment, there are some fantastic books out which delight me but there are also books written by what I can only call syndicates that are purely to make the child want to read the next one at speed and the next one and so on. That is big business being greedy and it is wrong – the children’s development should always come first.

    You are so right that folks don’t always notice what is out there; It’s also very easy to make assumptions, I suppose it is human nature. It’s a good job that we can all help each other to find out what is going on.

  3. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – things have changed a lot and ‘small’ or niche writers can get their stuff out there via social media etc. The channel to the audience has been democratised, so while some of the point you make is still true, it’s more how things used to be. At the end of the day you can’t blame companies for wanting to sell books that will sell.

    • Thanks Kevin. You’re right of course, businesses have to make money. But I just thought I’d bring it to people’s attention that they might not always get to notice what’s out there! 😉

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