Review: The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

Guest Post by Steve Daykin

Jen Campbell must have had a lot of fun compiling this book. The Bookshop Book is a labour of love; it’s part travelogue, part guidebook. Campbell writes of all the weird, unique and sometimes bizarre bookshops and the equally weird, unique and sometimes bizarre people who work in them.

I don’t know if Campbell actually travelled to the hundreds of shops she describes in her book. Nevertheless, she has produced a handy book to stow in your own suitcase if you’re packing for a trip to Europe or North America. It’s a kind of guidebook.

The Bookshop Book is an eclectic mix of interviews with bookstore owners and employees, customers, authors about bookshops, their role as community hubs, and much more. We hear from those who love bookshops and those who dream about them. Those who work in them, and some who live in them and some who do all of these things.

Some people do plain eccentric things, like Marta Minujin, who built a 25 metre high tower of books in Buenos Aires with 30,000 titles of all languages. She called it the Tower of Babel.

We hear, too, from famous authors, like Bill Bryson and Audrey Niffenegger.

The Bookshop Book contains the secret for success for bricks and mortar bookshops trying win in a world of e-books and online retailers. It’s a secret so powerful yet basic, and which many retail outlets – be they bookshops or others – appear to have forgotten. And it’s this: be interesting, and give meaningful customer service.

 

Steve loves reading, writing, excellent coffee, good company, new and secondhand bookshops, libraries, and much more besides!

Find Steve online: twitter.com/Steve_Comet 

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A hedge of thought

I gained some vitality this week, after an extended period of lethargy.

I decided to tackle my lilly pillys in the front yard. The plants had been in need of hedging for over a year. I was always intending to do the job myself… eventually.

It took me three sessions of more than two hours each to get the work done, but let’s not labour on that point…

Our suburban property has a footpath along the front of it. On my second day of gardening, a happy, middle-aged man walked by and hollered out a single sentence. He was the only person who spoke to me over the three days, despite many who passed by.

He said, ‘You need a good man to do that for you!’

At first, I thought it was a sweet, fatherly thing to say. I imagined he cared that I was slogging it out, fighting my overgrown plants into submission.

But I turned feminist real quick. How dare he think I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, achieve what I’d set my mind to do, just because I’m female!

Then I thought, hang on – his words are completely invalid… for these reasons:

  • I don’t need a man to do everything for me. I’m entirely capable of looking after myself AND my garden.
  • If I did need / want a man to hedge for me, I’d have a man hedge for me!
  • There’s no such thing as man’s work and woman’s work anymore. It’s the 21st Sheesh.
  • I enjoy hard work and had no problem with hedging (and sweating). I like gardening most of the time. I alone chose to get the job done. I wasn’t forced to do it.
  • I do have a man, he’s just not a gardener. He was looking after my 3yo son while I hedged. This was my man’s way of being supportive.

I think the moral of the story is probably just: people say dumb things.

I often think too much about what people say, bothered or not by their words.

Is there something that a stranger has said to you that you’ll never forget?

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The Road to Self-Publishing

Guest Post by Tania Park

One of the hardest challenges for a writer these days is to get their work published. It appears that if you’re well-known, publishing houses welcome your manuscript. They’ll even contact you and ask you to write a book. Even if the celebrity doesn’t actually pen the words but uses the services of a ghost writer, the publisher’s arms are open wide. A huge amount of money is spent on promoting those types of books. There is only one reason why: money. Publishing houses are in it to make money.

So if you’re a nonentity, even with a literary masterpiece, it’s very difficult to get a publishing house to consider your manuscript.

So where does that leave the newcomer? How many brilliant manuscripts are gathering dust in forgotten drawers with twenty or so refusal slips attached?

There’s one solution: self-publishing. But this has pitfalls and many mistakes are made.

It will cost a certain amount of money – how much will depend on the printer you employ and what sort of expert advice you seek in order to have a professionally finished product. Then there’s the cost of getting your ISBN and barcode, which is a legal requirement.

I self-published a non-fiction book by doing all the work myself. It was the cheapest option. I found a printer who did the layout as part of the production cost. I hired a graphic artist to design the cover. This is a must if you want your book to look professional, unless you have those skills. A professional design will set you back anything from $250 for a basic cover. For a classier cover the cost will be higher.

You must have someone with excellent editorial skills to edit the book. An outsider sees errors you’ve missed even though you’ve read your work a hundred times. My eyes have skipped over simple misspellings repeatedly in my work. Spell check will not find things such as ‘the’ instead of ‘there’ and your brain skips over these simple typos unless you’re diligent in checking every word of every sentence. A professional editor will cost you at least a thousand dollars but it will be money well spent.

I recently read a self-published book that was edited by a ‘friend.’ The grammar is atrocious and the lack of proper punctuation is mind-boggling. The author paid an overseas publishing house to publish the book. So the publishers did what they were paid for – they published a raw manuscript. Some less than ethical publishing houses don’t care what the standard is like, for they received a substantial sum of money. Be very wary of these cowboy outfits that will publish your work for a one off payment of only $7,000.

My first book was successful and we managed to sell all copies. It looked professional but still I found at least four errors in the finished product. These were errors I’d missed repeatedly and so had other people who checked it for me.

I was involved in producing an anthology of short stories using the same method. The book was first class. But then we come to a major issue with self-publishing – selling.

Marketing a self-published book is harder than writing it and even harder than getting it published. Never make the mistake of thinking it will be a breeze. We had 300 copies of the short story anthology printed at a cost of around $10 a copy. It doesn’t sound like a large number but the books take up a lot of room and we still have at least 100 copies stashed in boxes – gathering dust.

I have just self-published my first novel, Mistaken, but this time I’ve used the services of a professional group. I’ve received advice from professional editors and technical producers, a cover designed by a professional that receives nothing but positive comments and every detail of book production is explained. The book is printed by a company that has outlets all over the world. The beauty of this method is that the books are printed on demand. I don’t have to order a print run of a certain number, which is the traditional method. I can order a single book if I wish or as many as I think I can sell. Of course the more you order at any one time, the cheaper each copy is. My initial order was for 100 copies. They were on my doorstep within ten days. I sold them all so my second order was for the same number. This doesn’t leave you with boxes of un-saleable books. The cost of my book being uploaded to more than one e-book supplier is included in the single up front fee. I don’t have the hassle.

I own the book. I own the rights to printing. I make the decisions for every single aspect of production and am responsible for the marketing, although I am amazed on how many websites my book is advertised. And it didn’t cost me anywhere near $7000.00. Even better, it is a local company that has a world-wide customer base. Everything is done by email. I didn’t even personally meet anyone from the company until I hand-delivered the first copy of my book.

I am so ecstatic with the completed product that my second book is now in the throes of production. I need to now market my book. All I need is a marketing company and ideas on how to sell it. Any offers?

 

Tania lives in Busselton, WA and has been writing for 10 years. Her second novel, Retribution, will be available soon.

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Pause. Breath. Focus.

I’m currently in the process of re-visioning Motion and Musings. The website is still in its infancy, but already I need to adjust and refine its purpose. While I’m doing that, I’ll be posting up short thought pieces only. The good news is that you’ll get more Motion and Musings posts to read.

I’ve been severely unmotivated of late. It’s not like me at all to be so inactive. I’ve been trying to work out why. I can’t tell if it’s because of my depression or my poor health, or both.

While I’m in this place of lethargy, I’m trying not to feel guilty and I’m trying to talk kindly to myself. I know it’s just a phase and it will pass. I’ll try the best I can for now and be proud of that. And I’ll enjoy a lot more reading while I can’t be bothered to do much else.

How’s your relationship with motivation going? I’d love to hear about how you deal with feeling unmotivated in the comments section below.

 

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