1. As a reviewer of audio books for Audible.com what do you look for in a book? My job is to review the listening experience and, specifically, the work of the narrator or reader. In many cases the author has also read the audio book, so that’s fun. However, it has been a real joy to become familiar with the various folks—some well-known actors, others not—who frequently read audio books. It is a difficult task but there are people who are simply excellent at it.
2. What do you love most about the book publishing industry? Well, this is a no-brainer. I love books. New books, old books, I just love them.
3. Where do you think it is heading? Towards more ebooks and audio books, I think. I am not an expert in the business of book publishing but I have worked around it for the past 30 years. What I have always seen is that book publishers are looking for one thing: a way to sell books. If the current movement is to offer books on hand-held electronic devices, the industry will go in that direction because they want people to read books. I cannot foresee a time when hardcover or soft cover books would not be published—I just can’t see that happening. There’s just too much to be gained by picking up a book and looking through it.
4. What role do you feel technology is having on the book industry? I think I answered this previously. An added aspect to ebooks and audio books is that they make it easier for people with disabilities to be able to enjoy a good book. Any way that the industry can make the joy of reading part of someone’s daily life is something to be promoted.
- Where do you feel the industry is heading? People love to read. That is not going to change. With that being said, more and more young people are playing video games versus snuggling up and reading a good book. Books need to evolve and become more than just words on a page. They need to become interactive. A great story will draw readers in, but we need to draw in the person who likes visual stimulation as well. Years ago, we had music and no videos. Music videos hit the scene and added a new element to music, a visual element. We need to do the same with books. There is no better venue than on-line book stores to provide an opportunity to add a short video to the book to pull in a future reader and sell the product.
- As a freelance book editor of two decades, how do you go about making someone’s book better? Whether a book is fiction or nonfiction, most of the time I follow a similar process:
- Seek to understand the project, the writer, his/her goal once editing is complete, and to reach an initial assessment regarding how best I can help.
- Read a synopsis and a first 50 pages for a critical read-through followed by an evaluation to identify strengths and weaknesses, directions for revision, and potential, or
- Read and edit a synopsis and first 100 pages of the book. This service involves heavy comment and correction on the pages (or using track changes and comments on the document file) and includes a comprehensive and instructional evaluation, often running 30-40 [single-spaced] pages. I like to address the elements of craft and style, take excerpts from the book to model techniques for revision, and brainstorm solutions to problems, then
- Reread and edit a revised synopsis and first 30–50 pages, as well as edit a query letter, or
- Read and edit the entire work, or
- Support a writer’s interest by advising how to find an agent or publisher, or pursue an alternative route to reach his/her goals.
- What do you love about being in book publishing? I love the creativity and the creators, the original works and the fascinating people who conceived them. I sometimes see my role as a midwife. I’ve always held books in great reverence. They often outlive us. They safeguard our legacies for however small or great an audience. They reflect our individual lives and perceptions. They communicate and they have the power to change the world. Although writers are often frustrated when the “industry” thwarts their desire to complete the circle from creation to audience, the access to completion through self-publication is greater than ever, and my perception is that the stigma has lifted. Writers are once again empowered.
- Where do you feel the industry is heading? We’re headed toward a transition from only “books on trees” to co-existence with books in digital forms leading to a time when only a small number of books will be printed on paper. It’s a thrilling time of transition. I believe we’ll see more readers, a global audience, and a freedom for writers to share their works without gatekeepers telling them they can’t. The quantity of books sold will always depend on word-of-mouth sales. The cream will rise, and if corporate forces don’t seek to bully individuals out of access to buyers, we’ll live in a healthier climate of greater creativity and more widely shared ideas.
- As an author, how did you market or promote your books? My first book was a self-published biography of a midwife from Ghana, Africa who had moved to Oregon and was doing home births in the town where I lived. This introduction to publishing was as addictive as it was instructional. I sought reviews, wrote articles, and secured several TV interviews for “Mabel: The Story of One Midwife.” I contracted with small companies offering mail order book clubs of family and birthing books and I pounded the pavement to place the book on consignment with regional bookstores and libraries. I quickly sold out 200 hardbacks and then agonized over how to sell off the remaining 2300 paperback. Luck struck when I met a woman in a writing class who had teamed up with another woman to start the magazine, “Midwifery Today.” They took over the distribution of the book. After 10 years from the 1981 publication date, most of the copies had sold. Soon, I will revive this book, originally produced on a typewriter, in digital formats for e-readers.