Friday, August 24, 2007

Everybody's at it

The Guardian (link from reports (as I imagine do most other papers) that quite a lot of Brits want to be writers. Well, hell, it looks so easy, doesn't it? And they all make so much money.

YouGov, a well known opinion-sampling agency, asked 2461 people about their ambitions in life. Almost 10% of Britons aspire to being an author, followed by sports personality, pilot, astronaut and event organiser on the list of most coveted jobs. (Event organiser?)

More women than men yearn to write, while those aged between 35 and 50, and those over 50, were most likely to dream about getting published.

We were talking about westerns last week, and if you're interested you might like to look at Saddlebums, a new website dedicated to that genre. Opening gunshots: an interview with Brian Garfield.

My favourite quote: 'I don’t agree with those who say, “Isn’t it terrible what Hollywood did to your book.” Hollywood hasn’t done anything to my books – the books are right over here on the shelf, untouched.'

Mark Watson is reportedly a well known UK comedian, though he wasn't known to me until he appeared as the author of A Light-hearted Look at Murder. The publisher is Chatto, which normally means literary.

Watson is a man, I now learn, who made a bit of a name for himself by performing stand-up comedy for 24 hours non-stop, at Edinburgh. Then he came back the next year and did 36 hours.

Not surprisingly, a man like that has been getting some coverage for his book. One reader tells me, however, that he found it disappointing. A case of don't give up the night job? The Times, however, thinks it's 'Packed with brilliant observations and sharp one-liners'. See what you think.

In the US, Little Brown are publishing a debut book by Valerie Trueblood, a woman of sixty. Hope for the oldies yet, it seems. Seven Loves is the story of the seven loves in one woman's life. It moves back and forth in time, from her childhood to her eighth decade, and it 'weaves together the strands of an ordinary life made extraordinary by the complex passions that drive it.' And all like that.

Not for me (it looks a bit lit'ry, for one thing), but mature ladies might be pleased if you bought it for them. And it never hurts to make a mature lady happy, believe me. They are more grateful than most.

The Book Depository has a new look.

Personally, I am always less than happy with front pages which are packed with information; they look overcrowded to my eye. But if I knew anything I would have got rich in the era.

Americans are at risk of libel too. And even if they're bloggers. One case getting some airing currently is summarised on Galleycat. Some theorists hold that it's a publicity stunt, but I bet it doesn't feel that way to the blogger concerned.

So far, I have had only one mauvais quart d'heure with a lawyer, and I must say that I would prefer, on the whole, by and large, taking one thing with another, not to have any more.

Question: What's the top-selling sex manual on Abebooks this year? Answer, a Christian guide to 'new' approaches to sexual intimacy in marriage. 'New' in this case means 1981, when the book was first published.

Also in the top ten are four Taoist books. Secrets of the East or something. Why is abroad always racier than home?

The Everyman's Library is republishing (UK and US) some of Dashiell Hammett, with an introduction by James Ellroy.

Hammett is a famous name in crime fiction, but I never quite got on with him myself. Several of his novels were filmed, notably The Maltese Falcon, but Red Harvest I found ridiculous, and I came to the conclusion that he owed at least some of his fame to mixing with the right set. He was sort of married to the playwright Lillian Hellman, which can't have done any harm.

However, Hammett did behave bravely and honourably in standing up to McCarthy. He refused to betray his friends -- see Forster on that -- which got him blacklisted.

According to the web sites which measure these things (don't ask me how), about 5 per cent of readers of this blog are based in India. And such readers might well be interested in a new print on demand service: Cinnamon Teal.

India has 18 officially recognized languages, hundreds of dialects and sub-languages, and many cultural differences and varying ideologies. All of which gives special relevance to the concept of print on demand. Of course, Cinnamon Teal offers the same service to those outside India, since most projects can be handled over the net. The company claims to offer a service similar to that of, but significantly cheaper.

Cinnamon Teal, by the way, is a division of the online bookstore Dogears Etc.

You may perhaps have noticed a comment from Siobhan Curham the other day. Siobhan is a writer whose first four books were published by mainstream publishers, Random House and Hodder, but now finds herself reduced (or happily released?) to publishing her own. She has a web site where you can read all about it.


Lyn LeJeune said...

I usually agree with you, but, damn, Grumpy, sixty is an oldie? 80 and over is oldie time for me. Yes, we living in a "youth culture" but it really goes up when everyone is astounded that, gasp! a person over thirty is being published. Hide the author photo, quick.

Anonymous said...

I like the sound of 'Cinnamon Teal'
Thanks for that information. I have sent off to get an idea of shipping time and costs etc. Since my "Awakening Love" may well run to 400 pages they may well be able to keep the cost down to a reasonable retail price. (Sales resistance sets in if a book is over the average price for a novel - unless the book is highly desirable for one reason or another - "Revelations of a Sex-Mad Vicar" might do it, but my "Awakening Love" has no such pull!)
Gladys Hobson

Oh, and I have considered myself a Golden Oldie since I was about sixty, a Silver Surfer when I was about 68 (my husband could not wrestle me away from my Apple Mac) and now I am almost 75 I guess I am now a Wrinkly Writer. And I have never been so active (in every respect!) Writing, publishing and doing my best at marketing. (Plus all the usual domestic roles and personal hobbies)

Anonymous said...

I would guess that the percentage of wanna-be writers in the US is far higher. With as many laptops crowding the countless Starbucks, it has to be.

Anonymous said...

How many authors are making a living, as opposed to how many would be authors are there?

According to this interview with David Morrell (who created Rambo among others)

"David Morrell estimates there are no more than 2,500 people in the United States earning a living writing fiction. In fact, he pegs the number at closer to 1,000."

Don't give up the day job - the chances you won't be able to afford to do otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the comment box abbreviates web-addresses. I will split it over two lines.

David Morrell's interview is at

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