Monday, April 26, 2010

The birth and death of a book

My new book arrived and I promptly cuddled my new baby. This revision of my book Local Vegetarian Cooking has shed it's hippie-back-to-the-land image since it got picked up by Timber Press. Like a shiny new toy, I was impressed and so was my kitchen assistant.

But my euphoria was short-lived. The same day I received a curious envelope from a Bellingham bookstore. I hadn't sold books there for . . . I couldn't remember how long it had been. The letter inside informed me my previous book died on their shelf this past year and could I stop by to collect the remains?

Okay I knew the book had serious gaps for certain markets. I hadn't covered Whatcom county farmers and hadn't realized that importance until after the book was finished. Many Northwest communities are the center of their own universe. I needed to include farmers here, so they're in the revised version. Each step along the way in this path of this book has been a step forward, even though it sometimes didn't feel like it at the time.

Anyway, I drove to Bellingham, where I walked in the bottom level of the book store, where all the "self-published" consignment book people enter. I picked up the remaining two copies, then walked around the store and went inside upstairs where all the authors with book publishers go. Self-publishing often feels like a second rate option when authors with book contacts get treated differently.

The upside of self-publishing is you are in control. The downside is you are in control and must oversee everything. On the other hand, consider how many books a bookstore holds and you realize dealing with every author individually isn't possible.

With my old self-published book I found that some doors were simply closed in my face.

I have one questions about the life and death of books:

Was the short shelf life (at this store) due to missed marketing opportunities or because local food information can change quickly and be outdated. If it's the latter, then I better get busy get busy and work on the revision now.