Monday, 20 January 2014
A Tom Cruise Doodle and a Rant about E-Publishing
In case you can’t tell, my attempt at drawing a caricature last night was meant to be Tom Cruise. Cruise has always been a challenge and I occasionally come back to give it another try. There’s something about certain (usually handsome) faces which make caricaturing them so damn difficult. I look at how other people capture Cruise’s likeness and I sit there humbled by their skill. This is better than any of my previous efforts but still not right. I think it’s the teeth…
This is the second blog post of the day which perhaps gives a hint that this is also the second day I’ve remembered to turn on my SAD lamp. I’m basking in its intense light as I hammer away at this keyboard with more focus and energy than I’ve felt in a very long time.
Yesterday I mentioned that I’d turned my attention to a book I’d written a year ago. Today, I’m actively working on it and finding myself surprised at the effort I’d previously expended. I also mentioned yesterday that there were thirty illustrations in the book but counting them last night I discovered that I’d actually drawn more than eighty. I’m a fool to myself. I should never have stopped working on it, though something must have happened to distract me. Perhaps it was just the grind of writing and drawing and feeling like it would be for nothing. It’s hard not to be disillusioned when the work you produce seems to amuse only yourself. An article I read somewhere over the weekend said that most writers (I think the percentage was somewhere in the high nineties) earn less than £600 a year from their writing. It’s a depressing thought, though I blame Amazon partly for that.
Perhaps I’m no better than the rest but e-publishing has opened the market to every illiterate hack able to hammer away at a keyboard for 30,000 words and then brazen enough to call it a novel. It has done to publishing what successive governments have done to teaching: removing the element of highly-trained professionalism in favour of cheapness and ubiquity. The market is vastly dominated by badly written erotica and fifth-rate romances whilst Amazon continues to encourage e-book writers to sell their books for pennies whilst the big companies charge the same price as their paper editions. I’ve spoken before about the long tail syndrome where Amazon make huge profits on the meagre dreams of millions of authors but I don’t see how that liberates us. It puts writers in thrall to their ambitions and the only people other than Amazon making money are the charlatans standing in the middle, acting as ‘editors’ and offering professional publishing services for which naïve writers pay believing it will make a difference. There is only one truth I’ve learned about publishing and this is it: only the marketing matters. As is proved year upon year, the most incomprehensible jibberish can be a publishing sensation so long as they get the marketing right and in order to get the marketing right, you really need the money only real publishers can offer. In other words: the technology has changed but the game is pretty much the same.
I’ll end my rant there before it develops into the full fever. My book might definitely be classed in the category of light humour but I hope it’s not toilet literature. I won’t know that until I get some feedback and I’ve yet to find somebody to read it. I’m not sure who my ideal reader would be. I need somebody intelligent enough to see the seriousness beyond the craziness yet with enough humour to realise that none of it should be taken too seriously. If anybody is reading this and if you know anybody like that then please forward their details. The alternative will be to e-publish this sucker and dump it onto Amazon just so I can forget about it. I hate doing that. It’s the ultimate waste of hard work.