Saturday, March 29, 2008

Buying books...

The other day, in one of the many chat groups I now belong to thanks to my publishers, one of the authors mentioned an experience she’d just had where a reader came up to her to tell her how much she’d enjoyed her book. That was so nice, except as they chatted, it came out that the reader hadn’t actually bought the book – someone else had downloaded it and sent it to her. The author expressed her disappointment, because that was a lost sale for her.

This has been big news in the music industry for a while now. With the advent of digital music, and now digital books, it’s so easy for people to access them without paying for them.

But as I thought about it, I realized that with books, this has always gone on. How many of you have ever loaned out your books to friends or relatives? My aunt and I used to have a great exchange program – someone would give her books when they were done with them, she’d pass them on to me, I’d read them and pass them on to someone else. I guess I never thought of the fact that we were depriving an author of a sale.

Of course, now I do! But I don’t think it’s realistic to think it’s going to stop.

Now I don’t know the numbers, but I suspect that authors of print books make substantially more money than many authors of electronic books. When the publisher tells you they won’t cut royalty checks for less than twenty-five dollars, you can be pretty sure you’re not going to be making big bucks, especially for new authors. So the loss of even one sale is felt a lot more in that case. Especially when sales are tracked by the publisher, and bestsellers are noted. It's not just a loss of money - it's potentially a loss of recognition and status as an author.

I guess we just have to hope that by reading a book, even if they didn’t pay for it, readers will like it enough to remember your name and go out and buy your next book.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I have trouble sleeping.

Not every night. But often enough to drive me crazy. It’s so frustrating being wide awake in the middle of the night, knowing I need so get some sleep but of course the harder I try, the more awake I am. I just read an article about a book by Eluned Summers-Bremner, English professor and cultural historian at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, called Insomnia: A Cultural History. She talks about being “head tired” where you can’t shut your brain off. Apparently because we spend so much time sitting still but working with our brains, our body isn’t tired, even though our mind is, and we have a harder time getting to sleep.

She also believes there is a link between insomnia and creativity. A lot of poets and writers believe this, too. Many great artists and thinkers (Franklin, Edison, Wordsworth, Proust) were insomniacs.

Now, I’m no Proust, but I know that I have written some of my best work in the middle of the night while lying there wide awake! Too bad it never made it onto the computer screen. Some people keep a notebook by their bed so they can write things down, such as dreams. I guess I could do that. Sometimes I get great ideas in the night but the worst is when I lay there for two hours and actually write almost an entire novel. I should just get up and go downstairs and start typing.

But then there’s no chance I’d be getting any sleep that night!

All this raises the question for me…does my insomnia result in creativity? Or is my creativity causing my insomnia?Ms Summers-Bremner doesn’t think that insomnia causes the creativity, but because some people think it does, they don’t want to give up their insomnia.

What do you think?