In the controversy over e-book pricing, it might be important to recall that when you buy a book, the form it takes is the least important element of the purchase. You are buying a story, a work of art. It takes the author a year (or sometimes much longer) to create something that will transport, entertain, enlighten or educate you. It takes the publishing company a year to provide multiple edits, design, production, marketing, and author tours for each story. The actual binding and shipping of the book is a small part of the overall cost.
Like most writers, I’ve had my share of bad reviews. I’ve also had more than my share of glowing raves. Early in my career, there was so little attention to my work that the good reviews could make my day. And the bad ones could send me to bed. Over the years, after having experienced the full range of dizzying highs and crushing lows the writing life can offer, I have found more balance. Like a kayaker in big water, I stay centered and keep on paddling – rain or shine.
There is a misconception that the writing life is a lonely one. While it’s true that we write in solitude, the business of publishing is foremost a business of relationships. Over the years, our colleagues become our friends. Maybe this is true of all businesses, but none so much as publishing. Most of us come to the work of writing and publishing and selling books only out of love, because of our consuming passion for the written word. And in the doing of this work together, we become friends.
I love book groups. What could be better than a gathering of smart, funny, engaged woman (well, it usually is all woman, and maybe a husband or two) talking about books? Generally, wine and snacks are involved. And I’m usually in my pajamas. It’s true — a couple of times a month, sometimes every week, I join in book group discussions of my novels around the country. One evening it might be Seattle, another Minneapolis, the next night New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Of course, they’re doing all the wine drinking and snack eating. And I’m in my pajamas, usually in my office, chatting with them via speakerphone while my daughter sleeps.