There’s been quite a bit of talk in the mystery writing community lately about issue-oriented and socially conscious plotting. During a panel at Killer Nashville (a recent convention for mystery writers and fans) discussing this topic, Betty Webb (the Lena Jones series) was mentioned as the top example. Grave issues we face today become the story and in some cases (Webb’s for sure) real change occurs as the result of a work of fiction! A novel can move the world? YES!
Many authors, including myself, address social issues in their stories, though almost always to a much milder degree than Betty Webb accomplishes. Our stories, for example, do not bring us the death threats she has faced.
Those who join the writing community today learn there’s much more to a writing career than simply writing “The End” on a sharply done manuscript. Social consciousness can be one aspect of this. Writing something we can happily promote is another aspect. A second career, promotion of our work, is essential if we want anyone beyond family to buy our books. In fact, I read advice recently suggesting those who don’t feel they can become hard-working advocates and promoters of their writing ought not to consider a writing career at all!
From experience over twenty-five years I can affirm the truth of that. We no longer lounge in the glow of being published while someone else sees that people learn about our writing and rush to buy and read it. Those days are gone.
The days of the traditional book always being printed on paper between two covers are also gone. Books on tape, (or CD), books read on screens, books downloaded on a multitude of technological wonders, are rushing into our lives.
The times they are a-changing.
Okay, let’s go a bit further.
How about bringing social consciousness into the book publishing business itself? E-books of all kinds are environmentally sound. They don’t require cutting a forest to make paper that is then bleached with chlorine. They don’t use oil-based inks sheltering several volatile organic compounds to make words on that paper.
So far, so good. But alas, what are the “I love the feel, smell, and eye attention gained from a real book” people to do if they care (as people increasingly do these days) about a “real” book’s impact on the environment?
The answer is staring us in the face and I use Wolfmont Press as my example. Recently Wolfmont published a delightful little book called THE WRITERS’ JOURNEY JOURNAL. Beyond being stuffed full of thoughts, entertaining insights, and good advice from sixty authors in the book’s essays and snippets of wisdom, this book was printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper not bleached with chlorine and produced in a mill powered with electricity generated by wind turbines. Low or no VOC inks were used. Books are Print on Demand, in other words, no stacks of warehoused books, perhaps trucked long distances in gas-eating vehicles. Just books made as needed.
In fact, all of Wolfmont’s books are created POD. They cost a bit more to produce than thousands done at once by offset, but, by gosh, it’s “waste not, want not” and other old-timey values re-created in today’s world.
I love it.
My attention was first drawn to Wolfmont when I was invited to submit a story to their yearly holiday short story anthology, published to earn money for The United States’ Marine Corps Reserves’ annual Toys for Tots campaign. Neither publisher, editor Tony Burton, nor any author earns money for their work on these anthologies. Promotion expenses (and there is a lot of promotion, willingly done) are covered by the authors and Wolfmont.
As I grew to know more about this small but out-of-size valuable and moral company I dared to dream of working for them. Now, more than a year later, I am grateful and proud to say that the small, royalty-paying publisher Wolfmont will present the next novel in my “To Die For” mystery series in the spring of 2010.
A publisher can help move the world? Yes, maybe it can!