For the past six years, my full time job has been as a publishing consultant. I help businesses, small presses, and self-publishers figure out their book plan, based on their own goals. It’s called GOOD BOOK DEVELOPERS and I recently redid the website, with the help of microfictionist extraordinaire, Joseph Young.
Yesterday I parked my car in my driveway and before I got out I saw this little monkey carry a fresh acorn onto the log next to my door. Right away s/he started eating it and before I could get my phone out to take a video, s/he’d chewed off the brown shell. I felt lucky to get to see the whole meal, and was especially impressed by the hygienic overture at the end, before it scurried away.
My website, this one, AdamRobinson.ninja, is an author website, right?
What do I have on it? I have some links to publications, a bio (which I made available for anyone to use at their discretion, like editors or reading series hosts, as well as my photos), a way to get ahold of me, and a blog that I don’t update frequently enough. Simple.
At Hunger Mountain, I’ve published a long essay about how to build an author website, and why.
The key advice comes at the end:
“Ultimately, don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to simplify, simplify, simplify.”
Kayla Tanenbaum included me in her series of interviews at Columbia Journal, where she talks to writers and people working in publishing. Tt was one of the best conversations about the business of books that I’ve had in a long time.
AR: Traditional presses aren’t handling literature in the same way that they were historically. The catalog for one of the big five publishers, as they become more and more conglomerated, is focused on the bottom line. That means that they’re publishing more cookbooks, more children’s books, more books that they know are going to be successful. They’re marginalizing literary fiction and poetry. We’ve seeing poetry become completely marginalized in the last 30 to 40 years, and it’s to the point where no poets have an expectation of getting a book published by a traditional publisher. I’d hate to see that same thing happening to literary fiction or creative nonfiction
For Real Pants, I’m working on an essay that seeks to resolve the tension in the small press world about working with Amazon to sell and buy books. My experience was awful at first, as I was losing about 30 cents every time someone bought a Publishing Genius book through Amazon. But books just have to be there, because that’s where people buy books.
The conflict there is obvious. If selling books through a retailer is bad for publishers, what will happen to books? It’s the publisher’s perspective that they shouldn’t be strong-armed (the way Amazon bullied competitors like Zappo’s and Diapers.com) because books are a unique product that convey our civic identity, our cultural ideas, and not just another consumer good, like shoes or baby wipes.
Along with this question of books as a consumer good, I want to explore, in an ontological way, the question of whether Amazon is bad, good, or an indifferent factor for literature. I’ll explore how their efficiencies (such as their numerous fulfillment centers, their powerful website that hosts reviews, recommendations, 1-click checkout etc, 2-day shipping and so on) promote book buying; I’ll report on their own attempts at being a meaningful traditional publisher and, relatedly, an ardent promoter of self-publishing; I’ll look at what Amazon’s affect on booksellers means for publishers.
Finally, as none of what Amazon does happens in a vacuum, I’ll consider ethical factors, like their treatment of employees and the ramifications of things like the combination of Prime and 1-hour shipping on the environment.
In conjunction with Women’s History Month, Amy McDaniel has declared today “Formidable Women Day” and asked people to celebrate “by making your own list of the formidable women who are alive to you.” There’s even a hashtag, #formidablewomen.
I’m (almost too) scared to make a list because lists are exclusionary. Lists are hegemonic; order is patriarchal. But of course it’s fun to think about, and enriching, and I do want to take an opportunity to name some people I admire. So I’m limiting myself to ten, though I could go on and on. And these ten, of course, are in no order. They are also very personal, which is why I talk about myself so much in the annotations.
Amy McDaniel is not only the founder of F.W.D. but also she tops my list. She has been one of my favorite writers since I first read her posts at HTMLGiant, and she’s an easy but probing conversationalist. She talks through ideas with me for hours until, finally, I start to understand an ethical perspective that she seems to have arrived at automatically years ago. I’m lucky in love with her!
Bethany Hamann was one of my first female besties—so smart, adventurous, and snarky—and as I grew up without sisters or female friends (I was sheltered), just being around her helped me understand women as people, not just “other species.”
In which Amy McDaniel and I visit Panama for a week.
Takeaway: For a country the size of South Carolina, Panama has a huge variety of place. Panama City is urban, towering, vibrant with history and culture. Just outside the city, the canal is popping with wildlife (and canal). The San Blas Islands, on the Caribbean side, are postcard paradises, and El Vallé de Anton is a verdant volcano.
We went because of frogs. Kind of. A month ago I sat down to read The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, which begins with a look at the golden frogs going extinct in El Vallé de Anton. Unrelatedly, Amy said something about taking a trip. I said, “Let’s go see these frogs.”