"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guest Post: The Ever Changing World of Publishing by Author Deborah Valentine

I just have to say I am in awe.  Authors are some of the most giving people out there.  They are willing to be interviewed, write a special piece or do a Q & A.  They are so busy and yet they make the time.  

The author of The Knightmare, Deborah Valentine, was so kind to write an article for My Bookshelf on the world of publishing.  She shares it with you here:

The Ever-Changing World of Publishing 

Recently I had some wonderful news. Orion confirmed it was digitally republishing my back catalogue of books for its imprint The Murder Room (http://www.themurderroom.com). I was delighted, of course. Honoured to be part of a group that, in their words, is “a portal to the crime and detective classics”.  I did a merry dance around the sitting room to the cat’s abject horror. I raised a hearty glass at dinner (to my GP’s horror had he been there to bear witness). I posted it on Facebook. Yes, Facebook!  

That’s when it hit me. Just how much the world has changed, in particular the publishing world, in just 20 years. Suddenly I felt, well, rather odd. Old. Or perhaps more accurately, like the character of Mercedes in my new book The Knightmare. Someone who for millennia has watched the world roll on, morph and change in surprising ways; someone who must adapt, morph and change herself. 

When I wrote my first book, I wrote it in longhand (remember longhand any of you?) and then transferred it to a typewriter (ditto typewriters?). The big debate at the time among my colleagues was whether to use a typewriter or a computer. A computer! How many of us live without one now? Promotion in those days consisted of wheeling out a writer at some festival or book-signing event after months in a room, on your own, losing any social skills you may have possessed by sitting there wrestling with the characters in your head all day. It was shock to the system to interact with the living. Meagre social skills had been lost, blunders occurred. It was terrifying but great fun. 

Increasingly our lives are now lived online. On Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (God help us!), websites, et al. For publishing, as for many other industries, this has changed the game. Bloggers, people not necessarily part of the ‘literati’, can air their views, champion their favourite authors. Vox populi say what they want without a filter, without anyone telling them what they should or should not like. An author can take their own initiative, publish when and what they like. It’s no longer called ‘vanity’ publishing but ‘indie’. Entrepreneurial, not vain. No longer do they have to wait for ages – whole lifetimes! – to convince an agent or publishing house of their value, or be chastised if they change genre. For better, or worse, there are no gatekeepers. Authors can initiate a new career, revitalise an old one. They can interact directly with the public, even if they don’t have the financial resources to travel the country touting their books. Yes, there can be downsides but at least social skills can be honed on a more regular basis through social media. Fan mail comes by tweet or email, not post, and are answered in kind. From this, develops relationships that can be cultivated with (relatively) minimal fuss through any number of mediums. 

I love the feel of a hardback book in my hand. I’m an avid collector of them. There will always be a place for traditional publishing. But technology moves on daily. With tablets we can carry a whole library of books (and films) with us in our handbag (or manbag). Isn’t that wonderful? How many books can you take on holiday now without a dent in your weight allowance?  

I published The Knightmare digitally. A new book, a totally different genre from my first novels. The technology scared me senseless, but I got over it. I’m daily coming to grips with the changes in publishing – the do’s and don’ts that are no longer relevant, the opportunities to be embraced. I have things to learn (for example, how to update my website! Aargh!). But if you take the attitude ‘this will be fun’, it will be (even when you’re cursing some glitch in the system).   

Going back to my original point of contemplation, so much has changed in just 20 years. Unless you’re very unlucky, it isn’t a lifetime. And we can only wonder, what’s next? 


About the author: Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine DistinctionsA Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They featured the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent romance amid murder and mayhem. They are available from July 2013 as eBooks on the Orion imprint The Murder Room. With the publication of The Knightmare she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural edge. For more visit her website  http://www.deborahvalentine.co.uk/  or The Knightmare Facebook page. She is a Goodreads author.


  1. Fabulous book cover, Deborah. What a pleasure to read a post by a kindred author who remembers longhand and the dinosaur typewriter!

    1. Cindy, please forgive the tardy reply! I had surgery last summer and a lot of things got lost in the recovery period. But, yes, longhand! Typewriters! It's hilarious to look back on, isn't it? Now I feel the computer is an extension of my arm... Thanks for your comments - it's good to find another kindred spirit! And I'll pass on your compliments to Nick, the cover designer.

  2. I love everything about your blog post!! Its wonderful !! Keep it up!


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