Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What I won't give

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Last week, I posted "On Subjectivity" and "How to Review a Book." I didn't realise it at the time, but it was a part of an online debate about whether or not authors, even aspiring ones, should review books.

And it got me to thinking...

What would I not give up in the name of being published?

There are three main things that jump to mind.


I can't sustain any amount of pretense very long. In the discussion about reviews last week, I heard several people say that, as a published author, you can't say certain things.

Not gonna happen. If I feel strongly about something, it's going to come out.

Thankfully, on the flipside, I don't feel strongly about much. Let's use reviews as an example. I think I've gushed about my love for two books: ANNA and the French Kiss and The Color Purple. And I've only ever named one book I can't stand. It's not really because I'm holding back. It's just that I'm in the middle of the road on 95% of life. This is why I don't make decisions well. I love 3%, hate 2% and for everything else, I'm easy okay.

But in that 5% of the time, when I love or hate something, it's pretty dang near impossible to shut me up. You see how every other analogy on here these days has to do with fitness/weight loss these days. That's my current addiction, and no matter how I say I'm not mentioning it, I end up doing so anyhow.

So, sorry Publishing World, society, and keeping-up-appearance-ers, on the odd chance that I actually have something to say, it IS going to get said.


Some time ago, I ranted about not being able to buy books on my Kindle while it's registered to Japan. This is an easily surmountable issue for me, since I've lived in 3 countries (and still receive mail in all 3), I just change the address.

But it's really important to me that my book be available worldwide, in e-book format at the very least. I'm 29. I've spent 24 of those years in Barbados, almost 3 in Japan and 2 in the US. So it doesn't make sense for me to have a book available only in the US. Or the UK. Or Canada. Or any other country with a large English langauge publishing sector. What's the sense in publishing a book if it's IMPOSSIBLE for my next-door neighbour, my best-friend, my mother, etc to buy a copy.

Even if did live in the US/Britain, this is something that will remain important to me. Growing up in Barbados, I hated the words, "Offer valid in the US only." You'll notice that all my contests (unless the prizes are being contributed by someone else) are international, despite whether or not it costs me extra to do so. No offense to Americans/Canadians, but I'm sometimes tempted to do contests that are open ONLY OUTSIDE the US/Canada, to even the playing field. And I just might do that, after I'm published.

I understand how world rights work for paper books, but I'm not sure about the e-book stuff. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do anythign about this. But you can bet your patootie, I'm going to try.


I guess this ties into number 1.

Right now, I don't have a very clear picture of the niche I want to carve for myself in the publishing world. But I know a few things about what I DON'T want to write. I don't want to write " Boy meets girl, spends entire book sexing girl" stories. I don't want to write stories set in an American high school. And I definitely don't want to write anything grittier than an Alabama road.

There are different ways of telling the same story. On the subject of grit, I walk a fine line. As a teen, one of my favourite books was all about this teen who was a borderline prostitute. But it didn't have a single sex scene in it. My friends, on the other hand, were reading Loveswept and Mills and Boons, which often featured 'respectable' characters, who'd jump one another's bones every 6 pages.

By the same token, there's also my fave movie as a teen: A BRONX TALE. I grew up watching it on TNT. I must have watched it 50 times. Then I bought a DVD of it in Canada. And it had SO MUCH CUSSING! I still love the TNT version. I haven't watched the DVD version since. Same story.

I understand professionalism and flexibility and all that jazz. But no agent or editor can make me fill my book with obscenities, even if said book is set in a strip club. (And yes, I have a significant portion of a novel set in a strip club.)

So there you have it:

I WILL be me.
I WILL do my best to be available internationally.
I WILL stay true to my vision.

Maybe I'm sacrificing a career I don't yet have, by saying these things. But they're important enough to me, that I'd rather stand behind them and not have the career, than have the career without them.

What would you not sacrifice for your writing? Or for anything else?

It's Monday (sorta). That's what's on my mind.


Aleeza said...

Ah, love this post! Actually, I think I love all your posts, so i dont think thats a big deal. hehe.
LOL @ this: No offense to Americans/Canadians, but I'm sometimes tempted to do contests that are open ONLY OUTSIDE the US/Canada, to even the playing field. And I just might do that, after I'm published.
what a great idea! (just joking, of course)
im totes with you on the BE YOURSELF mantra. why's it wrong for me to write reviews of books i read, when im not saying anything negative against them? like you said in your how to write reviews post, as long as youre not offending anyone with your opinions, why hold 'em back!?
same with the other two points. <3

Natalie Aguirre said...

It's interesting your perspectives on the contests. Can't say I blame you. Good points Claire on staying true to yourself.

Aleeza said...

oh and, you've won an award on my blog, so check it out! :)

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