In VOX LIT December 2017:
IN THE FREE VOXLIT ON-LINE THIS MONTH:
Vox Lit is a new on-line literary magazine run by a group of independent authors bringing news and articles on literature to all book lovers.
In our news section we'll bring you both spoof news items and real news connected to the world of literature. We won't insult your intelligence by saying which is which; we are sure you can work it out for yourself. Topics for issue 1 include sex scandals and literacy levels among boys.
In our Book Reviews section you'll find reviews of the latest publications and also of older but perhaps less well known books. We have reviews by Ted Bun and James Gault, including his selection for BOOK OF THE YEAR.
Our Features section has articles, short stories and excerpts from the novels of our contributing authors, giving you a taste of their work before you take the plunge of a complete novel. In this issue we have an excerpt from James Gault's novel OGG.
The Writer's Notes page is where authors comment on excerpts from their work. Here you'll get a unique insight into the creative mind of writers. For this month, we have James Gault explaining the concept of 'concise characterisation'
Of course, we would welcome your comments on all of these, so please send us your thoughts and suggestions and we'll share them with our other readers.
Finally, make use of our contributors' directory, where you will find where to get more information on the writers who contribute to our magazine.
Small independent publishers gaining market share
Conventional wisdom tells us that publishing fiction is dominated by large and successful companies. They support only well-known authors who write best-selling works that generate large incomes for them. Each book requires large investments in production, marketing and promotion, which can only be afforded by the big boys of the industry. Yet recent reports suggest that small independent publishers are making inroads into the market. How can they do it?
The conservatism of the big publishers seems to be leaving a hole in the market. They are risk-averse. They want to be as sure as possible that their investments will produce a return. The result is that readers are fed on a diet consisting of republished works, celebrity authors, sequels and multi-book series. For the gourmet reader, innovation and variety are hard to find. This is where the small independent publishers can step in.
They aren’t restricted to new authors either. Big publishing houses are quite ready to drop an established author after one badly performing book, or if they wish to change genre. Independents are picking up well-known names and capitalising on them, to the detriment of the big players but to the benefit of the reading public.
The other area where smaller house can score is in niche markets. Readers and authors come from all kinds of backgrounds, while the established houses see literature as a white middle class activity. By targeting particular ethnic groups, or particular interest groups, small publishers can reach the readers the others miss.
Readers themselves should be helping in widening this market. Remember, if you only ever eat tomato soup you will only ever be offered tomato soup. Cast your nets wider, and support this trend that is bringing variety back into the world of books!
Christmas Books for our Political Masters
I’m not sure if our political leaders have time to read, but if they did, what kind of books would they get for Christmas from those they represent? Using Facebook, I asked a cross-section of authors and readers what they would give to the great and good of the political world. These results don’t make comfortable reading for our ruling classes.
Quite a large number of respondents don’t like any of our leaders enough to give them any kind of present. One particular gentleman even wondered if Donald Trump was able to read, another told us “I'd give Donald Trump Theresa May for Christmas! That'd teach him!”
Even those willing to make suggestions were far from complimentary in their suggestions.
There was a group who seem to be convinced that our heads of government are all pretty well useless. ‘Politics for Dummies’, ‘Government for Dummies’ and ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ were all suggested, presumably on the premise that they need help to get even the basics right. A British ‘Remainer’ was offering Theresa May a travel guide “to all the countries that she will soon need a visa to visit”. Someone else suggested “a coloring book and crayons” would be most appropriate for the US president. Perhaps the most cutting suggestion was “Switch on your Brain” by Dr Caroline Leaf. I did think that one respondent felt they were at least entitled to some pleasures when he suggested ‘The Joy of Sex’, until he explained his reasons: “as they all seem devoid of feelings, emotions & empathy.”
Another group seemed a bit more appreciative of the efforts of our political masters, but felt that appropriate reading could help them to be do more good (or maybe to do less damage). Suggestions of this type included : “1984”, “Wizard's First Rule”, written by Terry Goodkind, the first book in the epic fantasy series 'The Sword of Truth', “A day in the life of the working poor”, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” by Barack Obama where he discusses the importance of empathy in politics (together with “The Sesame Street Dictionary” by Linda Hayward to help Donald Trump with all the big words), “Compassionate Capitalism” by Rich Devos, “The UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights”, anything by Maya Angelou, “Second Treatise of Government” by John Locke and “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill.
The last group was perhaps more interested in entertaining our politicians, but even these suggestions seem to reflect an undercurrent of criticism. Offers included anything by Irvine Welsh, “Alice in Wonderland”, “The Holy Bible”, “Dante's Inferno” and “Misery” by Stephen King. Only one kind person felt they all needed cheering up, and put forward “Five Santas”, a great book with no politics whatsoever.
I’m left wondering if politics is the least loved and appreciated profession among the general public. Or are other professions less loved?
Does Book Lover have another meaning?
The dating website eHarmony is naturally interested in what attracts people to new partners and spend large sums on researching this topic. Finding out about hobbies is a big part of this. And they have discovered that if your hobby is reading … you are more likely to get dating matches. Only a little bit more likely if you’re a female (3%) but massively more likely if you are a man (17%). Apparently it is easier to form trusting relationships with book readers.
Does it matter what you read? Yes, it does. Reading ‘The girl with the Dragon Tatoo ‘ makes both men and women more appealing. Men reading Richard Branson’s books are very sought after as are women reading ‘The Hunger Games’. But there are also books which appear to be a turn-off for prospective partners. Men reading ‘Harry Potter’ and women reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ seem to be setting themselves up for a long lonely life.
Use this form to send us your comments on any literary topic
Fiona McVie interviews our editor and contributor James Gault.
Click picture below for the interview.