Wading through the sea of Print-on-Demand titles, one overpriced paperback at a time--and giving you the buried treasure.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
THE DOORBELLS OF FLORENCE by Andrew Losowsky (Prandial/Lulu)
Let it be said now: THE DOORBELLS OF FLORENCE by Andrew Losowsky could easily become one of the most popular cult books of the decade. And it’s a coffee table book (sort of) to boot. From the first image to the final words (and the cover of a doorbell which could easily be confused for the back of a bullet), you will love it all.
I am going to do something I never do: I'm going to post a piece of the pitch (equally as compelling as the book) that the author sent me to help you understand this project.
Here's a book that started with a camera. I was in Florence, Italy one day in 2003, when I noticed a particularly unusual doorbell. I took a photo. Then I saw another, completely different but equally outstanding.
The camera clicked on. Time passed.
And so I had a large collection of doorbells. About a year later, I started to write short stories about the people I thought were living behind each of the doors.
For this first time since March 2005 (when I started this blog for you newbies) I knew from the pitch that I wanted to read this right away.
So I did.
The book--images to prose--is absolutely outstanding. The stories are clever and each as unique as a fingerprint, from pages long to one sentence. And the images, well . . . who knew something as static and manmade could be so beautiful and thought-provoking? The book is cool, and stylish, and even a little trippy.
Here's a challenge for you. Got to Lulu (the only place the book is currently available) and view the first image and read the first story. My guess? You'll add this baby to the shopping cart and be on your way.
THE DOORBELLS OF FLORENCE is $27.99 (this is not simply POD price-gauging; keep in mind that the book is produced with full-color interior ink) and well-worth the price--not to mention that with purchasing from Lulu, the author gets a far more significant chunk of the profit. In fact, buy two for nearly the price of one copy of finding your inner-alpha-self.
. . . you need to get an objective audience to read your book. I cannot overemphasize this enough. If every POD author did this, it would reduce the number of terrible POD books and greatly improve the ones that are being self-published.
You'd think the most frustrating part of finding good books to review would be the suffering: the traversing of absolutely horrible writing. Not so. Those texts are easy to toss aside [delete]. The painful ones are the books that are almost there, the ones that not only would be great books, but would probably find their way to a commercial publisher.
So here's what I suggest you do: Join a writing group. Regardless of what you may think, your writing is not better than the other hacks there (I was part of one for years). And take a look at how many commercially published authors thank the folks in their writing groups in their acknowledgements sections. They work--if you can take criticism.
And if you can't? Man, you are in the wrong industry.
Your book, from the first time it is released (into the wild) is being critiqued. Agents, editors, book reviewers, amateur book reviews (read: Amazon), and so on.
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your novel or memoir (like hiring an outside editor) but nothing does the trick (and costs nothing) like a writing group. If you hire an editor, she may tell you to change the way a character speaks or to delete a scene or whatever. But with a writing group you get to listen to other people discuss your book, where one person may want to see a change but another may totally disagree.
Or the entire group may be telling you the same thing--in which case, that thing needs to be fixed.
Having a finished manuscript on your hard drive is not enough. I know it seems exciting to imagine it could be in the marketplace in a few months (supposedly) but if you take the time to get involved in a writing group, it can make the difference between an Authorhouse logo and a William Morrow logo on the spine.
I am an author and instructor, in that order (for now.) My debut novel (which debuted in the midlist) was released by Penguin Putnam in 2004 and my second novel was released early 2006.
As for this blog, it has been profiled in many online magazines, blogs and news stories, including the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the LA Times and Publishers Lunch.
To answer the deluge of questions I have been receiving from publicists: I'll review pretty much anything that is good--but it better be good, or I'll never look at another one of your books again. Then I'll hunt you down. Fiction preferred (no fantasy or young adult, go easy on the science fiction.) Non-fiction should be memoir, humor, self-help. Definite no-nos: cookbooks, textbooks, porn, books without verbs. And it must be POD (no small presses.) Otherwise, email with pitch first.