Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Little Gems from the Dross

In a rambling sort of way I want to give a plug to a new blog I discovered. It is called How Publishing Really Works (yes, I know; I too was sceptical) written by Jane Smith.

I haven’t had time to read all of the material on HPRW but what I have strikes me as being genuinely useful, sensible advice produced in an approachable, concise style, free of jargon.

Not being a published writer [LOUD SOBS off-screen], though beginning the process with the children’s book I wrote for Amy, I would like to hear the views of those who have been through the mangle.

Does what Jane has to say ring any bells for you?

I discovered HPRW circuitously. Some individual had hit this blog after a Google search for Broken Arrow, Ismail Kadare’s book that I reviewed in June last year. Number one on the Google list was a review in another blog, so, out of curiosity, I read what they had to say. You can read it here. (She has an interesting take on why feudal systems can be acceptable.)

However, what intrigued me was the number of widgets and gizmos on the blog. One in particular caught my eye. It was a cloud of books under the banner, ‘Random books from my library’. I clicked on the heading and found myself at LibraryThing.

What is LibraryThing? to quote:

Enter what you're reading or your whole library—it's an easy, library-quality catalog. LibraryThing also connects you with people who read the same things.

Of course, I signed up. I’ll sign up for anything. However, I am not really sure how useful it is. (Like I am still not sure of the value FaceBook.)

For instance, I can see that thirteen other people have a copy of Violet: the life and loves of Violet Gordon Woodhouse by Jessica Douglas-Home, one of whom, who has given himself the moniker of TabbyTom, a large, jolly looking, retired civil servant, who lives, coincidently in Sussex, has posted a library of 2,818 books.

Two thousand, eight hundred and eighteen books! It’s not the size of his library that astounds me but the time it must have taken him to post the details. To put that in context, it took me 35 minutes to post just 21 books. (If you do come across them, don’t take them as typical, as half are novels in French and half from my studies on the literature of WWI. They just happened to be closest to hand.)

The question is, does the fact that TabbyTom too has a copy of Violet: the life and loves of Violet Gordon Woodhouse indicate that we would clasp to each other like long lost brothers should we ever meet? I doubt it.

I suppose the one useful thing to come out of this exercise is that I discovered HPRW.


How Publishing Really Works said...

Why, David, I think you've called me a Little Gem. Or suggested that I am to be found in dross. Or something. Whatever your intention I consider that a compliment, and thank you for it. I especially like the plug!

I'll see you again over at HPRW, I hope. Now write another 500 words (which is more than I've written in a while).


How Publishing Really Works said...

And another thing: if you have a look at my library you'll see that I have over 2,000 books listed.

This proves that I am obsessive; but I couldn't have listed all those books without my Flic Barcode Scanner, which I bought from eBay for about £10 and which has provided me with hours of fun as a result. It allows me to batch-scan, so I don't have to carry all my books upstairs to my computer to get them in; and it allows my children to scan cans of tomatoes and bottles of shampoo into Library Thing just to screw up my tagging system. They think it's funny. I'm not laughing.


DOT said...

I trust I wasn't getting too personal, though I am sure you are a little gem (my mother told me always to look for the good in people, so, by the way, that dross looks very pretty on you) and I am pleased to have given you the plug.

I hope you will be snowed down with people hitting HPRW.