bonne lecture (bohn-lek-toor) n.f.
: happy reading!
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Why on earth would anyone pay for a book that they have read for free, on-line?
Now this is a timely question! Indeed, these days publishers resist blog-to-book projects (they are relying, in part, on the blogger's readers to figure into the targeted audience—and they are betting that such readers, no matter how faithful, will not be interested in buying what they have already read).
The Cyberwriter's Plight Continues...
Certain readers, too, seem to have a bone to pick with bloggers who have the audacity to try to repackage and to resell their work. I often check out the reader comments at Amazon, on blogs that have been made into books (or "blooks"). It is always disheartening to read such a call to arms as: "Don't waste your money! You can read all of these stories for free, on-line!" It sometimes seems as though they (the readers) were against us: the very writers whose stories they enjoy!
Why, I wonder, shouldn't a writer (or blogger if you prefer...) collect their stories and offer them via another, or non-cyber, medium: in paperback form? Are we "bloggers" some sort of second-class "writerzens" because we have first offered our work here for free?
Here are two or three examples of why it isn't, after all, insane, to purchase a book of stories that have already appeared before the eyes of many:
1) It is a reader-writer tradition! The writers of yesteryear saw their works serialized in newspapers or journals... before the stories were collected in book form, to go on to sell as classics! Daudet's Lettres de Mon Moulin comes to mind. Though I would not begin to compare my writing to that of The Masters, I know in my heart there is a place for these classic "stories of French life" to linger, beyond cyberspace...
2) And what about comparing a story to a song?! How many songs are just that, les petites histoires! And yet we listen to the stories over and over. Songwriters would have put down their pencils eons ago, had listeners refused to "revisit" their soulful ballads. Most of us listen to a heartening song dozens of times! And then we end up buying the album.
3) Or take the example of the television series. As I stroll down the aisle at our mega supermarket, I see that French women are clamoring to buy a multi-volume set of Desperate Housewives (this, after they bought the Beverly Hills, 90210 series, when it finally came to France, years ago and Californication, after that). It didn't seem to matter that the viewers had recently seen the episodes... they wanted a copy for their video library!
Though my book "Words in a French Life," a compilation of stories that have appeared on this blog—before being published by Simon & Schuster—received modest sales (to date, it has sold nearly 50,000 copies—not the blockbuster millions-of-copies—but nothing to shake a finger at, either), the publisher was willing to bet that a "Volume Two" would not do so well.
Perhaps. But should this stop me from publishing more books in the series? That is the question. Minus the backing of a big publishing house with a big PR team, I'm going ahead with my dream. And I am betting that a larger audience awaits, in addition to this blog. It may take time to reach these readers, but when I do, I cannot wait to wish them "bonne lecture!" and to thank them for finding me. All this jumping up and down and frantically waving my hands may just get their attention, after all.
And, psst, psst! I'm over here!
For those of you who are just now tuning in, today marks Day 8 of a self-imposed "Publish a Book in 21 Days" challenge. Do you think I will make it? With your help I know I will! Here, now, are the next two stories that I'll need your help editing.
LE BETON: My son's mohawk... and career choices...
CROTTE: A Frenchwoman's dirty trick
I didn't mean to rant today, just wanted to share some behind-the-scenes issues that pop up in one's writing life: specifically, the frustration in encountering roadblocks to publishing one's stories. The good news is that the publishing world is changing, and there are more and more opportunities for everyone: both readers and writers. And these are exciting times! To leave a comment about this post or this writing project, click here.
The end of another writing day... sometime in 2004
Meantime, my book director (Hi, Mom!) and I are scrambling for an author photo for the back cover. Stay with me now... for I know the proposed picture may be a tad informal (is it the toads on those pajamas pants? or the "toadally cool" quotes, below the bug-eye frogs?) This aside, I hope to sell you on this photo for three reasons: One, it is in theme with the book (in which a desert rat struggles to adapt to a foreign culture—no offence to fellow desert rats... who may or may not wear frog pj's), Two, the writer's eyes are always "looking to" and imagining the next story, and Three, this photo was taken during the period in which the stories in the book were written. My son snapped the image, after he and his sister had won the most recent match of "Tickle to Death a Marathon Writer". They always knew how to keep me grounded, literally, when my sky-high writing goals began to get carried away.
Or do you prefer a more "brushed" image (at least my hair got brushed, in this one). The good thing about a recent photo (this is from June 2011) is that it makes for less embarrassment during book readings (readers actually recognize you!). I once did a meetup in which a reader arrived... only to ask me where I was.... my answer was to offer my hand (here I am!, nice to meet you)! The woman was a little taken aback; she seemed to be looking for someone else... maybe she was, after all... we writers are so oversensitive! During yet another meetup, I had a similar mistaken-identity moment, only in the positive sense: "oh, so you're the word-a-day blogger... I thought you were much older!" Your comments are welcome here, in the comments box.
And then there's the photo from I recently posted, here. Voilà.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety