Books disappearing from the disappearing bookshops

Here is a quote from Waterstones’ website…

We are extremely keen to support independent publishing, and recognise the rich contribution that independent publishers, who have a long and prestigious heritage in the UK, make to the world of books and literature. Finding and championing publishers that are small, new or hard to find on the high street is a big part of what we do.

Two branches of Waterstones have be SO KEEN to help me that they have lost the copies of my novel that I lent to them! Of course it’s always possible that they sold them but that wasn’t what they were supposed to do.

‘New Fire’ exerpt – Crocodile’s Story, Part 1

Night was absolute beneath the foliage and the only cue that Two Sign was there was the sound of his deep, steady voice.

‘This story begins with a happy child and a loving family who live in a peaceful village in a clearing in the woods. This child has two older sisters and an older brother.’

Jaguar guessed that the story was about Crocodile even though his friend had spoken very little of his life before he came to the city.

‘One day, while many of the men were out hunting and only the frail old men and the youngest warriors – like this boy’s older brother – were left to guard the village, a fearsome tribe of warriors swoops down upon them. The leader of this band of warriors was called Stone Monkey, a thin and evil man with one white eye and a lust to kill. Stone Monkey questioned the eldest of the village wanting to know the whereabouts of the fighting men and older women. The eldest told them they were all out, but refused to say anything more, so Stone Monkey beat him and still the old man held his tongue. Now the boy saw nothing of this. He was out, dutifully collecting firewood when these foreigners descended on his village.’

Two Sign let out a deep sigh.

‘Stone Monkey grew angry and stuck a spear in the old man’s stomach and then made him watch while he killed one of the boys who had been left on guard duty, the little boy’s brother as it happened. “I’ll kill another if you do not tell me where the rest of your people have gone!” he said. “And then I’ll kill another, then another.” The old man knew that nothing would spare the people who had been rounded up so he said nothing, concentrating instead on holding down the pain that burned in his belly. He knew Stone Monkey wished to see him suffer and refused to give him that satisfaction.’

Here Two Sign took out a gourd and drank a sip. Jaguar felt a nudge and realised that the Eagle Knight was offering him some water. He took a swig and passed the container back. There was a noise of the plug being turned in the neck of the gourd and then Two Sign began talking again.

‘The boy heard the commotion and the screaming from his village. He wasn’t far away. Returning cautiously to the edge of the clearing where the trees were thickest, he watched as his own brother was cut down. He saw Stone Monkey give the word to his men to burn the houses and watched as his sisters were tied up in a line with anyone else who was fit enough to run. Babies, toddlers and the infirm were butchered in the centre of the village or pushed into the flaming huts.’

Aztecs – The Horoscope People

To my mind, book one of the Aztec Elements, ‘New Fire’ has a slightly modern feel to it. Yes, there are priests and ceremonies but the extent to which these affect the main characters is actually slight. When you read about the Aztecs, the overriding impression you get is that these people would have LOVED Russell Grant! The Aztecs lived their lives by religion and horoscopes. Take a look at this extract from writings by Alfonso Caso…

So great was the importance of religion for the Aztec people that we can say without exaggeration that their existence revolved totally around it. There was not a single act of public or private life which was not coloured by religious sentiment. It controlled commerce, politics and conquest. It intervened in every act of the individual, from birth until the moment when the priests cremated his corpse and interred the ashes.

And this, from a book by Warwick Bray…

Night was a dangerous time, for demons walked in the hours of darkness. Tezcatlipoca, god of the wizards, took many forms, appearing as a shrouded corpse, or a bundle of ashes which groaned as it billowed along, or a headless man with his chest and belly broken open. Anyone bold enough to seize this spectre and tear out its heart could demand a reward for giving it back, but there is no record of anyone having made the attempt.

I’m very happy with ‘New Fire’, but I want book 2, ‘Bad Water’, to feel as though it’s been steeped in superstition and I think that modern day readers, who quietly sneak a look at their horoscopes when no one is looking, will think that it’s all perfectly reasonable.

Get your writing in shape with Editorial Stand

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Laura and Editorial Stand.

AztecElements: Hi Laura, you run Editorial Stand (www.editorialstand.co.uk), an editing and proofreading company based in London. As an independently published author, I’m keen to know whether your business is changing as a result of changes in the publishing industry as a whole. How long has Editorial Stand been in business now?

Laura: Editorial Stand has been in business for almost a year now. I completed a proofreading qualification in February 2012 before launching Editorial Stand at the end of March that year. Since then I have been marketing the brand, building up a client basis and I pleased to say that things seem to going well.

AztecElements: What’s your view on the changes taking place in the publishing world right now and what kind of future is there for the traditional model?

Laura: The traditional path of finding an agent, getting signed on by a publishing house and receiving your author’s advance is still a very feasible route; however, it would be naive of me to say that it is an easy option for writers publishing their first novel. Even established authors are finding it increasingly difficult to get publishing houses to commit nowadays. The ebook market has taken off in a way that I don’t believe anyone anticipated. Due to this it has become much simpler for authors to get their writing to their readers; anyone can publish using the Amazon Kindle software. However, there is always the problem of authors trying to continuously undercut other authors’ prices.

AztecElements: So does the rise of the independent author present you with more opportunity than before or is it more complex than that?

Laura: There are definitely more independent authors out there looking for editing services; however, because of the way the ebook and self-publishing markets operate, most seem surprised to find out how much editing services cost. Several independent authors I have spoken to do not seem to comprehend the sheer volume of time and effort it takes to fully proofread or copy edit a novel. So while independent authors are on the rise, the need for editing companies to work harder to prove their worth is also on the rise.

AztecElements: How much of your business comes from publishing companies and businesses and how much comes from indie authors?

Laura: I have a mix of publishing house clients, independent authors and clients outside of the publishing industry. To date, I have worked with more independent authors than any other type of client, but as such they tend to be one-off projects. I really enjoy being able to fully get to grips with the author’s style and writing habit. That’s why I am looking to build up Editorial Stand’s speciality to edit for the fantasy and science fiction market; authors writing in these genres tend to write trilogies much more so than any other genre and it is very rewarding to fully get to know an author and their style.

AztecElements: What efforts are you making to reach out to the global network of authors quietly beavering away on their future Man-Booker prize winner?

Laura: I am on Twitter (@EditorialStand) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/EditorialStand) where I connect with authors and readers alike. I keep my followers up-to-date with my services and I chat to them about their writing. I am on Goodreads where I can discuss the books I’m reading and the books I’m looking forward to reading, as well as staying on the lookout for recommendations from other readers; although that’s more of a hobby for me. My blog also attracts a bit of attention from authors as I discuss topics ranging from language analysis and publishing trends to promoting books and authors. It’s all about getting the brand out into the world and I’m always on the lookout for new ways to connect.

AztecElements: I know from my own writing that I need help with sentence structure and punctuation, but do many authors really need this kind of help?

Laura: I would go so far as to say that all authors need an editor of some sort or another. At the very least, every author should hire a proofreader for errors that creep in unnoticed by Word spell checker. But for the majority of writers, a good copy-editor is essential for ensuring the sentences flow well and effectively get the author’s intended meaning across to their readers. The comment I get back most frequently from my clients is that it is remarkable how much you miss when you are so close and so familiar to your text.

AztecElements: Tell me a little bit about the editorial service you offer (in contrast to the proof-reading). What kind of guidance do you provide after reviewing a manuscript?

Laura: Well, the proofreading service, as you know, checks all spelling, syntax, grammar and punctuation. I also offer a copy editing service where I check consistency of the content and any characters (for fiction), as well as analysing the effectiveness of specific terminology and the relevance of the language for the intended readership. Copy editing involves a much more thorough analysis of the language. To clarify, what I do not offer as a service is a developmental edit, which is where an editor will actually comment on the story line and how it developments.

AztecElements: Thanks Laura. If anyone would like to get in touch with Laura or get advice from Editorial Stand, click on this link to get the contact details. You can also follow the weekly updates on the Editorial Stand blog here .