Monday, 22 May 2017

The Content Machine by Michael Bhaskar

This could be described as a close reading of the publishing industry. Michael Bhaskar steers us away from the idea that publishing merely means making public. After all, he asks, is a book with a 10,000 print run that doesn’t sell a single copy any more “published” than a typescript left on a park bench? 

He takes a long look at the industry and also compares it with farming and the music trade. He describes how it started, what it became and how it is evolving now.  

He discusses filtering, framing, amplifying and curating. He shows us models that have worked, are working now and may work in the future. He doesn’t shy away from pointing out their flaws. 

This book has an excellent critical tone and the Bhaskar’s research and knowledge must be commended. He provides as well easy to follow foot-notes, an extensive bibliography and a very useful index. 

This book certainly helped me to clarify my ideas, as a writer, editor and publisher, about the whole process. 

I was pleased to see confirmation that this academic publisher used print on demand – a model Bhaskar discusses. We see Lightning Source’s logo on the final page. This is the very company we use. Slightly puzzling though that the digital resources are listed separately form the print ones, given what the author discusses. 

Never mind. This is an excellent text and is certainly informing my decision of where to go next.          

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Woman Undefeated by Vivienne Dockerty

Another stunner by Vivienne Dockerty. This is one of those thick, engaging books that are difficult to put down. A young Irish woman’s life is turned upside down when she flees the failed potato crop and disrupted family. She comes with her new husband and family to England.       
Dockerty holds a close point of view and we are with Maggie all of the way. She does not have an easy life but she is feisty and brave. All of Dockerty’s characters are well drawn. They are rounded, believable and consistent. 

There is pace and tension a plenty in this tale.

Here we can admire the craft of a master story-teller. 

I am so pleased that I have the sequel, Dreams Can Come True, waiting on my shelf.  I do hope this writer will continue producing these satisfying novels for us.      


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Beggarman’s Cottage by Vivienne Dockerty

I first came across Vivienne when she advertised Beggarman’s Cottage on Streetlife. Ah, I thought. Another local writer. So, I ordered a copy of her book and she hand-delivered it whilst I was out.
As usual, it queued on my shelf behind various others. I buy books compulsively.  

Then I actually met her when I went to a local coffee morning – and bought two more.
I finally read Beggarman’s Cottage and was totally amazed. I’ve currently started one of the others. That will get a review here as well. 

I’m astounded that Vivienne Dockerty has never found a mainstream publisher. Her story-telling is excellent. Her writing is also superior to much that is written in historical fiction of this nature, even that which is published by the Big Five. 

Beggarman’s Cottage is a little tricky in that is has multiple points of view, including that of a ghost.  There is one character who has more of the story and we are gunning for her all of the time. Dockerty certainly engages us. The ending is satisfying but I’ll say no more here. 

Perhaps her stories are all the richer because they are based on those of her ancestors. 

She has moved back to Australia. I hope she will continue to write.