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A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

 

Keeping Books Alive:
Resolutions for the Love of Literacy

Aha! It is resolution time!

You may think it's a bit late for resolutions but I think it's the perfect time. We've done our personal resolutions. Now it's time to think about what we can do for publishing, books, and literacy. All one has to do to understand how important books are to so many of personally is browse Pinterest bulletin boards. Doing so has convinced me there is one thing that almost every reader and author could and should put on his or her literacy resolution list. Are you ready?
Buy books!

I often get e-mails from authors saying that their fellow authors don’t buy their books. And I do understand how that can happen. The longer we’ve been writing, the more author-friends we have and, at some point it’s impossible to support them all. Having said that, authors shouldn’t expect fellow authors to buy books that don’t interest them. Books they don’t have time for. Or books that aren’t published the way they want to read them (paperback or e-books, anyone?) That’s why we promote rather than just depending on friends and relatives—which, after all, isn’t the biggest pool of buyers in the world. And I should think authors will even forgive their mothers for not reading their books if Mom loves (and buys!) books.

I think we should all (including Mom) set aside a budget for books. It’s about Zen. It’s about supporting the industry that we expect to supply us with books we love, with the smell of ink, with great stories, with important information. I love that many authors collect books—books written in the same genre but also books on similar subjects. Somehow we always get something new out of a new book or a new author even if they look as if they'll have pretty much the same information as the last book we read on that subject.

But there are other ways to support our industry besides buying books we want to read. Books make relatively inexpensive gifts for holiday giving, for hostess and thank you gifts, for birthdays, and even to give to business associates on appropriate occasions.

But we all know that we tend to get lax with our resolutions. So, to make your “Buy Books” resolution work all year, go to your gift-giving list for 2012 and see how many people on that list could get the gift of reading in 2012 instead of something that will be promptly tossed in the Goodwill bin or re-gifted. Staple your gift list to your resolution list. And then make another resolution to read your resolutions and that attached list of gift-giving idea list at least once a month.

If everyone gives books as gifts, I see a bright, shiny year ahead. A year where agents take on more clients because more publishers are selling more books. A year when more publishers take on new midlist authors. A year when bookstores both online and off get a new shot of A-1 Energy. Just think! 2013 will be the year of giving, the year gifts give back as well.


Tips and Tidbits

(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote better. She will also include a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)

A Tip for Writers: :

I loved reading (studying, really!) Lisa Cron's book called Wired for Story. In fact, writers of fiction can probably just pitch most of the other how-to books they have on writing.

A Tip for Readers' Tip:

It's not too early to be thinking of Mother's Day gifts. Little gifts you could send all mothers, not only your own. Gifts you can give in person or send online. In the spirit of this column, how about a book. Especially a poetry book. What about She Wore Emerald Then, an award-winner from the Celebration Series from Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson available in both paperback and e-book. .


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