Like many of you, I have a lot of books on the shelves of my office, not to mention beside my bed. I’m a sucker for a snappy title which, combined with the instant gratification offered by online shopping, has made building a large collection all too easy in recent years. Of course, some of those books are still in the ‘queue’ to be read. Others have been partially read but they (or I) ran out of puff before finishing them. And then there are the few – the very few – that have been read from end to end and marked throughout with comments and/or sticky labels.
After Melbourne author Anh Do won a few prizes recently for his book The Happiest Refugee, there was a bit of media eyebrow-raising when it came to light that Do had had the assistance of a ghostwriter in putting together his book. The unspoken implication seemed to be that perhaps Do’s award-winning credentials should be questioned for his having had this assistance. There is something odd about writing. Perhaps because we all learnt to write at school, and because there is no special equipment required, it is common for people to feel guilty about seeking help – or even a second opinion – on their writing. It’s a guilt few would feel about getting help with a computer problem or a presentation.
But writing is not easy.
Five years ago I independently published my first book. I did so largely because I like to play with new technology and publishing a book allowed me to try digital ‘print-on-demand’ technology. ‘POD’ promised to greatly simplify and reduce the cost of book production. I won’t be retiring, or even snacking, on proceeds from the sale of that book, but I did learn lessons which have been applied to the publication of a number of other books since. This week I’ve republished that book using even more current technology: e-book technology. Within an hour of uploading the book it was available for purchase online.