Hello. There’ll be a review by Adele Geras along tomorrow, but for the moment, having now read the whole book, here are a few more thoughts on the Sparks anthology I mentioned when opening Awfully Big Reviews for 2013.
The Sparks anthology was created from a selection of posts from the Authors Electric blog, so is, appropriately, an e-book. Now there have been many books created from personal blogs and journalist’s blogs before. Nicola Morgan’s helpful “Want To Be Published?” is just one example. I am sure there are some by bread-bakers, avid knitters and railway enthusiasts as well as others by people who just lead what could be called Interesting Lives. The Sparks anthology is one example of this phenomenon.
What I most enjoyed about the Sparks anthology was the diversity, which made it ideal for a page-or-two-before-sleep reading or a quick moment during a sandwich. Sparks is not a single voice following through the incidents of a life but a collection of post contributed during the time Authors Electric, a co-operative blog, has been running. The pieces come from writers who work mainly for adult or Y/A/teen readers, so this is not a children’s book.
Excuse me – I still struggle to find indexes and headings on my kindle – but each of the chapters, headed by the famous Blott cartoons, offer a selection of opinions, experiences, histories and reflections on the future of publishing and obviously, the posts come from committed e-book enthusiasts.
Collected together, so one doesn’t have to click or search through the AE blog, the pieces have a fresh, lively and sometimes confrontational quality. The posts – or should they now be called articles? – cover a variety of topics. A well-argued post in support of Amazon. A rightly angry post on cyber-bullying. A post that declares the e-book arena should be home to experimental and un-edited writing but having seen some un-edited writing, I am not sure I agree with this opinion. The tale of a new e-published historical series. An urgent call for e-book writers to be generous and review other e-books. And many more. The anthology is not an amateur thing, though it was clearly made with love and enthusiasm. Sparks was written by many acclaimed and award-winning authors who have opted for publishing o/p titles electronically, with or without help, as an alternative to publishing silence.
The Sparks anthology is not perfect but it should certainly be celebrated as a bold brave and interesting publication model – and a lot of work on several people’s part.
I did wish there could have been more posts, more ideas raised in the pages, but maybe that would have involved the whole issue of selection rather than a post per person – or maybe the posts don’t arrive daily? In addition, some posts still carry the marketing angle of their blog-post origins, but there is a honesty about this, and the final section – the biographies – did have plenty of information about the contributors.
All the same, reading through the variety of experience and wealth of publishing histories, I did wonder once again quite what publishers do want just now and why such writers - just search out the names - are having a hard time. Sparks is a grand and honourable experiment and offers a valuable glimpse of one future of publishing worth exploring.
Recently, I have been using my kindle rather than idly buying magazines – though other magazines are available – and feel that 99p or so was a small sum well spent downloading a very interesting idea. Well done, Authors Electric.
Hmmm. There’s definitely a lot of work involved. Not sure if it would be worth doing this for Awfully Big Blog Adventure, although it is an idea . . .
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