The surface of Do Authors Dream of Electric Books? may look as smooth and unruffled as ever, but what you readers out there can’t see are the great flurries of activity going on behind the façade.
CRACK! goes our lightening bolt, and spread out on the slab is a lifeless something covered by a sheet. Flitting here and there in the gloom are various electric authors hurrying in with their proof-read blogs.
|Authors Electric's Julia Jones|
Huddled round the slab are the leaders of this particular project. Here is Julia Jones, who, at dark of moon, delved to unearth old and buried blogs from the past year, and skilfully stitched them together to make something new and beautiful.
|Author's Electric's Pauline Fisk|
There, eagerly and ably assisting, are KathleenJones and Pauline Fisk, who are running tests and checking – as the old Carry-On film has it – that beneath the sheet everything is in perfect working order.
|Authors Electric's Kathleen Jones|
|Authors Electric's Stephanie Zia|
Watchful at the head of the slab is Stephanie Zia, head of Blackbird Digital Books, who has kindly agreed to use all her technical knowledge and expertise to bring our creature to life and unleash it on the world.
What will emerge won’t be any lumbering monster, but something much livelier and lighter – Sparks, the Authors Electric’s Anthology, bringing together blogs from our first year of epublishing: a sampler of our styles and skills. We mean to make it available at as low a cost as possible.
Feel the quality and the width! Among us we we have writers of crime novels and thrillers, writers of romance, of historicals. Writers for children, of ‘How To’ books – writers of plays and poetry – writers of fantasy.
We have writers with long careers of conventional publishing behind them, and writers who inexplicably missed being taken up by a publisher, often because the marketing department’s computer said, ‘No.’ We have writers who’ve won awards; we have writers whose work has been translated into half the languages of the world.
All Authors Electric asks of its members is that they be good. That they write well, and care deeply about their writing. We ask that they be the kind of writer who flinches at a typo, and who will sit up all night, fighting with technology, to ensure that their book is set out legibly on a Kindle or e-reader of choice. Our members are writers who rewrite and rewrite because they want a sentence to be as perfect as they can make it. (I know that members will rewrite a blog of a few hundred words five, six, seven, eight times, and still not be satisfied.)
The Anthology will also be a small potted history, a peep-hole onto epublishing’s early days, as well as a source of advice on writing and ebooking. It will hold humour and opinions of all kinds. (Where you have two electric authors, you have five opinions.)
But I think what impresses me most about the anthology is the way it came about. It’s hard to remember now, but I think the idea first came from Julia Jones, and was put in one of those secret forums which you out there in front of your computers can’t see, but which are buzzing and crackling constantly behind this page.
Other messages flew back, saying they agreed: but how are we going to do it? Then Julia volunteered to edit, and Stephanie volunteered to publish it.
When they needed more help, they put out the call, and Kathleen and Pauline stepped up; and messages are whizzing back and forth as I write this, to work out exactly how they will divide up the tasks and bring them all to completion – who will check that all the spelling is consistent, that all chapter headings are styled the same, that all the links work, and so on, and so on... This, as people are preparing for Christmas in many and various ways, some of which involve travel to foreign parts.
Stephanie, Julia, Pauline and Kathleen are all giving up time from very busy lives, full of family demands, work, chores – and yet they’ve volunteered to do this for the group, free of charge.
|Authors Electric's Sheridan Winn|
Meanwhile, and likewise, Sheridan Winn is using her journalistic experience to prepare a press release, which she will send out when the Anthology is released.
This is, perhaps, what impresses me most about Authors Electric: the way people within it effectively organise themselves, with a few emails, to get something done, whether it’s the mass book give-away we had back in April, or Cally Phillips’ Indie Ebook Review site, or the blog-rota itself.
|Authors Electric's Cally Phillips|
To a cynic, who had come to believe that no one ever does anything unless bribed with large amounts of cash, or poked with sharp sticks, this is pretty breathtaking stuff.
It’s hard to remember that most of the Electrics have never even been in the same town together, let alone met. They are spread out over the UK. Of the 29, I’ve met 5 in person, and yet I feel I know all of them.
Not a brave new world, perhaps, but a pleasing slant on an old one.
And now I’ll withdraw, behind the curtain of this blog, and join the interconnected hullaballoo that’s always going on back there…
But, coming your way soon, folks: Sparks: The Authors Electric’s Anthology!
|Tesla Coil: Image, wikipedia, as are lightening images.|