Thursday, 18 June 2015

It's not a new it? Linda Strachan

IN the world of writers for children and teens we are so fortunate as to have an ever-changing, new audience looking for our books.

As our little fans grow up they will hopefully remember their favourite books, from their childhood.

And as they become readers of older, and eventually adult books, or perhaps when they come to having their own children, hopefully those memories and the nostalgia for their own childhood will remain. They might recall those books that they loved and want to share them, alongside all the new books on offer.

We all want children to have a wide a range to choose from as possible and the breadth of books available is mind blowing and exciting, even if it is often hard to keep pace with all the new publications.

But like most writers, I have some books that are now out of print and it is a small sorrow to see them disappear. It is a part of being a writer and we all have to accept that everything cannot stay in print forever (although happily some out of print books are returning as ebooks). Despite that small sorrow we still want all our books, new and older, to be read, enjoyed and bought!

Some old family favourites of ours are now out of print such as 
by Helen Young and Jenny Williams

Wide Awake Jake 
by Helen Young and Jenny Williams

Our copy is torn and battered but much loved by the next generation.  

So I come to the quandary, and I am really torn.

Reaching an audience is not always as easy.
We need the media and reviewers to talk about our NEW books but they can sometimes seem to be obsessed with 'the very latest thing' as if that is the only criteria that matters.With books that are not the newest and latest it can be quite bruising to be asked questions such as one I heard....

"But it's not a new book, is it?" 

I wonder though, does that really matter?

Of course we need new books, and writers do need to keep writing and seeing our new books in print and of course selling them - not least so that we can earn some kind of a living from this obsession of ours!

But for children who are growing up everything is new and exciting, even books that are not so newly published  - because they are new to them.
As a reader I have favourites in both adult and children's books. It makes no difference to me when I find a book I've not read, whether it is new or has been published a few years ago - if  I am enjoying it.

Some books will become favourites and stay popular, we do need to make room for new books on the bookshelves, but...

We as writers cannot shout about all our books - all the time -  to all and sundry, so we rely on  librarians, booksellers, the media and of course most importantly word of mouth, when our readers enthuse about them.

But in the haze of NEW BOOK euphoria that abounds, why not spare a moment to rediscover those books that came out a year or two ago and are still great books, but may be lingering forgotten and unheralded

Sometimes it may take a while for word of mouth to get going about a book and by then it gets lost in the mass of new titles, especially if it is a stand alone and not helped on by a sequel or being part of a series.

What are your thoughts, does it matter?

I have many favourite stand alone books that are NOT NEW books but are well worth mentioning,  There are so many I could suggest but here are just a few  -

Which 'not so new books' would you like to remind us of ?
 (In the comments)

Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and the writing handbook Writing For Children.
Linda's latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me . 
She is Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh.

Her best selling series Hamish McHaggis is illustrated by Sally J. Collins who also illustrated Linda's retelling of Greyfriars Bobby.

blog:  Bookwords 


Joan Lennon said...

Good post, Linda! I'll nominate Susan Price's Sterkam Arms - which will be new again in the not-too-distant future! (To follow their progress check out The Sterkams on Facebook.)

catdownunder said...

I have actually made an effort to collect a considerable number of books from my childhood so that children can read them now. My niece will inherit them for her children. When I can I haunt second hand book shops and charity shops for books that are out of print. There are a number of local children who use my "library" and my only worry is making sure I get the books back!

Anonymous said...

It matters to me, Linda! (Which is one of the reasons I subscribe to Slightly Foxed quarterly, which celebrates people's favourite non-new books.) A good book doesn't stop being a good book, just because it's no longer new. I regularly re-read books I first read years ago. Sometimes I find them disappointing on a second or subsequent read (but that's because I've changed, of course, not the book) - but usually I get even more out of re-reading. It's such a pleasure to revisit old favourites, as well as discovering new literary treasures.

Emma Barnes said...

Agree 100% (and very chuffed to see one of my own books, Wolfie, included in your favourites!) I'm a big re-reader and like Carol think I get more out of re-reading than a first read (in fact, I've wondered about subscribing to Slightly Foxed - might give that a go). Festivals always seem to book people to talk about their new books, but the best events are often where you have fans who already love an author's work: I remember seeing Anthony Buckeridge at the Edinburgh International Book Festival talking about the wonderful Jennings series to an audience of fans young and old; another stand out event, also at the EIBF, being Judith Kerr - she had just published her wonderful memoir Judith Kerr's Creatures, but the questions from the audience were about the books she had published over an entire career.

Lim Chai Cin said...

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