Bird Cloud," that provides the reader with Proulx's reflections on building a house on the High Plains of southeastern Wyoming. Well, reflections not only on the building, but on so much more that encompasses the essence of this woman's insatiable curiosity about critters, people, family, flora, the history of the place; the history of the people who inhabited the place long before she did. In the reading, I came across her narrative of the despicable practice of killing eagles, balds and goldens, by sheep ranchers who, quite incredibly, justified their killings by affirming--wrongly--that eagles were actually carrying off sheep in their talons, killing valuable livestock to the detriment of the ranchers...again, wrongly affirmed or assumed. Appears there was a significantly churlish "sport" aspect to the killing of eagles, that nearly wiped out those magnificent creatures in parts of Wyoming. Proulx notes, "The tough alternative newspaper, High Country News, took up the cause and Wyoming public opinion began to quiver and shift."
I mention this only as a preface to what I'd like to tell you.
My collection of three shorts, "The Cow and Other Colorado Tales," published by Untreed Reads, provides storytelling that takes place in High Plains of northwestern Colorado. The stories are PG13, with no M/M component to them at all. Yet--even though I do write M/M romance--I love these little literary glimpses into the lives of ranchers and town folk who inhabit this particular area of Colorado...much like the area where Proulx chose to build her house.
Since these stories are not within the M/M Romance genre, my task (as is the perpetual task of all authors who are published by small houses) was to find a venue that would review the work which, as we all know, contributes to readership, sales, income for the author as well as the publisher.
I have a very dear friend who lives in Crawford, Colorado--southwestern Colorado, a stone's throw from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and, coincidentally, quite near the town of Paonia where High Country News is published. I asked my friend the pertinent question: Do you believe High Country News would do a review? The answer: Maybe. You'll just have to try. I won't spend much time here noting the "mission" of High Country News, but, suffice it to say, these folks are dedicated to environmental causes, and the preservation of the land and critters across the eleven western states in which they publish. And they do reviews of published work.
Okay. So I figure who better to review "The Cow and Other Colorado Tales," than High County News. I mean, really: "The Cow and Other Colorado Tales," deals directly with the land and the critters, and the people who work that land and deal with those critters on a daily basis. And, besides that, my publisher, Untreed Reads is, um--careful now, this is important--an ebook publisher who doesn't cut down trees in order to sell their wares. Environmentally friendly? Yes! Something that High Country News should celebrate? Well, yes, of course. So, off I went, sending my review inquiry to the managing editor of the High Country News.
I received a response from the Managing Editor of HCN, something that I'm told is not that usual, something that I'm told should be considered significant in the whole scheme of things relevant to the operation of this--as Annie Proulx pointed out--"...tough alternative newspaper..." I won't detail those exchanged emails, but I suppose it is important to note that I was told HCN does not, at this time, review ebook storytelling and, ahem, does not consider works that are essentially "self-published." My response, of course, noted that Untreed Reads is a royalty paying publisher, and "The Cow and Other Colorado Tales," was not self-published. I did not go into the above argument about the HCN being largely dedicated to environmental issues, including--I hope!--the conservation of forests that are destroyed in order to provide print editions of books. (Will admit here, I love the feel, smell, the presence of a hard cover book in my hands!)
Oh well... I've been quite blessed with reviews of my M/M Romance work, that come exclusively from web-based sites. Not so with my literary work, that encompasses my passion for the land and the critters upon it. And, now that I think about it, my M/M Romance work nudges up to that passion, as well.
I will reveal one issue that arose in the exchanged emails with the Managing Editor of HCN, which was obviously significant to the discussion. She noted that only 9% of total books sold are in ebook format. The link supported her contention. My thought then as now, was/is, okay then, obviously there's a connection here between the essential worth, importance of an author's words that is directly tied to sales. Since ebooks represent only 9% of the market, then--who can argue?--any work published in ebook format is necessarily devalued, not because of content, but, yes, because of reported sales.
I did not say it, but my conclusion with this whole experience is I expected more from that "...tough alternative newspaper...," which was instrumental in ceasing the senseless slaughter of eagles in Wyoming. But, then, that's just me. What the hell. Why should they look at that 9% as significant of a second (or even first!) look?
Am I whining here? Probably. More likely I'm just a wee bit frustrated. Guess I could try the Denver Post. But, I'm told, if you don't know somebody at the Post, or your publisher isn't New York based, or you're not on the bestseller list, then they have no interest.
I'll keep trying. Or maybe I'll just let it be. Hell, that 9% is rising every day. Who knows what it will be next year, or next month? Book publishing just ain't what it used to be. (But I do so love those hardbacks....)