Lockdown musings on survival

The publishing industry has always included an element of chance that we all accept and live with. From the question of which manuscript gets published – through editing, proofreading, designing, printing, distribution and promotion – to finally book selling and buying, few things are predictable. We are part of a creative industry, sustained mostly by the sweat and blood of artists. There are few creative people in this for the money. If you are a writer, from your usual royalties, you might be able to buy yourself a packet of cigarettes on the black market right now. Hardly anyone can live off writing alone. We all hustle and keep other jobs to sustain our love for the written word.

But now, like many other sectors of the economy, we are all facing The Great Unknown, way beyond the usual Russian roulette that is writing and publishing. Books can still be written and prepared for printing, but they cannot be printed, distributed, sold and bought in bookshops right now. Unless they are ebooks, of course. But there is a reason why ebooks have not replaced the book in our lives, and I still can’t bring myself to consider ebooks seriously. I have not become a publisher to bring ebooks into this world. I am old-fashioned and stubborn that way. I have always been in love with the book as a physical object. Karavan Press has only one title available as an ebook and only because I promised the author that I would brave e-publishing for her. I did and we produced a great e-version of a beautiful real book, but I cannot imagine it without the real thing being in the world. What consequences the lockdown will have for publishing is extremely difficult to predict, like everything else right now, and I think we are all apprehensive. We are all busy reinventing the world. Or just sitting still and waiting. Karavan Press is probably the smallest fish in the local publishing pond; we only started bringing out books in July last year. For us, this is not only uncharted territory, this is “here be dragons”.

Jacana Media tweeted the following today: “ARE BOOKS ESSENTIAL? In our small book publishing industry in SA, we believe they are. But can we ask President Cyril Ramaphosa to reconsider the government’s stance that books are non-essential?”

It is important to open up this conversation. I was asked for comment and wrote the following:

“In general, I agree. Books are essential in ways that a tweet can’t articulate, but relaxing the lockdown for one form of creativity would not be fair to others. Also, I don’t want readers or booksellers risking lives, their own and others’. There must be other avenues of support.”

“As a reader, I am trying to support the book industry by pre-ordering and paying for books for after the lockdown and reading and reviewing the ones I already have at home. I’m not an ebook reader, so this is my way of sustaining the booksellers/publishers for now.”

“As a writer, luckily I still have some paid work. And, as always, I am mostly writing for the love of it. I have seen in the past that I can survive nearly anything as long as words are not taken away from me. I write because I don’t know how else to be.”

“As a publisher, I don’t know whether Karavan Press will survive the cash-flow situation in the next few weeks. We are infants in the business, but I will do whatever I can to keep our dreams alive. I am confident that together with our authors & readers we will pull through.”

How? I don’t know. But I think of the amazing people I work with at Karavan Press – writers, designers, editors, proofreaders, distributors, booksellers, festival organisers, interviewers, reviewers and, of course, readers – I picture their faces, real, individual faces, and I know that I believe in this literary ecosystem and I believe it is worth saving, sustaining and supporting. To do it financially, cash-flow will be essential, especially for the smaller and independent fish in the pond that are already swimming against impossible currents.

I think that it is important not to break the chain that links the writer to the reader, that is why as a reader I am pre-ordering books and paying for them now. I am happy to wait for them to be printed and delivered to the bookshops for me to pick up after the lockdown. Luckily, books don’t go off. My gut-feeling is that if the booksellers manage to survive, the rest of the system will pull through with them. Where the government could step in, apart from the general relief measures that are being introduced right now? Not sure. All I can think of are ideas I have seen elsewhere in the world. Acknowledge that writers are vital contributor to the well-being of society and pay them properly for their work. Offer extensive, well-monitored grant schemes for authors, editors, proofreaders, designers. Support literary festivals. Reconsider VAT for books. Make sure that every library in the country can buy books on a regular basis that is curated for their readers’ wishes and needs. None of this is easy – it hasn’t been before either.

I think what is most important right now is that as individuals and collectively we understand our own expectations and responsibilities and communicate with the relevant parties about solutions to problems that arise as we all stumble along. I have been in touch with Karavan Press authors – published and in the process of being published by Karavan Press – in the beginning of the lockdown and together we will attempt to get to the other side of this scary, unprecedented time. I have asked for patience and kindness. Their responses made me believe that we will make it. Together.

 

Strong voices with unique stories find a home at Karavan Press

Catrina Wessels Rights Management | Regtebestuur

A new arrival on the South African publishing landscape warrants celebration, especially if the driving force behind it is someone of the stature of Karina Szczurek. Karina has been active in the industry as a writer, editor and critic for many years, and, in 2019, decided to realise her dream of launching her own publishing house. Thus Karavan Press was born.

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Her stated aim with the venture is to provide a nurturing environment to those stories that would otherwise have been left out in the cold. The notion of “home” is a guiding principle for Karina and Karavan Press has truly become a home for the authors it has published thus far. Through her guidance their work has made an instant impact on the local literary scene, eliciting wonderful responses at book launches, literary festivals and in the media.

As an avid reader across genres, Karina has a finely honed…

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The Extraordinary Disappearance of Me

My last blog post was in JULY!!! What is wrong with me? Did I get writer’s block? Did I become a recluse? Did I surf too much?

NOOOO, none of the above. (I don’t believe in writer’s block, I love ALL the friends and it’s impossible to surf too much.)

Instead, I was carried away on the crazy wonderful roller coaster ride of publishing a book; and then the marketing roadshow that goes along with it. Thank you all for buying/reading the book, supporting the launches, sending messages and generally being awesome.

My first stop since my last blog post was the Montagu Book Festival. I’d been to Montagu once before on a road trip and loved it, so I was really stoked to be invited to their wonderful Literary event. We were hosted at the beautiful Monte Vista Boutique Hotel My friend and publisher, Karina Szczurek of Karavan…

View original post 1,138 more words

Karavan Press: A LitNet interview with founder and publisher, Karina M. Szczurek

What kind of books would you be interested in printing? And why?

Books I can be passionate about, of any genre, any length, but mainly literary fiction and non-fiction. I read extremely widely, and don’t want to box myself or Karavan Press writers and readers in. I want to nurture authors and their creativity, establish strong bonds between Karavan Press writers and readers, and offer a literary home for those who treasure words and stories. Excellence, integrity, and love for the book as an object are the cornerstones of what Karavan Press is about.

Click here to read the entire interview: LitNet

Printing pains

Apologies to our author Melissa A. Volker and all our Readers, but because of a glitch in the printing process the delivery of A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker to bookshops countrywide will be delayed. We hope it will be by only a few days. They are almost ready …

printing process

First Karavan Press titles go to print

Proofs2

A dream comes true.

The first Karavan Press titles –  A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker – went to print last week. Official publication date is 1 June 2019.

Karavan Press wants to thank all the people who have made the publication of these titles possible, especially Melissa A. Volker who entrusted her beautiful books to our care. We are proud to publish her work in South Africa.

For further information, please explore karavanpress.com or contact us: karavanpress@outlook.com.

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Karavan Press title: Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Shadow Flicker_LR for web

DESCRIPTION

Kate Petersen keeps her panic attacks to herself, until the day she experiences one in front of her boss. With her personal life in ruins, her job is all she’s got. When an important renewable energy assignment in an Eastern Cape surfing village comes up, she is allowed to take over only if she promises to get her anxiety under control. She decides not to tell her boss that he is sending her to the very place where all her troubles began with a tragedy which continues to haunt her.

Determined to put the past behind her, she arrives in St Francis Bay ready to placate environmental opposition to her employer’s planned wind farm. Trouble brews when she begins to fall for Matthew Sykes, the attentive vet and surfer who is still grieving the death of his wife.

Meanwhile, the parochial locals escalate their protests, from peaceful resistance to creepy threats, and Kate is forced to confront her worst fears as well as risk exposing her fragile state of mind to Matthew and her client.

Then the violence intensifies and Matthew turns out to have a few secrets of his own. Kate understands that their growing relationship and her job are at stake, but she doesn’t know that her life is also in danger …

ISBN: 978-0-6399942-0-8

Also available on Kindle: Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Publication date: 1 June 2019

 

WHAT READERS SAY

“An enthralling tale of romance, surfing, environmentalism and healing.”

— Martinique Stilwell, surfer and author of Thinking Up a Hurricane

 

“Melissa A. Volker deftly weaves romance, eco-fiction and surf noir into a gripping saga in Shadow Flicker. In the small coastal village made popular by The Endless Summer, the restless wind brings waves, haunted memories, and the promise of a green energy future. Volker takes you to the heart of the turbulence.”

— Glen Thompson, surfer, historian & writer

 

ROSA-Strelitzia-Winner-Badge“The Romance is thoroughly believable and satisfying. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year!”

“I especially enjoyed the very real South African setting and characters, the unique surfing background, and also that the hero and heroine and their conflicts were not clichéd.”

“It was fresh, well written.”

— ROSA’s Strelitzia Award Judges, 2017

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa A. Volker 1MELISSA A. VOLKER was born in Port Elizabeth to an American mother and a South African father. She is a reader, writer, blogger, recycler and award-winning stand-up paddler. A few years ago, while taking a break from a career in beauty therapy, she studied creative writing. She now writes romantic environmental fiction and blogs about writing and surfing. Her first novel, Shadow Flicker, won the Strelitzia Award from the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa in 2017 (given to the most promising manuscript), and her second novel, A Fractured Land, was published in the United States a year later. Karavan Press is proud to publish new editions of both titles in 2019.

Karavan Press title: A Fractured Land by Melissa A. Volker

A Fractured Land_LR for web

DESCRIPTION

Left with a huge debt by her runaway ex-husband, Lexi Taylor is out of money and out of luck. In search of a new beginning and determined to be on her own, she returns home to sleepy Graaff-Reinet. She becomes the manager of the inn at Apricot Farm. Free of the burdens of her old life, Lexi finally feels she’s getting back on track – until American Carter O’Brien arrives in town.

South Africa is a long way from his home in Texas, but it’s the fresh start Carter needs – and his last chance. A former musician and the wayward son of an oil industry tycoon, he has been sent to the Karoo Basin in search of shale gas, and is expected to succeed. Harbouring serious mistakes in his private and professional past, he can’t afford any distractions, no matter how alluring.

Carter was prepared for potential problems – angry farmers, anti-fracking protests, tricky negotiations – but fighting his attraction to Lexi wasn’t one of them. As Lexi is drawn into Carter’s work and his complicated life, the pair must confront danger from an unexpected enemy in the Karoo … and from their own hearts.

ISBN: 978-0-6399942-1-5

Publication date: 1 June 2019

WHAT READERS SAY

“Take some fracking in the arid Karoo, mix in the disappearance of a young woman, add some sinister environmentalists, a dashing Texan geologist and a kick-ass heroine and you get a fabulous romantic suspense. Melissa A. Volker’s great sense of humour and her passion for the environment shine through in this eco thriller. Really enjoyed it.”

— Pamela Power, author of Ms Conception, Things Unseen & Delilah Now Trending

 

“I loved the evocative setting, intriguing storyline and memorable characters in A Fractured Land. The romance was palpable and this was a delightful and easy read.”

— Belinda Mountain, writer & award-winning parenting blogger

 

“I absolutely loved how Melissa managed to capture life in small town Graaff-Reinet, and her use of language to so perfectly depict the arid landscape of the Karoo was breath-taking.”

— Sharon Van Wyk, lifestyle blogger, sales & communications manager

 

A Fractured Land combines sizzling romance with environmental awareness – the novel is a declaration of love for passion, adventure and the beauty of the South African landscape.”

— Karina M. Szczurek, Cape Times

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa A. Volker 1MELISSA A. VOLKER was born in Port Elizabeth to an American mother and a South African father. She is a reader, writer, blogger, recycler and award-winning stand-up paddler. A few years ago, while taking a break from a career in beauty therapy, she studied creative writing. She now writes romantic environmental fiction and blogs about writing and surfing. Her first novel, Shadow Flicker, won the Strelitzia Award from the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa in 2017 (given to the most promising manuscript), and her second novel, A Fractured Land, was published in the United States a year later. Karavan Press is proud to publish new editions of both titles in 2019.

 

Author: Melissa A. Volker

Melissa A. Volker 2MELISSA A. VOLKER was born in Port Elizabeth to an American mother and a South African father. She is a reader, writer, blogger, recycler and award-winning stand-up paddler. A few years ago, while taking a break from a career in beauty therapy, she studied creative writing. She now writes romantic environmental fiction and blogs about writing and surfing. Her first novel, Shadow Flicker, won the Strelitzia Award from the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa in 2017 (given to the most promising manuscript), and her second novel, A Fractured Land, was published in the United States a year later. Karavan Press is proud to publish new editions of both titles in 2019.