Friday, May 7, 2010

Entering the Digital Age

With a strong yet delightfully vulnerable voice, food critic Abbie Jennings embarks on a soulful journey where her love for banana cream pie and disdain for ill-fitting Spanx clash in hilarious and heartbreaking ways. As her body balloons and her personal life crumbles, Abbie must face the pain and secret fears she’s held inside for far too long. I cheered for her the entire way.
--Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt on SLIM TO NONE

Remember when you had never heard of a Kindle, or a Nook, or any kind of ereader? Now, of course, we all realize in book world fashion, they are the new black.

So here's Jenny Gardiner. Successful, famous, prize-winning author Jenny Gardiner. And Jenny has made a pioneering publishing decision. Here new book SLIM TO NONE will not go from paper to digital. It will ONLY be digital. A genius forward-thinking move? Jenny thinks the chances are NOT slim to none.

JENNY GARDINER: Shortly after I received my Kindle e-reader for my birthday a few months ago, I was reading in bed at midnight, not loving the book I had downloaded, but wanting to continue to read something. So with the magic of my electronic reader, in two minutes' time, I found another book on Amazon, downloaded the thing, and had begun reading it. How cool is that?

Dramatic changes have been underway in the publishing industry in recent years—changes that--combined with a faltering economy--have left traditional publishing in a bit of a tailspin. While the cumbersome infrastructure of the publishing industry is perhaps not quite nimble enough to as easily embrace and adapt to these changes, authors are on their own figuring out how they can achieve their end goal--to reach readers hungry for their work.

I've been fortunate to be teamed up with a literary agent—the wonderful Holly Root—whose agency (The Waxman Agency) is an innovator and has undertaken a bold new program of offering up high-quality books to the reading public via a digital imprint called Diversion Books.

I jumped at the chance to be part of this program because in many ways I am a convert to e-reading and I believe that society is on the cusp of a major shift in how people read books. I've always felt badly that there is a tremendous amount of paper waste with books—that books that don't sell get sent back to the publishers and ultimately destroyed. And as one who has on many occasions found at least three books lurking in the bowels of her purse (which gets heavy!), I love having all of my reading neatly compiled into one small, lightweight and very portable device. And strangely I find I can focus more readily when reading in a public place with an e-reader. Go figure.

I think that as competition increases with the introduction of new e-readers, and prices come down in the near future, soon electronic readers like the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader and the iPad (of which 1 million units were sold in 28 days) will become as commonplace as cell phones (with smart phones already an e-reading option for many).

Are e-books the perfect solution? Not at all. I hate the idea that e-books contribute to marginalizing wonderful independent book stores, and hope that somehow some of the talk—of e-book downloads being available at stores, perhaps, will help to mitigate that. And I hate to sit back and watch layoffs and consolidation in the publishing industry, as really good people, fabulous editors, publicists and artists are squeezed out as the business changes. The music industry experienced these same sea changes and frankly nothing about it is easy. But as the mainstream industry goes more and more toward sure-bet books to the exclusion of the vast mid-list, which is really like the middle class of the writing world, more authors will by necessity seek alternatives to continue to pursue their passion and to reach their readers.

I decided to publish digitally with Diversion Books rather than cold turkey on my own because, alas, I am such a Luddite. Well, not fully. But I am technologically stunted and I don't have the time in my life right now to figure out how to do this on my own, and I am happy to be able to work with such wonderful professionals to collaborate on an end-result we can all be proud of. It's early enough that I can't tell you how the outcome will be, but so far so good and I really just hope I can get the word out to enough e-readers about the book—I do find that those who are early adapters with e-readers are enthusiastic to buy books, which is a good thing for everyone in a market in which so few books are being purchased. And I hope that my readers will be able to access this book.

Of course tangible paper books aren't going to go away, but the convenience of downloading books and carrying literally hundreds of them in such compact form is awfully hard to beat. And I'm thrilled to be at the forefront of such exciting innovations and to be able to offer up a book that I absolutely love and think that you will too.

Many of you may know me as a novelist who was able to successfully market my way into a publishing contract with my first novel, SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, which was the winner of Dorchester Publishing's American Title III contest a few years ago. Back then I sort of stumbled into the frontier of capitalizing on what would soon become the most comprehensive way to market and publicize books—via networking on the internet.

Since that time, the industry has shifted in none-too-subtle ways as the internet has become an integral part of the publishing picture. So much so that e-publishing, which used to be considered an unconventional means of publication, is clearly being viewed now as the wave of the future.

The future is already upon us, and I hope that you will join me in this brave new "frontier" and check out my debut e-novel, SLIM TO NONE, in which Abby Jennings, Manhattan's premier food critic, is outed on Page Six of the New York Post, and to her chagrin she realizes she's too recognizably fat to now remain incognito in her job. Her editor gives her six months to shape up or ship out, and so this ultimate foodie--a woman who is paid to eat for a living--must vastly curtail her eating in order to continue being able to make a living.

SLIM TO NONE is a story near and dear to my heart. Like probably every female out there with a heartbeat and a stomach pooch, I have been on the dieting treadmill since I was oh, born. Well, wait, I guess after I started walking. It was then that I knew I needed to stop cramming down the Froot Loops my mother kept insisting was the only thing I would eat, and instead turn to steel-cut oats direct from Ireland for the best proper nutrition.

Alas, Froot Loops won the day, over and over again. In what seems like an omnipresent dietary smackdown between Brussels sprouts and Fluffernutter sandwiches, the latter prevails every time. And with that has been the roller coaster of dieting and hating to diet and then never having pants that fit and a closet full of awesome clothes collecting dust that I really ought to just purge and give to someone thinner and more deserving, but instead I hold out mournful hope that I again will jam my fat ass into a size 6 pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (yes, friends, it has been that long).

With that albatross secured snugly around my neck, I decided to tackle the ups and downs of this way of life in a novel—and decided upon a foodie for whom food had to become the enemy. I loved the idea of taking someone who has to eat for a living then not be able to eat in order to continue to be able to eat for a living. Such a quandary! And then of course I wanted to pile her up with all sorts of issues that she has to overcome.

I hope you'll join Abbie on her journey of self-discovery and while you're at it enjoy many of the
yummy recipes you'll find within the pages of SLIM TO NONE.

HANK: Fascinating, Jenny! So what do you think, Jungle Reds? Would you publish digial only? Do you think--a few years from now--that'll be a silly question? Do you have some kind of ereader? Do you like it? And how do you feel about Fluffernutters?


Take a sneak peek at the first chapter of SLIM TO NONE here:

Here's a link for the amazon page for Slim to None:

If you want to link Jenny's other books, here's for Winging It:

And here's for Sleeping with Ward Cleaver:

Jenny Gardiner is also the author of the recently released WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO'S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Simon & Schuster's Gallery books), and the award-winning SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER (Dorchester books).


  1. I agree with you completely that e-readers and digital books are the next great thing. Their growth has been explosive. At first I was lukewarm to the idea but once you try it, you don't go back. And SLIM TO NONE sounds hilarious. Good luck, Jenny!

  2. Thanks Hank and all the Jungle Reds for allowing me to visit today! I greatly appreciate that. Oh, those fluffernutter sandwiches...
    And Liz--thank you for stopping by! I was just like you--very lukewarm at first, but having jumped in with a Kindle I see the wonderful advantages to it now!

  3. Good luck, Jenny! As you know, like you I've gone digital with a book. I salute the pioneers in this field and believe traditional publishing will change for the better once everything settles down.

  4. Right on, Libby--more choices is better for everyone. I think it will be great for all!

  5. Digital will probably never be my won't smell the same...
    Love Fluffernutters even if my last one was 35 years ago.

  6. I think there's plenty of room for both ebooks and real books. I still prefer the real thing, but I'm thinking when I'm moving into the old folks' home they're not going to let me bring all my books, so an e-reader will come in mighty handy.

    Jenny - your book sounds a delight! Best of luck (I'm betting it'll do brilliantly).

    I had never heard of Fluffernutters until I watched my husband making one. He loves them, me - I'm not so sure . . .


  7. ha! digital definitely won't smell the same! Yeah, fluffernutters are off my menu but they sure are delish...
    Thanks Kaye-and I think you're spot-on w/ older folks going digital--apparently that is actually an interesting trend, and older people buying the iPad as well. An advantage of the e-reader is you can enlarge the print, which works well for people whose vision isn't quite what it used to be.
    Kaye--I saw on your blog the picture on the top looks JUST like my dog (only mine's a bit skinnier)

  8. Jenny, welcome to Jungle Red, girlfriend! I'm still being dragged kicking and screaming into ebooks as a reader. As an author, I do think it's inevitable. Love the concept of your book--hope it sells like crazy!

    Now Kaye, had to chuckle at the thought of all your books in the old folks home. When we moved my dad in a couple of years ago, he had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of historical tomes. My husband was astonished at his collection of books about, for example, women in the west. Books about white women thrown in to the lives of Indian savages, wives of military men in the west, and much more. We could not move all those books so we gave many away to the library, took some home, and filled a bookcase in his room with the cream of the crop.

    Ebooks won't bring the same problems, but neither will they be nearly as instructive about their owners!

    anyway, good luck Jenny and keep us posted!

  9. that's so interesting about your dad. Thank goodness they weren't a collection of porn magazines LOL
    There's instructive and then there's instructive, right?! ;-)
    thanks Roberta! I appreciate your suppot!

  10. You know, that's intersting..I was in a used book store a couple of years ago, and there was the entire "Strelsky collection"--beautiful books, all Russian literature--all with Strelsky family bookplates.. I couldnt bear the thought of someone's family collection being broken up, so I bought about 30 of them.

    I googled and found out more about him..

    That couldn't happen with ebooks..!

  11. Congratulations on the book, Jenny! Of course digital books are here to stay. Advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully it will do what we all want most: sell more books!

    The thing I worry about is that it's yet another divide between the haves and have-nots. If you need an e-reader to read books, then only the rich will be reading them. Add that to cable TV and Internet service and the future looks skewed.

  12. Hi all,
    Welcome Jenny. I had some interesting conversations re ebooks at Malice last week. I get it. My husband loves his (present from me.) It's the notion that books should either be free for the download or cheaper than dirt that troubles me. I sat with 3 lovely women at the banquet and I was a little shocked to hear what they thought an ebook should cost - "but there's no paper - it shouldn't cost anything!" It took me until dessert to gently make the point that paper is the least of it. And then we quietly dropped it....and waited for Hank to win her SECOND AGATHA! Yippee!!

  13. Welcome, Jenny, and good luck with the book.
    I guess I'm going to remain a dinosaur. I dislike reading from a screen and the Kindle only lets you read a few lines at a time. I like to flip back and forth as I read, double checking on things. I like the feel of turning pages. And I want those lovely independent bookstores to stay open.
    But I have to admit (sigh) that you are the wave of the future

  14. Oh Hank--I do that with needlework all the time--hate to see someone's loving efforts end up at some sad flea market. I've got a whole collection--nothing to do with them though LOL
    Hallie--I hadn't thought about that and that is a really good point--I hate that. Then again, pretty much everyone buys cell phones, so maybe it will become something people have. Though methinks there isn't the innate "need" to read for many to motivate them to want that.
    Hmm..must think more about this.
    Rosemary--yeah, I'm with you and I think that's one of the things I really would like to see resolved for authors. I really do not think very many people are actually buying NEW books nowadays, and all us authors know that is the kiss of death to an authors career--we can all have readers out the wazoo, but if there are not sales figures that reflect that, we're screwed.
    I've even read where some people are pricing their e-books for dirt cheap to bring in readers but I don't believe in that--we all work long and hard to refine our art and no one is out there trying to gouge anyone price-wise, but we should be able to earn more than a teenaged summertime lifeguard,you know?
    BTW--Hank! Wooohooo! I didn't know! So awesome!
    Rhys--I am with you in much of what you're saying, but as long as the industry is changing tacks the way they are, many authors have to anticipate a Plan B to also remain relevant. As long as the Real Housewives of New York are the ones landing the book deals to the exclusion of talented writers, then writers are going to have to figure out a way to the market.

  15. Thanks, Jenny! So wonderful to chat today...and lots of lots of people came to visit!

    Let us know how it goes, okay?

    TOmorrow--the amazing William Martin--who knows a lot about being a best-selling author!