Monthly Archives: April 2013

I Quit!

30 April 2013

From The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing:

Last month, an author I’d not spoken to in a while came to mind. She was someone I’d spoken with professionally, we’d read each other’s blogs, and I truly enjoyed her books. I began to wonder if I’d somehow lost another colleague’s posts in the sea of social networking I do every month. (Sadly, it happens.) So, I decided to look her up and find out if she had any new books out.

I couldn’t find her Facebook page or profile.

Her website had been deleted.

Her books were no longer on Amazon.

I started to doubt my recollection. I hadn’t spoken to her in a few months. Did I have her name confused with someone else’s? Had I written her blog address down wrong?

I emailed her, not at all confident I would hear back. I worried that she’d died or suffered some personal catastrophe. How could someone vanish?

She wrote back the same day. She’d quit writing completely, unpublished her books, let her website expire, and gotten the hell out of Dodge. I was stunned. She was a talented author. She paid for wonderful cover art, gotten professional editing, and went about social networking like a pro. She’d even successfully signed with an agent.

Her reasons for quitting were varied: home issues, time constraints, poor sales, a few unsupportive indie colleagues, a couple of stinging reviews, and feeling like her books didn’t fit into any recognisable niche. She said to me: “It was an experiment, and it failed.”

. . . .

Anyone I’ve mentioned the situation to has said something like, “Oh, she probably just needs a break. She’ll go back to it someday.” To them I can only say: I recognised the despair in her letter. This wasn’t a temporary setback. She did, indeed, quit. Forever. For good. She said thinking about her writing made her literally sick. Ouch.

I felt incredibly sad at her story, but in truth, I understand. Being a writer is hard. Self-publishing is even harder. We indies have to know a bit of everything, be a bit of everything. We rarely take enough time off. We often spend too much time watching the rankings, checking our stats, feeling elated when our books sell, but no matter the number, we secretly feel disappointed we don’t sell more.

My friend was crushed under the weight of expectations, disappointment, pressure, and criticism. Who among us can’t sympathise with that? Who here hasn’t felt crippling self-doubt?

Link to the rest at The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing and thanks to James for the tip.

When I got home I mixed a stiff one

30 April 2013

When I got home I mixed a stiff one and stood by the open window in the living room and sipped it and listened to the groundswell of traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and looked at the glare of the big angry city hanging over the shoulder of the hills through which the boulevard had been cut. Far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. Twenty four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care. I finished the drink and went to bed.

Raymond Chandler

The New York Times Book Review’s Retirement Plan

30 April 2013

From The Guardian:

Not long ago, an old friend with whom I’ve lost touch, the writer Susan Braudy, surfaced in the letters column in the New York Times Book Review. This is a kind of pitiable place for writers to show up. They are usually either protesting their treatment by the Book Review, or, at least in the years before Amazon, begging for copies of their out-of-print books.

My old friend, however, had a grander mission, one that seemed to have weighed on her mind for many years – how to get the Times to be more joyful and energetic about promoting books.

. . . .

Her letter reminded me that the New York Times Book Review still occupies a whale-like place in the minds and careers of all diligent book writers in America.

. . . .

And then, a few weeks ago, I noticed, in a small announcement in the New York Times, the appointment of a new editor at the Book Review – once a major transfer of power in New York. Indeed, the editor of the Book Review, and his or her general literary disposition, is pretty much synonymous with the Book Review itself.

. . . .

[New editor Pamela Paul] has, pretty much, no writerly or literary credentials. She’s written some straightforward, but non-literary nonfiction – a book about marriage, a book about parenting, and a book condemning pornography – and she’s been the children’s book editor at the Book Review for a short time. Her resume includes two years as a blogger at the Huffington Post, which, it doesn’t seem entirely churlish to point out, is not a job, and a stint writing a column for the Times’ Style section.

Anyway, it’s a perfectly reasonable but not distinguished freelance journalism career. So why a major post in the world of literary journalism?

. . . .

The entire newspaper is challenged by falling advertising, but the Book Review is really at the end of this road. Practically speaking, it has no revenue.

This is a long slide, reflecting not just a hard market but the manners of a bygone world.

. . . .

In a way, it might be a good thing to have recruited a new editor without literary conceit whose success depends less on taste than it does on the Book Review’s very survival. Maybe, she has a really smart and aggressive new approach, which she’s sold to the Times’ management.

On the other hand, the approach so far seems just to give less space to reviews. The bestseller lists, derived from overlapping and trivial new methods of categorization, now fill most of the back pages.

. . . .

Book reviews, I am afraid, are a downer, an outdated form. Literary editors – hell, literary people in general – are mightily outdated, too.

And while the NYTBR has been at the very center of the book business in New York and has been the most influential voice in book culture for the better part of a century, it is surely hard to say quite what to do with this weighty history. Not to mention, how to squeeze a buck out of it.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Tom for the tip.

The Illusion Of ADHD Creativity

30 April 2013

From ADHD Man of DistrAction on PsychCentral:

I’m sure you’ve heard that people with ADHD are very creative. It’s nice to think that may be true, and it may be true, but it isn’t yet a fact.

. . . .

Since there are no tests to qualify or quantify creativity, there is no way of testing the creativity of anyone. The only test is if they create

Those of us with ADHD are known for not finishing things. Being creative requires things to be finished, doesn’t it? So how did this rumour get started?

. . . .

Sometimes, I’ll start working on something, a song, a poem, or content for some publication, and I will worry it ’til I can’t find a single thing wrong with it. But then I’ll avoid doing anything like that for a long while, possibly for ever. The thing I did was good, and constituted creativity, I guess, but I’m not doing it again. I’ll do something else. Maybe perseverance is creativity.

. . . .

The thing about those of us with ADHD that I notice, is that they turn their creativity loose on some project, and turn it on full. When that project is finished, they cast around for something else to work on, usually really different. Maybe being unable to tolerate boredom is creativity.

Link to the rest at PsychCentral

Smart PJ’s tell bedtime stories

30 April 2013

MacMillan Agrees to $20 Million E-Book Prices Settlement

30 April 2013

From Bloomberg:

Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s MacMillan unit agreed to pay $20 million to consumers to settle claims it conspired with Apple and other U.S. publishers to fix the prices of electronic books.

The agreement resolves both a lawsuit by U.S. states and a consumer class-action lawsuit, according to an April 25 letter the Texas attorney general sent to U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote in Manhattan.

. . . .

The Justice Department and the other states led by Texas alleged publishers conspired with Apple in 2010 to undermine discounter Amazon.com’s dominance in the e-books market.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg

Ghost Novel: The Day After

30 April 2013

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I just finished close to a 70,000 words on a novel I was hired to do by a New York publisher.  Did it in ten days here and blogged about my days and how I did the words. The editor on the book reported that it arrived just fine.

. . . .

And numbers of people seemed stunned that I could go to work for ten days, then go to work on day #11. So for one more day, I’ll do my day here. Just to try to put one more nail in the attempt at killing a few ugly myths about how writers work.

. . . .

8:30 PM… Horrid start to the day, but alas I’m back here. A couple of the days in the novel writing I didn’t get into the office until late to write, so back at this like normal.

The day started early for me as well, getting up around 12:00, getting my three breakfast bars eaten while doing some e-mail and then heading to the WMG offices by 1:30 PM. Meetings on all sorts of business stuff, then Kris and I had lunch and I went back for more meeting from 4 until 6:00PM.

Then I went down to a local restaurant to enjoy part of a birthday celebration for a friend, then to the grocery store and back home to cook Kris dinner. We watched the news, I came up here to my office, worked on e-mail and did this. I will now work on the homework for the online workshop I am teaching called Pitches and Blurbs, then head back to the WMG Offices for a time.

I expect to be back here in my office at home by around 11:00 PM and headed for the computer. Up at WMG Publishing tonight I’ll work on putting together Fiction River: Time Streams that I am editing so I can get that turned in on time. When I get back here I’ll tell you what I end up writing on and give page counts.

(more entries coming through the evening and night…remember, I don’t go to bed until around 5 AM)

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

Ray Bradbury Classics Finally Coming as eBooks

30 April 2013

From Galleycat:

16 classic Ray Bradbury books are coming to digital booksellers for the very first time.

. . . .

[T]he list of new eBook releases includes beloved books likeDandelion WineSomething Wicked This Way Comes andThe Illustrated Man.

. . . .

Just Published
Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars
Death Is a Lonely Business
A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities
Now and Forever: Somewhere a Band Is Playing & Leviathan ’99
One More for the Road
Green Shadows, White Whale

Dandelion Wine
Something Wicked This Way Comes
We’ll Always Have Paris

April 30th
The Illustrated Man
Quicker Than the Eye
Driving Blind
The October Country
The Cat’s Pajamas
Let’s All Kill Constance
A Medicine for Melancholy and Other Stories

Link to the rest at Galleycat

Self-Published Titles Dominate Top of Ebook Best-Sellers List

30 April 2013

From Digital Book World:

Last week self-published authors stunned the publishing world by taking the Nos. 1 and 2 spots on the DBW Ebook Best-Seller list.

This week, David Baldacci’s The Hit (Hachette) is No. 1, ending the reign of Holly Ward’s Damaged; however, this week, Ward brought friends. Five of the top ten best-selling ebook titles this week were self-published, three of them at $0.99 and one of them by a bankable big-six author gone hybrid.

. . . .

Authors like Freethy have been joined by authors like Ward to make a new class of power-players in publishing: hybrid authors. They publish with traditional publishers when they want to, self-publish when they choose and run their careers like businesses. It might be merely interesting to publishers, retailers and everyone in between if these authors weren’t starting to dominate best-seller lists; it’s more than interesting now — it’s material.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to becca for the tip.

The digital truths traditional publishers don’t want to hear

29 April 2013

From Barry Eisler via The Guardian:

Until November 2007, when Amazon introduced the Kindle, the only viable means of book distribution was paper. Accordingly, a writer who wanted to reach a mass audience needed a paper distribution partner. A writer could hire her own editor and her own cover design artist; she could even hire a printing press to create the actual books. The one service she couldn’t hire out was distribution. And publishers didn’t offer distribution as an à la carte service. If a writer wanted distribution, she had to pay a publisher 85% of her revenues for the entire publishing package: editorial, copyediting, proofreading, jacket design, printing, and marketing, all bundled with distribution.

Was a price of 85% of revenues a good deal for this packaged publishing service?

. . . .

But for every author who wanted and benefited from the packaged service, there were countless others who took it – if they could get it at all – only because they had no alternative.

Digital distribution has provided that alternative. And increasing numbers of authors are choosing it.

. . . .

An author so inclined can buy digital distribution for 30% of the list price of the book she’s publishing – the same digital distribution a legacy publisher offers – and outsource all other publishing functions, all for significantly less than legacy publishers charge for their packaged service.

. . . .

And yet, when I offered these fairly axiomatic observations during a recent keynote at the 21st annual Pike’s Peak Writers Conference, the reaction among some editors and agents in the audience (and elsewhere) was extremely negative, with some walking out; others taking to Twitter to urge others to leave, to boycott my talks, and to boycott conferences where I’m talking; and a fair amount of name-calling.

The hostility is surprising in one sense (we’re just talking business, after all, not politics or religion), but in another sense it’s readily understandable. Because in essence, what I was describing in my talk was how digital distribution has changed the legacy publishing industry from something a writer needed, into something a writer might merely want. Because of digital, legacy publishing, which used to be a necessity, is now only potentially useful.

. . . .

But if your worldview, your conception of your rightful place in the universe, has always been informed by the implicit knowledge that you are indispensable, and tens of thousands of authors are now informing you that you’ll have to account for your value or they will take their business elsewhere, it’s not so inconceivable that you might find your sensibilities temporarily shocked.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

A classic example of shooting the messenger. Other messengers should also expect to be shot without, of course, having any impact on the ongoing disruption of traditional publishing.

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