Monthly Archives: February 2014

Traditional publishing isn’t broken, just antiquated and inefficient

27 February 2014

From GigaOm:

The founders of Inkshares don’t think the traditional publishing industry is broken, just antiquated and inefficient — and they think marrying crowdfunding and the kinds of services publishers used to offer makes for a pretty compelling service for writers and ultimately for readers as well.

. . . .

As with so many other media and publishing-related businesses, the book industry has been massively disrupted by the internet, to the point where an increasing number of authors have found success by avoiding the traditional publishing system altogether. But is the old-fashioned publisher model totally without value? The founders of Inkshares don’t think so — which is why they are trying to create a kind of hybrid platform that combines the benefits of crowdfunding with some of the services that traditional publishers have offered in the past.

. . . .

Gomolin’s co-founder Larry Levitsky, who worked in the traditional publishing industry for many years at McGraw-Hill and then at Microsoft’s publishing unit, says many authors don’t have the type of personality or motivation that allows them to do all the things that are involved in producing and selling a book, such as editing or marketing or distribution. That’s where Inkshares comes in, says Gomolin — it wants to bring the kind of support relationship that authors have with a good editor or publisher to the digital publishing model.

“All the things that go into making a great book — too many people don’t get a chance to be part of that process. We want to be disruptive, but there’s also this love for certain core components of traditional publishing process, like the relationship between an editor and an author.”

Link to the rest at GigaOm and thanks to Jay for the tip.


27 February 2014

Nothing to do with books, but, PG thinks, diverting.


I think my agent’s dead, what to do?

27 February 2014

From Janet Reid, Literary Agent:

Last summer, after a flurry of kind, flattering emails in which a reputable agent told me repeatedly how much she loved my novel, I signed a contract with her. I was over the moon.

In September I sent her a last revision with the changes she had suggested. I didn’t hear back, so a few days later I sent her a “did you get my revision and what’s the next step” email.

She responded rather tersely in comparison to the earlier emails, but I figured she’s a busy, sought-after agent and now that I’ve signed on, she’s getting down to business. She gave me the first-round list of editors she planned to submit to and said she expected to hear back from them very soon. That was on October 1.

Since then I’ve waited. In mid-January, I finally sent her a brief, polite followup email asking for an update. No response. A week later, I sent a second polite followup email. It’s been about a week, and again, I’ve heard nothing back from her.

Yesterday, I left a message on her cell phone, and again, no response. I haven’t yet worked up my nerve to call the agency directly, although I’m guessing this is what I have to do now.

In the meantime, I’m stuck wondering what happened to her and where does it leave me? Do I have an agent? Is my novel out there being considered? Or did she get terrible responses back from the editors and decide she hates it after all? Does she regret signing me on? Is that why she’s gone AWOL on me? Is she seriously ill? Dead? Did she quit her job? If she has dropped me, shouldn’t she let me know? And if so, what responsibility does the agency have to me or I to it?

First thing to do is pour yourself a soothing beverage and realize It’s NOT You.  The agent has clearly gone round the bend for some reason, and I’ll bet you a pair of furry shark slippers and a full length manuscript critique that it has nothing to do with you.

Agents lose their minds with increasing frequency. I’m not sure why. I’ve had a few bouts of The Bends myself wherein I’m sure my clients thought (or hoped) I was dead cause at least then they could find someone to return their calls.  Generally I’ve picked up the pieces, apologized profusely, learned from the situation and tried not to repeat it.

Link to the rest at Janet Reid, Literary Agent and thanks to Margaret for the tip.

Most of all, money is a story

27 February 2014

From Seth Godin’s Blog:

Money’s pretty new. Before that, we traded. My corn for your milk. The trade enriches both of us, and it’s simple.

Money, of course, makes a whole bunch of other transactions possible. Maybe I don’t need your milk, but I can take your money and use it to buy something I do need, from someone else. Very efficient, but also very abstract.

. . . .

Most of the time, when we’re buying non-commodity items, we’re asking ourselves questions like:

  • How much pain am I in right now?
  • Do I deserve this?
  • What will happen to the price in an hour or a week? If it changes, will I feel smart or dumb?
  • What will my neighbors think?
  • Does it feel fair?
  • and, What sort of risks (positive and negative) are involved? (This is why eBay auctions don’t work for the masses).

Pricing based on cost, then, makes no sense whatsoever. Cost isn’t abstract, but value is.

Link to the rest at Seth Godin’s Blog

Indies talk a lot about ebook pricing. Big Publishing complains that Amazon and indie authors have devalued books. PG agrees with Seth that, at bottom, value is abstract.

Two indie authors are making 8 figures annually

27 February 2014

From Joe Konrath and another commenter via the comments on Joe’s blog:

Joe Konrath said…

I think media generally will be microscopically fragmented.

I agree. And it’s a smart prediction.

But while we’ll have fewer blockbusters, and more of the niche artists sharing that pie, there will still be 80/20 rules and bell curves and occasional big hits.

And we do have some self-pub authors making 8 figures. I’m on the low end of the KDP bestselling author lists.

. . . .

Anonymous said…

Anon BB here again:

Joe said, “And we do have some self-pub authors making 8 figures.”

With the greatest respect (and you know we’ve known each other for years) … really? Plural? My ear is as close to the ground as anyone’s, and I know this business backward, and I have dozens of clued-in friends in the KDP community, and I have as many – or more – friends in certain Seattle offices as you, and that’s the first such claim I have ever heard.

The thrust of the OP was all about how authors should have accurate information. Is that really accurate? If you can’t provide links, have the person or people e-mail me privately, and I’ll retract right here in bold capitals.

. . . .

Joe Konrath said…

really? Plural?

Two is plural. So yes. 🙂

Keep in mind that while you’re privy to what the best of the best NYT bestsellers are making, I’m privy to what many of the top self-pubbers are doing. Many of them have contacted me directly.

But it isn’t my business to reveal their names, any more than I’d reveal your name.

It’s also fine if you don’t believe me. Prior to, there were a lot of people that didn’t believe how big this shadow industry was. Some see the figures and still don’t believe.

Link to the rest at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and thanks to Tony for the tip.

Apple’s e-book appeal: Toss out the verdict, or give us a new judge

27 February 2014

From Fortune:

Apple pulled no punches in the 65-page brief it filed Tuesday, asking a higher court to overturn the controversial results of last year’s e-book antitrust trial and placing blame for the outcome squarely on the shoulders of the judge who heard the case.

In Apple’s view, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote was not only wrong about the law when she ruled that the company orchestrated a conspiracy with publishers to fix the price of e-books, she was wrong about the facts as well.

The key issue of law is the same one that was raised at trial: That the antitrust rules that restrain the actions of direct competitors are not the same as those governing the actions of a vertical player — as Apple was in its dealings with the publishers.

. . . .

“Apple’s entry into the conspiracy had to start somewhere,” Judge Cote wrote in her July 2013 decision, “and the evidence is that it started at those initial [Dec. 2009] meetings in New York City with the Publishers” when the company “made a conscious commitment” to join a pre-existing conspiracy to violate the Sherman Antitrust Act.

“This finding forms the bedrock of the court’s entire decision and is demonstrably wrong,” Apple told the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. “The undisputed record reflects that Apple had no prior dealings in the publishing industry and that everything it knew it had gleaned from public sources—like reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal—none of which reported on a conspiracy.”

Apple knew before those initial meetings that the publishers were frustrated with Amazon, which at the time controlled nearly 90% of the e-book market. They hated that Amazon was selling their most popular titles for $9.99 — below cost — and were afraid of getting squeezed out of what little profit they still had. The judge herself recognized that Amazon’s dominant position “strengthened [Apple’s] hand in proposing [a] new business model to the Publishers.”

“Apple seized the moment and brilliantly played its hand,” she wrote.

Steve Jobs later called this an “aikido move,” referring to a Japanese martial arts maneuver that uses the power of a stronger opponent against itself.

Link to the rest at Fortune

PG hasn’t read Apple’s brief, but, based on various reports, thinks this sounds like a moon shot.

A general rule of appellate law is that, absent unusual circumstances, the appeals court will accept the trial court’s decisions with respect to the facts of a case. 99% of appeals are based upon the idea that the judge got the law wrong, not the facts.

Cases like this generate a massive amount of paperwork and PG hasn’t read it all. He did, however, read the judge’s opinion and found it to be exceptionally detailed and compelling. In all the right ways, Judge Cote did a good job at making her opinion difficult for Apple to appeal.

Additionally, Judge Cote is a senior judge, which means she is semi-retired but is available for assignment to some cases. She has a great deal of experience being a judge and, unless she has a history of flaky decisions (which PG hasn’t read anything about), the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will be familiar with her past work, thus giving her opinion a bit more credibility than it would have if it were written by a new Federal District judge.

The judge’s decision made Apple and the publishers’ actions sound like the most garden-variety of price-fixing cases. It appears Apple’s counsel is going to great lengths to attempt to distinguish it from the dozens of other antitrust cases where business executives have acted like fools trying to manipulate prices.

Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for Writing a Detective Novel

27 February 2014

From Open Culture:

Raymond Chandler . . . sandblasted the detective novel of its decorousness and instilled it with a sweaty vitality. Chandler, through the eyes of his most famous character Philip Marlowe, navigated a thinly veiled Los Angeles through the desperation of those on the low end of society’s totem pole and through the greed and venality of those at the top. . . . . Chandler created stories that looked outward, struggling to make sense of a morally ambiguous world. He dedicated his career to the genre, influencing generations of writers after him. His very name became synonymous with his terse, pungent style.

So it isn’t terribly surprising that Chandler had some very strong opinions about crime fiction.

Below are his ten commandments for writing a detective novel:

1) It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.

2) It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.
. . . .

6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.

7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.

Link to the rest at Open Culture and thanks to J.A. for the tip.


26 February 2014

Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.

First line of The Tin Drum, Günter Grass

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