Monthly Archives: December 2015

What Exactly Does An Editor Do? The Role Has Changed Over Time

30 December 2015

From National Public Radio:

When Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was published earlier this year, readers learned that this much anticipated “second book” by Lee was actually a first draft of what would later become the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee radically revised this early version of the book on the advice of her editor, Tay Hohoff. That made us wonder: How much do editors shape the final book we read?

On hearing the news about the role Lee’s editor played in the creation of To Kill a Mockingbird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg was surprised at first. The story immediately made him think of legendary editor Max Perkins — who shepherded the works of such greats as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway. Berg, who wrote a biography of Perkins, says Perkins had a huge influence on the editors who came after him because of the way he worked with his authors.

“Not only did he change the course of the American literary river, but he changed what editors do by becoming their best friends, their money lenders, their marriage counselors, their psychoanalysts,” Berg says. “And along the way he began offering them titles. He often provided structure for what their novels ought to be. He often gave them whole ideas for what their next book should be.”

That was the way editors interacted with their writers for many years after Perkins came on the scene, Berg says, but now publishing has changed: These days there is more pressure on editors to acquire best-sellers, and they are much more involved in marketing a book. And that, he says, leaves precious little time for actual editing.

“Make no mistake about it: That editor-author relationship is still fundamental to good books,” says Berg. “But it’s not necessarily cost-effective for book editors to invest as much of their time into any single manuscript or any single author and that’s simply because the publishing houses have not encouraged their editors to edit.”

Link to the rest at NPR and thanks to Deb for the tip.

Lawsuit claims ‘Big Bang’ stole ‘Soft Kitty’ song

30 December 2015

From USA Today:

Bad news for Dr. Sheldon Cooper, who doesn’t do well with uncertainty on CBS’s hyper-hit The Big Bang Theory: No more Soft Kitty lullabies.

Well, possibly.

Turns out the saccharine song that Sheldon (played by Emmy-winning Jim Parsons) needs to calm down or sleep whenever he’s anxious (which is practically all the time) may not have been entirely the invention of Big Bang‘s clever writers.

The heirs of Edith Newlin, a New Hampshire teacher who published a song/poem about a “soft kitty” in 1937, sued CBS and other Big Bang-related media companies, claiming that the show has been violating their copyrights. For years.

According to the Associated Press, Edith Newlin’s daughters, Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry, assert that the show’s song uses lyrics similar to those written by Newlin in the 1930s without paying for the rights.

. . . .

Edith Newlin, who died in 2004 at age 99, had worked as a nursery school teacher inAlstead, N.H., for about 35 years, and her daughters still live nearby.

Link to the rest at USA Today and thanks to Chloe for the tip.

Elsevier and the 25.2 Billion Dollar A Year Academic Publishing Business

29 December 2015

From Medium:

Twenty years ago . . . Forbes predicted academic publisher Elsevier’s relevancy and life in the digital age to be short lived. In an article entitled “The internet’s first victim,” journalist John Hayes highlights the technological imperative coming toward the academic publisher’s profit margin with the growing internet culture and said, “Cost-cutting librarians and computer-literate professors are bypassing academic journals — bad news for Elsevier.” After publication of the article, investors seemed to heed Hayes’s rationale for Elsevier’s impeding demise. Elsevier stock fell 7% in two days to $26 a share.

As the smoke settles twenty years later, one of the clear winners on this longitudinal timeline of innovation is the very firm that investors, journalists, and forecasters wrote off early as a casualty to digital evolution: Elsevier. Perhaps to the chagrin of many academics, the publisher has actually not been bruised nor battered. In fact, the publisher’s health is stronger than ever. As of 2015, the academic publishing market that Elsevier leads has an annual revenue of $25.2 billion. According to its 2013 financials Elsevier had a higher percentage of profit than Apple, Inc.

. . . .

 Brian Nosek, a professor at the University of Virginia and director of the Center for Open Science, says, “Academic publishing is the perfect business model to make a lot of money. You have the producer and consumer as the same person: the researcher. And the researcher has no idea how much anything costs.” Nosek finds this whole system is designed to maximize the amount of profit. “I, as the researcher, produce the scholarship and I want it to have the biggest impact possible and so what I care about is the prestige of the journal and how many people read it. Once it is finally accepted, since it is so hard to get acceptances, I am so delighted that I will sign anything — send me a form and I will sign it. I have no idea I have signed over my copyright or what implications that has — nor do I care, because it has no impact on me. The reward is the publication.”

Nosek further explains why researchers are ever supportive by explaining the dedicated loyal customer base mantra, “What do you mean libraries are canceling subscriptions to this? I need this. Are you trying to undermine my research?”

In addition to a steadfast dedication by researchers, the academic publishing market, in its own right, is streamlined, aggressive, and significantly capitalistic. The publishing market is also more diverse than just the face of Elsevier. Johan Rooryck, a professor at Universiteit Leiden, says, “Although Elsevier is the publisher that everybody likes to hate, if you look at Taylor & Francis, Wiley, or Springer they all have the same kind of practices.”

Heather Morrison, a professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Ottawa, unpacks the business model behind academic publisher Springer and says, “If you look at who owns Springer, these are private equity firms, and they have changed owners about five times in the last decade. Springer was owned by the investment group Candover and Cinven who describe themselves as ‘Europe’s largest buy-out firm.’ These are companies who buy companies to decrease the cost and increase the profits and sell them again in two years. This is to whom we scholars are voluntarily handing our work. Are you going to trust them? This is not the public library of science. This is not your average author voluntarily contributing to the commons. These are people who are in business to make the most profit.”

Should a consumer heed Morrison’s rationale and want to look deeper into academic publishers cost structure for themselves one is met with a unique situation: the pricing lists for journals do not exist. “It’s because they negotiate individually with each institution and they often have non-disclosure agreements with those institutions so they can’t bargain with knowing what others paid,” says Martin Eve, founder of the Open Library of the Humanities.

In addition to a general lack of pricing indexes, the conversation around the value of a publication is further complicated by long-term career worth. David Sundahl, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, says, “We actually understand how money passed through to artists who wrote music and authors who wrote books — but it is not clear how the value of a publication in a top tier journal will impact someone’s career. Unlike songs or books where the royalty structure is defined, writing a journal article is not clear and is dependent not on the people who consume the information but rather deans and tenure committees.”

Link to the rest at Medium

When I’m good

29 December 2015

When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad I’m better.

Mae West

Scientists Reveal The Science Fiction Stories That Inspired Them

29 December 2015

From The Conversation:

Tales of strange alien worlds, fantastic future technologies and bowls of sentient petunias have long captivated audiences worldwide. But science fiction is more than just fantasy in space; it can educate, inspire and expand our imaginations to conceive of the universe as it might be.

We invited scientists to highlight their favourite science fiction novel or film and tell us what it was that captivated their imagination – and, for some, how it started their career.

Bryan Gaensler, astronomer, University of Toronto

Time for the Stars
– Robert A. Heinlein

Long before the era of hard science fiction, Robert Heinlein took Einstein’s special theory of relativity and turned it into a masterpiece of young adult fiction.

In Time for the Stars, Earth explores the Galaxy via a fleet of “torch ships”, spacecraft that travel at a significant fraction of the speed of light. Communication with the fleet is handled by pairs of telepathic twins, one of whom stays on Earth while the other journeys forth. The supposed simultaneity of telepathy overcomes the massive time delays that would otherwise occur over the immense distances of space.

The catch is that at the tremendous speeds of these torch ships, time travels much slower than back on Earth. The story focuses on Tom, the space traveller, and his twin brother Pat, who remains behind. The years and decades sweep by for Pat, in a journey that takes mere months for Tom. Pat’s telepathic voice accelerates to a shrill accelerated squeal for Tom, as Einstein’s time dilation drives them apart, both metaphorically and physically.

This is ultimately a breezy kids’ adventure novel, but it had a massive influence on me. Modern physics wasn’t abstruse. It was measurable, and it had consequences. I was hooked. And I’ve never let go.

. . . .

Duncan Galloway, astrophysicist, Monash University

Ringworld
– Larry Niven

It was Larry Niven’s Ringworld that led, in part, to my career in astrophysics.

Ringworld describes the exploration of an alien megastructure of unknown origin, discovered around a distant star. The artificial world is literally in the shape of a ring, with a radius corresponding to the distance of the Earth to the sun; mountainous walls on each side hold in the atmosphere, and the surface is decorated with a wide variety of alien plants and animals.

The hero gets to the Ringworld via a mildly faster-than-light drive purchased at astronomical cost from an alien trading species, and makes use of teleportation disks and automated medical equipment.

The appeal of high-technology stories like this are obvious: many contemporary problems, like personal transportation, overpopulation, disease, and death have all been solved by advanced technology; while of course, new and interesting problems have arisen.

Grand in scope, and featuring some truly bold ideas, Ringworld (and Niven’s other books set in “Known Space”) are as keen now as when they were written, 40 years ago.

Link to the rest at The Conversation

Daily E-Book Deals Are Gaining Traction

29 December 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

Every day, the company BookBub.com sends out more than 7 million emails pointing consumers to e-books that cost as little as 99 cents each and free titles as well.

A host of big and independent publishers list titles there, including New York-based Kensington Publishing Corp. The idea is to entice readers with a bargain, so they get hooked on a new author or series and eventually buy full-priced works.

Kensington’s chief executive, Steven Zacharius, says BookBub is powering sales growth for the company, but he worries about the long-term value of his catalog if he nurtures a generation that won’t pay more than a few dollars for an e-book.

“We know we might be shooting ourselves in the foot,” says Mr. Zacharius. “But I can’t resist because it’s such a good way to stimulate sales.” Every promotion the company has run through BookBub has been profitable, he said, despite the steep discounts.

. . . .

“There are more of these promotion companies, and because their reach has expanded, their effectiveness has increased,” said Liz Perl, chief marketing officer at CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster. Many new e-books from major publishers are priced from $12.99 to $14.99.

For publishers, the promotions are a form of advertising in an industry that traditionally has spent cautiously. There is hope the services could help jump-start stagnant e-book sales. A survey of 1,200-plus publishers by the Association of American Publishers found e-book revenue for consumer titles fell 11% this year through August to $964 million.

. . . .

The risk for publishers is that consumers could become accustomed to paying lower prices and only purchase titles when they are on sale.

“It’s an industrywide concern,” said Heather Fain, director of marketing strategy at the Hachette Book Group. It’s hard to know, she added, whether readers who are dedicated to reading bargain books will ever spend as enthusiastically to buy full-priced titles.

. . . .

Offering cheap prices via BookBub and its rivals is seen as a way to pull consumers away from Facebook and other digital temptations. On Dec. 17, for example, independent publisher Sourcebooks Inc. used BookBub to promote Scott Wilbanks’ novel “The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster” for 99 cents instead of its regular $14.99 price.

“We want people to discover this book and start talking about it,” said Dominique Raccah,chief executive of Sourcebooks. “When that happens you get a viral marketing effect.”

. . . .

BookBub expects to spark the sale of 20 million e-books at its retail partners this year, generating about $30 million in retail sales. Chief Executive Josh Schanker said heavily discounted e-books don’t compromise overall sales for publishers because they target a segment of consumers who otherwise wouldn’t buy those particular discounted books at full price.

“What publishers are saying is that they’d rather you read our book than play Angry Birds,” said Mr. Schanker. “It’s a cluttered landscape with more and more titles. Price promotions give publishers the ability to get a large group of people to sample their books.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

PG says that a career hawking books to Barnes & Noble doesn’t prepare a publishing executive to have a clue about consumer marketing and retail pricing.

It shows.

Over and over.

Procrastination

29 December 2015

Procrastination from Carmel Joy on Vimeo.

Konrath’s New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

29 December 2015

From Joe Konrath:

Every December I do a post about resolutions for writers, and every year I add more of them. They’ve changed a lot; after all, when I began this, there was no Amazon Kindle, self-publishing was a bad idea, and this blog was for writers eager to find agents and land deals with the Big 6.

But a lot of the advice from a decade ago still holds true, so take these resolutions for what they’re worth to you.

2006

Newbie Writer Resolutions

    I will start/finish the damn book
    I will always have at least three stories on submission, while working on a fourth
    I will attend at least one writer’s conference, and introduce myself to agents, editors, and other writers
    I will subscribe to the magazines I submit to
    I will join a critique group. If one doesn’t exist, I will start one at the local bookstore or library
    I will finish every story I start
    I will listen to criticism
    I will create/update my website
    I will master the query process and search for an agent
    I’ll quit procrastinating in the form of research, outlines, synopses, taking classes, reading how-to books, talking about writing, and actually write something
    I will refuse to get discouraged, because I know JA Konrath wrote 9 novels, received almost 500 rejections, and penned over 1 million words before he sold a thing–and I’m a lot more talented than that guy

Professional Writer Resolutions

    I will keep my website updated
    I will keep up with my blog and social networks
    I will schedule bookstore signings, and while at the bookstore I’ll meet and greet the customers rather than sit dejected in the corner
    I will send out a newsletter, emphasizing what I have to offer rather than what I have for sale, and I won’t send out more than four a year
    I will learn to speak in public, even if I think I already know how
    I will make selling my books my responsibility, not my publisher’s
    I will stay in touch with my fans
    I will contact local libraries, and tell them I’m available for speaking engagements
    I will attend as many writing conferences as I can afford
    I will spend a large portion of my advance on self-promotion
    I will help out other writers
    I will not get jealous, will never compare myself to my peers, and will cleanse my soul of envy
    I will be accessible, amiable, and enthusiastic
    I will do one thing every day to self-promote
    I will always remember where I came from

. . . .

2011

I Will Self-Publish

Just twelve short months ago, I made $1650 on Kindle in December, and was amazed I could pay my mortgage with ebook sales.

This December, I’ll earn over $22,000.

The majority of this is on Kindle. But I’m also doing well self-pubbing in print through Amazon’s Createspace program, and will earn $2700 this month on nine POD books. I’m also finally trying out B&N’s PubIt program, which looks to be good for over $1k a month, and I’m doing okay on Smashwords, with Sony, Apple, and Kobo combining for another $1k.

This is nothing short of revolutionary.

The gatekeepers–agents who submit to editors who acquire books to publish and distribute to booksellers–are no longer needed to make a living as a fiction writer. For the first time in history, writers can reach readers without having to jump through hoops, get anointed, compromise integrity, or fit the cookie-cutter definition for What New York Wants.

I’m not saying you should give up on traditional publishing. But I am saying that there is ZERO downside to self-pubbing. At worst, you’ll make a few bucks. At best, you’ll make a fortune, and have agents and editors fighting over you.

But remember: even if you are being fought over, you still have a choice.

DO NOT take any deal that’s less than what you believe you could earn in six years. If you’re selling 1000 ebooks a month, that means $144,000 is the minimum advance you should be offered before you consider signing.

It blows my mind to think that way, let alone blog about it. I got a $34,000 advance for my first novel, and even less for my last few.

Currently, I have seven self-pubbed novels, each earning more than $24k a year. In six years, at the current rate, I’ll earn more than one million bucks on those.

But I don’t expect them to maintain their current sales.

I expect sales to go up.

Ebooks haven’t saturated the market yet. But they will. And you need to be ready for it. Which leads me to…

I Won’t Self-Publish Crap

Just because it’s easier than ever before to reach an audience doesn’t mean you should.

I can safely say that I’m either directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of writers trying out self-publishing. The majority of these writers aren’t making the same amount of money that I am, and are scratching their heads, wondering what they’re doing wrong.

Luck still plays a part in success. But so does professionalism.

Being a professional means you make sure you have a professional cover (http://www.extendedimagery.com), and you have been professionally formatted for ebooks (www.52novels.com) and for print books (http://yourepublished.blogspot.com.)

Being a professional means you’re prolific, with many titles for sale, and that you diversify, exploiting all possible places to sell your work (Kindle, Createspace, Smashwords, iBooks, iTunes, Sony, Nook, Kobo, Borders, Android, and no doubt more to come.)

But most of all, being a professional means you won’t inflict your shitty writing on the public.

Self-pubbing is not the kiddie pool, where you learn how to swim. You need to be an excellent swimmer before you jump in.

If your sales aren’t where you’d like them to be, especially if you’ve done everything else I’ve mentioned, then it’s time to take a cold, hard, critical look at the writing. Which segues into…

I’ll Pay Attention to the Market

To say I’m excited about the ebook future is putting it mildly. But that doesn’t mean I have carte blanche to write whatever the hell I want to, and then expect it to sell.

Yes, writers now have more freedom. Yes, we can now cater to niche tastes, and write novellas, and focus on more personal projects.

But if you want to make a living, you still have to understand your audience, and how to give them what they want.

Self-pubbing is not an excuse to be a self-indulgent egomaniac. On the contrary, it’s a chance for you to learn what sells.

For the very first time, the writer can conduct their own real-world experiments. By trying different things, learning from mistakes, and constantly tweaking and improving, we have more power than ever before to find our readers.

A lot of folks know how much money I’m making. But how many know:

I’ve changed or tweaked cover art 45 times.
I’ve reformatted my books five times each.
I’ve changed product descriptions over 80 times.
I’ve changed prices on each book two or three times.

Unlike the traditional publishing world, where published books are static, self-publishing is dynamic. If something isn’t selling as well as you’d like, you can change it. The work doesn’t end when you upload your ebook to Kindle. The work is never-ending, and vigilance is mandatory.

Self-publishing is a wonderful opportunity to learn and to grow. This means you MUST try new things.

2011 is going to be a turbulent year for publishers and bookstores and editors and agents. Change is coming, and many of the stalwarts of the industry aren’t going to be around for much longer.

But savvy writers will be safe from harm. In fact, they’ll thrive like never before.

For the first time in the history of publishing, we have control. Embrace that control, and make 2011 your year.

. . . .

2016

This year, I’m boiling my resolutions down to the essence:

WRITE.

It’s so easy to get caught up in different aspects of a writing career. I’ve had phases where I tried to help other writers, started my own company, blogged, collaborated, fought the publishing world, evangelized, experimented, promoted, tried to figure things out, and spent a whole lot of time doing stuff other than writing.

I’m happy I did all that. But it has taken me away from the thing I like most.

I might be a blogger, and a teacher, and an innovator, and a pundit. But first and foremost, I’m a writer.

And writers write.

So for 2016, I’m going to write more than I’ve ever written before. I’m going to finish those stories I’ve put aside, I’m going to break new ground, and I’m going to get back to my roots. I’ve spent a lot of time tending to my career. And for good reason. A backlist is a garden that needs attention to grow and prosper.

But now I’m going to spend the lion’s share of my time planting more seeds.

I’m looking for 2016 to be my most productive year ever.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

10 Industry Predictions for 2016

28 December 2015

From Digital Book World:

When trends become clear—from self-publishing to writer events to the boutique model of the industry to the re-growth of print sales and large publisher consolidation—I regularly point out in the office that I predicted them two or three years ago. Given that I’m generally met with bemused looks, I thought I would make an official record of some predictions for 2016.

So here, in no particular order, are 10 publishing predictions for the year ahead:

1. Continued regrowth of print sales. Those who predicted the demise of the print book were wrong. With strong demand remaining and the boutique model having taken hold with mass numbers in digital and the profit margin in print sales, publishers are taking advantage by nudging their print prices up. A new generation of bookstores (including pop-ups) is emerging, and 2016 will be a positive year for print sales.

. . . .

3. Amazon spending some time under the radar. A prediction that could quickly be blown out of the water, but after a few PR bloody noses in 2015 when their negotiations with major publishers became too public, I think Amazon will plan a quieter public year. But don’t confuse lack of visibility with lack of progress; Amazon will be working on an aggressive plan, and its influence on and evolution of the industry will undoubtedly continue.

. . . .

5. Picking up a Penguin; keep an eye on Pearson. Pearson is busy restructuring its business, and with a number of offloading sales already announced it is only a matter of time before the publisher takes a long look at its PRH stake and considers a sale. Not long after bedding in its merger, it could be another year of change for the now largest trade publishing group.

. . . .

9. Book fair evolution and the emergence of the micro-fair. With less footfall but more focus, the book fairs will continue to evolve and look at ways of directly generating business to encourage attendance and spending. As a result, there will be a gap in the market for smaller and single focused “micro’” book fair events that can work very well, and we will start to see more appearing on 2016’s calendar.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

This article lost PG at “Amazon spending some time under the radar.”

All discarded lovers

28 December 2015

All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.

Mae West

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