How Amazon is Changing Publishing

10 July 2014

Thanks to Randall for the tip.

Bookstats Reports

7 July 2014

Frequent visitor and commenter William Ockham emailed with this question:

Do you know anyone who subscribes to the BookStats reports (discussed here)?

PG doesn’t think he knows anyone who does, but suspects some visitors may. William wants to conduct some mathematical analyses of Bookstats data.

Send PG a message via the Contact Page if you can help William with his request and PG will forward the info.

Both Sides Now: A New York Editor and Author Goes Indie

1 July 2014

From author Leslie Wells via Jane Friedman:

I’ve been on both sides of the publishing desk—as an acquiring executive editor for several decades, and as an author. The experience has provided insights that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and made me more sympathetic to the nerve-wracking process of trying to get your book published.

First, let’s look at the editor’s side. An editor’s career hinges on acquisitions. If she doesn’t acquire eight to ten titles per year, then her job is on the line. So an editor is constantly trying to buy books; but that’s not easy as it sounds. Before the weekly meeting, you have to get at least one other editor to read—and like—the manuscript you’re trying to acquire. Then you have to pitch it to an overworked bunch of colleagues who are also trying to fill limited slots on the next list. Most of all, you have to convince your boss, the editor-in-chief—who may or may not have had time to look over your project in the three hours he spent cramming the night before—that it has merit.

. . . .

Books are often dead on arrival at the acquisitions meeting, for the following reasons:

  1. The author doesn’t have a platform (an internet following, TV show, speaking gigs).
  2. The book reminds someone of a book that came out last year, that didn’t work.
  3. The sales director had a bad commute.
  4. The marketing director doesn’t get along with the sales director—so any project he likes, she loathes; and vice versa.

If the stars align and the book isn’t shot down, you are then allowed to plug the new (vastly reduced) projected sales figures into your pro forma, and get the new (vastly reduced) advance amount approved. Finally you’re ready: a $35,000 offer is burning a hole in your pocket.

. . . .

My first novel, The Curing Season, was pre-empted by Amy Einhorn (who went on to publish The Help). Amy’s editing was insightful and thoughtful. There wasn’t a suggestion that wasn’t careful and intelligent; I loved the whole process, and felt very lucky. The art director came up with a beautiful, appropriate cover and the publisher sent me on an eight-city tour (back in the day when authors got sent on tours). The book came out during a time when newspapers and magazines were either killing or drastically reducing book coverage; since social media hadn’t happened yet in the early 2000s, it was difficult to garner much attention. The book did receive some very nice reviews, and overall it was a very positive experience.

For my new novel, Come Dancing, I thought it would be interesting to take a different approach. So many of my author friends are choosing to self-publish that after checking out traditional publishing options, I decided to give it a whirl. The process has been exciting, exhausting, and empowering.

. . . .

To my surprise, one week after it was published, Come Dancing hit #13 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for Fiction/Humor and made the Amazon Best Seller list. It also hit #1 in the Kindle Store for Romantic Comedy.

It’s early days yet—my book has only been out for two weeks at the time of this writing—but so far, the experience has been amazing. Most authors want a shot at being published by a traditional publisher, and I certainly understand that impulse. But if that doesn’t happen for you, going the indie route can be extremely satisfying.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to SFR for the tip.

Against YA

6 June 2014

From Slate:

As The Fault in Our Stars barrels into theaters this weekend virtually guaranteed to become a blockbuster, it can be hard to remember that once upon a time, an adult might have felt embarrassed to be caught reading the novel that inspired it. Not because it is bad—it isn’t—but because it was written for teenagers.

The once-unseemly notion that it’s acceptable for not-young adults to read young-adult fiction is now conventional wisdom. Today, grown-ups brandish their copies of teen novels with pride. There are endless lists of YA novels that adults should read, an “I read YA” campaign for grown-up YA fans, and confessional posts by adult YA addicts. But reading YA doesn’t make for much of a confession these days: A 2012 survey by a market research firm found that 55 percent of these books are bought by people older than 18. (The definition of YA is increasingly fuzzy, but it generally refers to books written for 12- to 17-year-olds. Meanwhile, the cultural definition of “young adult” now stretches practically to age 30, which may have something to do with this whole phenomenon.)

The largest group of buyers in that survey—accounting for a whopping 28 percent of all YA sales—are between ages 30 and 44.

. . . .

Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.

Let’s set aside the transparently trashy stuff like Divergent and Twilight, which no one defends as serious literature. I’m talking about the genre the publishing industry calls “realistic fiction.” These are the books, like The Fault in Our Stars, that are about real teens doing real things, and that rise and fall not only on the strength of their stories but, theoretically, on the quality of their writing. These are the books that could plausibly be said to be replacing literary fiction in the lives of their adult readers. And that’s a shame.

. . . .

But the very ways that YA is pleasurable are at odds with the way that adult fiction is pleasurable. There’s of course no shame in writing about teenagers; think Shakespeare or the Brontë sisters or Megan Abbott. But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way. It’s not simply that YA readers are asked to immerse themselves in a character’s emotional life—that’s the trick of so much great fiction—but that they are asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults. When chapter after chapter in Eleanor & Park ends with some version of “He’d never get enough of her,” the reader seems to be expected to swoon. But how can a grown-up, even one happy to be reminded of the shivers of first love, not also roll her eyes?

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Heather for the tip.

TPV – The Mobile Version

30 May 2014

For those accessing TPV on mobile devices, the plugin that provided a mobile-friendly layout without any problem reports for several months has gone through two recent updates.

It works fine for PG now.

He’s received problem reports for each of the alternate mobile solutions he’s tried over the past few days, so he’s going back to the original - WPtouch Mobile Plugin.

Drop a comment or send an email through the Contact page if you’re experiencing difficulties.

For those who haven’t the slightest idea what PG is talking about, most blog layouts are designed to be viewed on a screen much larger than a smartphone. These large-screen layouts typically show up in tiny type that is very difficult to read on a mobile device.

Mobile plugins are supposed to detect when someone is accessing a blog from a smartphone browser and automatically present the blog content in a layout that is much easier to read on the phone.

TPV Mobile Interface

28 May 2014

UPDATE: I installed a new mobile plugin at about 1:30 PM US Eastern time. Let me know how this one looks and works.

On a blog housekeeping note, Passive Guy has reactivated the plugin that is supposed to automatically provide a mobile-friendly interface for TPV when it senses you’re accessing the blog via a mobile device.

This plugin was behaving strangely, but, for PG, it seems to be working fine again.

If you’re having any problems, including receiving the mobile interface on a non-mobile device, drop a comment here or send an email via the Contact page.

Glasgow School of Art: Fire crews battle to save building

23 May 2014

From the BBC:

Firefighters are continuing to fight a major blaze at the A-listed Glasgow School of Art – one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings.

Eyewitnesses said the fire appeared to have started when a projector exploded in the basement of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building just before 12:30.

The roof space of the art school is still well alight. It is feared large parts have been destroyed.

Everyone in the building was said to have escaped safely.

There have been no reports of any casualties.

Final year students were said to have been preparing for their end of year degree show in the building when the blaze broke out. The deadline for submissions to the degree was 17:00.

Police have cordoned off Renfrew Street, and smoke was also drifting across the M8. Large crowds of students and onlookers gathered near the scene, with several people in tears as they watched the events unfold.

. . . .

Hugh Thornhill, a second year student, said: “I was helping one of the fourth years set up their exhibit and suddenly the alarm went off.

“We didn’t think it was anything but we had to go out and then we saw smoke coming out and realised that it was really bad. It got to the point where flames were coming out of the top floor.

“All that effort is gone, everyone’s work on that side of the building is ruined. Even if it didn’t catch fire it will be damaged extensively.

“The degree show next month is pretty much a bust now, it’s sad.”

Broadcaster Muriel Gray, a former student and current chairwoman of the school, arrived and burst into tears when she saw the building in flames.

Ms Gray told BBC Scotland she was “heartbroken” to see the “most amazing building in Glasgow” go up in flames.

. . . .

“Quite apart from it being voted the best building of the last 175 years, it is a major tourist draw and has an incredible reputation as an art school. This is really terrible.”

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is lauded as Scotland’s most influential architect and designer, with the art school building which bears his name considered by many to be his greatest masterpiece.

Mackintosh was a 28-year-old junior draughtsman at a Glasgow architecture firm when he drew up the designs for the building, which features distinctive heavy sandstone walls and large windows.

The dramatic art nouveau design took about 12 years to be completed, opening in 1909, but it signalled the birth of a new style in 20th Century European architecture.

The president of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Iain Connelly, said the value of the building “goes well beyond Glasgow or even Scotland”.

He added: “It is a work of architectural heritage of world renown and its influence on 20th century architecture is immeasurable. Scotland has seen the loss of an international treasure which reflects the genius of one of our greatest ever architects.”

Link to the rest at the BBC

This tip came from regular TPV visitor Catherine, who writes, “[W]e are heartbroken here. Hard to describe what this iconic building means to us in Scotland, and all I can think about is the library that was full of irreplaceable books and Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture. Fortunately, nobody was hurt which is a blessing. But for the rest, we feel sick and sad. “

Comment Moderation

7 May 2014

For some reason, WordPress is holding some comments for moderation today.

The blog is set to require approval of the first comment by a new commenter. Thereafter, all comments from that person should automatically post without any further moderation.

I’m not sure what the problem is, but it’s happened to two regular visitors so far today.

The strange case of the ‘time travel’ murder

28 April 2014

Maybe a writing prompt.

From the BBC:

It was a real-life mystery that could have come straight from the pages of a modern-day detective novel.

A woman had been brutally murdered in London and biological material had been found under her fingernails, possibly indicating that she might have scratched her attacker just before she died.

A sample of the material was analysed and results compared with the National DNA database and quickly came back with a positive match.

The problem was, the “hit” identified a woman who had herself been murdered – a full three weeks before the death of her alleged “victim”.

. . . .

It was 1997 and I was the national account manager for the Forensic Science Service at the time, so it was my responsibility to find out if a mistake had been made at the laboratory.

My first thought was that perhaps the second victim’s fingernail clipping had been mislabelled and had actually come from the first victim all along. As soon as I started to look at the samples, I could see this wasn’t the case.

The victim had painted her nails with a distinctive leopard skin pattern and the cuttings that had been taken bore the exact same pattern. There was no doubt that they were the correct ones.

. . . .

It was while I was examining the mortuary records that I came across a possible answer. It transpired that the body of the first murder victim had been kept in the freezer for several weeks while the police carried out their initial investigation.

It had been removed from the freezer to allow the pathologist to take additional nail clippings the day before the body of the second murder victim had arrived at the mortuary.

The following day, the same pair of scissors had been used to cut the nails of the second murder victim. Although the scissors had been cleaned between uses, I couldn’t help but wonder whether sufficient genetic material had survived the cleaning process to transfer onto the second victim’s nails and then produce a DNA profile in the subsequent analysis.

. . . .

Modern DNA analysis is now so sensitive that contamination is a major issue, with the potential to send criminal investigations spiralling off in the wrong direction.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Money and Control

14 February 2014

PG is going to get bored by this pretty soon, but, in the meantime, he’s put up a few more t-shirts based on suggestions in the comments – The Passive Voice T-Shirt Shop


a1 a1 copy



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