“Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

3 March 2015

From Ursula Le Guin via Book View Café:

Kazuo Ishiguro talked to interviewer Alexandra Alter (NYT 20 Feb 15) about his forthcoming novel The Buried Giant, which takes place in a non-historic just-post-Arthurian England. Everybody there has lost most of their longterm memory, due to the influence of the breath of a dragon named Querig.

Ogres and other monsters roam the land, but Querig just sleeps and exhales forgetfulness, until a pair of elderly Britons with the singularly unBriton names of Beatrice and Axl arrive with the knight Gawain and a poisoned goat to watch a Saxon named Wistan kill Gawain and then slice the head off the sleeping dragon. Beatrice and Axl wander on in search of their son, who they now remember may be dead, until Beatrice falls asleep in the boat of a mysterious boatman who rows her off to a mysterious island while Axl wanders back inland.

A wild country inhabited by monsters, an old couple who must leave their home without knowing exactly why, a sense that important things have been, perhaps must be, forgotten… Such images and moods could well embody a story about the approach of old age to death, and indeed I think that is at least in part the subject of the book.

. . . .

Mr Ishiguro said to the interviewer, “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

Well, yes, they probably will. Why not?

It appears that the author takes the word for an insult.

. . . .

‘Surface elements,’ by which I take it he means ogres, dragons, Arthurian knights, mysterious boatmen, etc., which occur in certain works of great literary merit such as Beowulf, the Morte d’Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings, are also much imitated in contemporary commercial hackwork. Their presence or absence is not what constitutes a fantasy. Literary fantasy is the result of a vivid, powerful, coherent imagination drawing plausible impossibilities together into a vivid, powerful and coherent story, such as those mentioned, or The Odyssey, orAlice in Wonderland.

Link to the rest at Book View Café and thanks to Chris for the tip.

Here’s a link to Ursula Le Guin’s books

She was discovering

3 March 2015

She was discovering once again that reading and writing were not the same — you couldn’t just soak it up then squeeze it out again.

David Nicholls

Barnes & Noble’s Dirty Little Secret: Author Solutions and Nook Press

3 March 2015

From David Gaughran:

Nook Press – Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform – launched a selection of author services last October including editing, cover design, and (limited) print-on-demand.

Immediate speculation surrounded who exactly was providing these services, with many – including Nate Hoffelder, Passive Guy, and myself – speculating it could be Author Solutions. However, there was no proof.

Until now.

A source at Penguin Random House has provided me with a document which shows that Author Solutions is secretly operating Nook Press Author Services.

. . . .

You will see that the postal address highlighted above for physical submission of manuscripts is “Nook Press Author Services, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana.”

There’s something else located at that address: Author Solutions US headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana.

. . . .

Barnes & Noble has never disclosed that Author Solutions is providing these services, either in the press release announcing same, the communications to Nook Press users, or on the site itself.

. . . .

Also, Barnes & Noble fails to disclose Author Solutions’ involvement to authors purchasing these services. The Nook Press Author Services site goes into great detail about these services but never once mentions that Author Solutions is fulfilling them. In fact, the way the FAQs on the site are worded makes it sound like Barnes & Noble/Nook Press carries out the work itself – which is extremely misleading.

Finally, authors who use Nook Press Author Services are not informed that their personal details are shared with Author Solutions, along with explicit permission to use those personal details to upsell Author Solutions’ infamous marketing packages.

. . . .

A line in the sand needs to be drawn. Partnering with Author Solutions is not acceptable. Hiding that partnership from users of Nook Press Author Services is not acceptable. Sharing Nook Press users’ personal information with Author Solutions is not acceptable. And that message needs to go out very clearly to Barnes & Noble.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital and thanks to James and several others for the tip.

Here’s a link to David Gaughran’s books

Independent Publishing and DMCA Abuse, or “How a Scammer got My Book Blocked with Very Little Effort”

3 March 2015

From author Becca Mills:

Okay, I’ve got a story. It’s a sort of scary one. I think independent/self-publishing authors need to know about it, and telling it carefully and correctly is also important for my own situation, so I’m going to take my time and lay it all out in order.

. . . .

On Friday, February 27, 2015, I noticed that my bookmarked Amazon.com link to my first novel, Nolander, was yielding, “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.” I went to my Amazon dashboard and discovered the book had been blocked.

In my spam folder, I discovered an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing arm, informing me that someone had sent in a DMCA notice. In response, Amazon had summarily blocked Nolander from sale.

“DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.” It’s a Clinton-era U.S. law that lays forth a process for dealing with copyright infringement online. If you find material online that infringes a copyright you hold, you can send the hosting website a DMCA notice; in order to be in compliance with U.S. law, the hosting website has to remove the material and notify the person who posted it.

When I heard a DMCA notice had been filed against Nolander — which is a completely original work — I assumed a reader had reacted badly after reading the book in a boxed set and then finding it available as a standalone. It could be confusing to find the same material in different places, after all. A vigilant reader might think something fishy was going on. So I wrote back to KDP, sending them my U.S. copyright registration info and assuring them that Nolander was my work.

Soon after, I found an email notification from Smashwords as well. That one was a little more informative:

Hi [my real name redacted],

I have just unpublished your book Nolander, formerly found here:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/272292

As we received a DMCA Notice and I was able to verify that the text in your book, published on Jan. 07, 2013, matched the text of a book made public on August 2nd, 2011.

If you have any questions or can give me critical information about the book, please do.  Per our policy, the book needs to remain unpublished until Smashwords is given consent by both parties to republish it.

Thank you for your understanding.


*[name redacted] – Smashwords Support Team*

. . . .

Also in my email was a notification for a pending comment on my website (I have to personally approve comments from first-time commenters):


February 28, 2015 at 3:21 AM

I can’t find Nolander on Amazon. The link is returning “Page Not Found”. I only found a Print Edition on Amazon which cots $15 ! But I find Nolander on other stores like B&N.

Have you removed your book from Amazon? Sorry but I only download or buy books from Amazon. Please consider your decision again.

. . . .

At that point, KDP got back to me:


As stated in our previous communication, we’ve received notice from a third party regarding copyright concerns over B007R6PPZA Nolander (Emanations, an urban fantasy series Book 1) by Becca Mills. We don’t involve ourselves in third party disputes and therefore have removed the availability of the book through our systems until this matter is resolved.

Here you will find information on the party that submitted the notice:

Rajesh Lahoti


If a resolution is reached, before we may take any appropriate action regarding the book(s), all involved parties must contact us via title-submission@amazon.com.

Best Regards,

[name redacted]


Link to the rest at The Active Voice

PG doesn’t give legal advice on The Passive Voice, but he would suggest giving serious consideration to sending a counter-notification if someone files an improper DMCA Take-down Notice.

See this page for a good explanation of DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices.


How turning to Trollope saved my life

3 March 2015

From The Telegraph:

Were you to ask a reader for the name of the greatest Victorian novelist, they might well say Dickens, or George Eliot or the Brontes or Thackeray – and in terms of literary art you might well agree with them. If, however, you were to ask whom they turn to for comfort, entertainment, refreshment and even guidance then the answer, quite possibly, would be Anthony Trollope, the bicentenary of whose birth in 1815 falls on April 24 this year.

The love of Trollope is like a kind of Masonic handshake between a certain kind of person. Many readers do not try him. Not all who do, like him. Yet when you find a fellow Trollopian, it’s always a bit like finding a long-lost friend. You know immediately that you will have much to discuss, and you also know that this new friend is likely to have certain characteristics: a shrewdness concerning human nature, fair-mindedness, a sense of humour and something very rare which is mistakenly termed common-sense. They may be passionate, courageous, mildly eccentric and idealistic but they will not be coarse, malign or rude. They are more likely than not to be conservative (though not necessarily Conservative) but they will not be illiberal. Above all they are likely to be kind.

I know of no other author who carries with them such a raft of associations and expectations. The Protean genius of Shakespeare and Dickens appeals to a vast variety of people; you can adore Jane Austen and be a ninny. Trollope is different. He is not the greatest prose stylist of his time, nor a profound moral philosopher. His plots are barely memorable, and his characters do not continue to live in our imagination as do Anna Karenina or David Copperfield. There are many great geniuses of English, American, French and Russian literature whom I love, re-read and revere, but none who makes you feel as if you have found someone who understands how ordinary people are a mixture of frailties – admirable, amusing, weak or brave but deserving compassion rather than censure.

I discovered Trollope in my early twenties, during a time of deep unhappiness, and to this day credit him with saving me from a nervous breakdown. Reading English at university I’d forgotten what it was to read for pleasure, and Trollope had not been on any syllabus for English literature. The “silver fork school” concerned with the upper and upper-middle classes was dismissed as an anachronism; even Dickens was a bit iffy. It is possible to love both Dickens and Trollope (and I do) but on the whole, those who fall under Dickens’s spell see Trollope as prosaic, just as Trollopians find Dickens too mannered. At any rate, Trollope was definitely underground stuff.

. . . .

You do not read Trollope for his plots, but for his characters and the forensic detail with which he examines the eternal conflict between love and money. Trollope is so realistic about this that the effect would be chilling – were it not that sometimes he persuades us that love can win the battle. His heroes and heroines tend to be decent people, living in or near genteel poverty of the kind that the author was all too familiar with. Who they marry is a decision of life-changing importance in a society in which, as the author Francesca Simon puts it, wonderfully, “people despise the mercenary aspect of trade, but are buying and selling their own children”.

. . . .

Far from being a rather grubby, unromantic subject, he makes vivid the eternal battle almost all of us conduct with money and status. If you read Dr Throne, one of the most enchanting stories of how a country doctor’s lovely ward has the social stain of her illegitimacy overcome by a large inheritance – and is therefore able to marry for love – you find yourself sympathising with almost every character in turn. Even the young hero’s snobbish mother isn’t a gorgeous monster like Austen’s Lady Catherine de Burgh, but a mother and a wife trying to do her best to shore up the family fortunes in the only way considered respectable at the time. You feel for her, as you feel for the increasingly crazed husband in the far more tragic and ambitious novel about unhappy marriage, Can He Forgive Her?

This is part of why Trollopians love Trollope. With a couple of exceptions – Melmotte the crooked financier and the egregious Mr Slope in the Barsetshire Chronicles – there are no characters which are wholly bad. Sympathetic, shrewd, observant and sane, he tells us why people act as they do, interjecting his own comments but always keeping us in suspense as to the workings of chance and characters we feel must be real.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

43 Words Invented by Authors

3 March 2015

Thanks to Eric for the tip.

This is not a love song…

3 March 2015

From publishing consultant Chris McVeigh:

On my last visit to London I caught up with some old friends and as I’ve worked in publishing for over 23 years I guess  it’s not too surprising that many of my friends are fellow travelers in the publishing industry – lots of them authors, lots of them publishers.

What struck me most on this visit was that nowmore than ever both the authors and the publishers I spent time with seemed tobe sharing a feeling of deep unease about where the publishing industry washeaded and what their part in it might end up being.

The thing that was so surprising was that the same sentiments seemed to be being shared by almost everyone I spoke to during my visit, like some stuff that has been bubbling up for a while was beginning to break the surface all at once.

. . . .

My thoughts about all this coalesced on the day I had lunch with a marketing director friend of mine and then drinks later the same day with a mate who’s an author – nothing unusual in that particularly but the surprising thing was both of them were almost in tears with frustration as they talked about the way things were going in the industry they both loved.

The marketing director was frustrated because she felt like she was consistently letting down the authors under her care. The sheer relentless weight of books coming through the pipeline had all but overwhelmed her and her staff some time ago – and from where she was standing things were only getting worse.

“We just don’t have the time to do anything properly, we’re just ticking boxes”

The author was frustrated because despite being consistently in print for the last 20 odd years and always being able to earn a (modest) living, she now felt increasingly powerless in the face of her dwindling royalty statements. (This despite the fact that her publishers have clearly not lost faith in her as they’ve just offered her another two book contract).

“No-one seems to take ownership of anything any more, they’re just ticking boxes”

I promise you that wasn’t just a rhetorical flourish of mine – that same phrase ‘just ticking boxes’ was used by both marketing director and author in separate conversations, only a few hours apart and both were equally upset by it.

. . . .

I think we’ve reached a point where (on the whole) the needs of authors and the needs of the corporate publishing industry are no longer aligned and therefore the relationship between publisher and author has to be re-drafted.

The larger publishers have developed a fairly robust business model that relies on turnover, economies of scale and margin efficiency. As long as they have enough product coming through the doors and that product generates enough turnover across the board, they can apply their ‘margin based’ business model to deliver relatively predictable profits to their parent corporations. Perhaps not the double-digit growth that was normal when I first came into the industry in the 1990’s but robust enough that no-one needs to get fired.

In practice this means that as the size of each publishers’ list increases, each individual book has less importance in the general scheme of things and as a result each author has ‘less importance’ on an individual level.

These larger publishers feed their business models’ insatiable hunger for content by a mixture of consolidation, acquisition and increasingly the acquiescence of an almost inexhaustible supply of authors (most of who have dreamed of getting a publishing deal their whole lives).

In addition publishers increasingly play it safe, they don’t risk massive amounts of money per title on marketing or promotion and they keep their cost base low by employing well-educated, highly motivated staff – who love books & love publishing – on frankly embarrassingly low salaries.

And there’s the rub – ‘love’ and ‘dreams’.

The truth is that at its’ heart publishing is an industry that runs on love and dreams, the love of words, the love of books, the dream of writing or publishing a book that touches someone’s heart.

. . . .

We were blinded by our love of books at an early age and the dreams that made us want to get involved in this business in the first place have endured whether we want to admit it or not.

And that love that blinds us is the same love that holds us together. It’s that love that keeps us both – publishers and authors – bound into a business model that increasingly doesn’t meet our competing needs – the needs of the publishing corporations to feed their content machines, the needs of the publishing staff to feel like they’re doing their honorable best at a job they love, and the needs of authors to make a decent living.

The biggest lie The Beatles ever told was ‘Love is all you need’ – I wish it were true but we’re all adults here and we all know that you need much more than just love to make a relationship work.

. . . .

Publishers are trying to win authors’ confidence with promises of marketing and promotion that often simply do not materialize.

Authors in good standing, often with many years more experience than the publishing staff they’re dealing with, know that the service they’re receiving isn’t anything like the service they received in years gone by.

And at the same time these authors are looking around at the self-publishing success stories that fly around and think ‘well, if they can do it, I can do it too’.

Link to the rest at @4fifty1 and thanks to SFR for the tip.

Industry Issues Intrude in ‘Blurred Lines’ Case

2 March 2015

From The New York Times:

Before a special audience in Los Angeles last week, the velvet-voiced pop singer Robin Thicke performed his 2013 hit “Blurred Lines,” ran through a medley at the piano and discussed artistic inspiration.

Mr. Thicke’s stage was not an arena or a nightclub, but rather a federal courtroom where he is part of a lawsuit over copyright infringement that has gripped the music industry and revived perennial questions about when a song crosses the line from homage to outright plagiarism.

The case, which continues this week, pits Mr. Thicke and his two credited co-writers of “Blurred Lines,” Pharrell Williams and the rapper T.I., against the family of Marvin Gaye. The family accuses Mr. Thicke and his colleagues of using distinct musical elements of Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up” without permission.

Copyright cases can be esoteric affairs. But the “Blurred Lines” trial, which began Tuesday before Judge John A. Kronstadt in United States District Court for the Central District of California, has provided a rare window into an unseemly and embarrassing side of the music industry. Testimony and a flurry of pretrial documents have revealed lurid details of drugs, unearned songwriting credits, and intentional deception of the news media employed as a standard promotional practice.

Mr. Thicke has been the most affected by the revelations, many of which he has made himself. On Wednesday, he testified that despite his official credit, he did not write “Blurred Lines,” an upbeat tune that dominated pop radio in the summer of 2013. Instead, Mr. Thicke said, the song was largely written by Mr. Williams.

“The biggest hit of my career was written by somebody else, and I was jealous and wanted credit,” Mr. Thicke testified, according to news reports. “I felt it was a little white lie that didn’t hurt his career but boosted mine.”

Mr. Williams, who was present in court at the beginning of the trial and is expected to testify this week, has acknowledged the issue of incorrect credit with a shrug. “This is what happens every day in our industry,” he said in an earlier deposition in the case.

. . . .

The lawsuit has drawn attention not only for the fame of the parties involved but also because of what legal experts said was the relative rarity of an infringement case that goes to trial. Accusations of plagiarism are common, these experts said, but are often settled quietly to avoid embarrassment and further expenses.

“There is an old saying in the music business,” said Kenneth J. Abdo, a music lawyer who is not involved in the “Blurred Lines” case, “that if you get a hit, you will get a writ.”

. . . .

 Rulings by Judge Kronstadt have limited the scope of the case to the sheet-music versions of both songs — meaning that any infringement must be decided only on the basis of chords, melodies and lyrics, not on the sound of the songs’ commercial recordings.

. . . .

 “Even if they didn’t sample Gaye directly, it’s so similar that you could have predicted that this would happen,” said Sway Calloway, the MTV News personality. “The irony is that it’s supposed to be an homage. But you still have to follow the rules. If you’re going to take from someone else’s creation, then you may have to pay the piper.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

It is a mistake

2 March 2015

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

Douglas Adams

How to Apply for SFWA Membership with Small Press or Self-Published Credentials

2 March 2015

From author and SWFA Vice President Cat Rambo:

As you may know, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, (aka SFWA) had a membership and changed their membership criteria pretty drastically, admitting self-published and small press members to apply if they can prove they’re making an amount of money equivalent to the advance a writer would make from a traditional publisher and qualify for SFWA: three thousand dollars over the course of a year. The year does not need to be Jan-Dec, and it can be any period after January 1, 2013.

Income can come from crowdfunding, but in that case, the book must have been delivered to the funders in a timely fashion. You can combine advance and royalties, but they must fall in the same twelve months.

The income is net, not gross. If you spend ten thousand bucks printing books and then sell them for three thousand dollars, that would not count. Mainly this is there to keep people from faking their way in and I’m not too worried about small publishing expenses counting here, myself.

Link to the rest at Cat Rambo and thanks to Maggie for the tip.

Here’s a link to Cat Rambo’s books

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