The Passive Voice https://www.thepassivevoice.com A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Pub and Traditional Publishing Tue, 11 Aug 2020 22:26:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Small-PV-Icon-150x132.png The Passive Voice https://www.thepassivevoice.com 32 32 Jammed-Up Day https://www.thepassivevoice.com/jammed-up-day/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jammed-up-day https://www.thepassivevoice.com/jammed-up-day/#respond Tue, 11 Aug 2020 22:26:25 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125390 Read more]]> PG is having a jammed-up day.

It began with a long out-of-office meeting and continued with a wide range of must-do tasks that took longer than he anticipated (of course).

He has not abandoned TPV or its lovely visitors.

He needs to complete one more must-do task, then he’ll put up some posts albeit probably fewer than he usually does.

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Pick a theme https://www.thepassivevoice.com/pick-a-theme/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pick-a-theme https://www.thepassivevoice.com/pick-a-theme/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 21:00:00 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125386

Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.

Dorothea Lange ]]>
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The mother load https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-mother-load/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-mother-load https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-mother-load/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 20:55:29 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125383 Read more]]> From The Guardian:

Never in my life had I been so high.

I’d just given a reading in Amsterdam after which the gracious hosts of the evening took me out for drinks. Three young women asked me questions about sex and love and desire as though I were an expert and it was nice but I was tired and unused to being considered an expert in anything but panic.

I thanked the hosts and slipped out. I’d always wanted to visit Amsterdam and I had only two nights. I wanted to walk the streets alone. I wanted to walk across the bridges and look at the waving water and look inside the windows of the closed shops. I wanted to find the loveliest cafe and mark it for the morning. I wanted to eat bitterballen and wash them down with stroopwaffel. And I wanted to get high.

The streets were dark with rain. I found a deli. It wasn’t one of the coffeeshops with the meticulously bagged furry sativa. This was just a deli, cartons of milk, packs of gum. Before leaving I bought one large plastic tub of marijuana brownies. It seemed wasteful not to, and the man assured me I absolutely could take the cookies on my flight to Romania early the next morning. OK yes why not yes yes is OK yes. He was equal parts aloof and confident and not understanding what I was saying. So it felt right.

In the hour that followed I held the joint with one hand and a broken umbrella with the other. I walked and smoked and the cherry kept going out on the joint and I didn’t have a lighter and so twice I stopped to ask strangers for a light and tried to balance the umbrella and the joint and the unwieldy weight of my embarrassment. I got so high that I didn’t feel panic about my imminent flight. I got so high that I didn’t get lost. I found my pretty hotel but had gotten so high that I forgot my four-year-old daughter was sleeping in a room upstairs.

Hang on now. Her father was in the room with her. But I almost forgot I was a mother. But that’s not it. I forgot enough about my panic that I wasn’t acting like the neurotic mother that I am. I rarely drink and when I do, I don’t drink much. So that getting high (so high) felt like a real breach. I got so high that I didn’t care that I got so high.

To some (or many!) I’m sure I would be considered in that moment (or many!) a bad mother. I know it for a fact because I spoke to hundreds of women for my book – many of them mothers – and they all had at some point been called “bad”. Many of them believed it to the extent that they felt they weren’t good enough for their children.

One of the women I spoke to was a talented musician. She told me that the only one of her singles that underperformed told the story of a bad mother. It was one of her favourite songs, but she had to stop singing it at concerts because she would receive death threats on Twitter. One listener threatened to kidnap her child, because she was too bad a mother to keep her.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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Amazon and Mall Operator Look at Turning Sears, J.C. Penney Stores Into Fulfillment Centers https://www.thepassivevoice.com/amazon-and-mall-operator-look-at-turning-sears-j-c-penney-stores-into-fulfillment-centers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amazon-and-mall-operator-look-at-turning-sears-j-c-penney-stores-into-fulfillment-centers https://www.thepassivevoice.com/amazon-and-mall-operator-look-at-turning-sears-j-c-penney-stores-into-fulfillment-centers/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 13:43:00 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125381 Read more]]> From The Wall Street Journal:

The largest mall owner in the U.S. has been in talks with Amazon.com Inc., the company many retailers denounce as the mall industry’s biggest disrupter, to take over space left by ailing department stores.

Simon Property Group Inc. has been exploring with Amazon the possibility of turning some of the property owner’s anchor department stores into Amazon distribution hubs, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon typically uses these warehouses to store everything from books and sweaters to kitchenware and electronics until delivery to local customers.

The talks have focused on converting stores formerly or currently occupied by J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp., these people said. The department-store chains have both filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and as part of their plans have been closing dozens of stores across the country. Simon malls have 63 Penney and 11 Sears stores, according to its most recent public filing in May.

It wasn’t clear how many stores are under consideration for Amazon, and it is possible that the two sides could fail to reach an agreement, people briefed on the matter said.

The talks reflect the intersection of two trends that predate the pandemic but have been accelerated by it: the decline of malls and the boom in e-commerce.

. . . .

For Amazon, a deal with Simon would be consistent with its efforts to add more distribution hubs near residential areas to speed up the crucial last mile of delivery.

But for Simon, any deal to surrender prime space to Amazon would signal a break from a longtime business model for malls: reliance on a large department store to draw foot traffic to neighboring shops and restaurants.

That model has broken down in recent years, as many department stores are now fighting for their lives. Lord & Taylor also filed for bankruptcy early this month, while Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. filed in May. Nordstrom Inc. closed 16 stores in recent months.

Their big-box spaces are typically more than 100,000 square feet and often span more than one level. Smaller mall tenants have counted on traffic to department stores to spill over to neighboring retailers, and many have clauses that allow them to reduce rents or break their leases if the department store stays empty.

Having an Amazon fulfillment center could still trigger some of these cotenancy clauses, but some landlords say even that scenario would be preferable to keeping that yawning space vacant.

. . . .

Amazon fulfillment centers wouldn’t draw much additional foot traffic to the mall, though some employees could eat and shop at the mall. That is why landlords have preferred to replace department stores with other retailers, gyms, theaters or entertainment operators. Yet many of these tenants are struggling to survive during the pandemic and aren’t in expansion mode.

Simon would likely rent the space at a considerable discount to what it could charge another retailer. Warehouse rents are typically less than $10 a square foot, while restaurant rents can be multiples of that. Depending on when the leases were signed and their locations, department-store rents can be as low as $4 a square foot or as high as $19 a square foot.

But Amazon’s growth and healthy balance sheet would make it a reliable tenant at a time when most retail business has been waylaid by the pandemic. Simon, which owns 204 properties in the U.S., has had to contend with a ramp-up in retail tenant closures in recent years that has accelerated during Covid-19.

. . . .

Malls’ strategic locations often make them attractive as distribution hubs. Many are near main highways and residences. Amazon has already acquired the sites of some failed malls and converted them to fulfillment centers. FedEx Corp. and DHL International GmbH have done the same.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

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The Nothing Man https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-nothing-man/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nothing-man https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-nothing-man/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2020 12:35:08 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125377 Read more]]> It has been some time since PG has paid any attention to a book trailer. When they first became a thing, he watched a few. They were pretty terrible, so he stopped.

He happened across the book trailer below and saw distinct improvements over prior efforts. That said, he still doesn’t know if they sell any books, but would be happy to read opinions on the topic in the comments.

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There is only one difference https://www.thepassivevoice.com/there-is-only-one-difference/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=there-is-only-one-difference https://www.thepassivevoice.com/there-is-only-one-difference/#respond Sun, 09 Aug 2020 20:04:40 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125356

There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.

Charlotte Brontë ]]>
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The Brontës: the unfortunate and unlikely tale of the world’s “greatest literary sisters” https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-brontes-the-unfortunate-and-unlikely-tale-of-the-worlds-greatest-literary-sisters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-brontes-the-unfortunate-and-unlikely-tale-of-the-worlds-greatest-literary-sisters https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-brontes-the-unfortunate-and-unlikely-tale-of-the-worlds-greatest-literary-sisters/#respond Sun, 09 Aug 2020 20:01:30 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125352 Read more]]> From History Extra:

Charlotte Brontë steps into her father’s study. In her hand, she holds a book – a hardback volume bound in cloth, with the words ‘Jane Eyre’ stamped on the cover. “Papa, I’ve been writing a book,” she announces, rather understating the true matter of her achievement. In fact, her novel is completed, published, and is selling at almost record speed. “Have you my dear?” the unsuspecting Reverend Patrick Brontë replies, without looking up. As Charlotte continues, the clergyman slowly realises that his daughter has become a literary sensation, in secret, right under his nose. After some time, Patrick calls in Charlotte’s younger sisters, Emily and Anne: “Charlotte has been writing a book – and I think it is better than I expected.” It is good that he approves of Charlotte’s tale, because he’s about to learn that his other daughters have similar stories to tell…

This conversation, recounted by Patrick years later to Charlotte’s first biographer, occurred at the beginning of 1848. It was a tumultuous year for the Brontës, with glorious highs and tragic lows. But at this point, the Brontë women were happy, little knowing that they were on the brink of legendary – if short-lived – careers. They have since become famed the world over for their intense, dramatic and tragic novels, for which they had plenty of inspiration in their own lives…

. . . .

The tragedies started early for the Brontës. In 1821, when Charlotte was five, Emily was three and Anne was not yet two, they lost their mother to illness. Four years after that, their two eldest sisters both died of tuberculosis in as many months. Five Brontës remained: their father Patrick, an Irish-born, Cambridge-educated vicar, the girls, and their brother Branwell, who was a year younger than Charlotte. Their mother’s sister, Aunt Branwell, also lived with them in the parsonage of the industrial town of Haworth, Yorkshire. The unassuming grey-stone building, in its bleak setting between a graveyard and the vast expanse of the moors, became a much-loved home, to which the sisters always felt a painful pull.

. . . .

Over the next few years, the sisters took up various, generally short-lived, teaching positions. “All three girls hated being teachers and governesses,” says Barker, largely as “they couldn’t spare the time to write about their imaginary worlds, and Charlotte in particular resented the servility of the position.” Anne was the only one to maintain a long-term post, as governess to the Robinson family from 1840-45. Shortly after Anne joined the Robinsons, Charlotte spearheaded a scheme to open their own school. For this they needed a more sophisticated education so, in February 1842, Charlotte (aged 25) and Emily (23), went to a school in Brussels.

. . . .

They pushed through their homesickness to make the most of the opportunity, only returning at the end of 1842 after Aunt Branwell died. Afterwards, Charlotte returned to Brussels alone. She became forlorn and depressed, and also fell in love with her tutor. The painfully one-sided attachment would continue long after she left Brussels at the end of 1843. Back in Haworth, lovelorn Charlotte set about sourcing pupils for the school, but none were found and the entire dream was dropped, with surprisingly little regret.

. . . .

In autumn 1845, Charlotte found some of Emily’s poems and read them, uninvited. Emily was enraged by the intrusion, but the incident gave head-strong Charlotte an idea – if the sisters could gather a collection of poems, they might be able to publish in secret and, if successful, they could become professional writers. They would never have to teach again, nor would they have to worry so much about Branwell’s ability to provide. After calming Emily, Charlotte, who as Barker explains “was the only one ambitious for fame,” convinced her sisters of the plan.

Link to the rest at History Extra

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“The strongest digital sales performance in years” – HarperCollins. “Robust growth in digital formats” – Hachette https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-strongest-digital-sales-performance-in-years-harpercollins-robust-growth-in-digital-formats-hachette/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-strongest-digital-sales-performance-in-years-harpercollins-robust-growth-in-digital-formats-hachette https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-strongest-digital-sales-performance-in-years-harpercollins-robust-growth-in-digital-formats-hachette/#comments Sun, 09 Aug 2020 19:44:32 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125350 Read more]]> From The New Publishing Standard:

The HarperCollins fiscal year runs to June 30, and this year fiscal Q4 (2020 Q2) saw a 3% drop in revenue from $419 million to $407 million. But profits were up 9%, to $47 million. As reported by parent company News Corp, for the full fiscal year revenue of $1.67 billion was down 5% on 2019, with profits down 15% to $214 million.

Bookstore closures of course played a role, but News Corp CFO Susan Panuccio reported a strong showing from the ebook and audiobook sector, describing it as “the strongest digital sale performance in years”, that helped offset the bookstore closures.

Compared to the same period 2019, digital sales were up 26%, with ebook performing best with a 31% rise, while audiobooks rose 17%. Together the two digital sectors made up 29% of HarperCollins revenue in Q2 2020.

. . . .

Meanwhile Hachette UK’s H2 2020 performance has been described as “sterling” by parent company Lagardère, with revenue down only 2.8% despite the  severe UK lockdown, with Hachette UK CEO David Shelley adding it was an “extremely strong” performance.

. . . .

Lagardère added that Hachette UK had seen,

robust growth in digital formats.

. . . .

The US by contrast performed well in difficult circumstance, leading Lagardère to observe the English language markets had better digital and e-commerce infrastructure.

. . . .

“Fast-paced growth in digital formats” also got a mention, with ebooks totalling 10.6% of Lagardère Publishing’s H2 2020 revenue, up from 8.2% in first-half 2019, with digital audio accounting for 5.3% of revenue, up from 3.4% in same period 2019.

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

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Self-Publishing Is a Gamble. Why Is Donald Trump Jr. Doing It? https://www.thepassivevoice.com/self-publishing-is-a-gamble-why-is-donald-trump-jr-doing-it/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=self-publishing-is-a-gamble-why-is-donald-trump-jr-doing-it https://www.thepassivevoice.com/self-publishing-is-a-gamble-why-is-donald-trump-jr-doing-it/#comments Sat, 08 Aug 2020 21:46:50 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125335 Read more]]> From The New York Times:

There is a lot about Donald Trump Jr.’s second book that is unusual.

One of his father’s most effective surrogates, Donald Trump Jr. plans to release “Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible” in early September, during the final fevered weeks of the presidential campaign. His last book sold well. The Republican National Committee can use the new one for fund-raising, as it did with the last.

His plans to self-publish, however, along with the book’s unconventional rollout and distribution plan, make it something of a curiosity in publishing circles.

“It’s a risk,” said Jane Dystel, a literary agent. “And it’s your time.”

Mr. Trump’s first book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” was published last November. It has sold 286,000 copies, according to NPD BookScan, and is still selling steadily. But when the coronavirus pandemic grounded him in New York in March, he decided to write another.

. . . .

Center Street, an imprint of Hachette, published his first book, and it made an offer on the second one. Mr. Trump turned it down.

There are a few key differences between going through a traditional publishing house and doing it yourself. One of the big ones is money. Authors who sign with a publisher typically receive an advance payment before the book goes on sale, then about 10 to 15 percent of hardcover sales after they earn back their advance. If the book is self-published, there is no advance but an author can generally walk away with anywhere from 35 percent to as much as 70 percent of the sales. Because Mr. Trump has his own platform — and the promise of bulk purchases from the R.N.C. — he doesn’t need the publicity arm of a major publisher.

. . . .

But those big percentages don’t factor in expenses, which add up quickly. There are lawyers to pay, printed copies that need to be delivered to stores and warehouses, book jackets that need to be designed. There are fussy little details, like registering an ISBN number, filing for copyright, proofreading and more proofreading. Indeed, a typo on the cover of “Liberal Privilege” when Mr. Trump first posted it on Twitter was met with see-how-it-goes-without-us giggles in much of the publishing world. (That typo, an errant apostrophe, has been fixed, but another remained on his personal website this week, after a quote about the book from “Laura Ingraham, Host of The Ingram Angle.”)

So writing and releasing a book on your own is not only a gamble, it is also an unwieldy, complicated project, which is why the biggest-name authors generally don’t bother to do it.

One thing that is guaranteed when self-publishing is greater autonomy. While there’s no reason to think Mr. Trump was held back when he wrote “Triggered,” self-published authors hire their editors and can fire them if they don’t like their advice. This time, Mr. Trump can say truly whatever he wants.

. . . .

The R.N.C. said it raised nearly $1 million from signed copies of “Triggered.” The book was a New York Times No. 1 best seller last year, but it appeared on the list with a dagger symbol next to it, signifying that bulk sales — which came from the R.N.C. and other conservative groups — helped to boost its ranking. The R.N.C. said it has bought several thousand copies of “Liberal Privilege” so far and plans to buy more on a rolling basis.

“Don Jr.’s first book was a fund-raising powerhouse for the party, and we have no doubt this book will be the same,” Mandi Merritt, the press secretary for the R.N.C., said in an email.

Unlike Mr. Hannity’s book, “Liberal Privilege” will not be in bookstores. A person with knowledge of the project said that it will be $29.99 on Mr. Trump’s website, where presales are being handled, and on Amazon, along with an e-book and an audiobook narrated by Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior campaign adviser and Mr. Trump’s girlfriend. It’s unclear if any major retailers will carry the book, though managers at some traditional distribution channels said last week that they hadn’t heard anything about it.

. . . .

Another unusual aspect of the book is Mr. Trump’s collaborator, Sergio Gor, who has acted as his literary agent, consulted on the content of the book and has overseen the team managing everything from the editing to the print run.

. . . .

“It’s a big job to self-publish,” Ms. Dystel, the literary agent, said, “and it takes your attention away from other things.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Big Shot Publishers? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot Publishers!

Big Shot Agent? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot Agent!

Big Shot Barnes & Noble? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot Barnes & Noble!

Big Shot New York Times? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot New York Times, but thanks anyway for the giant sales boost from your snarky article!

Do-it Yourself takes your Attention?

No Attention paid to Big Shot Agent, No Attention paid to Big Shot Publisher, No Attention paid to Big Shot Barnes & Noble, No Attention paid to Big Shot New York Times.

My Attention? Getting the book out the door and into the hands of a zillion readers!

Big Job to self-publish?

Big Shot Agent, Big Shot Publisher, Big Shot Barnes & Noble and Big Shot New York Times? That’s your Really Big Job!

Big Publisher, Big Shot Agent, Wait until Barnes & Noble gets copies out to all its stores, New York Times article? Impossible Job before November if your name is Trump?

Ya think?

Do-it Yourself is the Ultimate Big Cinch!

Plus Big Fast is Amazon’s middle name!

Anybody going to be dumb enough to use Big Shot Publisher for election-year written book ever again?

There’s your Big Gamble!

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How This Bookseller Got a Spanx Grant https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-this-bookseller-got-a-spanx-grant/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-this-bookseller-got-a-spanx-grant https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-this-bookseller-got-a-spanx-grant/#respond Sat, 08 Aug 2020 20:49:11 +0000 https://www.thepassivevoice.com/?p=125333 Read more]]> From Publishers Weekly:

Traveling though Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in 2017, on our way to our son’s wedding in the San Juan Islands, I say to my husband, “I have to stop here to buy a Spanx.”

“What’s a Spanx?” Ben asks.

“It’s like a girdle,” I tell him.

In my bag is a slim, silk, azure blue dress to wear, but my boobs are too small to cover my middle-aged stomach. Without trying anything on I buy a couple pairs of underwear and a body suit. Who knew I would wear that Eileen Fisher dress and feel so good, and that three years later Spanx would come to my stores’ aid?

With the onset of the pandemic in March, life in my bookstore changed overnight. Bookstores did not make the list of “essential businesses.” I contacted the state to ask that Connecticut bookstores remain nonessential, but be permitted to continue selling books with the doors locked and minimal staff for curbside pickup, shipping, and delivery. With the state’s okay, two managers, our new bookkeeper, and the event coordinator remained. Over 30 staff were furloughed.

First quarter in New England is habitually slow. This year, we owed thousands of dollars to our vendors. We asked publishers to hold shipments and cancel all forthcoming orders for spring and summer. A few other booksellers and I wrote a letter to the five major publishers in New York with a list of asks: better terms, longer dating on invoices, forgiveness of debt, and much more.

. . . .

Conversations with my bookkeeper were tough. She didn’t see how we were going to make it through this. Neither did I. I googled how to declare bankruptcy. I have two bookstores. What would I do if we could save one store and not the other? Which one would we save?

We needed every cent we could find to make it through this crisis.

. . . .

I was negotiating rent with our Mystic landlords in April, and one of them told me about a grant that the founder of Spanx was offering. Sara Blakely, who’d started Spanx with $5,000 in savings, was offering 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to women-owned businesses through the Red Backpack Fund. We applied. Why not? When we received an email saying that we’d been awarded a $5,000 grant, I was overwhelmed. The money came, along with a red Herschel backpack that will make me smile each time it sits on my back.

The world now looks a little brighter. If I miss my walk or take a shorter one, I still feel okay. The salt water is now warm enough to swim. Zoom calls with other bookstore owners in Wichita, Kans.; South Hadley, Mass.; New York; and San Francisco keep us all going.

We are in business. 

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

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