Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Seems Traditional Publishers Are the REAL Vanity Publishers

Vanity prevents admitting decline of traditional publishing industry

The main question popping out of Books Expo America (BEA) 2013, just held 5/29/13 thru 6/1/13 in New York, was ‘What in the world were the participants smoking?’ — Surely they had gotten their hands on some quality weed and inhaled it into the deepest innards of their beings.

From there they all seemed to enter a never-never land and were issued rose-colored glasses!

According to some of the keynoters and other presenters, ALL is just hunky-dory in traditional publishing! After all, they made it through another year and this assures their survival, right?

Talk about vanity — Thus traditional publishers are becoming known as ‘vanity’ publishers.

A librarian, attending BEA from Pennsylvania, broke the great news that “Publishing is not dead.” Meaning the old TP business model of publishing is not dead — Now, as noted by NYT best-selling author, Michael Levin, a little later on in this post: ‘How in the hell would a librarian know if publishing was dead or not?’

Even when the big traditional publishers were at the top of their game, and the only player in the playground, they failed miserably at fulfilling what a lot of idealistic daydreamers thought or wanted to believe their noble cause was — mainly to discover, nurture and mentor new talent, as well as make money.

TP’s lost their way when they started putting the almighty buck and profit margins ahead of being the true gatekeepers that discovered and curated new artistic literature and culture. I now sometimes doubt that traditional publishing EVER had this as their true goal and was ALWAYS a hard-nosed money grabbing endeavor.

At any rate, when they ditched the noble-cause-clothes (if, indeed, they ever wore them) and donned the money-grabber garb, the only thing they had left of true value for new writers was the double shot of  marketing and distribution — and that was wrested from them by independent publishing!

I was so taken by author Michael Levin’s style and comic relief approach to this subject that I just had to pass it along :

Posted by Michael Levin in Huffington Post’s Blog:

In New York, The Real Vanity Publishers Converge

I haven’t had a drink or smoked pot in more than two decades, but I am more than willing to toss away my sobriety if the publishers who gathered at BookExpo America last week would share with me some of the high quality ganja they were undoubtedly passing around.

They think that just because they’ve made it through another year, that their ongoing survival is somehow assured.


If you sell enough fiction, maybe you start believing in it.

The reality is that bookstores are disappearing. That book readers are finding other things to do with their time and money. That independent publishing has stolen the raison d’etre of major publishing houses, who have lost their twin hammerlocks on the marketing and distribution of books.

New York publishers also continue to undermine the value of books by publishing mediocre books by mediocre authors who have large social media followings and therefore permit lazy publishers to publish books without needing to make the effort to market them.

This is a market strategy known as trying to fool all of the people all of the time.
It was last applied, with equal success, to the Edsel and more recently, to New Coke.

The New York Times, of course, treats Book Expo America with the solemnity due Puxatawnie Phil on Groundhog Day. It quoted such worthies as a librarian at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to the effect that “Publishing is not dead.” With no disrespect intended to the librarians of Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who are undoubtedly masters of the card catalog, the Dewey Decimal System, and shushing, how the hell would they know whether publishing was dead or not?

Read and learn more

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Independent Publishing Using Crowd Source Funding

Crowd Source-Funding Can Be Colorful

A good example of how crowd source funding can work — along with an excellent crowd funding site resource: Kickstarter.

These things are discussed by author/educator Joseph Gutiz by using his own recent crowd source funding experience:  

By Joseph Gutiz in press release through Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch: 

How Crowd Funding has Transformed the Publishing Landscape Through Hybrid Advances

New Trends in Publishing Lead a California Educator to Offer Pre-Orders of His Inner-City Children’s Book

New Trends in Publishing lead a California educator, Joseph Gutiz, to seek help in funding by offering pre-orders of his humorous, anti-bullying, and pro sports children’s book through the reward filled crowd-funding site, Kickstarter.

Joseph Gutiz, Author/Independent publisher ( ), also a California educator for the past twelve years, and a professional photographer for the past three years ( ), understands first hand what children deal with on a daily basis. Joseph Gutiz, who writes and publishes under this pseudo name, recently launched the book project entitled “The Adventures of Chubby Cheeks: The Pro Quest,” which balances many issues children face nowadays, such as bullying, financial hardships, and common middle school dilemmas, all while they pursue their dream of becoming skateboarding pros without compromising good humor.

The book is set in the world-renowned Skateboarding city of Venice Beach, CA. Which has been a mecca for new trends like skateboarding, body building, street art to name a few. Joseph now wants to be the next Jeff Kinney in order to bring more awareness to the various common issues that plague our youth of today. He thinks that the book will do well by offering diverse characters in a well-plotted story line in order to capture the age group that he has written for (8-14).

Here are just a few of these assorted characters: a bullied chubby cheeked boy and his wimpy African-American sidekick set out on a Pro Quest to become pros at everything they do, along with a skateboarding bulldog, a blue jay, and a daring Caucasian skater girl. As they start their quest, they encounter thrills, mishaps and everyday inner-city childhood adventures along the way.

Read and learn more 

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More Than Just a Publisher

A great teacher and publisher with a mission in far off India has moved on to higher rewards.

Professor P. Lal fostered a vibrant literary movement in India in the late 1950’s that has grown into a gateway for new Indian writers and translated many great classical Indian works into the English language…He almost single-handedly spurred ‘new age writers of an emerging India to the global literary centrestage…’

P. Lal passed away on Nov 3 at age 81…But, not before leaving a giant footprint.

This from Sify India News:

P. Lal’s demise marks end of an era in publishing

Every year at the Kolkata Book Fair, a gaggle of literary eager-beavers scouting for a door to the literary world would clutch their maiden published volume of poetry or prose bound in trademark red, white or beige cloth with an embroidered stripe running across the length of the jacket.

The cover textiles were sourced from Orissa saris and the title often calligraphed by hand. The design was distinctive and decidedly Indian. The ethnic cover of their books gave them away.

The youngsters’ were part of a vibrant literary movement triggered by Writers’ Workshop – an avant garde Kolkata-based private publishing house. And the man behind the publishing movement, which began in the late 1950s, was Professor Purushottam Lal, who passed away at the age of 81 in Kolkata on Nov 3.

He was a man with a mission – to pitchfork new age writers of an emerging India to the global literary centrestage and translate classical Indian language writing into English.

Some of the Writers’ Workshop beneficiaries – to name a few – are Vikram Seth, Anita Desai, Shasthibrata Chakravarti, Buddhadev Bose, Jayanta Mahapatra and Keki Daruwalla.

The publishing house has 3,500 titles of poetry, novels and drama to its credit till date.

Read and learn more


Will New Thriller Make Indian Publishing History?

India is hungry for fiction writers! Apparently a big market has developed in India and they are eagarly seeking more commercial thriller fiction writers!

Have a good fiction thriller manuscript laying around? Send it to HarperCollins-India…

This plucked from IANS (Indo-Asian News Service):

The yet-to-be released thriller ‘Johnny Gone Down’ by Karan Bajaj is set to make publishing history with a first print run of 50,000 books, billed as one of the biggest ever in India for a work of fiction.

The thriller will be published by HarperCollins-India at an affordable price of Rs.99. ‘It is the first time HarperCollins-India is aiming to achieve nearly 100,000 copies in a year with the first print run of 50,000 for an Indian author at such an attractive price,’ Lipika Bhushan, head of marketing at HarperCollins-India, told IANS.

The book narrates the racy tale of 40-year-old Ivy League scholar, Nikhil Arya (aka Johnny), who is broke, homeless and minutes away from blowing his brains. An innocent vacation turns into an intercontinental journey that sees Nikhil first become a genocide survivor, then a Buddhist monk, a drug lord, a homeless accountant, a software mogul and a game fighter.

Bajaj is also the author of ‘Keep off the Grass’. His new book is also being used by the publishing house as a brand emblem to promote mass market commercial fiction and thrillers with a multi-pronged publicity campaign, sources said.

A source at HarperCollins said: ‘The publishing house was promoting commercial mass market fiction this year. It is a genre we have been promoting over the last couple of years very aggressively.’

‘Books such as ‘Almost Single’, ‘The Zoya Factor’, ‘Bombay Rains’ and ‘Keep off the Grass’, ‘Married But Available’, ‘Secrets and Lies’, and very recently ‘Keep the Change Year After Year’ have been a series of titles from Indian authors for the Indian audience that end up doing big numbers,’ Bhushan said.

The publisher is using the book as a ‘brand symbol’ for the genre of commercial thriller that is beginning to come of age in India with a new crop of young writers, who are fusing western classical thriller models with ‘desi’ sensibilities, sources at HarperCollins said.

The publishing house had earlier mounted a similar publicity blitz for Sam Bourne’s thrillers in India.

‘As Johnny, the protagonist, is an interesting character, the marketing drive is to get readers inquisitive about Johnny with a ‘Who is Johnny Campaign’. The USP of the campaign that will roll out in the next two weeks will comprise a mix of great price point, quality content, advertising (all media) and retail level promotions, events, and heavy online promotion,’ Bhushan said.

Author Bajaj said the novel was a ‘deeper darker Forest Gump-ish adventure’.

‘It relates the almost bizarre, almost surreal series of events that transform a pretty ordinary NASA scientist into a genocide survivor, then a Buddhist monk, a drug lord, a homeless accountant, software mogul and then a game fighter,’ the writer told IANS.

Bajaj said he was inspired by both films and literature.

‘I was influenced as much by the dark, gritty mood of films like ‘Oldboy’, ‘The Deer Hunter’ and ‘Amores Perros’ as by the incredible journey of ‘Forrest Gump’ (which is one of my favourite novels and a mighty decent film as well) and the surreal adventures of Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the Buddhist detective-protagonist of John Burdett’s Bangkok novels, ‘Bangkok 8’, ‘Bangkok Tattoo’ and ‘Bangkok Haunts’,’ he said.

For a book summary: ‘Johnny Gone Down’

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