Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/22/2014

The Many Micro and Mega-Aggressions of the Publishing Industry


enhanced-26531-1397235923-1My research of author (AND musician, composer, director, teacher, mentor – among many other things), Daniel Jose Older, revealed an insightful, energetic, multi-talented, compassionate and passionate individual. When I stumbled upon him I was numbed into a trance-like state and couldn’t stop reading about him.

He has written a thought-provoking piece, culled from his memory and experiences during his journey with and through the publishing industry.

“A young writer that I mentor reached out to me last week. “None of these agents look like me,” she said, “and they don’t represent anyone that looks like me.” She’s wrapping up a final draft of her first novel and I’d told her to research literary agencies to get a feel for what’s out there. “What if they don’t get what I’m doing?”

I thought back over the many interactions I’d had with agents – all but two of them white – before I landed with mine. The ones that said they loved my writing but didn’t connect with the character, the ones that didn’t think my book would be marketable even though it was already accepted at a major publishing house. Thought about the ones that wanted me to delete moments when a character of color gets mean looks from white people because “that doesn’t happen anymore” and the white magazine editor who lectured me on how I’d gotten my own culture wrong. My friends all have the same stories of whitewashed covers and constant sparring with the many micro and mega-aggressions of the publishing industry.

“I don’t know,” I said. Useless words, but it was all I had in that moment. I don’t. There are so many paths to success, so many meanings of the concept, and race and power complicate the equation infinitely. It’s not enough for writers of color to learn craft, we need to navigate the impossible waters of an unwelcoming industry. I flailed for words that would prepare her for all that lay ahead; none came.”

— Daniel Jose Older

 

And you thought YOU had a hard time in the publishing clusterfuck🙂 Getting your writing published is hard enough with all the unnecessary, man-made, intrinsic roadblocks – they didn’t need to add one’s skin color to the already dastardly milieu.

— John R. Austin

 

Read this unique and heartfelt publishing experience  by Daniel Jose Older, published in BuzzFeed:

 

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing 

 

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09/01/2013

Seems the Public has Always Been a Mystery to the Publishing Industry


What do they REALLY want to read?

What do they REALLY want to read?

And that’s why traditional publishing (TP) is being forced to change — AND why, even though they’ve made millions in the past, they probably left many millions MORE on the table!

 

The fresh air being breathed into the publishing industry through technology and self-publishing has writers and readers walking on air with anticipation of accessing “on demand” content for an infinite number of hybrid niches that were considered ‘unacceptable’ or ‘unmarketable’ in the past by TP.

Targeted excerpts from tonight’s feature resource: 

“Andrew Crofts – whose latest book, Secrets of the Italian Gardener, was optioned for film rights via Wattpad, even before it was published – is buoyant about the fresh air that is being breathed into publishing. “Before you were helpless as a writer; there was an awful despondency. The business people had convinced us that if a book does not make business sense, it’s not good art. Now the writers are back in control. We are working more like the artist.” 

“In 1917 Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard unpacked a small printing press in the front room of their home. They set up the Hogarth Press to enable them to print small volumes of books that “the commercial publisher would not look at”. The Hogarth Press gave the writers of the Bloomsbury circle, which included T.S. Eliot and E.M. Forster, the freedom to write what they wanted, rather than write what established publishers judged sellable.”

“I am a refugee from traditional publishing,” says Orna Ross who had two novels published by Penguin, before becoming a self-published author and founding the Alliance of Independent Authors. “The trade pinkified my writing (pigeonholed it in the Chick-Lit genre) and sold my books to supermarkets. It left me feeling empty. I chose to self publish because it gives me creative freedom.”

“Writers can now sell direct to readers, who armed with their Kindles, iPads and all manner of e-readers, can decide what rises into the bestseller charts. Readers are the new tastemakers and gatekeepers. During the week 22-27 July 2013 (and most weeks), four out of the top 20 titles on The New York Times e-book Bestseller list were self-published.”

I KNOW you’re just dying to read the rest of this intensely, insightful feature resource that will tie all the above excerpts together while providing some great inside numbers, links and an informative video — To continue go to the title linked below:

 

Self Publishing: Here To Stay?

 

 

 

06/19/2013

A Little Publishing Exposé – All is Not What We’ve Been Taught


I’m so SHOCKED I pooped  my pants!!

Many realize that the history of publishing, especially book publishing, is fraught with ‘black-eyes’ and ‘skeletons-in-the-closet’ — But, I suspect, many are not and are working merrily along enamored with some dreamy, fairy tale, noble-intentioned ideas of the beginning missions and goals of this vaulted literary industry.

North America and Europe have actually revised the book publishing industry history the most, I believe, mostly through omission — leaving out certain facts that would give credit to other countries such as China and Korea.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love and respect our publishing industry (after all – it’s the only one we’ve got), but, it’s sometimes a little fun while being pragmatic, to set the record straight — or is it a little bit crooked?

Most Westerners were taught that Gutenberg invented the first printing press and movable type in Germany around 1450 AD or so.

NOT SO 🙂

Actually, printing reared it’s baby head in China during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) with the use of woodblock printing on cloth and later on paper in Tang China as early as the 7th century, and continued with the invention of wooden movable type by East Asian artisans in Song China by the 11th century. Movable metal type was developed in Korea around 1041.

Probably many, many self-publishers at this time, you think?

More on Johannes Gutenberg, himself. Gutenberg was a businessman (dabbling in Goldsmithing and Blacksmithing besides printing and publishing)  as much as he was an “artist” – and possibly much more interested in business than art. Unfortunately he was not an astute businessman and was bankrupt  by 1455.

The book publishing trade today is very commercial in nature and definitely a descendant of those earliest times. So don’t look for any breaks or mentoring or even justice — Just develop a super thick skin, psyche and tons of perseverance *!@#%+

 

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01/30/2013

A-List Author Ditching Traditional Publishing and Embracing the Amazon Model – Some Insights


Traditional Publishing Getting Dumped

Lately, more and more A-list authors are bypassing traditional publishers and self-publishing through various e-book venues.

Why ?

Some, I imagine, go indie because it’s there and they just want to try. Others jump on the self-publishing band wagon to have more freedom and control and still others like the higher margin (even though it’s a higher margin of a cheaper price — think ‘volume’ here).

Tim Ferriss, A-list author of the  4-Hour Workweek and 4-Hour Body  AND the subject of tonight’s post, gives great insight into other reasons why established authors are dumping TPs for digital-publishing through the Amazon platform — like the detailed data intelligence (analytics) provided (who’s buying the ebook & sites driving the most sales, etc) — data never provided by TPs. This is info that can help authors market their own books better and tell them what countries in the world they might possibly want to direct their next project/s. Global marketing here we come !

This Tim Ferriss interview from Business Insider by Dylan Love:

Why One Insanely Successful Author Ditched Traditional Publishers And Went With  Amazon Instead

Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur, lifestyle hacker, and author who writes about  how to optimize aspects of your life.

His newest book is 4-Hour Chef, and while  there are plenty of recipes in it, it’s actually about about how to maximize  your learning ability. Ferriss teaches the reader the techniques he used to go  from being indifferent towards cooking to becoming a kitchen warrior.

Ferriss’ previous books, 4-Hour  Workweek and 4-Hour  Body, were released through conventional publishers, but he’s one of a  growing number of A-list authors opting to go with Amazon’s publishing model  instead.

We conducted a brief email interview with Ferriss to get his thoughts on  where books and publishing are heading, and here are some of the highlights on  what he had to say:

  • Publishers need to behave more like talent agencies or venture capital  firms to survive.
  • Despite being boycotted by Barnes & Noble,  he doesn’t regret his decision to publish through an Amazon property.
  • E-books are a net positive for the publishing industry.

Here’s the full Q&A:

BUSINESS INSIDER: How does the experience of releasing 4-Hour Chef  through Amazon compare to releasing your other books through more conventional  publishers?

TIM FERRISS:  I was penalized for the bestseller lists  (due to the Barnes and Noble boycott, etc.), but I was able to get incredible  Amazon on-site promotion and data intelligence.  Wondering who’s buying  your books, where, and which sites are driving the most Real converting traffic  to your book page?  I have that insight now, which I never had  before.  It’s been extremely cool and will inform everything I do in the  future.

Read and learn more

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01/14/2013

Writing, Like Art, Is Very Subjective


Writing, like art, is subjective

Writing, like art, is subjective

Well of course it is — since writing is art — in this writers opinion.

I’m writing on this subject tonight because of a comment a friend and colleague wrote in response to a post (excerpt provided below) I posted on my Writers Welcome Blog yesterday:

“I guess I’m the eternal idealist because I feel the content (quality of, likability, timeliness, entertainment value, etc.) should drive the cost of books, in whatever format, and not just the manufacturing and distribution costs (or lack of) — which so many are using to justify why e-books should be cheaper than their  printed counterparts.” — John Austin

He responded and said something to the effect that I was referring to content being driven by subjective values like “likeability” “entertainment value” and he didn’t see how that was remotely possible because different people like and/or are entertained by different things.

I thought that the following very entertaining piece by Keli Goff in HuffPost would be of interest to him and many others as it delves more deeply into this subjective (?) subject:

Does Lena Dunham Prove Writers Are as Toxic as Investment Bankers?

Despite the romanticized images portrayed in film, television, and of course books, being a writer actually means spending most of your time doing one of six things: writing, thinking about what you want to write, thinking about what you actually have to write to make money, chasing payment for what you have written, agonizing over the fact that another writer is possibly being paid more than you are for his writing and, obsessing over whether that writer is more, or less, talented and deserving of said payment than you are.

This means that thanks to her multi-million dollar book advance, not to mention her hit television show Girls, (which just began its second season), Lena Dunham has driven plenty of writers to a level of resentment bordering on mania that makes Salieri, the mediocre composer driven to an insane asylum by the not-at-all mediocre talents of Mozart in the film Amadeus, look sane by comparison.

Even though writers and artists are generally thought of as the emotional and temperamental opposites of those who inhibit hyper competitive fields like professional sports, law or investment banking (which is so competitive studies have deemed it physically unhealthy), the truth is plenty of artists are even more competitive. After all, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tennis player ranked number 10 in the world complain in interviews about how incredibly overrated that Roger Federer is. Of all of the lawyers I’ve met, I can’t think of one who’s talked my ear off about how insane it is that another attorney with celebrity clients is pulling in a ridiculously unfair hourly rate. Yet these kinds of conversations consume writers. I’ve had them with writer friends. They’ve had them with other friends. We’ve all had them with our agents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, or parents. And many have had even more of those conversations in the last year, and a lot of that has to do with the success of Lena Dunham.

A google search of “I hate Lena Dunham” now produces more than a million results, (summarized here) which is quite a lot for someone who entered the public consciousness less than a year ago. The question is why? I asked a mental health expert. Dr. Jeff Gardere, said in his experience professional jealousy among writers, and other people in the arts and entertainment can be more common than in other professions, because the same traits, and ego, that attract people to fields in which their work will be the center of attention are the same traits that drive someone to intense competitiveness that can manifest as professional jealousy. (Ouch. But, hey, this writer did ask.)

Now before the eye rolling and angry comments from my writer colleagues begin, I want to be clear: not every person who is a critic of Lena Dunham is jealous. But the level of vitriol she has inspired in some corners signals that there is more to the story than some simply not agreeing her talents are up there with Tolstoy — and Dunham is not the only writer to inspire such reaction.

When literary wunderkind Jonah Lehrer’s career imploded the undertone of glee with which some in the media seemed to be celebrating was palpable. For some it wasn’t just celebrating, but a sense of relief, like a baseball player learning that his teammate who was breaking records, while he was stuck hitting singles, had actually been using steroids. (At the height of the Lehrer scandal writer Jonathan Shainin tweeted: “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice knows that he’s actually in the schadenfreude business.”)

Danielle Belton, a former print journalist who launched a successful career as a blogger before transitioning to television as head writer for the BET talk show Don’t Sleep, with T.J. Holmes said of professional jealousy among writers, “A lot of this stems from what measures a ‘good’ writer is really rather abstract… Writing isn’t like sports. It’s very subjective, like art.” Belton went on to note that because the definition of what constitutes great writing (and other art) is essentially indefinable, writers will always resent certain writers who receive more critical acclaim or financial success because no matter what others may say, that writer might consider his or her peer less talented than he is. To her point, even his competitors who loathe him (I’m looking at you Isiah Thomas) can’t say Michael Jordan had no talent. His professional record beating them speaks for itself. But there is some writer out there who is convinced Ernest Hemingway was a hack and Mark Twain was an amateur.

As a black woman who has written about diversity in the media and entertainment, I am certainly sensitive to legitimate criticism of Dunham’s work, particularly the lack of cast diversity in the first season of Girls. (Something Dunham herself appears to have discovered a newfound sensitivity about as well since she is attempting to remedy that this season.) But the most vocal criticism of Dunham has boiled down to this: Dunham is from a privileged background (she is) and the cast is comprised of other people from privileged backgrounds (they are.)

The thinking goes: privilege is the only reason she got a show in the first place. Oh and by the way her book advance is too big.

Read and learn more

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10/11/2012

What is a Global Publishing System ?


Harper Collins is going to implement such a grand system — and goes into the generalities in the following reference — BUT, the details that would tell us just how this system would deliver the touted results are conspicuously absent, as far as I am concerned.

You tell me.

You know, sometimes I feel the older I get the dumber I get — That’s why I need things explained to me like in the ‘Blah Blah For Dummies’ series 🙂  

Excerpt: “It is our responsibility to provide our authors with the broadest possible reach through our global print and digital publishing platforms, regardless of where their books originate and what format they take,” said Larry Nevins, Executive Vice-President, Operations. 

This offered in Publishers Weekly:

Harper To Implement Global Publishing System

Harper Collins is to roll out a new global publishing system, which it claims is “one of the largest undertakings of its kind to be implemented by a trade publisher.”

Developed in partnership with Publishing Technology and built on its advance platform, Global Product Manager will enable the unifying of editorial, marketing and business data around the world, widening the reach of HC’s print and digital publications in its core target markets. By integrating systems and assets across the globe, the new system will provide the company with the long-term infrastructure needed to maximize its extensive catalogue of books, ebooks and apps, empowering HC staff to explore current and future content delivery types and business models, while enabling better metadata management to improve discoverability.

The system will be rolled out first in the US, followed by the UK and subsequently Canada and Australia, as well as to the Christian Publishing Division through 2013.

Read and learn more

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09/19/2011

04/19/2011

Publishing Doomed? Nah, Just Growing…


Growing a New Publishing Tree

Throughout the history of publishing, every time something new (the printing press, paperbacks, chain bookstores, mergers, etc) had the audacity to trip upon the scene, the naysayers always blurted out ‘oh no, this will doom publishing!’

Turns out these things did not doom publishing…only transformed it…and mostly for the better!

Now, the new tech (eReaders, tablets, easy self-publishing software, social media advertising, free online e-book stores, etc) has turned the old crusty and rusty publishing business models on their heads.

Here is an interesting take on this subject by fantasy author Carrie Vaughn on GENREALITY:

Doomed! 

As long as I’ve been plugged into the publishing world and keeping track of the news — pretty much since 1995, when I started working in a bookstore — publishing has always been doomed.  I worked at the store when the massive round of consolidations happened — Penguin and Putnam merged, Avon and Harper Collins merged, and so on.  Everyone freaked out — imprints merged and vanished, lots of people lost jobs, and everyone worried that the diversity and range of books available, now controlled by very few companies, would suffer.  On the other hand, I’d argue that this gave a chance for small presses to really take off and fill in the gaps.

Talk to writers and publishing professionals who’ve been around even longer, and they’ll tell you about the huge crises that happened in the 80’s, the 60’s, and earlier.  The introduction of the mass market paperback, the collapse of certain genres, the price of paper. . .  Here, a former Random House editor talks about how the rise of the chain bookstores in the 80’s changed publishing forever by shifting the emphasis to bestsellers — death of the midlist, anyone?  There’s lots of doom to go around.

The last few months I’ve sensed a really huge amount of stress about publishing doom among many writers I know.  If you don’t get all your backlist into e-book form right now, you’re doomed!  If you don’t have a contract right this second, you’re doomed!  If you’re with a traditional publisher you’re doomed!  If you’re not, you’re doomed!  The noise out there has gotten intense.

Read and learn more

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03/21/2011

Is Amazon Becoming Too Amazonian?


Will Amazon slay writers in the future?

There are a lot of signs out in publishing land that indicate Amazon is positioning itself in a pretty complete vertical business structure ( acquiring both print-on-demand Booksurge and e-book tech software company Mobipocket as well as building and selling the e-reader Kindle) to become the dominant player (read that as monopolizer) in the current materializing publishing industry.

That, in and of itself, is not threatening…and they are playing somewhat fair (so far) with the true lifeblood of the industry: the content creators (writers and authors)…

But BEWARE! Do not let Amazon go completely unfettered or unchallenged because human nature and greed, being what they are, will succumb to complete dictatorship and the abuse of the content creators…Mark my words! Remember how out of whack traditional publishing became before being brought down.

There are other online entities and booksellers such as Apple’s iPad, Smashwords, Lulu, Barnes&Noble , etc…but, none have as complete a vertical package to go from publishing to reader as Amazon.

Let’s hope, for the sake of maintaining healthy competition and remuneration for all in what can be a great industry, that some of these other online enterprises (and complete newcomers) build their own self-contained verticals to save Amazon from itself and attract, nurture and grow great writers!

At least that’s the way this humble writer sees it.

Now, this by Anna Richardson from TheBookseller.com

Amazon could phase out publishers

Forbes.com looks at “how Amazon could change publishing”.

The first major technology-enabled change in the books industry came when digital print-on-demand presses started becoming affordable, but for authors looking to gain serious readership, the big question still remains unanswered: How would they market and distribute their books?

“Enter Amazon.com,” writes entrepreneur Sramana Mitra. “Some surveys suggest that online booksellers could become the largest channel for book sales by 2009, and Amazon is certainly the 800-pound gorilla in that market–it’s the largest bookseller in the world” and “what really keeps customers coming back is the outstanding user experience”, in great part due to its recommendation system.

In addition, in 2005, Amazon acquired the print-on-demand company BookSurge and Mobipocket.com, an e-book software company, and in November, it launched the e-book reader Kindle. According to Forbes, Amazon is now poised to revolutionise the book printing business through vertical integration.

Read and learn more 

01/29/2011

Adobe’s Moving Fast with Flash & Air Technologies for Publishers on iOS & Android-Based Apps


Since Apple backed down on it’s ban of  Adobe’s Flash tech last September (due primarily to the FTC investigated complaint filed by Adobe against Apple for banning competition to it’s own tech), Adobe has moved fast to bring their very creative and imaginative tech apps to, not only the Apple iPad and iPhone, but to other rapidly developing tablet computers and devices as well.

These details from Kasper Jade , publisher and owner of the AppleInsider:

Adobe prepping “Creative Suite 5.5 Digital Publishing” for iOS, Android development

 Adobe appears poised to rush to market a new bundle of Creative Suite applications ahead of CS6 that it hopes will solidify its Flash and Air technology as an alternative platform for developers looking to capitalize on the booming market for iOS and Android-based cell phone and tablet applications.

The new suite, which will reportedly be marketed as “Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Digital Publishing” suite, will showcase a new version of its “Packager for iPhone” application that will include support for not only Apple’s iPhone, but also the iPad and the new crop of Android tablets, incorporating popular touch gestures like “Pinch.”

As it stands, Packager for iPhone is a feature of Adobe Flash Professional CS5 software and the Adobe AIR SDK 2.0.1, which offers Flash developers a fast and efficient method to port existing code from ActionScript 3 projects to deliver native applications on iOS devices.

AppleInsider can independently corroborate claims that Adobe is feverishly working on a high profile CS 5.5 bundle that will land ahead of CS 6.0. While researching the features of Adobe Creative Suite 6.0 (1, 2) that were published last week, people familiar with Adobe’s plans provided evidence of the aforementioned “Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Digital Publishing” suite by noting that the software maker had recently begun beta testing Adobe Flash Professional 5.5.

Read and learn more

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