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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Agents Employ Intrigue to Get Books Judged Upon Their Own Merit

Author Patricia O'Brien AND Kate Alcott
Ahh, good ole deception and sleight of hand (or head). I love intrigue in the publishing industry that produces positive results.

In this case, cajoling a supposed literary 'gatekeeper' into accepting a good, worthy work that had been anointed with a reject 'scarlet letter' based on false analytics --- Prejudged on other than it's own stand-alone merits, you might say :)

The intriguing trick employed by many is again highlighted, this time by Julie Bosman / New York Times News Service through BendBulletin.com:

What’s in a name? Publishing deals

The pen name can bring fresh opportunity to struggling authors

Patricia O’Brien had five novels to her name when her agent, Esther Newberg, set out last year to shop her sixth one, a work of historical fiction called “The Dressmaker.”

A cascade of painful rejections began. O’Brien’s longtime editor at Simon & Schuster passed on it, saying that her previous novel, “Harriett and Isabella,” hadn’t sold well enough.

One by one, 12 more publishing houses saw the novel. They all said no.

Just when O’Brien began to fear that “The Dressmaker” would be relegated to a bottom desk drawer like so many rejected novels, Newberg came up with a different proposal: Try to sell it under a pen name.

Written by Kate Alcott, the pseudonym O’Brien dreamed up, it sold in three days.

O’Brien and Newberg had cannily circumvented what many authors see as a modern publishing scourge — Nielsen BookScan, the subscription service that tracks book sales and is at the fingertips of every agent, editor and publisher — with a centuries-old trick, the nom de plume. It has been employed by writers from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) to Stephen King (Richard Bachman).

“It meant that the story I had wanted to tell had sold,” said O’Brien, a chatty 70-something who wears her hair in a smooth brown bob, talking over a tray of herbal tea and lemon cookies this week in her spacious apartment in the Wyoming building in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood here. “My book wasn’t getting a fair chance. And choosing a pen name gave it a fair chance.”

The book, a story of a scrappy seamstress who survives the sinking of the Titanic, went on sale this week, ushered in by sparkling reviews — Kirkus said it had “an appealing, soulful freshness” — and with translation rights sold in five countries, something that had never happened to any of O’Brien’s books before.

Doubleday has 35,000 copies in print after two printings, said Todd Doughty, a spokesman for the publisher. That gives “The Dressmaker” a major head start over “Harriet and Isabella,” O’Brien’s previous novel, which was considered a flop. It has sold 4,000 copies, according to BookScan, which tracks about 75 percent of retail sales of print books.

O’Brien, who has also written three nonfiction books, said she did what she had to do to get her book published in a time when publishers are being unusually cautious about which books they can invest in and how much they can pay in advances. The rapid rise of e-books has thrown out the old rules of traditional publishing, and publishers have been more conservative with advances than in the past.

Read and learn more

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Writer's Dream: A Social Network for Long-Form Storytelling

Jonathan Harris, the founder
of Cowbird, now in testing.
Social network communication started and has remained as truncated thoughts. One of the most famous brand being 'tweets'.

What the hell is so 'sociable' about shortened thoughts?

How about a social networking place for slow, longer-form thoughts and storytelling?

Well it's here and attracting award-winning photographers and writers.

Jonathan Harris, an artist that re- imagines how humans relate to technology and to each other, started a project back in 2010 that eventually led to his creation of the new social website Cowbird that allows writers, photographers and other artists to interact in just such a manner.

The details of his project and how it evolved into Cowbird is intriguing, informative and interesting:

From The New York Times by Jennifer Preston 

Pull Up a Mouse and Stay a While

Starting on his 30th birthday in August 2010, Jonathan Harris began taking a photo every day of something he thought was interesting. He would write a short story about it and then post it online.

For the next 440 days, Mr. Harris, 32, a noted artist and digital technologist, whose work has been widely exhibited from MoMA to the Le Centre Pompidou in Paris, carried out his project. It has evolved into a new Web site he founded, called Cowbird — a social network that has attracted more than 7,000 people since it began last December, including award-winning photographers and writers. Mr. Harris said it is a place for slow, long-form storytelling, the “opposite of Twitter and Facebook.”

“We are at an interesting point in the history of communication,” Mr. Harris said. “We’ve gone from letter writing to chat to text messages to tweets. It is not clear to me that there is another level of compression. The question, is do we stay here or do we go faster?”

In less than three months, people from around the world have used Cowbird to create more than 7,600 mostly personal stories about people or moments in their lives, using words, pictures and sounds. All pieces are accompanied with a single photograph and some include audio. Some include a few words of text, others more.

For example, in a seven-minute story, illustrated with a portrait of a young French woman called Angelique, the woman’s ex-boyfriend, Scott Thrift, describes how they met, fell in love and drifted apart after being together for nearly three years.

Read and learn more

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Part Deuce: Academic Publishing is a Good Gig if You Can Get It - And a Rip Off for Creators

Dutch-based Elsevier publishes
250,000 articles a year and its archives
 contain seven million publications. (iStock)
More intrigue in the world of academic publishing in the form of ever increasing global boycotts against the flagship academic publisher Elsevier.

Please refer to part one of this intriguing expose, my 1/29/12 post, for more background.

Excerpt: "The petition's signatories have two complaints: the publisher is charging excessively for its journals, and is pushing to stop free access to taxpayer funded research."

From CBC News | Technology & Science:

Academic publisher Elsevier hit with growing boycott

Critics say campaign unfairly singles out firm over widespread practices --- (John's Note: Then ALL academic publishing firms need to be yanked back and held accountable for screwing over the public and academics as well as the researchers)

To publish or not to publish? That is the question medical and science academics are asking after 6,000 of their colleagues boycotted one of the world's largest publishers.

The "Cost of Knowledge" campaign was started by an international group of researchers in January after a blog post by Cambridge University math professor Timothy Gowers. He criticized the Dutch-based publisher Elsevier for charging "very high prices" for access to its articles, using a "ruthless" approach to negotiations with academic libraries and supporting legislation that could hamper the move to more open access to published research.

Since then, thousands of researchers around the world, including several university and government researchers in Canada, have publicly committed to the protest by declaring they will not publish in Elsevier journals, peer review papers for those journals, or do editing work for them.

But others say they don't know what all the fuss is about.

Elsevier publishes 250,000 articles a year and its archives contain seven million publications.

This week a number of Australian academics joined a global protest against the scholarly publishing powerhouse.

"The boycott is saying we are no longer going to provide our services to you for free. We are no longer going to write articles and submit them to your journals, and we are no longer going to review for your journals," says Danny Kingsley an expert in scholarly communication at the Australian National University's Centre for the Public Awareness of Science.

The petition's signatories have two complaints: the publisher is charging excessively for its journals, and is pushing to stop free access to taxpayer funded research.

"Well for a start it's just a moral issue that money that [the scienstists are] spending in taxes is having to be double-dipped to prop up a publishing industry which is making extraordinary profits in times where other industries are falling down completely," says Kingsley.

"The feeling has been for some time that the research itself has been paid for by the public purse and the peer-review process and often the editorial process is also being paid for by the public purse in the form of academic salaries; and then the public purse has to again pay to get subscriptions to the work."

In 2010, Elsevier made $1.6 billion for an operating profit margin of 36 per cent.

Read and learn more

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Big Name Author Publishes Direct to E-Book

Skip The Maze, Publish
Direct to E-Book
Mark Salzman (Iron & Silk and The Soloist) is bypassing traditional publishing and publishing direct to digital format through the Manhattan-based digital startup Open Road Integrated Media.

The circumstances that led him to this decision are interesting and I think you will appreciate the insight:

From Crain's New York Business by Senior Reporter, Matthew Flamm:

Author Mark Salzman, best known for his memoir Iron & Silk and his novel The Soloist, will forgo the traditional publishing route for his next title and bring it out as an e-book with the digital startup Open Road Integrated Media. The Man in the Empty Boat, which grew out of a show the writer has been performing, will be released Tuesday, the Manhattan-based publisher announced Monday.

The memoir marks one of the more high profile acquisitions for Open Road, which was co-founded by former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman in 2009. Much of its publishing list is made up of e-book reissues of bestselling titles put out before literary houses began holding onto electronic rights.

The Man in the Empty Boat started as a monologue, An Atheist in Freefall, about Mr. Salzman's family and the catastrophic year in which he suffered panic attacks and the loss of his sister.

“The piece began not as a book but as notes for a monologue that I performed at the Sun Valley Writer's Conference in 2010,” Mr. Salzman said in a statement. “Jeffrey Sharp, president of Open Road, happened to be in the audience that day. He's a dad like me and the story seemed to hit him dead center.”

Mr. Sharp, who is also a filmmaker, plans to develop film and television projects out of the book.

The memoir will be published in both e-book and print-on-demand editions.

The Writers Welcome Blog is available on Kindle :)))

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RE Books: A Published Pre-Publishing Marketing Tool with Benefits

Who wrote this great
little ebook?
An approach tonight for writing in order to market, get quick-published and make some money while you're still working on your first masterpiece.

There are authors and then there are authors!

For those dreaming and working toward publishing a great novel, fiction or otherwise, you can concurrently do the following fast, free and easy: Write a small book about a hobby or something you know about and publish it free on both Kindle and The Nook.

Why do this?

Because you will get to market your business, hobby (and/or even your big upcoming masterpiece) AND yourself via your small book, and become a published author, all the while making some money. What more could you want?

These accomplishments could very well help you get known, build a following and sell your masterpiece when it's completed :)

Call this a published pre-publishing marketing tool with benefits :)))

These details from Kim Castleberry of Business2Community:

eBook Reader Publishing and Why You Should Do it Now

The time is here to get in as close to the ground floor as possible on the eBook publishing bandwagon.

Both Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, make it simple to publish your eBooks and eReports.

They take a very small cut of your sales with no charges up front. In the scheme of things, on the net this is an offer you can’t refuse. You will get to market your business via your book, and become a published author, all the while making money. What more could you want?

In the past, self-publishing was too expensive for most average people to do. It could cost thousands. Now, you can essentially do it free, aside from the cost of your time writing the book, which of course was a labor of love anyway, right? I’m kidding, I know writing is hard, and can be like pulling teeth unless you use a system like the 7 Day Ebook, but now publishing doesn’t have to be. You can publish free, on both Kindle and The Nook, rather easily.

You may not realize how publishing traditionally works, but suffice it to say, the “house” gets most of the money, because they take most of the risk. And guess what, you still have to market your book after it’s published. Huge advances, and large royalties, only exist for people who are already famous and already have made a name for themselves. At the most, you can hope to make 50 cents to a buck per book sold, when it’s all said and done.

Now on Kindle and The Nook, you can publish without any publishing costs. You may however still have some costs such as:




•Cover Art


Even if you don’t pay a writer to write for you, (which you can do, it’s called Ghostwriting) you should highly consider hiring an editor. Even if you don’t hire an editor, do edit your book thoroughly.

Edit the format of your book, with publishing on the Nook and Kindle in mind. You can follow the formatting rules for .html format on Kindle and use it for the Nook too, thus only using one method for both books. Word templates for kindle publishing can also help. If you’re unfamiliar with these methods, remember, time is money, and consider outsourcing to someone with experience.

Read and learn more

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Monday, February 6, 2012

New Authors Start Writing/Publishing With More Ideals than Information

I'll just write a book
and make a million dollars
A little of the business of writing and some great resources regarding such are included in tonight's post.

Most newbie authors go about writing and publishing projects all wrong :))) And this ass-backwards start, as it were, greatly diminishes their chance at success.

Patricia Fry, author of "Publish Your Book," has the prescription for the fix.

Here, then, is Patricia Fry presented by Glenn Dromgoole of Abilene's ReporterNews:

Write your book and get it published

Patricia Fry, author of "Publish Your Book," says she has heard that "81 percent of the public believe they have a book in them."

She may be right. Certainly I hear from quite a few folks who want to write a book and get it published. If you feel that way, Fry's book is a great place to start.

My column focuses on Texas books, and Fry isn't from Texas. She lives in California. But her book is so relevant to aspiring authors that I thought this would be a good forum to tell about it.

"Publish Your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author" (Allworth Press, $19.95 paperback) is a very practical 232-page guide to writing and publishing a book. It covers such topics as finding a publisher, pay-to-publish companies, self-publishing, writing a book proposal, organizing and writing the book, and marketing and promoting it.

Author of 35 books herself, Fry writes a blog about publishing (go to her website, patriciafry.com), is executive director of the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network, and speaks often at writing conferences.

At those sessions, she said, she is often asked these questions:

"I'd like to become a writer. How do I get started?"

"I've written a book. How do I go about getting it published?"

"What's the best way to promote a book?"

Read and learn more

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Intellectual Property: Removal of Masterpieces from the Public Domain - Good or Bad Idea?

As intellectuals (or wise old farts) realize, the U.S. Supreme Court is correct in its rulings maybe half the time :)

Well they just upheld a sweeping congressional amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act that "restored" copyright in works including some of the world’s most beloved masterpieces.

This post has some interesting history on the beginnings of copyright law.

These details from the global law practice of Hogan Lovells through http://www.lexology.com/:

The fight for Peter and the Wolf: U.S. Supreme Court upholds the removal of masterpieces from the public domain


January 27 2012

United States Supreme Court, Decision of 18 January 2012, No. 10-545, Golan v. Holder

In a 6-2 vote, the United States Supreme Court upheld a sweeping congressional amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act that "restored" copyright in works including some of the world’s most beloved masterpieces.

Countless works, including Pablo Picasso’s La Guernica, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, were once in the public domain in the United States but have since had their copyright restored by a congressional amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act. This amendment and its far-reaching impact on those whose work depends on the free, unrestricted use of materials in the public domain were at the heart of a decade-long dispute in Golan v. Holder. The case reached its final conclusion on January 18, 2012 by a 6-2 vote of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The genesis of the case reaches back to 1886, when the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was signed into force. The Convention, which now includes 165 contracting parties, established an international copyright system based on mutual recognition of copyright between member states. The United States did not accede to the Convention until 1988 when Congress enacted the Berne Convention Implementation Act, which went into effect on March 1, 1989. At that time, Congress expressly declined to implement Article 18 of the Convention, which effectively required copyright restoration for works of foreign authorship still under copyright in their source country but never copyrighted in the United States.

A few years later, Congress reversed its position. As part of multilateral trade negotiations in connection with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the United States agreed to implement Article 18, incorporating it as §514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Section 514 amended the U.S. Copyright Act to extend copyrights to foreign works (first published between 1923 and March 1, 1989) for the term of protection those works would have been granted had they been copyrighted in the United States in the first place.

Effective January 1, 1996, a large number of foreign works, including works such as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf once freely performed by school orchestras like the one led by Lawrence Golan, the named petitioner in Golan v. Holder, had their copyright restored in the United States. High and, in certain cases, prohibitive permission fees imposed for the use of such newly copyrighted works soon followed – a circumstance denounced by the Golan dissent, "If a school orchestra or other nonprofit organization cannot afford the new charges…They will have to do without – aggravating the already serious problem of cultural education in the United States."

The Golan petitioners challenged the constitutionality of §514 of the URAA. They argued that: (1) §514 exceeded the authority granted by the Copyright Clause of the Constitution, which empowers Congress: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors…the exclusive Right to their…Writings." Congress, they contended, had set the “limited time” of copyright for pre-March 1, 1989 foreign works at zero years when it previously denied those works copyright protection, and nothing in the Copyright Clause authorizes Congress to restore that limited term once the works were allowed to fall into the public domain; (2) the removal of public domain works abridged their pre-existing First Amendment right to use those works freely for their expression; and (3) copyrighting works created decades before does not promote the creation of new works.

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