Archive for June, 2009


How NOT to sell me your book…

June 29, 2009

Seriously, this is the start of an email I received today from somebody promoting his new book:

I’m not a professional author. I don’t have a publishing company or literary agent. In fact, I had my mother-in-law proofread my book because I couldn’t afford a professional proof reader…

Made me want to click the “BYE NOW” button.



Books and bacon

June 27, 2009

The annual BookExpo America took place a couple of weeks ago in New York. Did you miss it? I did. Went right by without me even noticing, but that’s okay because, well, it usually does.

I think I posted something or another about Paul Constant’s coverage of the event because I was hard up for material. And that’s probably the same this year, since I haven’t shown my face around this blog since February. As to that, I’ll spare you the gory details and simply say that yes, I know feeling sorry for myself isn’t an excuse. My sincere apologies.

But this isn’t about me. How many times have I said that? Oh, right ….

So … um … oh, yeah. Paul Constant brought us his thoughts and observations concerning “The Slow, Moronic Death of Books (as We Know Them)“.

It’s strange that the only sign of growth at this BEA was in the number of journalists present, and that the people running BEA somehow seemed to think that the presence of more journalists was going to save them, considering that journalism just saw its most terrifying year in memory, too. It felt like the two industries were clinging together out in the ocean, drowning together. Since most of the bloggers were new to the party, none of them were asking any of the hard questions. No one was asking editors why they didn’t think twice before tossing out seven-figure deals for books based on zany blogs that anyone with half a brain could read for free on the internet. No one seemed to notice that major presses like HarperCollins weren’t asking booksellers what they wanted to sell or what their readers wanted to read. Instead, there were well-attended panels about making an insignificant amount of money off of Twitter. A sizeable number of booksellers were unwittingly attending their last BEA, because their bookstores are likely about to downsize or close. A bunch of people tried to hustle another bunch of people into buying something they didn’t want. Some of them succeeded, but most of them didn’t.

After the convention, MobyLives, the blog for indie publisher Melville House, published a postmortem titled “BEA Is Over… for Good?” I’m not so sure that it was the last one, but it was certainly a milestone: By the time next May’s BEA rolls around, at least one of the major publishers probably won’t be around to see it. The age of the giant conglomerate publisher is over. Publishing has always been an industry that has seen razor-thin profit margins if it saw profit at all, and the corporate model isn’t satisfied with a business model that optimally remains 1 or 2 percent above zero growth. The only way that 2009 will be considered a good year for the publishing industry is in comparison with the unprecedented disaster of 2008. People will tsk-tsk at the numbers and write endless, boring blog posts about it, which won’t be read by anyone except other people writing endless, boring blog posts about it. Here we were in the epicenter of publishing, at publishing’s big yearly event for insiders, and it was almost completely crushing any belief I had in the future of publishing. I don’t enjoy attending funerals, so unless things drastically change, I’ll probably never go back to BEA.

Cheery, no?

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Final guest speakers confirmed

June 17, 2009

The second and third special guest speakers joining September’s SCWC in Irvine have been confirmed. Friday night, nearly 18 years after the release of his densely atmospheric debut novel, Down by the River, author Monte Schulz’s follow up, This Side of Jordan, is out hardcover September as the first of five books he scored deals for in the past 12 months. Written for his father, the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, and taking place on the eve of the Great Depression, Jordan is the first in his “Crossing Eden” trilogy of Southern-gothic literary prose to be published by Fantagraphics Books.

Saturday evening, none other than Robert Ward will be with us. Author of the NEA Award-winning Shedding Skin, and Los Angeles PEN Award for Best Novel of 1985, Red Baker, Bob is also a celebrated writer/producer for such ground-breaking TV series as Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, and New York Undercover. He’s back in books with his highly anticipated latest release, Total Immunity, out July from Houghton Miffin Harcourt.