Friday, April 22, 2005

The Remainders of the Day

So we have a little infighting in our industry: new bookstores vs. used bookstores. Clearly, authors have no stake in the used book store side of the war. Every book sold in a used book store generates $0.00 for the author (and publisher.) I, unfortunately, love used book stores (and my blatant perfidy annoys my fellow authors and friends.) How else would I find so many cheap POD titles? Granted, I have paid full price for some. But not many.

And I always make sure I check out the section where my book would be, sometimes finding a copy. I am the first to admit it is sad to see it there, buried, ignored, gathering dust. Sadder still was the copy I found in Arlington, Virginia, where I looked at the binding and it clearly had not been read past page 75. I lost that reader, and with it a sense of accomplishment.


Anyway, for those of you who do not know what a "return" is, they are the books that did not sell from a completed print run, and which the bookstore can get credit (partial or whole) from the publisher upon sending them back.

So here is a quick solution for the publishing industry: if you want to diffuse the used bookstores, stop creating returns! These things are fueling the used bookstores. Whether they are supposed to (legally) or not, they are there. Tons of them.

How to eliminate? If you don't know, this must be your first visit here. POD, for Pete's sake. I know it is hard to gauge an initial print run. But, c'mon, a second print run (or beyond) should never be a toughie, and utilizing POD as a replacement for remaining print runs might be the way to go, yes? Especially smaller ones.

If you want to cut the legs out from the book warehouses, outlets, used bookstores and liquidation expos at suburban fairgrounds, then do this: stop printing so many books people do not want to read.

POD is a technology, not a type of company. Why is New York so fearful?


Bonus Round:

An industry insider just informed me that the New York Times Book Review will be running a two page spread on POD this weekend (April 24th.) For those of you who do not subscribe, keep an eye out for it online. And let's see where they take us!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What's in a (nick) name?

I'm going off topic for a moment.

I had a disturbing conversation with my agent yesterday. She tells me she thinks she is sinking (swimming with midlist authors) and that she needs something to kick up her profile.

I told her she doesn't need a breakout author. She needs a nickname.

For those of us blessed enough to be published, to have hit our editor on the perfect day, to have accidentally plucked a chord with perfect resonance, let me say an agent with a nickname is what we want. Sure, at first we say all I want is to get an agent, then it's all I want is to get a good agent, then it's all I want is an agent who has a good reputation and believes in me, and so on. Eventually, it's all I want is an agent with a nickname.


Dialogue at unstated Simon & Schuster imprint:

Secretary: Mr. Corduroy, you have an agent on line four.
Publisher: Which one?
Secretary: Binky.
Publisher: What!? Holy sh--, I, uh, okay, I, uh (licks teeth, clears throat, counts to three) Please pass her through.

Dialogue at unstated Random House imprint:

Secretary: Mr. Metaphysical? I've got some guy calling himself the Jackal on line--
Publisher: And you put him on hold!? You're fired! No-wait, pass him through. Thanks. Okay, now you're fired.

Dialogue at unstated Warner imprint :

Secretary: Mr. Chandelier? I've got an agent on line three.
Publisher: (Sigh) Who is it?
Secretary: Don Rosenblum.
Publisher: Who?
Secretary: Don Rosenberg.
Publisher: I thought you just said blum.
Secretary: Did I? Hold on. (Checks on agent) Dale Rosenstein.
Publisher: Who?
Secretary: Rosenstein.
Publisher: Do I know him?
Secretary: Her.
Publisher: I'm at lunch.
Secretary: It's 9:45, sir.

You see?

So we went on a hunt for the perfect nickname for my beloved agent. After four bar napkins and the martinis to match, here are the highlights of our tipsy results:

Superstar: Good.

Fallenstar: Bad.

Rainmaker: Good.

Remaindermaker: Very Bad.

Dealer: Fair.

NiceDealer: Better.

Bonecrusher: No.

Kickbacker: No.

Dealslut: Fair.

Dealwhore: Fair, though more on point.

Jennifer Rudolph Walsh: Good, but taken.

Simone Lipskar: Risky, but let's not rule it out.

Syd Vicious: Fair.

Bookburner: No.

Bookmailer: No.

Blackmailer: Yyyyyy . . . No.

Dominatrix: Our job is done.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Upcoming treats

First we announced the Needle Awards here at Pod-dymouth. Now we're going to kick it up another notch with some online interviews.

More details will be forthcoming, but over the next several months we will have interviews by all sorts of folks currently shaping the industry: from the publishing side to the writing side. You never know who'll sit down with the girlondemand. You never know who will buy her expensive jewelry, either--so let's hope that works out, too.

But remember that we focus on all things POD--the good, the bad and the ugly. A little good and a whole lot of ugly--but whose fault is that?

Get ready for a fun summer.

Monday, April 18, 2005

COOKING FOR LOVE, by Sharon Boorstin (iUniverse)

For those (so many) people that have asked if I write chick lit, here is the answer: no. I don't like to read chick lit. I find it formulaic and, more often than not, insulting. Even the covers are predictable.

That said, let me introduce a most worthy book: COOKING FOR LOVE by Sharon Boorstin. You might call it chick lit--if your chicks are 49 years old. Maybe this is the vague "hen lit" that people tell me is becoming/was hot. Who knows. In any case, this book is anything but formulaic or insulting.

COOKING tells the story of Miriam Levy, a cookbook author who has (as you can guess) fallen head first into (the end of) mid-life. When her best friend googles an old flame, gets in contact with him and ends up wanting to travel around the world to reignite the fire, Miriam comes along and the adventure gets spicy (ba dump dump.)

The writing is light and fun and full of life and is far better than any of the chick/hen/mommy/girl/slut lit that I have (been forced to) read over the years. Ms. Boorstin is a clever writer and manages to incorporate food in the most creative way (the recipes are available at the end of each chapter.)

But there is another interesting (and admittedly self-serving) substory here: Ms. Boorstin's first book, LET US EAT CAKE, which was released in 2003--not by iUniverse, but by HarperCollins (ReganBooks) and sold vigorously. So why did COOKING go POD? According to Ms. Boorstin's website, the publishers found the 49-year-old protagonist an unlikely winner among readers--because readers can't identify with 49-year-olds. Of course--we all know mature women are not readers; they're out clubbing. How about the fact that this author had a built-in following of readers? If her first book had sold 100,000 copies, the protagonist could have been 89 and it would've been published, believe me. But a print run of, say, 5,000 is not as appealing. When POD becomes the standard print mechanism, no one will care anymore.

What would have happened had POD not come in to save the day (and this book from a lightless desk drawer?)

I think we all know the answer.