Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Morning Fried Green Tomatoes & Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy

Good morning, faithful patrons. The grill is back in action and the rat infestation is under control. So let's get started!

Here's your P5 for Friday, August 19th, 2005--generated long before the light crested the horizon:

(1) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 29,322 5
(2) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 56,265 6
(3) TECHNO-NOIR: 97,938 5


First and foremost: I got spammed. And not just for pills to make my "girlfriend go wild" or my "boyfriend grow three inches" either! This one was from *deep breath* . . . Xlibris.

Interesting. Because I had sent a few emails to these folks to see if they wanted to answer some of my questions. I never got an answer. Ever.

But how wonderful it is that they managed to track down my email address in order to offer me some sweet services (services, by the way, that were offered to me for free [fees waived] by three other POD companies, should I ever get dumped by Penguin and find myself publisherless.)

This wonderful letter came from Tracey Rosengrave, Marketing Manager for Xlibris. Tracey says . . .

"We obtained your name and email address from Blogger in an effort on our part to find people who might be interested in self-publishing."

Translation: "We found the letters POD on your blog and we want some of your money."

My response: "Context is everything."

"I completely understand how annoying unwanted email messages can be."

Translation: "We'll spam you into oblivion."

My response: "Annoying is not the word I am thinking of right now."

"Xlibris is partially owned by Random House Ventures, the world’s largest trade book publisher."

Translation: "If you aren't bright or have friends and family with low IQs, you can pretend Random House published your book!"

My response: "The key word here is Venture, and I am guessing it is a failed one."

"We have published over 14,000 titles and paid out over twelve million dollars in royalties."

Translation: "The average title earns total royalties of $858, which is under the average cost to publish with us."

My response: "I think the horny pills might be a better deal."

"Everyday [sic] we help authors by offering flexible, inexpensive methods of publishing, editing, marketing, distributing and selling books both in trade and full color. I understand that each author has different requirements."

Translation: "Every author has a different amount of available cash, so we'll play it by ear."

My response: "My requirement is an $80,000 advance over a two book deal. Can you swing that, sweetheart?"

"At Xlibris we believe in author control."

Translation: "We don't care one iota about what you do with your book as long as you pay us, a la carte, for every little thing."

My response: "As a writer, I want you to control the price--and make it zero, like over at Lulu. Or like you did when you first started."

"I thank you very much for your time and look forward to hearing from you."

Translation: "I have sales goals and I need your money. So expect the spam to continue for the rest of your life."

My response: "Never. But if I send you $25, will you put it toward updating your website that has been exactly the same for five years?"

Now . . . what did I do with that email that said I won the Canadian lottery?

In response to my rant about RWA and SFWA and their arbitrary requirements for a publisher to qualify as "recognized" by these orgs, a faithful reader came up with (what I consider) the perfect fix:

"My preferred solution would be a 'point scale' that awards points for authorship (fewer points for collaborations), nature (fewer points for tie-ins), circulation, compensation, and recognized literary quality (for example, if a work makes the longlist of a recognized award, it bloody well should be qualifying, regardless of how it was published). "

Now doesn't that make sense? Let's keep the art in art (. . . or something like that) and stop looking at books as units.


Considering an "author photo for your book? Read this first. It's a good giggle (no spraying of sawmill gravy, please.) Makes me rethink how I look in mine (quite sultry *sizzle*).


Well, fellow chow-downers, that's it. I am heading off to the beach for a few to grab some rays before the crazy holiday-goers take over.

See you on Monday when new treasure hits!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Show me the mahoney! (for my Irish friends)

But first . . . today's P5!

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 43,477 6
(3) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 59,252 6
(5) ALWAYS FAITHFUL: 107,663 5


What makes a publisher a real publisher? Placement of books in a bookstore? Production of objects made up of 60# paper and a cool cover? Having at least one person read one of its books (you know, like the if a tree falls in the woods thing)?

Who knows.

What does the RWA (
Romance Writers of America) say makes a publisher a real publisher? Well, that's much easier.

"7.2.1. To be an "RWA-Recognized Publisher," a publisher must be a royalty-paying publishing house that (1) is not a subsidy or vanity publisher contracts to RWA members, (2) has been releasing books on a regular basis via national distribution for a minimum of one year, and (3) has sold a minimum of 1,500 hardcover or trade paperback copies or 5,000 copies in any other format, including print on demand, of a single romance novel or novella or collection of novellas in book form, in bona fide arms-length transactions, and continues to sell a minimum of 1,500 hardcover or trade paperback copies or 5,000 copies in any other format of a subsequent romance novel each year."

Looks like any new or small publisher is out of luck with the RWA. And so would they be with the
SFWA (who demands a minimum advance of $5000--which would eliminate at least half of all university presses.)

Whatever happened to a good book being a good book? The semantics are confusing/annoying. (RWA listed in a recent email announcement that they are dropping seven or so publishers because they do not (or no longer) meet the guidelines as stated.)

This is what has become of publishing. It's not how good--it's how many or how much.

In case any of you folks do not check out
Robert Gray's blog, please do so now (!) and check his entries for August 8th and 11th. One is titled: E-books and POD: Evolution or Intelligent Design?

Pay attention; this man knows what he is talking about.

He says: "Just for the record, folks, I do not think POD or e-books are good or bad; I think they are evolving and we don't know what the final "thing" will look like yet. I'm just not sure that this thing will look anything like Xlibris. There's no need to be defensive about POD at this stage. It has strengths. It has flaws. If it works for you, ride it like the wind."

The bottom line is that POD will have an impact (the technology, not the companies--or, who knows, maybe both) on publishing. The death of returns is too appealing for everyone (except the bookstores) and it is not only essential, it is expected.

Monday, August 15, 2005


And this is why I started a blog.

This is the hidden antique in the corner of the old store that no one realized was a rare artifact. This is that diamond, that needle. The lotto ticket just came in.

How incredibly rare it is that I read a book this good (I am not talking POD here--I mean, at all.) I began Brian A. Massey's MORNING GLORY'S LONG LOST ORDER OF WORSHIP and I truthfully could not stop.

It is o-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g.

Massey's light and quite humorous novel is about a young man who has overcome drug addiction (in the late 1960's--no small feat) and become a successful pastor at a Presbyterian church in South Carolina. Along with his ex-stripper wife (who found the Lord, too; they left the world of sin together) they have a happy existence--until a 19-year-old temptress comes onto the scene to disrupt everything the couple has built.

So it starts like this:

"It was one of those cruel summers in my life when I didn't know myself, and I didn't know God, and everyone around me seemed like a whirl of hateful ideas."

If you don't believe me, then trust Noah Lukeman when I tell you that there is nothing better than a beautiful, hooky first sentence. Further down:

"But this is dark-night-of-the-soul stuff, nothing special, an essay. Nothing any pastor or any believer couldn't say about the summer of 1968. The truth is, I call it a cruel summer not because of the assassinations of King and Kennedy or the endless war, but because in the middle of all my misery, a girl came to me and told me that she loved me."

On the mechanics: This book is wonderfully written and meticulously edited. It's one of the tightest books I have reviewed here.

On the writing: There are a lot of styles in Massey's book that would make it an intriguing read for fans of, say, Alice Sebold or Anne Ursu. However--the writing--that is, the prose and the rhythm and hand selection of words--is so alarmingly similar to Leif Enger's PEACE LIKE A RIVER (it even has a similar spiritual point, though arguably more liberal) that I had to pull out Enger's title and re-read portions. This is not over-the-top, purple writing here. These are beautiful, warm, intelligent sentences that are wonderful entities in and of themselves. I actually found myself re-reading sentences for the mere enjoyment of them--something I hadn't done since I finished PEACE LIKE A RIVER years ago.

Check out MORNING GLORY'S LONG LOST ORDER OF WORSHIP for $12.95 on Amazon--but it's so good I am going to recommend you buy it in hardcover ($22.95.) Trust me: it will get read over and over again.

Paul Cirone: If you ever stop by this blog, I must ask you this: why aren't you representing--and selling--this book?

As for the rest of us, just be happy you can buy and read it. It's what American literature is all about.