Friday, October 27, 2006

Prices are coming down.

Maybe not at PublishAmerica or Xlibris, but the retail prices of POD books seem to be dropping. Check out Lulu's new distribution options page for the costs to produce a book. This is dynamite.

I am hearing less and less from folks about how the cost of POD (to purchase a book) is keeping them from buying. The prices for midrange novels (say, 250 pages) has become pretty darn close to commercially published books by some POD companies--within a buck, in many cases, if not the same.

The real headache now is the issue of production. Let's hope the new machines at Lightning Source speed up the process, because in this country people want stuff now. So many people wonder why Amazon hasn't taken over the world (it's certainly on its way). It's because Amazon cannot get you a book tonight. Most people want to browse a book and take it home. The problem with POD, of course, is not only do you have to wait for Amazon to ship it, you have to wait (in most cases) for it to be printed at Lightning Source. You can't be in a hurry when it comes to POD. Heaven help you if you need a book to do research for a school project.

Now, if the fable of POD machines in bookstores comes true someday . . .

In case you didn't see this, it's a must read. Wired magazine has a piece on ultra short stories. Like, six words. Some of them are just great, like:

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
--Joss Whedon

It’s behind you! Hurry before it
--Rockne S. O’Bannon

Epitaph: He shouldn't have fed it.
-- Brian Herbert

Commas, see, add, like, nada, okay?
-- Gregory Maguire

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

RANSOM SEABORN by Bill Deasy (Velluminous Press)

Last year, I reviewed a tasty little novel written by Arthur Edwards titled STUCK OUTSIDE OF PHOENIX. It was a heartfelt story about an introspective (and physical) journey, and written by the former bass player for The Refreshments.

Well, it turns out musicians (especially songwriters) have a real talent for penning novels, because today's pick, RANSOM SEABORN, was written by Bill Deasy. Yes, that Bill Deasy, the singer/songwriter from The Gathering Field. I guess sometimes you just need to tell a story that requires more than you can fit into a set of lyrics.

Deasy's novel is a sort of coming-of-(late)-age tale about young Dan Finbar and his relationship with college buddy Ransom Seaborn. Poor Ransom only survives forty pages, leaving Fin and Ransom's girlfriend, Maggie, to sort out the whats and whys of what happened--and how to move on. It's an earnest and rewarding journey, a simultaneous opening up and closing down of the human spirit, like a gentle walk through the woods--while learning how to avoid tripping on the broken branches. Bill Deasy knows how to pen compelling prose, capturing the mood and style of classic American writing.

The book is filled with delicious snippets of the transition from adolescence to adulthood, like this one, where Fin had been drinking before a dance at his Christian-infused college:

The song ended and Lynn asked, "Can we step outside for a minute?" This was going even better than I'd hoped. Standing in the cool, night air, I gazed into her almond eyes awaiting her cue. After what seemed like an eternity she said, "Have you been drinking, Finbar?"

It gets fuzzy after that. She became the missionary and I the unconverted native. I mostly tuned out her speech, which revolved around her God and her values and the dangers of alcohol and the fact that I had held her too closely. It became the sound the TV makes when a station runs a test of the emergency broadcast system.

The book references J.D. Salinger--both literally as well as in writing style--repeatedly, and fans of Salinger's magnum opus will certainly not be disappointed here. Fin wanders through his days at college in a haze, reconstructing his life piece by piece, page by page, until you reach the unexpected and vaguely hopeful end.

N. Frank Daniels' FUTUREPROOF is the post-modern adolescent abyss, RANSOM SEABORN is several fields from the edge of the cliff. This is a sweet, enjoyable read--absolute fantastic literature. And at $12.95, it is exactly what Random House would charge you if they had published it. One final note: This novel has one of the best covers (front, and especially the back) that I have seen in the realm of POD to date. Buy two copies; the holidays are upon you.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In defense of Macmillan (and other treats)

If you caught my brief comment on Macmillan's New Writing program last week (a sort of where are they now update), you may get the impression I was hammering Macmillan. I was. A little. Though I have always had high regard for the publisher.

Well, I received a cogent response from Ian Hocking, author of DEJA VU, a POD-dy pick from 2005. Being in the land where Macmillan has more of a presence (England), he could offer a more valuable insight. Ian had this to share:

Just read your post about Macmillan New Writing - I think your comments are a little unfair. The UK press have been pretty hard on the outfit, but the imprint has put has put its money where its mouth is re: publicity and editing. The books are widely available in branches of UK bookstores (virtually impossible for POD and self- published stuff). I've read a couple of them, and the overall quality is high - both content and general editing. I wrote a review of Roger Morris's book here. Morris has a recent blog entry in which he gave details of his first royalty cheque. I don't know too much about PublishAmerica, but it might be a little unfair on Macmillan to put the two in the same basket. BTW, I don't have any connection to Macmillan NW (in fact, the gits turned down my latest novel). You might also be interested in my review of the book written by Michael Barnard, who set up the NW imprint - a couple of the other NW authors responded to my critical comments.

Click to all these links. The royalty link is of particular interest. And I can tell you the sales and figures are pretty close to your average American midlist novel. Excellent stuff.

Carol Hoenig, author of the lyrically haunting (and 2005 POD-dy pick) WITHOUT GRACE, has won yet another award for her book, this time taking the fiction award at the 2006 DIY Book Festival.

And if you thought self-publishing might be a dead end (and while the odds are in great favor of that), you just never know. Check out this recent book deal from Publishers Marketplace:

Rights to Teri Woods's originally self-published TRUE TO THE GAME, plus to two sequels and two stand alone street novels, to Karen Thomas at Warner, in a major deal, by Marc Gerald at The Agency Group (world).

For those of you who don't know, a "major deal" means it was worth a minimum of $500,000--which is the entire financial career of a midlister.

And if you think I am insane for trying to wade through the sea of POD / Self-published titles, here's a guy with an even greater mental defect than I: The Unsung Critic. Instead of self-pubbed novels, he wades through screenplays. He's going to need a life-preserver for sure.

Also - check out this very cool interview with Jeremy Robinson, author of THE DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY, where he discusses at length his writing and the impact of POD.

Lastly, check out this unpublished author who uses an econometric forecasting model to determine the publication date of his novel. For one out of 5,000 of us, it is simple: never.

Tune back in first thing tomorrow when I uncover one of the best jewels of 2006 so far!