Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Morning Burnt Toast, Dry.

Welcome to the POD-dy Mouth Cafe, where your eggs come crunchy and salmonella rules. Enjoy today's giblets.

And for those of you following Ms. Snark's Literary blog, note the entry regarding "Day 3" (approx. 2 pm.) Please do not send your self-published book (let alone three at one time) to an agent or editor unless they have requested it first, okay? Please remember/review what agents and editors (at least the five I interviewed) think about what to do with your POD book. The person who sent these to the Madam of Snark threw a lot of cash in the garbage.

Wait! Before you POD that memoir of yours, you ought to
check out this opportunity. No query letters needed, no agents, no recommendations from a bestselling author. All you need is a two-minute verbal pitch. Reality TV ties in to publishing. The end of the world is quite near.

Winner gets published by Random House (Arrow) and 25,000 Sterling.

Just for fun, you should check out (again)
Bookends, a bookstore in New Jersey that is doing with POD what Barnes and Noble claimed they were going to do five years ago: print off books right in the store. They are not printing all POD titles, only the ones for which they have sold their services. It is still interesting, however, to see how it works, and to imagine it as a (dim) global possibility somewhere down the line.

And speaking of Bookends, pop over to the
Published in New York Newsletter and check out all the great stories/links about POD (even I'm mentioned--aww, shucks.)

And what do you know: iUniverse is hiring for a Director of Author Marketing and Book Sales. Unusual for a POD company (for them to try marketing at all.) Check out the job description and see if you're qualified.

Never mind, you're not qualified.

But you will get an interesting insight into what/how they work.

Lastly, here is a
cute little editorial from Lauren Baratz-Logsted (she is guest blogging SLAY YOUR DEMONS) and talks about (what most writers think but never say about) libraries. (see Wednesday's entry)

Enjoy! And you, there, in the back--only two butter packets per person, please.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Capping, The Art of and Reasons for

How many "nice" advances could Doubleday have offered if they hadn't gone haywire on THE TRAVELER?

A friend of mine (who has access to a Nielsen Bookscan subscription) tells me that current sales of THE TRAVELER by John Twelve Hawks (a pseudonym, by the way) total no more than 16,400 units (granted, that does not cover total sales; some stores are missed, like Wal-Mart.) Sound good? Not to Doubleday/Random House.

Here is the "deal info" for THE TRAVELER from back in March of 2004 when it sold (courtesy of Publisher's Marketplace):

"Debut fiction: John Twelve Hawks' THE TRAVELER, the debut novel in a thriller trilogy that mixes science fact and science fiction called THE FOURTH REALM, reinterpreting history as an ongoing struggle between "the Vast Machine" -- forces dedicated to a virtual panopticon of surveillance and control -- and "Travelers" -- visionaries dedicated to spiritual enlightenment, (already being called "Philip Pullman for adults" according to the agent), to Jason Kaufman at Doubleday, in a major deal, for seven figures, by Joe Regal at Regal Literary (world).German rights have gone to Bertlesmann, for mid-six-figures."

That 16,400 isn't looking so good anymore, is it. Add to that a six-figure (I was told) publicity/marketing effort and, barring a miracle, this book will never even come close to earning out its advances/costs. And who pays the price (besides, eventually, Mr. Hawkes)? Every other writer trying to open Doubleday's front door.

Successful writers (rewrite: authors who have earned a spicy advance) are always the first to come down on publishers like Macmillan for trying to set-up a new paradigm for finding new authors (rewrite: not paying a cent in advance of sales.) In the Guardian article regarding the new Macmillan effort, author Hari Kunzru thinks ill of it:

"Hari Kunzru, author of The Impressionist, has described the initiative, in which writers receive no advance and may have to bear editing costs, as 'the Ryanair of publishing; it's like having to pay for your own uniforms'."

Of course, he would say that.

Here is Kunzru's deal info (once again, courtesy of Publisher's Marketplace):

"Hari Kunzru's first novel THE IMPRESSIONIST, to Carole Baron and Trena Keating for Dutton/Plume, for $1 million in a two-book deal, by Emma Parry of Carlisle & Co. (NA)."

I am all for advance capping (though let's be honest: my deal for two books would certainly fall under any advance cap anyway.) I am all for seeing the money spread around the publishers, to see publishers start taking chances again on more titles. I'd love to see an author go with a smaller house because he/she believes in the editor/publisher (but who might not have previously because the bigger/generic houses could outspend the smaller one.)

I am also all for spending big money on proven authors--that makes fiscal sense and an author who has proven himself should reap the reward. But debut fiction?

Take your $40,000 and thank God. Or your lucky stars. Or both.


A retraction of sorts:

What has become of me? I have suddenly fallen to the dark side of the POD debate and inappropriately pounced on PublishAmerica too soon. It appears that perhaps the $24 e-book thing was a glitch at Amazon and not a PA scam as I suspected.

Rather than simply delete my post from yesterday, I'll leave it--so you can indeed see how fallible I am. For Pete's sake, what is this blog about? Finding good books.

And PublishAmerica has some in there too.

I think.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

PublishAmerica: Wonders, apparently, never cease

PublishAmerica, having already upset the goliath book biz, are now blowing the minds of people nationwide, worldwide, by releasing something called e-books!

Did they invent them? Well, golly, they must have. Why else would they price them at $24.00?

Surely, the reason people have been purchasing e-books (for years) is because they are cheaper (it can't be the ease of reading, eh?) Which is why most publishers price them in $10-15 range (for a hardback release, no less.)

Considering these e-books cost PublishAmerica nothing (nothing!) to produce (they files had to be created for the POD printer) where do they get off charging $24.00? This is why (okay, one of maybe 20 reasons) people hate POD. Everything about it is egregious. But PublishAmerica? Wow.

I think $5.00 would have been more in line, free in the instances of most PublishAmerica releases. These guys are pathetic. I actually feel sorry for them; they're simply not very bright.

Monday, July 18, 2005

MICHAEL IN HELL by Dennis Latham (PageFree)

Here's a funny story: I'm having lunch with an old friend when she starts telling me about this great book she had just finished the night before. She said it was about a serial killer who kills pedophiles and other serial killers. I said, "Oh, yeah, I read that, too."

We discussed the book for five minutes.

It wasn't until our desserts arrived that we finally figured out she was talking about
this book and I was talking about this book.

As she left the restaurant, she turned to me and said, "[my name], you really need to start reading real books again."

And as she got into her cab, I said, "They are real." Then I flipped her the bird.

Let me show you how real it is:

Dennis Latham's MICHAEL IN HELL is certainly similar to DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER--thought let it be said it was published four years prior to Jeff Lindsay's wildly popular novel. MICHAEL is the story of Michael Tucker (no, not that funny little guy from L.A. Law), a Vietnam Veteran and child-abuse victim, who lives in a (near future time?) in a cabin somewhere near Cincinnati who preys on the worst, most vile people on the planet (or at least the greater Cincinnati area.) And, like Dexter, we want to see him win.

Note: This book is far more horror than it is thriller, though it is certainly both (and maybe even a little Science Fiction.) It is tightly written and dead-on perfect for its genre. It is grossly shocking. And, at times, simply gross. But it is a page-turner and if your hands aren't sweating by the end, then check your pulse.

For lack of prose-wise comparison, if you liked Saw or Se7en (or the aforementioned DEXTER), you will dig this.

Grab a copy. Hey, it's $14.95. What's the big deal?