Thursday, July 13, 2006

POD People get help!

Remember Jeremy Robinson, the dude who wrote the intense, thought-provoking novel (and Needle finalist) THE DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY? If not, then you have a homework assignment. So far, the book has sold some 4,000 copies--more than a lot of traditionally published books.

Well, he's got another book out. And if you're a PODer (God help you) or thinking of becoming a PODer (move to the front of God's line) then you need to check this book out. POD PEOPLE is a manual for grabbing success with your POD title. Seriously, this is a solid reference. It is not full of hype on the glory of self-publishing; it actually brings you down to earth quickly, and explains how you can make the best of the world of POD--and how Jeremy turned his novel into a popular product.

And if you look at the cover closely, you'll see something that is unprecedented: a blurb from yours truly. That is how much I think the content of this book will help you. In fact, even traditionally published authors could get something from POD PEOPLE, for stuff like understanding Amazon and making the most of the digital marketplace.

Now, don't get carried away; I'm not going to blurb your novel, okay? I know some authors hand out blurbs like Halloween candy, but that is not me. This was an exception since it was a book about the POD world--and it earned it.

Also of note, Mr. Robinson has set up his own imprint, Breakneck Books, which he used to release POD PEOPLE and two other titles. If you look closely, he is accepting submissions for novels (thrillers, I would suspect). Another PublishAmerica? I think not. Check it out.

Elsewhere in the PODosphere (argh), A.C. Crispin has a nice little investigative piece on iUniverse's book placement in B&N stores. Excellent info here, proving once again that you need to get the details before spending money on getting published--and also proving once again that Susan Driscoll is a stand-up gal.

Also, Rice University re-opens it's academic press (closed ten years ago) under a more reasonable, promising, and profitable model. What model is this? Print-on-demand, of course.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Inside the mind of an editor (sort of)

For all you HGTV fans (I'm not a huge advocate of television, but HGTV is actually kind of fun), you need to keep an eye on House Hunters. I caught it a few nights ago and they were showing a lady and her real estate agent walking through various condos in Manhattan.

As I watched, I thought to myself, "Boy, that lady sure looks a lot like Brenda Copeland." After a few minutes they started referring to her as Brenda. I sat up in my chair. A few minutes after that, the real estate agent said to her something like, "Look at all that shelf space--perfect for an editor."

Turns out it was Brenda Copeland, who is an Executive Editor for Hyperion. Do you really get to know anything about her as an editor? Not really. As a person? Sure. You get to find out she somehow survived in a 300 square foot apartment and stored stuff in her tub. You also find out that an executive editor makes enough to go out and buy a half-million dollar condo in Washington Heights. Most of all, though, you find out Brenda is a cute, super, wonderful gal who makes me wish I actually wrote non-fiction just so I could try to sell it to her.

My favorite part is the end of the episode where she is sitting at her table reading over some 8.5x11, double-spaced pages with a pen in her hand. I'm pretty sure I saw her mouth the words, "Boy, this is complete crap." (That's a joke.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

NORTH OF SUNSET by Henry Baum (Lulu)

Looking for a light, romantic story about Hollywood? Well, it's not this book. How about a wild thriller about a serial killer? That's not this book either--at least, not exactly.

Henry Baum's
NORTH OF SUNSET is the story of Michael Sennet, Hollywood heartthrob and egomaniac. It is also the story of the Vanity Plate Killer, a sociopath who is wiping out all the ladies who have personalized license plates in the greater Los Angeles area. But most of all, it is the story of how these very separate worlds collide. You are thrust into an angry Los Angeles by way of an insider's view of Hollywood, where the bowels of the movie industry are potentially worse than the world of a serial killer.

The story is rough and angry and profane--but it sure is compelling. I was one paragraph in before I realized I needed to make myself comfortable (granted, the first paragraph is a page and a half long.)

Baum manages to capture the essence of the lost, attention-addicted actor:

He never wanted to get a regular job, at all costs. Regular jobs were for regular people. People who lacked imagination. Michael had too much imagination; he wanted to become a thousand people.

He's also managed to capture all of the angst that Hollywood has riddled through its collective personality: the abusive agents, the jockeying for position, and the everyone-is-stepping-on-everyone mentality that surfaces on a daily basis. There is no doubt Baum has lived within (or permeated) this incestuous community.

The writing is stellar--and I'm not just saying that because I finished reading 121 crappy books in a row. There are probably a whole bunch of influences here: Bukowski, Chandler, and of course the mandatory reference to Chuck Palahniuk. But once you've finished reading this book, I think you'll agree it is not so much who influenced the writing; it is who this writing will influence.

Trust me when I say that this book is one you buy and one you keep; you'll be looking to re-read it sooner than later. Don't loan it to you friends. Go make them get their own copy. Grab it for $16.82 on Amazon or $12.95 over at Lulu.