Friday, September 15, 2006

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH by Daniel Scott Buck (iUniverse)

I finished Daniel Scott Buck's novel while on vacation. Let me rephrase: His was the only book I finished on vacation. I went with 103 (digital) and came back with one (to review). And what a winner it is.

However, and is typically the case when you are out of the contact with the world, Michael Allen, the Grumpy Old Bookman, beat me to the punch and reviewed this treat first (and makes a good many of the points I would have made here, though his are probably better written.)

Well, you know what? This tight little book is so good it deserves two raving endorsements.

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH is a postmodern satire, a dark and devilish look into, among other things, reality television. And no, it is not a rambling jaunt into a behind-the-scenes expose of Survivor, but a compelling story about manipulation, confusion, and fame.

The writing here is wonderful, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a self-published book. Very well-edited and clean as a whistle. And the prose is just marvelous:

The beginning of a tantrum appears of Meme's face. She sounds out each breath to get my attention. I swear she thinks her cryptic fits are a phenomenon not to be missed, like comets or shooting stars.

The novel is comedic, I suppose, but do not underestimate the power of its dark side. And most of all, pay attention; there is a lesson to be learned here that most authors would not take the time (nor have the skill) to deliver. Books like this simply do not get written much anymore (and never published) and it is quite a shame, because upon having finished SHOW, I realized what we are all missing.

Highly recommended. And at $11.95, it's a super deal.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sobol reams the hopeful

Since a lot of unpublished writers stop by, and at the suggestion of Jessica Keener via Backspace, I wanted to shed some light on (or take light away from) the (bogus) Sobol contest for unpublished manuscripts.

The article on Yahoo is here, but don't get excited. As always, anything that looks too good to be true usually is.

For starters, you have to pay $85 to enter. Secondly, they are capping the contest at 50,000 entries, a number they suggest they want to hit (which further suggests 4.2 million in revenue--a huge, blinking light on the scam-o-meter.) Thirdly, it may seem great that they are giving $100,000 to the winner--but, then again, with 4.2 mil' sitting around, what's a hundred grand? And lastly, please do not confuse the Sobol agency (who will "shop the winner" to publishers) with Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates, an agent who happens to be on top of the game.

Some pieces of the article:

Shomron [the organizer] himself had to shop a novel, "NETfold," which he ended up self-publishing, making it ineligible for a Sobol prize.

What a shock. Smells and tastes just like the morons from PublishAmerica.

The award was created by Sobol Literary Enterprises, a for-profit venture started by technology entrepreneur Gur Shomron, as "a venue to discover talented, unknown fiction writers and help them get the recognition they deserve."

Blah, blah, blah. All you need to notice from that drivel is the term for profit.

Sobol officials include Roger Riger, a vice president at Barnes & Noble Inc.; Greg Tobin, a former editor-in-chief of Ballantine Books and author of several religious works, including "The Wisdom of St. Patrick" and "Saints and Sinners"; and Neil Baldwin, former executive director of the National Book Foundation and author of biographies of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and others.

Really? Well, then I've just lost all respect for B&N, Ballantine, and the NBF, who are all clearly getting paid to vet these manuscripts. Art used to be about freedom (not only of expression, but cost) and it seems that now that the publishing industry has a chokehold on creativity by having to answer to stockholders, they figure they might as well go after the unpublished writers as well.

How absolutely pathetic. The only saving grace is that writers from Maryland, Vermont, Arizona, and North Dakota are prohibited from entering. Here's to Sobol getting no more than a dozen entries.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

So you wanna be an editor? (Yeah, me neither.)

It's much easier to let someone else do the hard part.

But in case you are wondering why it takes so long to hear from editors (assuming you have an agent) then this might help:

Publishers Marketplace recently posted two job openings for editors, one at Penguin Putnam and one at Random House. If you ever wondered what it is an editor does all day, the job description (for a Senior Editor position) covers a good portion of it (editors do a lot more than this):

Razorbill is looking for someone who will:

1. Act as the acknowledged ‘go to' editor for all the biggest YA titles on submission

2. Acquire and edit approximately 10-15 original titles a year, as well as oversee additional paperback reprints of hardcovers from previous Razorbill lists

3. Help strategize with Publisher to make each new Razorbill list commercial, high quality and appropriately placed in the marketplace

4. Formulate campaigns for lead books and know the market

5. Present titles at launch meetings for sales and marketing

6. Communicate, brainstorm and regularly liaise with sales and marketing teams on best publishing strategies for upcoming titles; liaise between marketing/publicity and authors; attend regular sales/marketing imprint focus meetings and is accountable for results from those meetings

7. Build strong relationships between Razorbill and agents and authors; search for new authors

8. Attend conferences a few times a year as a direct representative of Razorbill (ALA), and attend writers' conferences external to the company such as SCBWI events, to look for authors and connect with agents

9. Mentor editorial staff

10. Create TI's and catalog copy for books; generate jacket and cover copy

Please apply to join Razorbill if you have:

• At least 7 years' relevant experience including experience editing middle grade and teen or adult fiction

• Excellent written and oral communication skills

• Strong contacts in the adult and young adult industries

• Excellent interpersonal skills

• Proficiency with Microsoft Word

• Ability to travel up to 5 times per year via airplane, train and/or automobile a plus

Ooh, probably had most of you until the seven years of experience came in, eh?

So this editor is responsible for approximately 25% of the imprints titles. Geez, that's low stress, huh?

Now, over at Random House they have a position open for an Associate Editor (much further down on the food chain) which requires much less:

Your tasks:

Morgan Road Books, a division of Doubleday Broadway, seeks an Associate Editor. Responsible for heavy developmental and line editing of books (non-fiction) acquired by Morgan Road. Manage production of interior as well as jacket schedules. Major contributions expected to TIs, checking and writing copy, managing author and agent relationships. Evaluating and taking over submissions as well as some agent relationships.

Our requirements:

Strong background in how-to as well as general non-fiction, three to five years of editorial experience necessary. Need editing and writing samples.

Required skills:

- Do you have a Bachelor's Degree?

- Willing to relocate for this job at your own expense?

- Do you have any prior office experience?

- Do you have at least 2 years of editorial experience?

See that? You need to have editorial experience and the ability to relocate yourself at no cost to that massive German conglomerate. How could you resist?

All for lousy pay and lousy hours. Next time you see an editor on the street or in a bar, give her a hug (and please, for the love of stones, leave your manuscript in your trunk.)

Lastly, Kensington has an opening for an Editorial Assistant (this is the bottom of the food chain) and you probably qualify instantly. In fact, any writer who has received several dozen rejection letters (we all have) could probably deftly craft some new ones for good ol' Kensington. The post:

Editor-in-Chief of midsize commercial trade publisher seeks editorial assistant. Looking for a self-motivated, high-energy beginner with a strong interest in commercial fiction. Job responsibilities consist of providing administrative support and reading manuscripts, drafting reject letters, and contacting agents and authors. Qualifications include a bachelor's degree and proficiency in MS Word and Excel.

Sure, send those resumes out now. Then start trying to figure out how to live in Manhattan on $30K a year.