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Category: Publishing (Page 1 of 2)

This Is The Modern Publishing Business

Reblogged from David Gaughran


Scammers used to operate at the edges of the publishing business, but have wormed their way into its heart. And the entire industry is in denial. An unintentionally revealing aspect of the tiresome Amazon-Hachette dispute was a series of statements from an organization purporting to advocate for authors’ rights. One of the heinous crimes Amazon was said to have committed was treating books like toasters.

With such a claim, Authors United was attempting to tap into a current of feeling about the commoditization of literature – as if Amazon was the first company to put a price tag on a book, and writers around the country were hitherto living off laurels and kudos. It’s tempting to suggest that other entities in the publishing business might be doing as well as Amazon if they also treated books like toasters and attempted to sell the bloody things, but I digress.

What this characterization by Authors United highlighted was that most precious of things: how the industry likes to view itself. Publishing, you see, is far above the rough and tumble of everyday capitalism. Publishers may make profits now and then, but only as an accidental by-product of their true pursuit: the promotion of literature. Without publishers there would be no books, of course, and we should thank the heavens that an eagle-eyed intern plucked Beowulf from a slushpile or the world would be very much the poorer.

It’s all bullshit…(Continue reading at the Source: This Is The Modern Publishing Business )

Are Traditionally Published Books Really Better?

Since the Ebook Revolution has taken off, there’s been no lack of supporters and detractors of it. One of the things I read repeatedly from the skeptics is that, “…most indie published stuff is trash – or crap…” Those same skeptics go on to state, “unlike indie ebooks, traditionally published books and novels are polished, professionally vetted and edited”.

Watching Good Morning America, they were talking about this years ‘Hot Summer Reads’. In showcasing the new thrillers, Tom Clancy’s ‘Against All Enemies’ caught my interest. I enjoy Clancy’s work, but I haven’t read one of his novels in a long time.

I went to my Kindle and looked up Against All Enemies. A few things turned me off. First, the price of the e-book is $12.99. The hardcover is $15.38. The second thing I noticed is that Tom Clancy and Peter Telep authored the book. Collaborations are nothing new, but when I saw that the book had a two star rating (41 one-star vs. 11 five-star reviews), I knew something was up.

Reading the reviews, it was evident to die-hard Clancy fans that this book “was not written by Clancy”. The style and voice are very different. More telling was that several reviewers stated that the military technical details of the story were incorrect in several areas. Anyone who knows Clancy knows that detailed military technical knowledge is his expertise. It was suggested that Telep wrote it and Clancy just put his name on the cover (without proofreading it) to make it sell.

Here are some of the comments:

“I made it to page 2 before seeing proof that this is another non-Clancy work. Here’s a part of a sentence describing the Pakistan Special Service Group: (it isn’t dialogue)
“…an organization similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs, but, ahem, their operators were hardly as capable.”

‘Ahem’? Amongst non-dialogue description in a book not written in any 1st-person narrative? C’mon. I stopped reading at page 14, and I’m returning the purchase…”


“The style is very different, there is none of the descriptive writing that is Clancy’s style. The writing in fact is very poor and vague.”


“Why Tom? You surely don’t need the money? Why do this to your fans? To treat people who’ve loved your work like this is worse than low, it’s just crass.

And Putnam? This is a disgraceful act from a book company, supposedly staffed by people who care about books. Was Sales & Marketing in charge of this debacle? Figures low this year, were they? How did the book lovers in your company let this through? Did anyone in Editing put up their hand and say ‘Ah, guys…’ Because edited, it was not… Basically, I’m thinking everyone just threw up their hands and said, ‘Too hard, 5 o’clock, I gotta train to catch.’

A shamelessly cynical exercise, and a sad day for novel lovers. Shame, people, shame.”

‘Nuff said.

In looking at other Clancy novels published over the past few years, also with two star ratings (see Dead Or Alive and Teeth of the Tiger), I saw similar complaints, “shabby”, “needed editing” , and “horrible writing”

I wonder what those who are traditional publishing proponents would say?

Whether Putnam is having sub-standard writer’s pen the books and using Clancy’s name to sell them, or releasing poorly written books by an author who has for whatever reason, lost his edge – is this no less “trash” or “crap”, but at a much higher price? Who is truly doing the reader a greater disservice?

The Truth on How to Write a Book

This is article is on best selling author Scott Berkum’s blog . In short it’s excellent:

Every author I know gets asked the same question: How do you write a book?…

Here’s the short honest truth: 20% of the people who ask me are hoping to hear this – Anyone can write a book. They want permission. Truth is you don’t need any. There is no license required. No test to take…

Being famous and wealthy: Now this is the kicker. About 50% of the time the real thing people want to know is how to become a famous millionaire rock-star author dude. As if a) I qualified, b) I could explain how it happened, or c) I’d be willing to tell.

Read the entire article at Scott’s blog

Publishing a Book in China

And you thought it was tough getting published in the U.S.?

Check out what Chinese authors have to go through:


Here is the Chinese Lanugage version of the book publishing flowchart for our WR2 readers in the East.

My First Published Article: Part 4

Crises continues to rain down on my family and friends. I am at the point now where I’m just angry with it all. To hell with fate and circumstance – I’m getting on with life. I’m not going to let these challenges and obstacles stop me from pursuing the life I want to live.

I have to get a couple of short stories out of my head and onto the page before I continue on with my book-length projects.

On with the show. This is the fourth installment of an entry I made to my private blog from April 26, 2005, concerning the first article I ever wrote for publication.:

Lunch with my editor.

I know this makes it sound as if I sat down with an editor for a novel I have written – that was accepted by one of the big publishing houses. I know it’s not and the title should read ‘Lunch with My Editor (for the time being)’, but I am enjoying the illusion.

Jeff is the editor-in-chief for Iron Horse Magazine. After having corresponded with him for over four months, we both finally found the time to meet. He came to my office on in Harvard Square about 1 p.m.. Being a one-time food editor for the Boston Herald, he suggested going to a yuppie/bistro pizza place called Cambridge 1, on Church St.. They serve large pita-styled flat bread, and have toppings like arugula, shaved steak and goat cheese – chicken, artichoke and Portobello mushroom – you get the picture.

Upon meeting, we remarked how the other looks far different than what each of us had pictured. He said, “You’re a lot bigger than I ever imagined” like I’ve never heard that before. I told him that he was younger (and I didn’t mention scruffier) than I had imagined. Jeff is six-foot tall, a little slouch shouldered with a wiry build. He has longish mouse brown hair; a face scarred by acne, and intense blue/green eyes. He was dressed as if he was either ready to go on a day hike or hop on a skateboard. Jeff is very direct. When he talks to you, he looks you right in the eye.

We went over the article I submitted. He explained a few modifications that were made and where he tightened it up. We also spoke about a new article I am beginning work on this week. It’s going to be an expose’ on a custom painter in Wilmington, Mass. In addition, we tossed about the idea of my taking a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Honda Hoot and writing about it for the magazine.

Considering his size, I think Jeff either he has a very high metabolism or a tapeworm. He ordered three half-pizzas and devoured whatever I couldn’t. During the meal, I interviewed Jeff to find out a little more about him.

He graduated with a dual degree in journalism and photojournalism so he could make himself more marketable. After graduation, he began as a freelance photographer on the rock music circuit. He then got a gig being the photographer and eventual photo editor and writer for a popular skateboarding magazine. He toured extensively all over the U.S. and Canada. He did this for eight years, but knew he wanted to be a senior editor of a magazine. He soon became the Food editor for the Boston Herald and then the editor/photographer for the Art and Music section of the Herald, for another four years.

Now he’s entirely responsible for putting out Iron Horse Magazine every three months, but after September, they will be going on a bi-monthly schedule. He said that as long as I can bring him some good ideas, he’d have work for me.

Overall, it was a good lunch. I found Geoff to be an extremely hard working person, but knew how to have fun at the same time. He takes his work very seriously and doesn’t put up with bullshit and he will let you know it right away. I like his direct, no nonsense, don’t make excuses attitude. It’s the only way to get things started and done in a timely manner – and he does.

My First Published Article: Part 3

This is the third installment of an entry I made to my private blog from March 23, 2005, about the first article I ever wrote for publication.:

Bad Writing vs. Good Writing.

As you will recall, I told you about my psychotic episodes of trying to write an article for Iron Horse magazine. I also told you that at one point the writing wasn’t going well. I knew it, so did the editor and he let me know it. It was because I was playing head games with myself. When I finally said, “To hell with the fear”, I focused and totally immersed myself in the task. I sent it in and this was the editor’s response:

From: “Jeff”
To: “Werner”
Subject: like comparing apples to oranges…Werner

–WHAT the FUCK happened?!?!

This story is about 1,000 times better than the first version you handed in! VERRRRY good reporting, I must say! Kudos to you!

I haven’t actually tackled editing it yet, but gave it a thorough read-through and did some polishing up on your grammar, etc. Everything looks pretty good. Might have some questions for you to answer over the next few days, but that’s par for the course as I pick apart each story, so fret not.

If I make it past our Apr. 15 ship date, we are def. going out for drinks!

congratulations again,
Editor In Chief
Iron Horse Magazine


As you can imagine that first line scared the shit out of me, but the rest of it made me so happy that I barely slept last night. I am working with Jeff, to be sure that we make the June issue – so he can buy me those drinks!

I want to do this again. You get to make new acquaintances and learn new things. Once I got past the fear of doing the interviews (three of them), I really started to enjoy it. It’s fun asking direct questions and getting people talking about their passions.

I hope by June I will be able to let you know that the magazine, with my article in it, is on the newsstands. I think I’m more excited that I am finally going to be a published writer, with my first clip, than I am about being paid for it …

… NAH!

That’s just screwy!

My First Published Article: Part 2

This is the second installment of an entry I made to my private blog from March 17, 2005, about the first article I ever wrote for publication.:

I submitted the completed first draft article about Chopper Works Inc. to Iron Horse magazine. Jeff, the editor, said the article was boring and read like a manual. That was pretty much the tip of the iceberg. There was no hook, it had structure problems, a lack of dialogue and missing information. I knew it might need some work, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. When I re-read it with a more critical eye, I agreed with Jeff.

I stared at that article for a long time. I then tossed the entire thing. I took out my notes and interview tapes and started over. When I was done, I re-wrote it again. I went through it over and over and polished it as much as I was able. I felt better about the article this time, but I wasn’t sure if it would be good enough for Jeff. I worried that I may have overlooked something critical. But, with a deadline looming, I sent it to him.

Having a photo-journalism degree, Jeff didn’t like my pictures either. Luckily, the owners of Chopper Works Inc. had a CD with professionally photographed bike pictures on it. They burned me a copy and I FedEx’d it to Jeff.

The article is now in its final edits. As this is my first attempt at writing an article for publication, and knowing that it will be read by a wide audience, has been a real head game for me. I always wanted to be a published writer, but I never realized how tough the mental aspect of it would be.

Some hurdles I needed to cross was to write a story that is interesting, well structured and formatted correctly. The biggest hurdle though, is the psycho soap opera that takes place inside my head. I’m stunned by all the irrational fears that crop up. I have to fight hard to overcome them.

I know the fears are irrational, but I still let them influence my life. I wanted to back out of this assignment when I had to do my first interview. I wanted to quit when Jeff kept hounding me to see the article – which I knew wasn’t going well. I really wanted to quit when he read my first draft and tore it apart. I wanted to quit when I had to do follow up interviews to fill in gaps and dig up new info.

You know what – these fears are just dumb (but I still have them). The interviews went really well. The brothers that run the bike business are open and friendly. The senior editor, Jeff, has 15 years of experience and has interviewed over 1,000 celebrities and notables. He can be harsh, but very fair. Considering I had no writing clips to show him when I started, Jeff has taken this newbie to article writing under his wing and is giving me a HUGE chance. He takes the time out of his busy schedule to provide me with guidance and to show me what I need to do. I can’t begin tell you how much appreciate this.

The fear of my responsibility to the article and to the editor still makes me want to run away from it. However, I made a promise that I would not let him down. I hate when promises are broken, and I REALLY hate to break a promise I make to someone. This fear/hatred of disappointing someone I made a promise to is more powerful than the fear I have of being responsible for the article. So, I push through the fear.

I couldn’t blame Jeff if he never has me write another article for him again. However, if he does, I will be timelier with my submissions and do a better job with the first draft. Moreover, with this experience under my belt, I’m sure the fears will have a duller edge the next time around.


My First Published Article: Part 1

This is an entry I made to my private blog from January 25, 2005. It is in reference to the very first paid article assignment I ever queried … and got! I found it as a listing for a new magazine on Writer’s Weekly. Actually it was a re-release of the old Iron Horse Magazine with a new format and new owner.

I queried the editor to do an expose’ on a high-end custom bike shop in my town (Chopper Works). I added the shop’s website link to the query. The editor liked what he saw and gave me the go ahead. Throughout the article process he coached me in what he was looking for in the article and came up with a few questions I had not considered. It was an invaluable experience. The editor was blunt, but a straight shooter and very patient.
I did the interview with the guys at Chopper Works. It was great.

At first I was really nervous … no actually I was scared shit-less. You know stage fright scared, the kind of fear people have when they have to give a public speech. I was looking for any excuse not to go and do the interview. I often get this sort of fear when I try anything new. I’ve found that if I push through the fear and do it anyway, it turns out to be a good experience.

My nervousness disappeared as soon as I entered the shop. The brothers are about my age and we had a lot in common. They gave me the grand tour of the show room and the shop operations. They let me take all the pictures I wanted. All very cool. They had me sit on one of their $65K bikes, and a bike they built for Sully Erna (the lead singer of Godsmack). If it had been spring, they would have let me take one their choppers for a ride…bummer.

As soon as I got home I reviewed my notes and played back the interview tapes. I created an outline of the article with the more interesting points I want to highlight in the article. Now I need to flesh out the article with the information I gathered, do some follow up for questions I’m sure to have, then put it away for a few days. I will then go back review it, re-write it, and polish it until it shines. Only then I will send it to the editor of the magazine. I’m working on this article as a lynchpin to many other articles – hoping some of them involve travel.

It’s Here!

I finally received my comp copies of Iron Horse magazine with my article in it. The front cover shows actor Michael Madsen, posing on a Harley. My article appears on page 82. Mary and the kids were very excited and happy for me – so was I. This issue hits that racks on June 15th. The kids told and showed the magazine to some of their friends. I could tell that Stephen was proud of the fact that I published an article in a “cool” magazine, and that it likely made some of his friends envious. I mailed Mom & Dad a copy of the magazine.

Back in the Saddle Again

Yesterday, I received a call from Geoff, the editor in chief of Iron Horse magazine. He wanted to know if I had any article ideas for upcoming issues. I was flattered that he came to me. We talked over some things, and I mentioned a custom painter I saw at a bike show this past January. I also told him that I am in the process of trying to upgrade to a bigger bike so that I can make a trek out to Knoxville, Tennessee for something called “The Honda Hoot”. It’s sort of like a bike week gathering for the large number of members in the Honda Rider’s Club of America.

Today Geoff called back and said he researched the custom painter at KrazyKustoms.com and liked what he saw. He spoke to the owner Eric Silverio, and he’d be pleased to have us do an article on his shop. Geoff was also excited about the prospects of my going out to Knoxville. He wants me to do an article about that if I go. He just wants to find a professional photographer to either travel with me or meet me there.

After I got off the phone with Geoff, I called Eric. We are going to meet on Friday morning so I can interview him. I let Geoff know and he suggested meeting for lunch tomorrow (his treat) to get to know each other better and go over what I’m going to cover in the article.

I’m not going to get rich from writing these articles, but the experience I gain from researching, interviewing and writing is indispensable – and the extra income is nice too. This is beginning to take off just in the way I hoped it might.

[Update: Krazy Kustoms is no longer in business]

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