Writing on the Ether


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This is my low horse. You should see me on my high one. They’re so skittish, these creatures. Especially around loud noises. Like “BUY MY BOOK!” And “FOLLOW ME BACK!” ‘Tis the season when bales of content are heaved onto the market. And as we share our social mediocrity, my little neigh-sayer, do remember: if your every post is a pitch, if your every comment is a come-on, if your every tweet is a twial offer, I’m talking to you. Ebooks mean never having to say you’re backlisted. So tone it down. Don’t make me get back in the saddle about this, okay?

 

Dressed down for dressage

The biggest thing that needs an upgrade is the attitude. Traditionally published authors are not slave labor. They’re not idiots or fools. They’ve not made ‘the wrong choice.’ You went one way. They went another.

Chuck Wendig‘s prose can prompt cowboys to cry and women to burn foundation garments. But this week, he voices in his PG-13 patois an important point about jumping the imaginary fence between self-publishing and traditionally publishing authors. If you don’t care for “colorful” language, just shut your eyes as you read The Publishing Cart Before the Storytelling Horse

 

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Making hay, not hawking it

I know, we are supposed to wait for companies to create jobs, and Wall Street to solve the mess they created. But somehow, that feels unsatisfactory to me. That seems … that our own role in this mess is entirely dependent on others getting us out. I suppose what I am getting at is this: we need more gumption.

Fully capable of flogging his We Grow Media courses, Dan Blank admirably
forgoes such promos to make a fodder-free argument that Gumption Needs To Be Taught in School 

 

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Made, but in what shade?

Good sales numbers are a definite plus, but bad sales numbers are harder to overcome than a garlic sandwich before a first date.

With his fourth book just out, Richard Mabry admits to a lot more questions than answers,
in what adds up to a poignant reality check for aspiring authors, Now What?

 

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Pre-Frankfurt fray

With many saying they are inherently a conflict of interest, agent-publishers inevitably bring looming questions of what effect they will have on publisher-agent relationships, not to mention royalties and rights ownership for authors.

This Publishing Trends story sums up the state of the debate, cheerfully headlined
The Agent-Publisher Business Model: New Approaches to ePublishing Solutions

And one of our most eloquent opponents of agents publishing clients, Jason Allen Ashlock, has announced that his Movable Type Literary Group is now Movable Type Management. The bicoastal company is the result of a merger with Adam Chromy’s Artists and Artisans, as described in Wednesday’s release:

The new firm will manage more than 200 authors in a variety of categories and genres, and develop properties for distribution across platforms, devices, and territories. With five senior literary managers, the company will keep offices in New York and Los Angeles, and perform in-house film, television, and digital development.

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Between an agency and a hard place

[Perseus Group's David Steinberger] emphasized that while Argo Navis provided distribution and marketing services, the author remained the publisher. While authors get a much higher share of the revenue under this arrangement, they’ll receive fewer of the services, and financial support, provided by publishers under more conventional contracts.

Julie Bosman writes up Bloomsbury’s new Argo Navis self-publishing arm for authors (70-30 split) whose agents are associated with Perseus—one answer to the ethically dubious agent-as-publisher route? New Service for Authors Seeking to Self-Publish E-Books

 

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Go forth and platform (it’s a verb, I looked it up)

You need a platform if you want to sell books, period.

Like silent film stars dumbstruck by the talkies, some writers still are wondering if they really have to have a platform. Above, agent Rachelle Gardner has 10 Tidbits About Author Platform, ending with, “You only need a platform if you want to sell a lot of books.” But in case she doesn’t clarify the obvious for you, below is Jeff Goins, doing his damnedest to get us all past this  question, in Why Building Your Own Platform Is Essential

Knowing the right people isn’t enough; you need to have done the work, so that when an opportunity presents itself, you’re ready.

 

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And speaking of platforming …

It is almost always worth the extra 60 seconds to find the right attribution, which will allow that person to overhear what you’re saying. Read an interesting piece that morning? Look to see if the journalist is on Twitter before posting. Giving a shout-out to a book on #fridayreads? Check to see if the author or the book itself has a Facebook fan page or Twitter account.

Constantly bewildered at how many of us in our vast writing community won’t credit their colleagues in tweets linking to their work, I’m delighted to see Iris Blasi point out the pragmatism of this. Remember the term “hot link?” It’s how you network. Her full article, mentioned on the Ether last week, now is at Digital Book World: Social Media: The Art of the Nudge

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Nobel noise

This, for Roth, is the true human stain, that we are so much more than what people think they know about us. “For all that the world is full of people who go around believing they’ve got you or your neighbor figured out, there really is no bottom to what is known,” he writes. “The truth about us is endless. As are the lies.”

After judge Carmen Callil ankled the jury over Philip Roth’s Man Booker Prize win,
Michael Bourne goes to bat for him in An Open Letter to the Swedish Academy


What it took

All editors are essentially incompetent when it comes to guaranteeing the performance of a book, but like a good handicapper at Belmont Park with hundreds of thousands of dollars won and lost at the track, they learn how to pick the right horse for the right race more often than not.

Shawn Coyne outlines an insider’s finesse in A Matter of Infinite Hope, about walking
Steven Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire” in to the Doubleday editorial meeting.

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Worrisome wild oats

Amazon’s strategy … as the launch of Fire makes clear, is about ALL media forms not just books. As the company builds digital sales of those media (a MUCH bigger market than books), digital books will become less important overall.

As the rest of us choose between the leather cover and the slim case, Eoin Purcell notes Why the Kindle Fire Worries Me

 

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Shatzkin–and a Rusch to differ with him

The fact that Amazon and Apple have different approaches to acquiring and pricing content offerings is the most important aspect of the battle between them to the book publishing community. Who “wins”, as in “who sells the most devices?” (or even “who sells the most ebooks?”), is really quite secondary since both are significant and neither is going away.

Even on a playoff weekend, Mike “baseball uber alles” Shatzkin writes more cleanly and comprehensively, for my money, than most do: An aspect of the Amazon-Apple battle the tech world doesn’t care much about

Even Mike Shatzkin, whom many in traditional publishing consider the guru of the e-publishing world, doesn’t completely understand the importance of readers. I usually don’t recommend his blog because, although he often has good stuff, he’s so entrenched in traditional-publishing think that his blogs are only about 50% useful for the way that publishing is going—and I don’t want to explain which 50% of what article is worth your time.

Conceding some emotion in the matter, Kristine Kathryn Rusch has deep reservations about Shatzkin’s observations in general and his previous column, noted in last week’s Ether. She lays it out in The Business Rusch: The Fear Chronicles

 

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Don’t cry for Jeff Bezos

That’s a good bit lower than the 300,000 iPads that Apple sold in that gadget’s first day on the market, but still respectable—particularly given that the Kindle Fire won’t actually ship until Nov. 15.

In case you were concerned, Paul McDougall looks into the Amazon shopping cart and sees
Kindle Fire: 95,000 Orders on Day One

 

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From Fire to firestorm

Even more upsetting to some readers was the fact that, after the book was replaced, an e-mail went out advising that “Missing Content that have [sic] been corrected”—but without explaining what or where the missing content was. In addition, the act of replacement wiped out any highlights, bookmarks, or notes that readers had already made.

Molly Driscoll writes up the consternation over the “Baroque Cycle” author’s newest tome,
which William Morrow released in a seriously flawed edition: Ebook errors in Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde” annoy Kindle users

 

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“What happens when language is optimized for social data-mining”

There was something charming about the jittery young fellow announcing his conquest of the verb, as if this part of speech was a newly discovered territory and we were all hearing the report of the explorer’s intrepid expedition—Zuck’s Adventures in Verbland. (He was also unwittingly recapitulating an age-old argument about the origins of language: scholars from Aristotle to Vico contended that verbs arrived late in our linguistic evolution, built on a bedrock of nouns.)

The linguist Ben Zimmer charts The Rise of the Zuckerverb: The New Language of Facebook and finds Mark Zuckerberg’s “verb-y vision” little to worry about

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Porter Anderson

Porter Anderson is a Fellow with the National Critics Institute, and a senior producer and consultant formerly with the United Nations World Food Programme in Rome and INDEX: Design to Improve Life in Copenhagen. As a journalist, he has worked with media including CNN, the Village Voice, and the Dallas Times Herald. He’s based in Tampa.

  • http://www.wegrowmedia.com Dan Blank

    Thank you for the mention – love the many recaps here!

  • http://twitter.com/ByRozMorris Roz Morris fiction

    Thanks for re-airing my tweet, sir. Approve of your horsey metaphor and also of the sentiment behind it.

  • http://twitter.com/annerallen Anne R. Allen

    Another provocative must-read round-up. Thanks, Porter!

  • http://www.porterandersonmedia.com Porter Anderson

    Many thanks, sir, I credit Jane with the whole thing, the horse and I just watched and kibbitzed. :)

  • http://www.porterandersonmedia.com Porter Anderson

    Thanks so much, Roz, and bests to your equine Lord Byron, he looks like a very high horse to me. :)

  • http://www.porterandersonmedia.com Porter Anderson

    Thank YOU, Anne, always super to have you reading and commenting. :)

  • MM Mohica

    lol I just read Wendig’s post yesterday off twitter, found it extremely insightful, and decided to look for other writers to follow. As usual Jane is there to help the very next day.

  • http://twitter.com/Porter_Anderson Porter Anderson

    Jane is always ahead of us, you’re absolutely right. :)