WRITING ON THE ETHER: Quality – Do You Give a Royal Rump?


By

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos


My Call to the Ring by Deirdre Gogarty & Darrelyn SaloomMy Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box

by Deirdre Gogarty & Darrelyn Saloom

In the 1980s, boxing is illegal for women in Ireland. But Deirdre Gogarty has only one dream: to be the first Irish woman to win a world boxing title. How can a shy, young misfit become a professional boxer in a country that bans women from the sport? Gogarty follows her calling to compete and journeys from the Irish Sea to the Gulf of Mexico, from outcast to center ring, from the depths of depression to the championship fight of her life.

“If you’ve ever wondered why and how people do extraordinary, almost impossible things, read My Call to the Ring. Deirdre Gogarty knocked me out with this book.”

—Ted Mann, former National Lampoon editor, television writer and producer

Find out more on Amazon and download a sample to your Kindle.


Table of Contents

  1. Quality Time / Rollyson, Smith, Bransford
  2. eBook Best-Sellers: Where Are the ‘Indies’? / Shatzkin, Weinman, Owen
  3. Respect: Coming and Going / Bourne, Wolff
  4. Social Media: Verification at last / Friedman
  5. Authors: Remember Amanda Hocking? / Cook
  6. Copyright: Or Creditright? / Jarvis
  7. Craft: More Best-Seller Lists / Ferriss
  8. Craft: More Copyright / Frazer
  9. Craft: Exercising Your Muse / Ross
  10. Books: Reading on the Ether
  11. Last Gas: Franck in Her Own Right / Phillips

UPDATE: I’m informed on Friday (August 24) that Digital Book World WILL begin adding authors’ names to its ebook listings in its new eBook Best-Seller List, starting Monday (August 27) with its second weekly release of the list. Glad to know that a whiff of our Ether here seems to have been inhaled.

Here is our original post on the matter: EXTRA ETHER: DBW’s Best-Seller List


Quality Time / Rollyson, Smith, Bransford

 T. S. Eliot scorned her self-promotion, calling Lowell the “demon saleswoman of poetry.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Amy Lowell, 1874-1925

That’s Amy Lowell biographer Carl Rollyson, writing this week exclusively for the Virginia Quarterly Review at the request of Jane Friedman, VQR’s digital editor, hashtag unto herself, and long-suffering host of the Ether.

Friedman sets up the arrival of this important, brief article, with an editor’s note:

Last month, I tweeted: “Is it just me, or do many professional authors lack a serious professional attitude toward their websites?” In response, Carl Rollyson (@crollyson) tweeted: “I wonder how Amy Lowell would have constructed a website. She was good at showing publishers how to advertise.” So I asked Carl to expand on this idea in a blog post.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Carl Rollyson

And explain he does, in a piece pointedly titled Quality Work Does Not Speak for Itself—It Must Be Marketed.

She did not believe that the work spoke for itself. An author had to speak up for her work and do so with a savvy understanding of the marketplace.

And yet you need not walk far down any hallway to hear somebody claiming that “good work will out,” “it always rises to the top,” “you just focus on writing the best book you can and the rest will take care of itself.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

“In Three Words, What Does ‘Discoverability’ Mean to You” by Matt Gartland, WinningEdits.com

When Matt Gartland put together his new “In Three Words” entry at Digital Book World’s Expert Publishing Blog this week, he asked What Does Discovery Mean to You?

What three words did he get from Bob Mayer, author and publisher?

Great writing, characters.

This, as authors face 32 million active titles in Books in Print, as Bowker’s Laura Dawson tells us. More about that is in this edition of the Ether (direct link). And the “Dawson 32 Million” doesn’t include self-published work. Or non-US books.

Only now is the overwhelming truth of “too many books” beginning to register fully, as the digital dumptruck backs up and drops off new titles so fast that you can’t even publish…a good book about it.

Here’s author Kelvin Smith writing, a bit sheepishly, about his new book, The Publishing Business: From p-books to e-books (curiously priced at $30.76 in paperback with no Kindle edition in sight) at Ed Nawotka’s Publishing Perspectives.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosIn his rather dour article, Smith describes the exhaustion most of us feel.

The industry! the industry! is at best wearing itself out, and at worst tearing us apart. Smith writes:

The tone in the publishing blogosphere is frequently hysterical about this or that tech development, legal battle, industry sector realignment, IP conflict, financial or commercial brouhaha, and the overall impression when you read enough of this stuff, is of an industry, a profession even, in a blue funk.

Some of this hysteria is generated by the eager alarmists in our communities, as we know, the sneering royal asses I call the “snot-nerds” among us.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosBut Smith also has a roll of the eyes for the “not him again” pundits who seem to turn up on every agenda and panel discussion because perpetuating the flux is good for business.

Conference upon conference seems to address the same issues, and attract a relatively small group of people apparently paid just to think about the future of publishing. They race from conference venue to conference venue, creating and dominating the debate, and why not? They are paid to do just that.

Smith is gracious enough to concede, tacitly:

Writing a book about publishing while these changes are going on seems like trying to hit a very erratically moving market…to make sense of the rapidly changing publishing landscape.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosSmith cites three key impressions from trying to hit that “very erratically moving market” in a book about books:

  1. Process over pith. Bright-shiny stuff leads a lot of our debate. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” Smith asks, “if more publishers were asking and answering questions about what publishing is for — and reasserting that publishing purpose is as important as publishing process?”
  2. Parochialism. “The way in which publishing reconciles its local anchorage with its global outreach is an important thing for publishers to keep in mind as they develop their businesses in the twenty-first century.”
  3. Vanity over value. Lastly, he writes, the overtake of publishing by entertainment interests means “many publishing people have lost the belief that they are doing something worthwhile.”

Perhaps much of mainstream publishing has not done itself a favour by being seduced by popular culture’s attraction to celebrity over substance. Surely it’s time to pull ourselves together.

OK, then, let’s hear it for quality, right? And the chutzpah to sell it with gusto as Rollyson says Lowell would have done.

Well, not so fast.

Nathan Bransford

Nathan Bransford has chosen this moment of near-clarity to raise his hand and ask if we all aren’t just too het up over this quality crap.

I’ve long held the belief that the publishing industry cares too much about a certain level of writing quality, and I’d include myself in the camp as well.

Bransford can’t help himself, of course, he’s in California, you know how that goes, and it’s been a long, hot summer, and he’s reading Fifty Shades of You Know What, and it obviously is doing everything for his sense of literary discernment we might expect. Get this:

So far I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as I had heard people complain of it, but yeah, it’s not, nor do I think it’s supposed to be, Shakespeare.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosI can’t do an intervention, I’m on the East Coast. Is there anybody near Bransford who can reach the man? Ye shall know him by the post headlined Does the Publishing Industry Care Too Much About Writing Quality?

In the rousing range of responses to that question about quality, Bransford seems to be getting a good bit of buy-in from people who say that readers are much happier with “a good story” than they are with “good writing.”

Bransford, himself, loads his question this way:

I’m unconvinced the majority of the reading public cares about “good” writing. They care about stories and settings and characters. Prose? I’m not sure I buy it…Should the industry still try to maintain the same level of quality of writing even if the public doesn’t care?

Just for the record, I’ve read some of Bransford’s Jacob Wonderbar material and he does not skimp on quality, himself.

And I see no one in comments to his post asking this: Has “the public” ever cared as much about quality as artists and artisans have? — in writing, in theater, in dance, in music, in journalism, in photography and other visual arts?

So now we’re to turn to the public, with its fascination for princely posteriors, His Highness’ heinie, the Seat of St. James, the butt of Balmoral, God save his glutes — and so say we Hip! Hip! …? Those people are to be “the deciders” of what’s appropriate as a goal in publishing now?

 

Check our Last Gas today about Magnum photographer Martine Franck. Look at some of her photos. You can bet Harry’s royal rear that Franck didn’t toss out a few “good enough” ringers along the way because “the public” didn’t care as much as she did about quality.

Bransford writes:

We’re about to test this on a massive scale as the books that would never have made it through the publishing process in manuscript form due to subpar prose are out there ready to take off, sell a gajillion copies and prove the industry wrong.

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“About to test” has already landed in our eBook Best-Sellers List section right after this one. Stay with us for another gulp of gas and we’ll let you in on how many “gajillion copies” of “the books that would never have made it through the publishing process” seem to be selling so far.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosMeanwhile, let’s be clear about this essay from Carl Rollyson, biographer of Dana Andrews, Picasso, Lillian Hellman, and (coming in January) Sylvia Plath.

I would not like to be visited by Amy Lowell’s full-figured ghost for getting this wrong.

Rollyson writes that Lowell started with — and supported — quality work with her sharp sense for business. And he writes this in excellent prose of his own, by the way. I hear the sound of no Ethernauts running in disgust from Rollyson’s own good work, do you?

Rollyson:

I know this kind of proactive engagement is not for every author… But for others—like Amy Lowell and like me—imagining and creating an audience for one’s work is what writing is all about.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosOf 16 people represented in Gartland’s “In Three Words” responses, four mention metadata:

  • Fans, covers, metadata
  • Metadata, marketing, handselling
  • Metadata gets sexy
  • Metadata, brands, cross-selling

Rollyson is telling us that Lowell likely would gladly have made that five mentions of metadata. He speculates that “social media and electronic platforms…I’m sure would have thrilled her.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosHe describes, in fact, a tireless champion not only of her own visibility but also on behalf of colleagues in Imagism.

Rollyson describes Lowell crawling over every detail of her own book presentations, “fonts…page layouts…catalog announcements.”

You can bet she would not be against social media, labeling it some new imposition on the author, more comfortable with the easier and cozier ways that prevailed in the old days.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosHe’s not saying anything to suggest that Lowell would rushed out to “throw up some ebooks on the Internet,” as James Scott Bell laughingly puts it.

Lowell saw no reason why quality work of the first order should not be aggressively introduced into the marketplace.

Maybe the reason Lowell would have been a happy platformer, per Rollyson, but one who never sacrificed quality to the commercial, is because she cared not just about being read — but about who read her. Rollyson one more time:

As she put it, she was not trying to create readers of poetry, she was appealing to readers who already had a spark of poetry in them that could be ignited.

Get that? Maybe it’s all in who you’d like as readers.

Or do you give

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eBook Best-Sellers: Where Are the ‘Indies’? / Shatzkin, Weinman, Owen

There is not one self-published ebook in the overall Top 25 and only two appear at all, both on the lowest price band (from zero to $2.99).

Mike Shatzkin voiced for all of us one of the key reasons that Digital Book World’s new weekly eBook Best-Seller List’s debut on Monday went off like a cherry bomb.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingThe arrival of this new view into ebook sales across three major retailers had several surprises in store — the kinds that prove we aren’t as far along in understanding the digital dynamic as we’d hoped.

I gave the list an early swipe in my Extra Ether that morning.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Sarah Weinman

Sarah Weinman at Publishers Lunch clarified in her write Digital Book World Launches Aggregated eBook Bestseller List that in a given list, you’ll see an ebook represented by the “minimum price that appeared at any point during the week on any retailer.”

That’s an important point, of course, because algorithm-driven fluidity of ebook pricing is one of the most vexing elements in the market for many.

Laura Hazard Owen

Laura Hazard Owen at paidContent in her write, Digital Book World aims for a more accurate ebook bestseller list, notes that the DBW list is an attempt to get a more nearly accurate picture of the market, in which:

A low-priced ebook that sells many copies is still not necessarily driving as much revenue as a higher-priced book a couple of spots lower down the list.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Mike Shatzkin

And Shatzkin went on to enumerate more surprises in the result of the work by Iobyte Solutions’ Dan Lubart for DBW.

What is even more interesting to me, and which defies the notion that the big publishers aren’t aware of the value of lower pricing, is how the list breaks down in the lowest price tier (they list 10 titles): Random House 2, Self-published 2, Entangled 2, HarperCollins 2, Soho 1, Penguin 1.

  • Six of the top 10 titles under $3 belong to the Big Six.
  • The Big Six plus Scholastic have seven of the top 10 in the $3-$7.99 price band as well.
  • Above $8, only Kensington breaks the monopoly of the Big Six, with one title.

So it would appear that the notion that The Big Six are hurting authors by pricing their books too high is not borne out by this data.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosAnd what also comes across in this first outing for the list is that the Top 25 is dominated not only by ebooks published by major houses but also by price points on the upper end.

I count 17 of the Top 25 selling at $9.99 or higher. Four more are priced between $5 and $7.99.

Thus, in this first week of the list’s analysis:

  • Self-publishing doesn’t have as much presence as might have been expected;
  • Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosThe Big Six come out in a far more commanding position, up and down the price bands, than many might have anticipated; and
  • It doesn’t look as if super-low pricing may be as effective as some have hoped — nor does it look like higher pricing points (whether through agency arrangements or otherwise) are as daunting to readers as some have asserted.

Keep an eye on DBW’s release each Monday of the new list.

As Shatzkin writes:

It will be particularly interesting to watch how the lists change in the various price bands later this fall if the DoJ settlement is approved and the retailers are free to set prices on the output of half of the Big Six.

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Respect: Coming and Going / Bourne, Wolff

If your book isn’t selling, literary agents are not to blame. It may be that your book doesn’t really belong in mainstream commercial publishing…Or it may be that…you haven’t done the groundwork you need to do to get out of the slush pile and onto a literary agent’s radar.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosIn “A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents at The Millions, Michael Bourne absolves agents everywhere of everything for every reason, amen.

They simply don’t have time to read all the books they’d like to read, even the ones from writers who sound like they might be talented. So, agents work with people they know, and friends of people they know.

About a third of the way in, he adds:

I should know because I recently finished a novel and have spent the last six months hearing polite, carefully hedged versions of “no.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosAha. A self-counseling session is full on. Bourne’s talkin’ ’bout the man in the mirror. And somehow, while making all the right noises, the more Bourne writes, the more Stepford he sounds.

Folio (Literary Management) co-founder Scott Hoffman explains that the agency receives roughly 100,000 unsolicited queries a year…Hoffman has taken on four new writers in the last year, only one of whom came in through the slush pile…putting the odds of an author without connections getting Hoffman to take on his or her book at roughly 1 in 11,111.

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The odds of someone wanting to take on Bourne as a client seem to get more remote by the sentence.

If that sounds like I’m saying, “It’s all about who you know,” that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying. You can rail about how unfair that is, and how it makes publishing into an incestuous little club…that’s the way the machine is built, people.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosEver notice how off-putting it is when someone addresses you as “people?”

Wrapped in what at times seem to be obsequy, Bourne exits, busily giving the industry every benefit of every doubt. Tomorrow is another day:

There is a market, however tiny, for good books, and there are a small number of smart, hard-working people who live for the thrill of finding a talented author. If you are one of those talented authors, then it is your job to stop whining and figure out how to make it easy for them to find you.

All of which sets Bourne up as a potential fish in a barrel for author Jurgen Wolff.

While I admire humility, I meet too many writers who take it too far. They act as though an agent would be doing them a favor by representing them and a publisher would be granting an act of generosity by publishing their book.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Jurgen Wolff

Pretty much head-on, aren’t they? Bourne and Wolff, collision ahead, get off a flare.

Wolff is the author of, most recently, the business-book-sounding (FT Press, after all) Creativity Now: Get inspired, create ideas and make them happen! in a second edition.

That exclamation point is entirely his, don’t blame me.

Here, he’s at Writer Unboxed a few days ago,  in an essay titled Writers, Let’s Not Wear a “Kick Me” Sign On Our Backs.

I’m not saying that editors and agents aren’t nice people, but they’re not in business to be your friend, they’re in business to make money. If they think you can help them do that, they will work with you. If they don’t, they won’t.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosHe starts, bless him, by recalling “the old days, when an editor would see a spark of talent in an aspiring novelist and publish his or her book not expecting to make a profit on it but hoping that after five or six books the writer would catch on.”

He goes on, in this light, to invoke Maxwell Perkins:

(He) took on F. Scott Fitzgerald despite the opposition of Perkins’ colleagues at Charles Scribner’s sons. He worked closely with Fitzgerald to get This Side of Paradise into publishable shape and ultimately became a close friend of the talented but alcoholic and chaotic novelist. He had much the same relationship with Ernest Hemingway and, for a time, Thomas Wolfe.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

But, of course, quoth the raven, that was then, this is now.

These days it’s all about the money, and not in the long term. …Most editors are even less inclined to take chances… Similarly, agents are interested in clients who will earn enough for fifteen percent of that sum to be worth working for.

You know what this pairing of Bourne and Wolff shows? –how richly incongruous the digital dynamic has made the motivations of various classes within publishing.

As Bourne diligently talks himself into yet another rewrite — “I am seriously thinking about revising the book from beginning to end before I send it out again” — Wolff is just as purposfully trying to straighten the backbones of long-bowed writers:

My point is that you and the agent or you and the publisher are business partners. Equal business partners.

And both men are right. Both men are right.

Yes, Bourne, writers need to get these heavy chips off their shoulders and listen to the expertise coming back to them from The Rejectors. And yes, Wolff, writers also need to expect respect and stand up as if they know their years of effort have earned it.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

With its art nouveau framing and image of the summer Seine perfectly matched to its text, this VQR Poetry Poster #8 (William Logan’s “A Garret in Paris”) is the best yet.

I especially like Wolff’s rejection of silence as “the new ‘no'”:

Agents and producers who are willing to look at unsolicited material (should) have the courtesy to let writers know when they are not interested in something offered to them, rather than just not answering.

I’ve lived in cultures in Europe the collective temperaments of which make silence the equivalent of “no.”

This works no better for those good people than it does in publishing, in which some have decided to announce that no answer means they’re not interested.

It actually can appear to be evasive.

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As Wolff writes:

I’m not suggesting they owe writers a critique or anything more than a simple, “Thank you, but this does not meet our needs at the present time.” …How long would it take to have a secretary send that message via an email?

Look, Jurgen has publishing people’s backs, too. If things went as they should, he writes:

Writers would not ask agents or publishers for personal advice, loans, or make “my dog ate my homework” type excuses for missing deadlines. Yes, talk to any agent and you’ll find out all of these happen.

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But he’s not afraid to make what may be the most justifiable run at publishers available in good conscience today — and yet, oddly, the one we hear the least about:

Agents and publishers (should) recognize that we are in this together and reflect in their royalties, especially for ebooks, that more of the burden of marketing falls upon the writer than ever before.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

I started by liking neither essay. Bourne was too self-effacing on the part of the writing sector, I felt, and Wolff was too demanding.

But in that strange way the digital dynamic has these days of mucking things up just enough to keep you off-balance — beneficially — I realized that, taken together, these two fellows had written up a kind of portrait of our tired, bewildered community.Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

“Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny,” GBS had Jack Tanner tell us in The Revolutionist’s Handbook that follows Man and Superman. “They have only shifted it to another shoulder.”

And when you consider Bourne struggling to own his failures, then look at Wolff exhorting us all to take responsibility for ourselves, you realize what a dangerous bog of a business we’re crossing. And why two heads are better than one.

Taken together, maybe we can manage to look a little less selfish than we all must feel at times these days.

As Wolff writes:

Respect should be expected and delivered in both directions.

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Social Media: Verification at last / Friedman

Here, on the 52nd consecutive weekly gassing of the Ether, I’m pleased to make sure you’re aware that our Jane Friedman — she of the 160,300+ followers — has been suddenly and rightly “verified” by Twitter Almighty.

Couldn’t happen to a better person.

I am beyond green. I am the color of absinthe with envy.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

And an update from England:

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingJust as the Ether gasses into the light of day. Sam Missingham of TheBookseller and TheFutureBook tells us that TheBookseller has been verified, as well.

Congratulations on both sides of the Pond.

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Authors: Remember Amanda Hocking? / Cook

I was working full-time in a group home…I think it was like 3 to 9, or 2 to 10 p.m….and when I came home, at the time we didn’t have cable or Internet because we couldn’t afford it. So that was like an amazing thing, like a miracle, because I could never get distracted. I had to sit down and write because there was nothing on at 10 o’clock at night…I would write all night long…I’d sleep for probably four or five hours, and then I’d get up and do it again.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Amanda Hocking

Two years ago this month — and speaking of Twitter-verified luminaries — Amanda Hocking tells entertainment journalist (and longtime pal of mine) Shanon Cook, she started writing full-time. “That was about six months after I started publishing.”

Here is a brand-new, handsomely crafted (with timed still shots) 24-minute Meet the Author podcast from iTunes — followed by Nicola Barber’s reading of Chapter 1 of Wake. It was recorded last week at the SoHo Apple Store with an audience.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Shanon Cook

And both Cook and some of the audience members have good questions for her, including a lot of how-did-you-do-it? queries, the stuff those Amazonian dreams are made on.

Cook puts the “Dawson’s 32 Million Active Titles Question” to Hocking, asking “How on Earth is it possible to stand out (as Hocking did, in selling more than a million ebooks) with that kind of competition?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosAs usual, Hocking is quite straigthtforward in talking about her approach.

I’ve tried to come up with some sort of magic answer — aha, this one thing. But I think it was really a combination of things:

  • I was writing a popular genre;
  • I had a number of books that I could publish on-hand, so I put out a lot of books in a short amount of time;
  • I priced them very low;
  • And I was very present on the Internet, so I was actively talking to readers or book bloggers, that kind of thing.
  • And then some other magical element where stars align and angels sing and that kind of thing just played into it, too.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosHocking still writes at night. Like some of her vampire characters, she’s a devoted night creature, sleeps dayside, and writes a book “in two to four weeks” in marathon stints of 10 hours or more at a time.

She talks about outlining as being a major help in her work. “Outlining helps you never put the (writer’s) block in the way.”

If you take away the distractions and put somebody in front of a computer long enough, they’ll write something.

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I’ll allow the critic in me to make one comment here. Hocking — whose openness about her career has  always been admirable — starts the session with Cook by reading the first page of the prologue of Wake, her new book from St. Martin’s Griffin.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Shanon Cook, left, and Amanda Hocking. Photos: iTunes/Apple Store podcast

As it turns out, Hocking shares a serious problem with many authors — she can’t give a good public reading of her own work.

For many writers, it takes training to learn the kind of delivery they need at a podium.

The “reading voice” is different from that of a daily speaking voice.

And putting your work across in a reading calls for skills largely untouched in the writing process, itself.

So there’s no reason for a writer to feel bad if she or he isn’t a natural in front of a crowd ready to hear the work read aloud. But it is a problem that that needs specialized, dedicated work to overcome.

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Copyright: Or Creditright? / Jarvis

Don’t we in this world — the Blogger/Twitter/Medium (read: Ev’s) universe — want our stuff to be shared, carried along on a wave of recommendation, comment, addition, and argument? We just want credit. That’s what needs protection.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Jeff Jarvis

“Ev” is Evan Williams of Twitter-founding fame. And our commentary writer here is Jeff Jarvis in the first of a two-parter.

The first section — Copyright or creators’ rights? — is on “Ev’s” new Medium site.

The second – Copyright v creditright — is on Jarvis’ own blog site, a continuation and fleshing out of his concept.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosSalient points:

  • Content is not king. The assumption that content contains all our value in media leads us to sell it and prevent others from copying it, true — but it also leads to missing opportunities, such as realizing the value in relationships.
  • If relationships have value, then creators want to assure connections to people through links and data: “Who read or commented on or shared my idea and what can we do together?”
  • This notion does not kill advertising support for creation. But it says that revenue should travel with content as it is shared.

How practical Jarvis’ ideas in this regard may be is up for debate. But as perplexing as the copyright issue has become on the digital tide, a re-envisioning of what rights creators actually need is worth some thought.

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Craft: More Best-Seller Lists / Ferriss

If you’ve ever wondered like me what a pure listing of all new hardcovers would look like, regardless of subject matter, the below list provided to me by Amazon — which I’ll call the “Amazon Monthly 100″ — is probably the closest you’ll ever get.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Tim Ferriss

Normally more decorative than useful, Amazon author Tim Ferriss has put some time, maybe not four hours, into a post headlined How Bestseller Lists Work…and Introducing the Amazon Monthly 100.

His The 4-Hour Chef is set for a November release, so he’ll need to cook up some best-seller results there, probably on his mind.

I don’t think I have wondered, really, what that “pure listing of all new hardcovers would look like.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosBut one part of the rationale on this is good — the monthly element of the promised list should, as Ferriss writes, “remove all one-week wonders and most pay-for-play (buying your own books to hit the list).”

Not as interesting as the new DBW ebooks list, Ferriss’ write does have some information on several other major lists. And he bemoans in bold fonts, the fact that “the Times refuses to track eBook sales for all this “lesser” non-fiction!”

Exclamation point his, of course.

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Craft: More Copyright / Frazer

“I copyrighted this DVD by mailing it to myself.”

Yeah, not so much.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Brad Frazer

And while copyright issues for authors may not be the sexiest topic — hold your breath for Ferriss’ 4-Hour Copyright Expert — Brad Frazer knows this:

There is one very important “gotcha” that can arise from not timely registering one’s copyrights. In the United States, if you do not register your copyright in a work within three months of the date of first publication of that work, you will not be able to recover either your attorney’s fees or a special category of money called “statutory damages” in a subsequent copyright infringement lawsuit—even if you win.

In Copyright is Not a Verb, a guest post for the verified Jane Friedman, Frazer wades into a big area of confusion for many writers these days — some of whom have heard myths about how to copyright a work, and others have heard that copyrighting is a thing of the past, forget it, don’t worry.

So, should a writer copyright an unpublished work before submitting it?… The answer depends on whether the author wishes to have a remedy to enforce her copyrights through a copyright infringement lawsuit in the event her work is copied or distributed unlawfully and her copyright is thus infringed.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosFrazer’s write has several nice party-chat nuggets for you, too. For example, that little “c” in a circle? Means nothing about whether the copyright has been registered.

And titles, you know, “aren’t protectable in copyright”:

You may call your book “JAWS” without infringing on Peter Benchley’s copyrights, assuming you did not otherwise plagiarize Mr. Benchley’s words.

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Craft: Exercising Your Muse / Ross

So I returned this morning, once again, to my writing routine. And, lo and behold, I felt enough of a creative rush to write this post, my first to this site in two weeks. I am a slow learner, but if I keep calling myself out publicly on these setbacks, maybe the lesson will sink in. A daily workout with my muse is not an indulgence, but an investment.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Patrick Ross

There are three ideas here, really, in Patrick Ross’ write — Is Your Creative Muse Getting Regular Exercise?

And I’m interested in what works for you — this stuff is all over the map, depending who you talk to.

  • Idea #1 — has to be early morning.
  • Idea #2 — has to be physical exercise.
  • Idea #3 — has to be mental exercise (as in writing before dawn).

So what is it for you? Ross is saying that while the morning workout may not be his routine, the morning write is, when he’s on his game.

Yes? No? Huh?

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Books: Reading on the Ether

For an updated list of planned confabs, please see the Publishing Conferences page at PorterAnderson.com. There, you’ll note that the upcoming F+W Media conferences now have extended Early Bird rates into mid-August — it’s not too late, after all, to get the best prices.

The books you see here have been referenced recently in Writing on the Ether.

I’m bringing them together in one spot each week, to help you recall and locate them, not as an endorsement.


Writing on the Ether Sponsors:


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Last Gas: Franck in Her Own Right / Phillips

Over the past week, it’s been maddening to see that so much of the writing in her memory has positioned her in relationship to her husband. Headlines announce the passing of the legend’s wife, and quotes de-emphasize the importance of her own photography.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum Photos

Kate Phillips

As if in answer to the old “that’s no lady, that’s my wife” line, Mangum Photos editor Kate Phillips honors the late Martine Franck (1938-2012) as An Introvert’s Photographer at Slate — and as very much her own person.

When one is married to one of the most famous photographers in history (Henri Cartier-Bresson), she risks being pigeonholed as her “husband’s wife.” Belgian photographer Martine Franck, who died last week at 74, was an unusual artist, deserving of recognition for her own unique visual and personal strengths.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosFranck — a member of Magnum, herself, from 1980, and a co-founder of Paris’ Viva agency — had a special relationship with Ariane Mnouchkine and her Theatre du Soleil theater company. She became the company’s official photographer, placing herself at the very center of the sheer force that French performance art spun around itself in the middle of the last century.

Phillips writes:

She didn’t photograph war or famine. Her greatest work took as its subject the intellectual landscape of humanity. Her photographs evoke a sense of serenity and an eye for design in the world around her. Martine found architecture in the landscape, both built and natural.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosAmong my favorite Franck photos (and I’m hardly alone in loving this image) is her famous study of a pool designed by Alain Capeilleres in Le Brusc, Provence.

The lines of the tiles force a perspective lesson tightly contested by stark, clean shadow-play, a body, a hammock, a serpentine grassy berm.

There’s some good commentary on this work, in particular, in Marco Werman’s interview with Magnum’s Susan Meiselas, Remembering Celebrated Photographer Martine Franck from PRI’s The World.

Rather than show it to you here, I’m mindful of the great work Magnum has done in protecting its artists’ property.

So I’ll tempt you with a small look at it on the cover of Franck’s 2005 monograph, One Day to the Next, and direct you to this excellent look at the piece — and a grand portfolio of Franck’s work — at the Magnum site, itself.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing, Martine Franck, Magnum PhotosFranck traveled to New York for the Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century in 2010, the same year she released Women/Femmes and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, notes Amanda Hopkinson in her Martine Franck obituary for the Guardian.

As Mark Bussell related in his piece on her that year for the Times, Martine Franck’s Pictures Within Pictures, she followed the MoMA trip with a journey to India to photograph women’s support groups.

Phillips writes:

For me personally, Martine was an introvert’s photographer—a role model for those of us who find strength in quiet observation. A couple of days before her death, I read a quote by Martine that hit home for me: “I was very ill at ease with people in social situations, and I realized that if I photographed I wouldn’t have to chat.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing

Martine Franck, 2010, Photo from PRI’s The World, credited to Photoq01/YouTube

And, Phillips reveals, she had been engaged with Franck on a collection of her work, some of which you can see on the Slate site in a gallery there.

I wanted to do her proud with a comprehensive edit of her work and my initial attempt at a slide show yielded 468 “finalists” that I wish I could share. Instead, I’m giving you a hint of that creativity-filled dinner party and hope that you’ll raise a glass in Martine’s memory.

That man wasn’t Henri Cartier-Bresson.

He was Martine Franck’s husband.

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My Call to the Ring by Deirdre Gogarty & Darrelyn SaloomMy Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box

by Deirdre Gogarty & Darrelyn Saloom
In the 1980s, boxing is illegal for women in Ireland. But Deirdre Gogarty has only one dream: to be the first Irish woman to win a world boxing title. How can a shy, young misfit become a professional boxer in a country that bans women from the sport? Gogarty follows her calling to compete and journeys from the Irish Sea to the Gulf of Mexico, from outcast to center ring, from the depths of depression to the championship fight of her life.

“If you’ve ever wondered why and how people do extraordinary, almost impossible things, read My Call to the Ring. Deirdre Gogarty knocked me out with this book.”

—Ted Mann, former National Lampoon editor, television writer and producer

Find out more on Amazon and download a sample to your Kindle.


Main images: iStockphoto / Paha_L and giac

  • http://twitter.com/ficwriter Darrelyn Saloom

    Thank you for chosing to include quotes by the late Pat McCormack. Sadly, he died before the book came out, but Deirdre had visited him in Ireland a few months before he passed and they discussed her memoir. I roared when I saw you included Pat’s quote with “sexist fuckers” on the Ether.

  • http://twitter.com/dzmalone Dave Malone

    Porter, as usual, my head is spinning after reading the Ether. I thought this, in particular, was a gem from Mr. Bourne: “It may be that your book doesn’t really belong in mainstream commercial publishing.” Wow. So that raises the question, how did it get there? Which he also answers. I find it very interesting. It really proves Lowell’s point that the author has to do the leg (or chair) work. And like Lowell, there’s no need to sacrifice quality for something as thin as “a good story.” I’ll put on my snot-nerd airs for a change. I like to be entertained, at times, by a few guilty pleasures that I won’t name (Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return, I read every summer; okay I went ahead and named). But as you imply, it is a reality of publishing that is perhaps different than other artistic media. I can go to my hometown art museum and see some interesting art and also some very mediocre art. But that mediocre stuff is not readily accessible to others and it’s not ubiquitous. When I work with writers, I inspire them to really reach and make their work as rich and layered and interesting as possible. For my clients struggling with character, structure, and setting, John Knowles’s A Separate Peace has become one of my favorite teaching tools because it’s such a clean, tight, interesting, rich novel.

  • http://twitter.com/dzmalone Dave Malone

    Such great quotes. I was really struck by the power and simplicity of: “You can forget about boxing in Ireland.” What a heartbreaker. But what resiliency and bravery on Dee’s part to journey alone to the States and to a coach she’d never met–and who didn’t agree to take her on at first!

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

    Oh, how sad to hear that Pat McCormack didn’t live to see the book, he’d have been endlessly proud of it, I’m sure! Doubly glad now to have quoted him, he sounds like a fantastic guy.

    Thanks again for the grand sponsorship, such rich material I could excerpt for months. As it is, I felt it best to work right up to the moment of the first fight and leave them needing to buy the book to see how it goes. :)
    -p.

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

    Ah, A Separate Peace is also an ingenious choice because it’s intense. Nothing ever is quite OK in that book, you can’t shake it without moving forward, masterful work, really.

    And yeah, Dave, I think the points I come away from in this quality debate lie in using the headline to mean it’s time for quality. I’m sick of the creeping “OK to be good enough” ethos that’s overtaking things so badly. What folks do with his work is not Nathan’s fault, of course, but there really are people who will turn to each other and say, “Hey, Nathan says we don’t have to worry so much about quality now, it’s all just story and stuff.” And I think this is sad and even, in many cases, stupid.

    The digital dynamic is jerking us around so badly that giving each other a chance to get off the hook of quality is about the dumbest move we could make.

    What’s more, you can’t look at those new best-seller list results and not realize that “the public” — which isn’t supposed to care about quality, right? — is buying the higher-priced work more than it’s buying the low-priced, self-published material. That tells us more than some people wanted to know (as Shatzkin implies) but it’s the detail that the smartest people are now mulling. What do you do when, to everybody’s amazement, we find out they’re opting to pay $12.99 for ebooks instead of 99 cents? Uh-oh? And here the Kingdom of Self-Publishing has been running its prices down, down, down and … you can hardly spot one on the most accurate best-seller list we’ve had. Oh dear, haha, maybe it’s all been a terrible mistake. :)

    Interesting, difficult times. Nobody says we should all have our heads buried in Voltaire all day, but the quality question simply cannot go unchallenged. There are too many amateurs just salivating for that kind of bone.

    For Harry and Country,
    HIp! HIp! …
    -p.

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

    It’s a great story, really, and wonderful to be in touch with such single-minded intention as Deirdre’s. Good to know that still exists in this ADD, fragmented, distracted era.
    -p.

  • http://twitter.com/dzmalone Dave Malone

    What to do indeed! Because a great number of us are willing to pay more for more. I think it’s great that you are playing with this question. On a side note, unabashedly I have given away my work for free or sold it for 99 cents–in the hope to make it accessible, get folks interested. Hm. But who are those readers? Some of them have made it clear to me who they are: “I thought poetry was supposed to rhyme.” Whoa. So I’m with you. For quality and for country! Hip!

  • http://twitter.com/ficwriter Darrelyn Saloom

    Here, here, Malone. I think of the hours you and I will spend on a word, a sentence, a paragraph. Writers need to strive for excellence. Always. Before they are published, after they are published. Yearn for the struggle to improve.

  • http://twitter.com/ficwriter Darrelyn Saloom

    I’m so glad Porter chose the Pat McCormack quote. I never tired of revising his scenes.

  • http://twitter.com/ficwriter Darrelyn Saloom

    Porter, I know you are swamped on Ether day. But if you have time, read the book’s Amazon review by Maryann Madsen. She also addresses Deirdre’s single-minded intention.

  • http://twitter.com/ficwriter Darrelyn Saloom

    I tear up everytime I read about Pat. I fell madly in love with him as I co-wrote the book with Deirdre. Thank you for being such a wonderful host. Looking forward to next week and my favorite poet.

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

    Looking forward to next week, too! :)

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

    Got it on the list, may not get to it today, but will see it! :)

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

    I fear it comes down to the old saw, even in readers: You get what they pay for. :)

  • http://twitter.com/MarlaRoseBrady Marla Rose Brady

    thanks for sharing this. you always include great tweets and true business when it comes to the marketing world of books. As a librarian, I understand the truth behind these issues. it’s nice to know sometimes that I am not making it up! lol

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

    Thanks for the kind words, Marla, and for reading the Ether and dropping a note — it’s really appreciated, especially if you find that we’re getting at some issues you see as pertinent. Plenty more of those where these came from. :)
    Thanks again,
    -p.

  • AJ Sikes

    I knew I could count on you, Porter, to call out Nathan’s comments. Nothing scares me more than the idea that we don’t need to attend to craft anymore because, hey, anybody can publish, so why not just go ahead and do it. You know I’m a firm advocate of the assisted self-publishing model, but that doesn’t mean I’m prepared to dismiss all the necessary effort at putting together good writing.

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

    Well said, Aaron, and I have to say I’m sorry Nathan felt he had to raise the subject that way at all. As I suggested, his own work is high-calibre stuff, he’s in no way the kind of slacker he may encourage here. And while we all have to support Bransford’s right to say what he wants to (yes, to the other Nathan, Mr. Hale), there’s something to not waving red flags in bullpens. As much as the industry! the industry! is struggling to find a way forward on standards in a business overrun with amateurs, offering the thought that it might be OK to go subpar is truly counter-productive.

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