Posts tagged: publishing

What’s the deal with hardbacks, anyway?

I have a question for you, Bark readers. So let’s crowdsource it and see what we come up with. Why do we publish hardback original editions of books? As in, why do we publish novels or memoirs or even, occasionally, short story collections in hardback form? Why shouldn’t all new editions, which are currently released in hardback form, just come out in paperback form on their pub date? Related question: does this make me a socialist?

In the current model, some, but nowhere near all, new releases come out in hardback, and then are released later in paperback. The books released in hardback supposedly carry more prestige, and are able to generate more buzz and more reviews, which can lead to better sales, consideration for awards, and so on. However, many books are released in paperback, and the conventional wisdom is that it’s harder to generate national publicity for those books, because hardback first editions usually come from big publishers with a lot of marketing muscle, and thus it’s harder to get reviews for first edition paperbacks.

A hardback short story collection? It’s like seeing a unicorn!

The obvious answer is that hardbacks make more money, for both the publisher and author. My understanding is that the profit margin is significantly higher on hardbacks, but I’d be curious to know exact figures. What I’m wondering is whether, if all new releases were in paperback, the sales (in terms of revenue, not units sold) would be the same or greater than our current system. This is one of those situations where I’m ignorant about the business side of publishing, so if you have answers, please share.

Here’s the thing: I love books, and I buy way more of them than my income should allow for. I support buying books, and buying them often, and buying the books of people who are hardworking and good literary citizens and wicked awesome people. However, I actually cringe upon seeing that a hardback novel is $30. Thirty dollars? That’s two weeks worth of gas; nearly a week’s worth of groceries; ten lattes; three pairs of men’s jeans; 2-3 months worth of cat food; a nice bottle of whiskey to last through Spokane’s 4-6 months of winter…you get the idea. Do I value art more than I value those things? Maybe. But I could also buy two brand-new paperbacks for that price. Read more »

The Accident of Genius

Every once in a while, when I’m wading through the endless shallow sea of student writing that constitutes most of my life during certain times of year, I stumble upon something that surprises me. Something that makes me glad.

Here are some of the remarkable things that I’ve found while wading:

  1. An expository essay on how to cook, cut, and sell meth. Among the helpful tips: a paragraph on how to not get caught. The trick, it seems, is never to tell anybody your name, never to sell to anybody you know personally. Also, it helps to own a business in the industrial district that refinishes bathtubs. The smell of the chemicals used to re-enamel the tubs hides the smell of the chemicals used to cook the meth. Read more »

Update to the Update: Policy not only rescinded, Blazevox closing at the end of the year


So for those of you following the Blazevox scandal (see the earlier post for a primer) it looks like I/we didn’t have to wait too long for a response. I’ve been checking Blazevox’s blog every few hours to see if he’d respond, and he just did in a blog post, where he rescinded the program.

Well, while I was writing about that post and asking questions (I’d just finished it and posted it), I just found out that his press will close at the end of the year.

I’m not happy about this. I didn’t want his press to close; I admired the work he does/did. That’s why I sent my manuscript there; I trusted him to turn it into a book.

But he violated that trust (and that of many others), and to rectify that, I simply wanted him to do the right thing and let writers know about his policy in advance. Transparency was what I was after.

Unfortunately, that transparency came far too late.


burning paradise cover

We made this.

Today’s the big day. Not the day I buy my first house (that was in April), not the day I celebrate being married five years (that was in May), not the day I see the first ultrasound of my child (that was two weeks ago). No, today is the day I see my other baby: the first book I signed as editor at Gray Dog Press is being released today.

There were others that saw the light of day first, several books that have my name on their contracts, but they were already accepted before I started at Gray Dog; my signature was merely a formalizing of a previous decision. My work on those was largely proofreading and light copyedits, some cover design. And there’s the Zafiro book, And Every Man Has to Die, that I signed after BP, but he’s penned several books and it, too, was pretty well accepted before I started here. Burning Paradise is different. I picked it out of the slushpile, vouched for it when the time came, and now I’ve seen it through from a twenty-year-old manuscript to a brand-new novel. In many ways it encapsulates my experience as Senior Editor at GDP. Along the way there were many moments of confusion, frustration, exhaustion, celebration, and primal piss-in-your-pants fear.

Read more »

An uproar in YA-land

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article criticizing (if that’s a strong enough word) the darkness in YA literature. Publishers, the author says, “use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.” As someone who has always enjoyed young adult literature, you can imagine this struck a nerve.

I’ve blogged before about genres that don’t seem to get enough respect, and so I’ve spent the last few hours trying to find a way to put a new spin on this issue (because, really, this is just another iteration). But then I came across this response, which didn’t fit with my thoughts at all but still felt oh so right. I still believe issues such as this (and, as another example, the V.S. Naipaul crap) need to be talked about. Tonight, however, I’ll let others do the talking for me. In the meantime, I think I’ll go read a dark and threatening book.

A Writer Vouches for the E-Reader

Yes, my Kindle sleeps next to me

I am the proud and unassuming owner of an Amazon Kindle. It was given to me almost a year ago by my good friend, Evan, who said “If anyone in the world needs one, Monet – it’s you.” And boy did he create a monster. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love books. I love how books smell, especially borrowed books from the library (smoke, powder, cheese?). I love the overall aesthetic look of books and I love how if you’ve read one book enough, you can open it right to your favorite parts. And there’s something to be said about how awesome your bookshelf looks crowded with books. But seriously, the world of the e-reader is just as awesome. Here are my top five reasons why you might want to consider coming to the dark side: Read more »

Your face disturbs me

Horror of Dracula

Today I wrote a rejection letter that contained these lines: “Although it seems that vampires are everywhere, there’s more to a successful book than the race & attributes of its characters. While genre-specific readerships are huge, they are also inundated with opportunities for reading, and a book must stand out in some way if it’s to take hold of the market.”

This was my way of saying, “Please, stop making me cry.”

Maybe you’re tired of hearing people complain about how many vampire manuscripts there are. You know why people complain about that sort of thing? Because it’s true.

The Lost Monster (No, not that one.)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Bowker & Bowker (the ISBN monster) had unleashed its latest money-sucking trap for People Who Would Be Writers (PWWBWs): Bowker Manuscript Submissions (.com). The idea is that authors submit their proposals to Bowker’s giant pile of hard drives, where publishers looking to score the next great bestseller would come dig around and unearth wonders.

Except for the fact that it’s a completely stupid idea that nobody in their right mind would use, it sounded pretty good. And even though the self-publishing and large-scale writing community blogs were up in arms warning people not to submit, I (and presumably Bowker) figured there’d be hundreds of wannabe authors duped into spending the $99 for six months of having their proposal out on the Internetwebs.

Since membership is free for publishers, I signed up. After the service had been active for a week, I went and checked the numbers, expecting to skim through the hundreds of poor souls who’d wasted their money contributing utter crap manuscripts. But I was pleasantly shocked to find that it wasn’t full of utter crap.

Because it wasn’t full of anything. Read more »

This guy’s got something against bovine

Dean Wesley Smith has got something against the publishing world, and so he’s writing a book about it, Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing.

Smith, known primarily for his book adaptations of television shows, movies, etc., has identified over twenty-five of what he says are writing and publishing myths, and has been ever so kind as to set writers straight with a series of book chapters on his website (which, if you enjoy, you are invited to donate toward). But what Smith seems to have forgotten is that the entire writing/editing/publishing/agenting/reading world is subjective, and that his opinion does not make something fact.

To be sure, there are some gems up there, and some pretty unarguable statements: writing slowly does not mean writing well, and writing quickly does not mean writing poorly; all writers are different, have different habits and strengths and weaknesses; writing requires practice. Most (though not all) of what I agreed with had to do with writing advice—which is unsurprising given that Smith has published over ninety books (even if he did have a pre-established base for many of them, such as character and world).

What he really seems to hate, though, are agents*. He is quick to mention the 17-year relationship with his own agent and that he is friends with a few agents, but it is all but impossible to miss his disdain for their usefulness, unless they are top tier, and especially for new writers.

Read more »

Fan-hitting shit

Oh, yikes. Read this press release from Bowker.

Then take a look at the website, especially the part that follows “for only” in the little blurb next to the twenty-something, Caucasian, goateed writer guy’s head.


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