Good morning, book people! I’m sorry for the impromptu coffee break hiatus–my computer’s hard disk died last Wednesday. I have a new disk now, though, and thanks to my time capsule restoration, everything is as it should be. Which means we can start gearing up for Easter! I’ll have an Easter book list up later this week.
First up, at io9 author Robin Hobb, aka Megan Lindholm, aka Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden writes about how she ended up with her two pseudonyms–and the distinct authorial personalities that go with them.
Over at The Shatzkin Files, Mike talks about why it might be hard to find a public library 15 years from now. Long, but thoughtful and worth reading, particularly if you’re just getting into the digital game.
Over at Kris Writes, Kristine Katherine Rusch continues her Business Rusch series with this post on e-book royalties. Again, (very) long, but even if you’re not in e-book publishing right now, this is worth a look, as it highlights several key issues within the industry writers need to be aware of. (via @lkblackburne)
At The Wall Street Journal, Claire Messud reflects on the importance of finding a character’s true name. This, I can relate to–I often start with a place holder name, then write around until I find what I’m looking for. Name dictionaries and googling do not work for me; I need to come to my name organically, the way I need to come to my writing organically. (I am not a planner. I am dependent on lists in my everyday life; in my writing one, I’m dependent on my own particular brand of scattered focus.) Read more about Messud here.
In last week’s Independent, Boyd Tonkin wonders what it takes for a book to make history. Is it controversy? Writing? The author? Or the ‘ideological “grand narrative”‘?
At Kidlit, Agent Mary Kole has a quick post on the difference between proposals and querying with a complete manuscript–and why debut fiction authors need to the do latter.Read More
Good morning, book people!
Some more whitewashing discussion on The Hunger Games this morning. This post by author Malinda Lo (Ash) makes some great points–Lo discusses color and class, and reading cues for racial background. Here’s the description of Katniss from early in the book:
straight black hair, olive skin [and]… gray eyes
That could definitely be taken as ambiguous, though with that, and the fairness of Katniss’ mother and Prim, I’ve always read her as biracial–particularly since she shares the “Seam look” with the rest of District 12, and her mother and Prim do not. (To my mind, she also identifies more with the Seam than with her family.) Make sure you read the comments on Lo’s post, too.
JJ, an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s, talks about her read of Katniss as white over at Uncreate Conscience. I don’t agree with her whole post, but it is a thoughtful critique worth reading. An important point from the conclusion:
Here’s a question I have about speculative fiction (including science fiction and fantasy): if race is not specifically mentioned, or the world has a different idea of “race” than ours, how does one go about indicating ethnicity? If it’s important to the author that a character in a work of spec fic be of a specific race, how can one indicate that? If ethnicity isn’t important, what can s/he do to change the default assumption of “whiteness”?
At the WSJ, Jeffrey Trachtenberg fills us in on a Random House/THQ Inc. deal. THQ is a developer and publisher of “interactive entertainment software” (read: video games). It’s mostly paid content, so it might be worth stopping by a Starbucks with your laptop/phone/iPad if ebooks and interactive books/games are your cup of tea (or coffee).
Over at Lightning + Lightning Bugs, agent Weronika Janczuk posts more about agents and self-publishing. Some useful commentary, some nice summations. Expect a few more posts like this–as my friend Livia pointed out at our last critique group meeting, a lot of agents were putting out their thoughts about ebooks and self-publishing last week. True, it’s probably not all tied into the Amanda Hocking news, but her St. Martin’s deal has lent a certain amount of legitimacy to self-publishing–legitimacy I think the big houses and agents have been waiting for (but unwilling to bet on) for a while.
Cory Doctorow has a new column up at PW, on the “the Baroque process of getting a book listed on both Lulu and Amazon.” It’s long, but Definitely Worth Reading. If you read only one thing from this list today, make it this piece.
And finally, a bit of fun–bookish webcomic Unshelved reviewed Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan last week. Here’s a snippet; click through for more. (via Scott Westerfeld)Read More
Good morning, book people! I have a critique group meeting this morning, and a yen for chocolate biscuits, so this will be quick–and almost painless.
The interwebs exploded yesterday (the writerly corner of it, anyway) when author Jacqueline Howett responded to a critical review of her book, The Greek Seaman, at BigAl’s Books and Pal’s. Here’s a snippet of one of the comments:
And please follow up now from e-mail.
This is not only discusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me AL.
Who are you any way? Really who are you?
What do we know about you?
You never downloaded another copy you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail
Besides if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors.
Your the target not me!
Now get this review off here!
And, in case you’re curious, here’s her biography, which suggests that large parts of the novel are autobiographical. I suspect this is why Ms. Howett responded so violently.
Also, Joe says he will now be renaming his Nana Mouskouri cover band, The Greek Seaman Train Wreck.
If you have some time to kill, the comments are worth reading–not just for entertainment or as a “not what to do” but because some are genuinely kind and well-thought out notes on dealing with bad reviews.
Of course, the Jacqueline Howett story doesn’t end there–Good Books and Good Wine has the LOLcat version of her comments.
Over at Zazzle, we also have a snake mug… (Not sure why, but WP ate this line originally, so I’ve added the link back in.)
In other book news…
Mike Shatzkin has a post on ebook bestsellers that’s worth reading. It’s long, but talks financials, distribution, and bookstore placement. One quick aside though–Mike says,
Now the paradigm has changed. The default front table is the choice of titles on the screen that comes up first when a store’s program is opened. That’s almost always that retailer’s bestsellers (and, as far as I can tell, it isn’t customized for me at any of these retailers; you or my wife would see the same default screen that I would.)
I haven’t bought anything from B&N online in a long time, but I do know Amazon has customized front pages with recommendations based on my book-buying history. (And a lot of my recs are ebooks, since I read a lot on the kindle.) More thoughts on this post later.
And now, about those chocolate biscuits…Read More
Good morning, book people! I’m heading out to a critique group meeting in a moment (yay!) so just a few things…
First, the most important link of the day – Authors For Japan,” an auction to help the people devastated by the earthquake in Japan,” is live. On offer are first editions, signed copies, critique, even web design.Here’s the quick guide to how it works, and here’s the stunningly awesome childrens & YA category.
Also, if you like the red donation bar up the top of *ILBNH*, you can get your own by signing up at Hellobar with the code helpjapan. It’s a quick and easy script to install–if you need help, feel free to email me, or grab me @petaandersen on Twitter. (WordPress.com folks, sorry, it won’t work for you.)
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Rachel at Trac Changes has an excellent breakdown of the types of internships available in publishing, along with a couple of notes on pros and cons. Even if you’re not looking to intern, it’s worth a quick read.
Once upon a time, serialized stories a la Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes or Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger were pretty common. Now, A Chapter A Month offers a more modern version with a website,
where a team of today’s top-selling authors have joined together to give readers the literary ride of their lives. No more waiting a year to hear from a favorite author. Now readers will enjoy fresh, exciting chapters every month as authors unfold their stories one chapter at a time. Readers will travel with the authors on their writing journeys and watch the novels come to life.
Preferred members will also have access to video content, with monthly video workshops for aspiring writers. To me, this is a very bold move, particularly when the interwebs can’t decide if readers love longform content or hate it. And will A Chapter A Month offer Kindle/Nook friendly downloads? – via @PublishingSpy
At The Shatzkin Files, an absolutely fascinating post on the history of the paperback and how it relates to ebooks today. It’s a must read–and make sure you get Mike’s note (in italics) about John Locke down the bottom.
And finally, over at Dumb Little Man, 10 Hard Truths About Blogging. This is really more for professional bloggers, but it might be useful if you’re looking to grow your readership.
What are you reading today?Read More
Last weekend, the NYT’s Jenna Wortham admitted her secret shame: until this year, she had never finished an e-book. She writes,
It’s not that I don’t read books. The various shelves and tables in my apartment are overflowing with paperbacks. But without a physical reminder of a book on a nightstand, it’s easy to forget that an extensive digital library is at my disposal.
This is a problem I don’t have–although our shelves, tables, even closets are overflowing with books, my Kindle goes almost everywhere I do. But Wortham’s article is less about her finishing an e-book and more about the decreasing length of e-texts.
Shorter e-books and essays are definitely gaining in popularity; Jodi Picoult’s Kindle Single “cracked Kindle’s top 100 seller list.” But what does this mean for YA readers?
Probably nothing. Sure, e-book lengths are decreasing, but the number of kids using e-readers is increasing. And in YA, that could actually mean more kids reading long books.Read More