Good morning, book people! After slogging through a lot of freelance work, I’m easing back into the world of my own blog, but it’s a slow process. But with a little luck, I’ll settle back into the usual routine soon. Some longer thoughts this morning, so fewer links.
ETA: Also, as you can see, I’m transitioning site design again. Unfortunately, there are always small bugs installing a new theme on an older site, so it may be a while before everything’s quite perfect. Please bear with me!
First up this morning, The Guardian’s Harriet Evans has a piece about e-books and editing. Although she’s writing about the loss of the editor in the self-publishing e-book world, the post made me think about the editing process for digital media.
If you’ve read at least five e-books, chances are you’ve run up against a host of spelling and grammatical errors. In some novels, they’re small things, in about the same numbers as a print book. But in others, the books have the feel of a galley, rough and hard-edged. Which begs the question: is there an editing process in play for e-books? Are there editors and copy editors who either work exclusively with a digital edition, or spend, at least, as much time proofing it as they do its print brethren? And if not, why not?
I know–like most folks who call themselves readers–that publishing is an expensive venture. It’s also riddled with archaic business practices and hard to understand contractual language. And (good) editing costs money, regardless of whether the publisher is paying for your editor (traditional) or you’re paying her (self-pubbed). The costs in running essentially two editorial teams per book would be high–hence the greater number of errors in digital editions. But here’s my big question:
If publishers don’t up their editorial game in the e-book arena (say that 5 times fast!), will self-pubbed books surpass them?
There’s a lot of dross in the self-publishing world, but there are clearly a few good eggs–the folks who spend the time working past the “I’m Finished!” happy dance, tightening, tweaking, and editing. And a lot of these people hire freelancers to edit their work–their digital only work–which means a much cleaner manuscript for the reader.
Right now, I’m all for traditionally publishing. But watching a friend of mine wade through the pros and cons of self v. traditional, and seeing her lean toward self, makes me wonder. Why? Because my friend isn’t a hot head, or egotistical about her work–she’s put long hours into her manuscript, not just writing, but revising, and polishing, taking all her feedback into account. If she did self-pub, she’d hire an editor, too, and I know that her manuscript would be almost flawless…
Next up, at The NYT, the estate of late memoirist and novelist, Donald Windham, will soon be awarding some of the largest literary prizes in America. Although the prizes don’t directly affect YA authors (as far as I can tell), there will be some opportunities for “promising” writers.
And last but not least, Becky Tuch over at Beyond the Margins have a fun piece on yoga for writers. It rings a little too true for me! (via @YAHighway)
Image Credit: Kindle. Coffee. Pumpkin. by Doreyexmachina, via Flickr.
Good morning, book people–or good ridiculously late night, as we’re thinking of it here this morning. A certain munchkin woke up a little after one and did not go back to sleep until 5:47 this morning…apologies for today’s lateness!
The big news today is that Jennifer Lawrence, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty from Winter’s Bone will be playing Katniss in the upcoming Hunger Games movie. And fans are not happy. The folks at Galleycat point out that Robert Pattinson wasn’t immediately loved by Twilight fans, but is now much loved. And perhaps they’re right–perhaps readers will come around to Lawrence.
Entertainment Weekly has an interview up with director Gary Ross. Here’s what he had to say about casting Lawrence, and about Lawrence’s physical appearance:
When did you know Jennifer Lawrence was your Katniss?
GARY ROSS: First I saw Winter’s Bone, and I just thought she was phenomenally talented and just kind of riveting and amazing and had so much power. And then we had a meeting and I found her to be just a completely compelling, intelligent person. But then she came in and read for me and it just knocked me out. I don’t want to go into too many details, but we did a scene from the movie and it was so amazingly powerful that it was sort of stunning. You glimpsed every aspect of the role and the potential of the whole movie.
In the books, Katniss is described as being olive-skinned, dark-haired, possibly biracial. Did you discuss with Suzanne the implications of casting a blonde, caucasian girl?
Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn’t doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer’s hair color.
So hair color and skin color are the same thing now? More on this next week.
Another auction to help Japan has popped up on the interwebs, this time with a kidlit and YA focus. Some folks from the NESCBWI have put together a new site, and are still taking donations (Authors for Japan closed their donations last week; that auction is open ’til Sunday.) Head on over and donate for a worthy cause! We’ll be donating a couple of signed first editions.
It’s not exactly news, but agent Mary Kole over at Kidlit has a post (with examples), on keeping first-person style narration out of your third person work. It’s a useful post–and especially valuable if you don’t write much in third (like me!).
And finally, one we can’t afford to ignore–Kris Rusch on the trust me business model in publishing. This is a very long post–and the top half is general blog detail rather than the topic–but do spend the time reading it anyway. It might be easy to hand the business side of writing off to other people, but it’s not smart, and Kris does an excellent job explaining why. (via friend and critique partner extraordinare, Livia Blackburne.)Read More
Good morning, book people! After yesterday’s mini freakout and fiction-related writerly indecision, I’m feeling much calmer (in great part due to the excellent comment-love). For those who asked, yesterday’s interview went well, I think. It was definitely kind of fun, and I spent a lot of time in my writer’s garb, chatting about voice (one of my favorite topics).
And I have some most-excellent news this morning!
Back home, in the great (though often cold) state of Victoria, the library system has launched a YA type Goodreads, Inside A Dog. The name comes from a Groucho Marx quote, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” I’ll have more on Inside A Dog next week, but definitely head on over now–they have guest posts by some great YA authors coming up! (Brian Falkner, Gayle Forman…)
Field Trip Friday over at YA Highway has some excellent links around the writing webs this week, including this LA Times piece on Little Red Riding Hood getting a makeover. I love the cover, but it’s so Cinderella to me that I’m not sure I love it for Riding Hood. What do you think?
It’s been a big week for e-publishing in the blogosphere. Eric at Pimp My Novel has a nice, grounding list of 5 Things You Should Know About the eRevolution. Nathan Bransford has a few insights into pricing and ebooks vs. hardcovers (a nice follow up to Mike Shatzkin’s post on pricing models earlier this week). He also some really useful–again grounding–on Amanda Hocking and the 99c Kindle millionaires. (If you have to choose just one of these posts to read, go with the last on Hocking.)
An internet oldie but a goodie – my critique partner and friend, Livia, has a post on writing realistic male characters, and the jerkyness that is Guyhood. Love, love, love this!
Debbie Ridpath Ohi over at MiG writers has a follow up to her first post on writers and voice this week. The new post draws from Stephen Pressfield, and asks a couple of questions all writers should be thinking about. Both are well worth reading, and very quick!Read More
With publishing numbers taking a nosedive, the industry is scrambling to find a way back to profitability. Could ads in books be the answer?Last week, MediaBistro’s GalleyCat and The Wall Street Journal reported on what may soon be a disturbing new reality for readers everywhere: ads. But advertising directly in books, print or otherwise, offers its own particular set of problems which may keep publishers from calling up their buddies in the biz anytime soon…
E-books have and e-rights have been hot topics this year, and with good reason. There’s been Google settlement news, iBooks and iPad news, distribution news, and now Borders is taking orders for a new e-reader. Although e-books are still far from the norm, they’re making a strong showing, and could soon be a proper marketing niche in their own right.
Where Do E-books Come From?
As it stands, anyone can publish an e-book. Write your text, save it as a PDF, upload it to a website, and you’re a self-pubbed e-book author. Though few fiction writers choose to go this route, it’s fairly routine for non fiction writers, with e-books about marketing, SEO, web 2.0, even how to write your novel and get it published popping up all over the interwebs.
Although not a large segment of the market, e-publishers also exist. These are the folk responsible for most e-pubbed fiction (find a list of e-publishers here and here). Because of their low overhead, there’s a lot of diversity in e-publishing–arguably more than in print–and you can find an e-house for pretty much anything, from picture books through serious non-fiction and memoir.
But e-books And e-books have a lot of growth potential. In a piece in The Telegraph, president of Sony’s digital reading division said, “Within five years there will be more digital content sold than physical content. Three years ago, I said within ten years but I realised that was wrong – it’s within five.”
Are E-Agents Necessary? Will They Be?
As it stands, I don’t think agents specializing in electronic rights and publishing are necessary. But things could change. More and more mainstream authors are experimenting with e-books, with science fiction and fantasy writers leading the charge. Catherynne M. Valente, an award-winning author, recently won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (a major award from the SFWA) for her electronically self published novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Cory Doctorow has offered several of his YA novels as free e-books (find his latest, For the Win, here), and the Baen Free Library has many free titles from authors including David Weber, Lois Bujold, Andre Norton, and Sarah Hoyt. (Learn more about the reasoning behind the library here.) Many, if not all of these books, are or will be available in print.
Why is this even a question if all these books are available in print? Because they weren’t all available in print–not from the get-go, anyway. Valente’s novel, Fairyland, began life as a self-published, donation-appreciated e-book (learn more here). An offer from a print publisher (Macmillan imprint Feiwel and Friends) didn’t come in until the serialized e-novel had neared completion.
Although Valente’s case is not the norm, it could be the harbinger of change in the publishing industry, particularly in the YA and science fiction/fantasy market. These are the readers most comfortable with technology, and willing to move with the times, the folk who made iPods so ubiquitous that while out running yesterday, I passed a 90 year old woman rocking out, iconic white earbuds plugged into her ears. Don’t get me wrong–I love print books. I love turning pages, and holding the weight of a hardcover between my palms. But e-books offer many opportunities, not the least of which is increased revenue for authors and publishers, especially if the much discussed agency model/iPad-iBooks talk grows into something real.
And then there’s Jack Konrath, the midlist author of the Jack Daniels police procedurals, made small waves when he cut ties with his print publisher, Hyperion, earlier this year.
As PW points out, Konrath isn’t an award-winning, top-level author, and his sales, showed neither decline nor uptick prior to the break. PW also notes that his most recent work–and first e-pubbed novel–was roundly rejected by publishing houses.
Still not convinced? Scott Waxman, at Waxman Literary, is also hopping on the e-book bandwagon. His new venture, Diversion Books (separate to the agency) offers authors another, middle-of-the-road option, “somewhere in between the big houses and the lonely road of self-publishing.” From PW:
Waxman said Diversion Books will take on authors who cannot sell books in numbers that make financial sense for the major houses. “If you have an author with a platform who can sell books, we’re happy selling 5,000 to 10,000 copies,” he said. While Diversion isn’t paying advances, it’s not taking everyone who comes in with a manuscript. “This isn’t self-publishing,” he went on. “[With us] you get real publishing support. I know you don’t get that with self-publishing. This lives in between.”
What Would An E-Agent Do?
To me, agents are a lot like lawyers. They’re a specialized position, rather than a one-reader-fits-all kind of job. E-agents would probably be much like regular agents in the same way divorce lawyers are similar to electronic rights lawyers–they’d have a particular interest in things relating to their clients, and maybe some (virutal?) on the job experience at an e-publisher. A few more things an e-agent might know about, or do:
- represent authors in negotiations with e-publishers, or the e-division of a primarily print house
- be familiar with contract law pertaining to electronic rights and web media, particularly grey areas such as distribution and foreign rights
- understand copyright law, and how it affects e-books that are partials of a later, larger print book
- understand the ins and outs of digital rights management (DRM), and actively advocate for the author
- be able to distinguish between electronic formats, browsers, and readers
- have contacts within the e-book industry
- be open-minded–technology moves as fast as dandelion seeds in a strong nor’easter, so being able to think on the spot and move with the groove is particularly important
Would you publish an e-book? Would the house–say an e-imprint of the big six vs. A small time e-only press–make a difference? Would you prefer to have an agent for electronic publications? Or would you be happy to handle them yourself?