Double Roundup: 2/5–3/9

Catherynne Valente: Work Is Never Over: On Publishing and Its Many Faces

I posted a review of some of Valente’s work earlier this week, but I also found some of her blog posts well worth the read. Valente’s opinion on the “divide” and “revolution” in publishing these days is especially worthwhile because she’s done a lot both ways. She sells most of her work through traditional publishers, but her novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland was the first novel to win the Andre Norton award without being traditionally published (although it is now available traditionally). In this article she talks about how the work of publishing is never over, regardless of your path, because art is never easy. Her links to previous posts are also worth your time.

Natalie Whipple: 10 Things I Wish I Would Have Done Differently

Author Natalie Whipple shares her list of what she wishes she could have told her earlier self. In many ways this short article is a perfect companion to Valente’s: Whipple essentially wishes she would have focused more on art and craft than business, and Valente is saying all the business sense in the world won’t make the art any easier.

In keeping with the theme of these two posts, I’m not going to post any more industry news from the past two weeks (there’s plenty out there: lawsuits and investigations and new releases, oh my!). Instead, I encourage you to pick up your writing and instead of thinking about how you’re going to sell it, market it, and pitch it to readers or publishers, just think about how to make it beautiful. I’ll be back with more industry stuff in a week or so.

Weekly Roundup: 10/8–10/14

Kern Type ScreenshotKern Type: A Kerning Game

This may not appeal to many book people, but type nerds will appreciate this kerning game from Method of Action. From the game instructions: “Your mission is simple: achieve pleasant and readable text by distributing the space between letters. Typographers call this activity kerning. Your solution will be compared to [a] typographer’s solution, and you will be given a score depending on how close you nailed it. Good luck!”

Tony D’Souza: When to Stop Working on Your Book

Novelist Tony D’Souza describes all the work and years he put into his manuscript Voyage of the Rosa … and then explains how he let it go and started something else. Letting a book die is something many writers have a problem with. Having an objective eye to help you know when to let something lie is a huge benefit. Indie publishing means anything can be published, but not everything you write is something you should sell. D’Souza explains how his masterpiece became a monster; maybe his story can help you avoid similar pitfalls.

Amazon: Amazon Launches a New Imprint

Amazon is launching a new science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint called 47North, and has announced the first run of titles.

Rose Fox: Someone at Amazon Launches a Speculative Fiction Imprint

In light of the 47North announcement, Rose Fox expresses concern that nobody seems to have stepped forward to claim the imprint from an editorial standpoint. She raises questions over whether or not the editorial side has much genre experience. She sounds a bit hostile (and she admits that she is), but she raises some good points regardless.

Stacy Whitman: FAQ: Muslim Protagonist

Editor Stacy Whitman of Tu Books answers a question from one of the writers submitting to her. The writer wonders if a Muslim protagonist isn’t relatable enough for a widespread audience. This writer really shouldn’t fear: he or she is submitting to Tu Books, which has the great goal of adding diversity into YA and middle grade science fiction and fantasy. In Stacy’s words: “When we say ‘about everyone, for everyone,’ we mean everyone. Except maybe Sauron.” In her post, Stacy focuses on what makes a character more or less relatable. Especially when you’re dealing with speculative fiction, that doesn’t mean your reader shares a background with the character.

Carolyn McCray: “Price Pulsing”

Over at Digital Book World, Carolyn McCray gives some Amazon-sales advice in her article, “‘Price Pulsing’: the Benefits of Dynamic Pricing on Amazon.” She describes a method of temporarily lowering your price for promotional purposes to boost you in the Amazon rankings before you put your book back at retail price. It’s essentially a sale, but McCray explains the strategy behind the sale.

Weekly Roundup: 9/24–9/30

Gini Dietrich: Control Your Own Destiny

Gini is not in publishing, per se (though she is writing a book). Gini is in PR, and she’s also a business owner and she’s not keen on blaming your shortcomings on the “current climate.” While reading her article, the arguments she was refuting reminded me of common complaints about the publishing industry. She says, “Stop blaming the economy and start working twice as hard to build [y]our businesses”; I hear, “Stop blaming the industry and start working twice as hard on your writing.” Write great sentences; write great chapters; write great books. If you get a pile of rejection letters or your self-published novel tanks, don’t blame your circumstances. Brush yourself off and do it all again, only better. Books are you business. Don’t fall into this human flaw Gini points out: “We’re human beings. We like to have someone/something to blame when things don’t go our way. We’re inherently lazy. And we are always looking for shortcuts and the easy way out.”

(Reading Gini’s blog, Spin Sucks, can also be very informative when it comes to marketing, especially authentic marketing like that championed by a lot of publishing pros. I read it every day, and while I don’t always find something relevant to me, I find relevant posts often enough that I keep reading.)

TABISSO Punctuation LampsTABISSO: Punctuation Lamps

I want one of these lamps. The closing quotation marks are beautiful, but depending on where it was going I might pick the colon instead, because I love colons. (By the way, last Saturday was National Punctuation Day, and I intended to entertain you with a lovely post about the dash family—hyphen, en dash, and em dash—but I was celebrating the first wedding anniversary I’ve spent in the same country as my husband, so I never wrote the post. I’ll write one for you later, because I believe they grant you amazing options for communication and nuance.)

Amazon: The Kindle Fire & Cheaper Kindle Models

You’ve probably already heard about Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the $199 color tablet that was announced this week. My thoughts? If I’m getting an ereader, I want e-ink. I personally don’t like backlighting at all. If I’m going to get a tablet, I would probably go with something other than the Kindle Fire. Currently it appears that Amazon is trying to exert the kind of control over its appstore that Apple has over iTunes, but their submission process has been complicated, flawed, and unhelpful for the app company I work for. Apps get rejected before they’re reviewed and then the company gets reminders to resubmit the app—even though the app is already resubmitted. The system needs ironing out before the Kindle Fire can have the same ecosystem as other tablets.

GalleyCat: Kindle Ebook Errors in Neal Stephenson’s REAMDE

This week Neal Stephenson’s new novel, REAMDE, was released with egregious errors in the Kindle version. From what I’ve heard described, it sounds like the file was probably converted straight from PDF and not proofread afterwards. If publishers are charging a premium on their ebooks, like the price they were asking for a brand-new Stephenson book, the ebooks need to be as pristine as print. That said, if you’re a reader who’s getting pristine ebooks, realize that the publishing house probably put extra work into proofing them in multiple formats (.epub, .mobi, etc.), and don’t squawk too much about the price being the same as the print version, because re-proofing those books is probably worth much more than the $2 is costs to print a hardcover.

Amazon has since mysteriously replaced the copies of the book that had been downloaded, once again proving that if your library is on a Kindle, Amazon has control of it. (Admittedly, it was sort of an opt-in system this time, though cryptic, but Amazon has a habit of doing things that control or obsessively track your use of the things they sell you. Case in point: All your web browsing on the Kindle Fire is tracked, and you can’t opt out.)

Shawn Coyne: Acquisitions P&Ls

Editor Shawn Coyne shares an inside look at acquisitions profit and loss statements (P&Ls). He talks about how to pitch in a way that makes money sense (not just story sense) and gives those who don’t work in a publishing house an inside look at how a manuscript goes from a well liked submission to a book with a contract offer.

Writing Excuses: Writing Assistants

This week the Writing Excuses crew talks to Peter Ahlstrom and Valerie Dowbenko, writing assistants to Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss, respectively. They all talk about why hiring a writing assistant helps authors manage their ideas, keep up with deadlines, and accomplish assorted writing-related (but non-writing) tasks. In short, they talk about how writing assistants and other hired help give you more time to just write.

Orbit: Spring-Summer 2021 Covers

Orbit put up a blog post with its covers for the 2012 Spring-Summer catalog. Sometimes Orbit’s covers really delight me (I still practically cackle whenever I see Feed by Mira Grant), but sometimes they don’t quite hit the spot for me. (For example, although Brent Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy has good covers, they are also strikingly similar to Karen Miller’s mage series. The branding for the two has too much crossover for my taste.) Which are your favorite covers in the upcoming catalog?