Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Words of the week

Leigh Russell is smart enough to have a three-book contract (with No Exit Press) for a series of UK-based crime novels featuring a female police officer, DI Geraldine Steel. On his blog, he writes weekly about the process of writing.

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Penguin, I hear, has successfully defended itself in a copyright case (link from the Bookseller). Which proves absolutely nothing to me except that it is most unwise to get involved in these battles. Lord Goodman used to say that anyone who sued for libel was demonstrably mad, and to my mind the same applies to copyright, which knobs on.

I speak here of individuals, of course. For companies it's different. Penguin, for example, can certainly afford to pursue breach of copyright cases where international, deliberate, and organised piracy is concerned. In fact, can hardly afford not to.

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Ron Hogan on Galleycat reports that big publishers are deliberately making royalty payments late, and paying less than is due, in the hope that agents and writers won't notice.

Nothing new here. I remember, about thirty years ago, reading an article in the Financial Times. A tradesman (plumber or some such) was getting regular work from a big firm, but his invoices were ignored. Eventually he managed to speak to someone in the big firm's accounts office who airily told him, 'Oh, we never pay anything until we get a writ.'

So, from then on, the plumber submitted his invoices monthly. With each one he enclosed a letter from his solicitor (lawyer) threatening legal action if the bill was not paid within twenty-eight days. This letter cost him £50 a time, a charge which, naturally, he added to the big firm's bill. From then on, no problem. Bills paid on time, tradesman happy.

Maybe agents should do the same?

Meanwhile, of course, if you want to know what big-time publishers really think about writers (ungrateful little sods, apparently) then Ron Hogan can give you an example.

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Gee whiz. Ron Hogan (a busy feller) also points out that Marion Boyars has just published a book about book blogs. (Marion Boyars? Into books about the internet?) Anyway, no one's ever contacted me about it, so I suppose I ain't in it. Not, frankly that it would trouble me. Nothing Marion Boyars ever did in the past was ever of any interest to me. Far too highbrow. The lady herself is deceased by the way, but she had her admirers.

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Cory Doctorow, at Locus Online, provides a very useful and succinct account of copyright in general and the Creative Commons licences in particular.

I can't emphasise too much that it is important for anyone reading this blog to read Doctorow's piece (or something like it, if you can find it). It contains information which is essential if you care about books and publishing, not to mention the other media.

In passing, you will also discover why anyone who knows anything about copyright is obliged to spit every time they speak the word 'Disney'.

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Dust Jacket Review is a newly launched resource for book lovers. It will take some time to explore this site, I feel, and you need to sign up to gain access to the full range of features. There are, I am told, some sixty of my own book reviews on the site somewhere (the GOB is issued under a Creative Commons licence).

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Not everyone is happy about the free use of their work, especially if no one asks their permission. A number of Welsh writers have taken a dim view of what the National Library of Wales is up to.

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Publishers Lunch rightly finds it intriguing that, in the music biz, some performers are issuing their stuff through specific outlets only. E.g., the Eagles' latest album via Walmart, Paul McCartney through Starbucks. Lessee now.... books? It's a question of when, not if, suggests PL.

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Crumbs. PL also reports that you can order a one-off book in which your child features in adventures with established media characters.

I don't know who wrote the press release, and if they were working for me I'd sack them, but eventually we get to the following: 'In days, the child will receive a timeless, one-of-a-kind story where they appear on every page of an exciting travel adventure with Dora, helping to save Boots the monkey.'

Whatever else may be said, it seems to me that this operation requires some seriously well organised firms to collaborate with some reasonably clued-up parents, digitally speaking, and it will be interesting to see if it catches on.

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Ah, now here is the kind of man I really have time for. A guy who gets seriously pissed off by the enthusiasm, energy and drive of all them wannabes. In particular, Peter L. Winkler is grinding his teeth over all this Write a Novel in No Time At All and Get Rich and Happy and Have Fantastic Sex Into the Bargain stuff.

His suggestion: let's have a month in which no one writes anything. There's far too much of it around as it is.

The man has a point.

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Eric is very keen on books and is building up substantial lists of blogs, software, publishers, and more. Several languages available.

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Leslie Hurst commented that John Twelve Hawks's number two book (number one being The Traveller) hasn't made much impression. And my search of the Publishers Marketplace archives (available only to subscribers) reveals that, after July publication, it never got higher than 24 on the New York Times bestseller list. And on most lists it didn't get that high. Which is no surprise to me.

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The Times has an interesting article about ghost-writing. It should be read after, or before, my own essay on the same subject. Subsequently you should be equipped for a new and dazzling career.

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Live in New York? The 20th Annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair takes place on Saturday, December 1st and Sunday, December 2nd, at the New York Center for Independent Publishing at 20 West 44th Street in New York City. Details here.

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Clancy Sigal has recently been awarded west coast PEN's 'lifetime achievement' award. And he was presented with it by Gore Vidal, no less. Now that is impressive.

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Is the net good for writers? That is the question posed by Ten Zen Monkeys, and it would probably take ten or twenty of same to figure it out. Unfortunately the Ten etc piece got up my nose fairly early on and my concentration faded. But I agree with the commenters at the end: let's have more women. (Link from Martin Rundkvist.)

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Samuel Edmonson showed me the Literary Rejections site, where lots of writers go to have a jolly good moan and join the massive crowds of those who have had lots of rejection slips and expect to receive a lot more.

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Yeshua, it seems, is the Jewish name for Jesus, as in Jesus of Nazareth, and Lulu.com alone has lots of books about him. One of these is by Edmund Jonah, who has chosen to write up the life of Jesus in the form of a novel.

Edmund has an interesting background in that he was a Jew who was educated by Jesuits. Like many another author, Edmund had two agents who enthusiastically offered his novel around, but without success; hence Lulu.

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Lapham's Quarterly is a new (US) history magazine started by Lewis Lapham, who was editor of Harper's for many years. The first issue is just out. Entitled 'States of War,' it includes both historical texts (ranging from Thucydides to Jessica Lynch) and contemporary commentary from Fritz Stern, Caleb Carr, Tom Holland, and John Mueller. By connecting the present with the past, the magazine hopes to place current political events within the context of their historical antecedents.

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Just out, Mary Scriver's biography of her former husband, Bob Scriver: sculptor in bronze in the Beaux Arts style.

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What is the Oxford dictionary's word of the year? You'll never guess.

23 comments:

Gladys Hobson said...

Leigh Russell's blog is definitely worth a visit. Interesting to hear from someone in the process of being published, and willing to discuss with individuals how it came about and so on. A time-consuming exercise. Contract for further books too.
Interesting cover he has for his first book (crime). I can remember it in every detail even if I can't recall the name of the book!

I have just read one of GOB's highly entertaining crime books - The Suppression Of Vice by Patrick Read. If curious see my Wrinkly Writers blog:
http://gladyshobson.wordpress.com
Now, a comparison with Russell's book would be very interesting indeed.

Bisje said...

Wow, I'm happy that you like my directory and thanks for adding me to your post.

Andy O'Hara said...

My hat's off to Peter Winkler for his suggestion of a month in which no one writes anything. In that time, many breathless wannabees might put their pens down for good.

I would have preferred the last on Oxford's word list--"upcycling." Recycling Barnes and Noble books into milk cartons or something else of actual value.

Elizabeth Baines said...

You are mentioned in The Bookaholics' (sic) Guide to Book Blogs (in a section on the 'online persona'):

'Of course there are those who have no illusions about themselves, "Grumpy Old Bookman" is hardly casting himself in the most flattering light, neither are "Bourgeois Nerd" or "Old Hag" and some might be put off for quite different reasons by the self-proclaimed "Bookslut" or "Fiction Bitch".

You may be mentioned elsewhere in the book, but I can't remember and there isn't an index.

My review of the book is here:
http://fictionbitch.blogspot.com/2007/10/review-bookaholics-guide-to-book-blogs.html

Jane Smith said...

My favourite online discussion of rejection is here:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html

As ever with Making Light, the comments are just as good as the blog entry, and well worth reading.

Jody Tresidder said...

As an expat who sometimes misses out on vital UK news (but likes to imagine she keeps up) may I confess that I have never felt more out of the loop than reading GOB's linked article on ghostwriting in The Times?

The actor who played Lofty in Eastenders ghosted Beckham's autobiography?!!

And this is just dangled in the article like it's no big deal?!!

What a complete hoot!

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Parantar said...

hope you could post words of the day everyday. hehe

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