Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday roundup

Dame Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark has died, aged 88. Maud Newton is a keen fan, and has done a nice tribute to her, with lots of links. One of Spark's last books, Aiding and Abetting, was recommended here on 23 February 2006.

Around the same time, Kelly Jane Torrance published an enthusiastic survey of Spark's work in Doublethink. I am inclined to agree with the view that, for all the many honours bestowed upon her, Spark's work is a bit undervalued.

Another old lady

Last week's Times recorded the death of another of those tough old British women -- the kind of person who combined character, brains, physical stamina and courage, erudition, and a whole lot more: the Dowager Lady Hesketh.

In her youth Kisty Hesketh was a noted horsewoman and a good shot with a rifle. Widowed at 25, with three sons, she lost an eye in a car crash at 33, and thereafter wore a black patch. She was a diligent researcher and historian, wrote a book on Scottish tartans which was published in 20 countries, and earned herself a proper PhD from London University and an honorary one from Leicester.

The Times reports that she was an intrepid traveller, often with her great friend Pamela, Lady Egremont. She once took the route from the Atlas Mountains to Gibraltar without a sleeping bag. 'One gets used to sleeping on the ground quite quickly,' she explained.

Well yes. Indeed. That's what I've always found.

Recycling titles

The Book Standard has a link to an AP article about books with the same titles. It's hardly news that many titles are used quite often, sometimes causing confusion. And lawyers will sometimes try complaining if you use a title that they don't think you should. But Otto Penzler describes how to deal with them.

Should you wish to check whether your own proposed title has been used before, you can use Amazon to review books in print. And in the UK you can check all books from the beginning of time by going to the British Library catalogue (available on COPAC). In the US, I guess you can use the Library of Congress.

Oddly enough, no one has used How and why Lisa's Dad got to be famous before. (See today's extract, below.)

Mover Mike

Not many blogs, I suspect, are written by retired stockbrokers with an interest in poetry, but Mover Mike's is. If you are interested in a mixture of financial comment, current affairs, and some literary stuff, this is the place.

Danuta Kean on the economics of the business

Clive Keeble kindly draws my attention to an article by Danuta Kean in The Independent. This is definitely one to print out and keep (click on the 'printable version' button at the bottom).

Danuta is an experienced and well connected journalist in book-world circles and she has much valuable data to offer you on the current economics of writing. Figures and examples relate to the UK, but you can be quite certain that the position is much the same elsewhere. Clive Keeble questions whether the figures offered are dead right, but they will inevitably vary from book to book and publisher to publisher.

Basically, the message for writers is: Don't give up the day job.

The Indie article is an edited extract from the cover story of the latest issue of Mslexia, the magazine for women who write. Could be worth buying the whole thing. For details see the mag's web site.

The Wicked Witch does survey

Lynne Scanlon invites you to participate in her survey of online publishing (14 April). Legamus ergo emomus. And all like that (read the comments).

1 comment:

Tim Worstall said...

A very odd statement from Danuta:

"The Faustian pact struck between certain retailers and publishers means that increasing numbers of authors are finding their earnings under threat, not least because increasingly royalties are calculated on trade price, not cover price, to reflect the level of discount offered retailers. That means if a supermarket discounts a £6.99 paperback to £3.99, the author will receive 7.5 per cent of £3.99 not £6.99 on sales through that outlet."

Yes, royalties can be calculated on nett receivables (what she means by trade) or on cover. But if they are on nett then the actual rate will be higher.

On typical discounts 8% on cover will equal 12% on nett.

Anyone whose contract is on nett and isn’t getting those higher rates seriously needs tothink about changing agents.