Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday stuff

Galleycat's tales

The Galleycat blog is normally good for a few interesting publishing stories. For example:

Deborah Smith, a mean-looking NYT bestselling author, refers to the 'all-around incompetency of the NY pub houses', and says that Anne Stuart 'succeeded on her own while surviving an enormous amount of publisher bungling that makes it, as I said, a miracle that any author rises out of the shadows to find an audience.'

Some writers really don't like publishers, do they? How could that be?

And then there's the news that O.J. Simpson really is doing a book in which he tells how he would have committed those murders, if he had, except that he didn't, of course.

O.J., even now, is not a name that means much outside the US, but this story reminds me that, if only I'd had the wit, I could have won some money for charity at the time of the original O.J. trial.

At that time my boss was an American, and he followed the trial closely. Towards the end, knowing that I had lived in the States for a while, he asked me whether I thought O.J. would be convicted. I told him no. By and large, I said, rich men don't get convicted of anything. That was true then, but less so now (Enron et cetera). I quoted examples; which I am far too cautious to repeat here. But my boss was quite sure that there would be guilty verdict. It's so obvious, he said.

Unfortunately I didn't have the sense to wager a substantial sum on the outcome. For charity, as I say.


Time is running out and I am going to Ireland this weekend (hence no post tomorrow), so let's see what we can pass on quickly.

Google isn't the only outfit that wants to digitise the content of all the world's books. (Link from

Pastor Ted Haggard (why do I keep wanting to call him Father Ted?) has brought oodles of traffic to the site of one dedicated Christian who had deep suspicions about him years ago. There must be a book in this somewhere. To get the true flavour of Ted, you probably also ought to see Jesus Camp; thanks to Reese for the link. And if you really want to have a disturbed night, watch Pastor Ted in action just before you go to sleep.

Nicolette Jones, already well known in the book world, has won the 2006 Mountbatten Maritime book prize for her non-fiction book about Samuel Plimsoll, The Plimsoll Sensation.

I'm sure you're not short of things to read, but while I think of it there's another free ebook of mine (besides Avebury, that is). It's called Tales from the Retirement Home, and contains two short stories.

Speaking of Avebury, Steve Clackson, of Sand Storm fame, tells me that Google Earth has some stunning pictures of the prehistoric site as seen from the sky.

On Buzz, Balls & Hype, M.J. Rose quotes an experienced publisher on the nature of the business: 'We are engaged,' he says, 'in a quixotic act of legalized gambling.' He couldn't possibly have been reading that other free ebook, could he? No, no, obviously not.

Tom Bower's book about Conrad Black looks interesting (excerpted in the Sunday Times).

An interview with Clive James, also in the Sunday Times, proved more enlightening than most; but then, of course, I noticed that it was written by Bryan Appleyard. Should have known.

Peter Hall and David Hare say some surprising things about British theatre, e.g. that taxpayer-subsidised theatre has been a disaster. (I agree, of course.)

If you're a writer you might, perhaps, want to join Kimberly Dawn Wells's Write Kind of Life group on Squidoo. You have to register to get into a Squidoo group, which I think is off-putting, but maybe that's just me.

Bits of News is precisely what it says: various bits of news with associated comment: political, economic, scientific, technological, cultural. The organisers describe it as 'a sort of hybrid mongrel between the multi-user blogs, such as Daily Kos, and the traditional (though the tradition never amounted to much really) internet magazine, like Salon.'

Lynne Scanlon thinks that book editors should never be allowed to write jacket copy, and gives examples. I hated all of them. I usually ignore jacket copy until I've read the book -- or tried to.

If you believe in the new, er, paradigm, and think that words are enhanced by music, try the Chicago Public Radio's The American Life -- Stories of Hope and Fear.

If you're planning a UK-based police procedural or crime novel, you need to be reading police blogs. Commenter Jimmy provided a link to the blog of PC Bloggs, who describes her day with Mrs Dora Biddles. Meanwhile, in the Police Review, columnist Inspector Simon Hepworth says: 'I wonder if it is right for serving police officers to publish their blogs under a cloak of anonymity.' Indeed. We wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about police work, now would we?

Ali Karim enjoyed the Stephen King show a great deal more than Madame Arcati did.

The Bat Segundo show interviewed Richard Dawkins (#78).

Speaking of Richard (we were at school together, you know; I keep telling people that, but not many are impressed), Publishing News reports that Tesco are going to include The God Delusion in their Christmas promotion. You have to laugh, don't you? Unless you're the Archbishop of Canterbury, I suppose.

If you like to listen to authors being interviewed, Danuta Kean has some Channel 4 Radio podcasts for you. Possibly adult in nature. It says. Ooer. Apparently Stuart McLean gets very personal indeed. Getting the podcasts to work is 'as easy as pi,' says Danuta, 'and twice as interesting (especially for anyone who wants to get published).'

I used to be very interested in the US mafia and all that. In 1958, at three o'clock in the morning, I walked past a car with a bullet hole in the window and a dead man inside. Well, all right, he was just sleeping, but you get the idea. I'm not interested in the Mafia now, on account of having grown old, but you may be, and if you are you should take a look at The Brotherhoods -- the true story of two cops who murdered for the Mafia.

Tim Curry reads Peter Pan. Good Grief. I wonder if he was wearing those fishnet stockings at the time. You can hear a clip too. Peter Pan is even weirder when read aloud than it is when you read the damn thing on paper.

Five Chapters is a web site which publishes a story a week, with one instalment each day. The site is not, in my opinion, easy to navigate, and the text size is too small and too faint. Apart from that, it seems to be quite a good idea.

Phil Ribaudo has written a novel called The Road Letters, and has published it through yet another self-publishing outfit called Aventine Press. I have no idea whether this book is good, bad, or indifferent, but Phil is doing all the right things. He has a web site, a very professional book trailer, sample chapters, recipes, and all like that. Good luck, kid.


Finally, a word about those dreadful copyright pirates who put snatches of stuff on YouTube -- stuff that rightfully belongs to big companies, and has been used WITHOUT permission.

Take a look at what happened to YouTube usage in the days after Google bought it. The graph went flat. (Not at all sure that Alexa link will work, by the way, but take my word for it.) In other words, the kids have got the message. Google, the new 'responsible and ethical' owners of YouTube, are going to take all the fun out of it. If Google is going to delete, or try to charge for, all those bits of TV shows and so forth that the hardcore fans have posted there, then the kids are just going to fuck off and go somewhere else.

Google, the Times says, has held back $206 million (£109 million) of the $1.65 billion it spent to buy YouTube as legal security should any copyright actions be brought against the leading video-sharing website.

When will the braindead suits who run the big media companies learn any sense? No time soon, is my guess. The kids who get mad keen on a TV programme, or a film, and clip a bit of it to show to people on the web, and say Wow! isn't this great?, they're the best publicists in the world. And they work for nothing. It really isn't smart to treat them like thieves, and to try to charge them for doing your p.r. work for you.


Anonymous said...

Hello! So nice to hear you mention Squidoo! If you (or your readers) aren’t sure how to set up a Squidoo lens to promote a book, I have a free e-book with step by step instructions. There is a sample lens, which uses author J.A. Konrath, (a master of promotion) as the example. The lens shows you how a page looks, and the e-book gives simple, detailed instructions on how to make one yourself.

The lens is at:

There are links inside the lens for the free e-book. We’ve had a lot of authors use this to set up their own lenses, and it has received high praise for its humor and easy-to-follow instructions. We look forward to seeing you at Squidoo!

Anonymous said...

This thing about books/stories with music accompaniment...I guess I shouldn't complain, since they've been doing it with movies since the silent film era. But why do I suspect that, if accompanied by the "Ave Maria," the worst writing in the world would sell?

For some reason, I consider it a cheap trick and writing should stand on its own merits. But then I'm not Harold Lloyd.

Jon said...

I though for one exciting moment that Peter Hall and David Hare were going to reject theatre subsidies altogether. What they want, though, it appears, is the subsidy with no strings attached. Well, don't we all? Frankly I'd rather not have my tax money spent on entertaining wealthy intellectuals, but if it must be so, I would like to think that there was some accountability involved.


Mindy said...

Btw, Phil Ribaudo's book is VERY good! I don't know a single one of my friends who have read it and not cried or laughed two pages into it.

Anonymous said...

You've started a hell of a row between Madame Arcati and Ali Karim over the Stephen King party. Oh dear!

Anonymous said...

Really liked the PC BLOGGS link you put up.Verry funny. Good find Grumpy and Jimmy.

Reese M. said...

I quite agree with your comment on the "braindead suits" who own media companies not knowing a good P.R. opportunity when they see one. If I were in their shoes, I certainly would let the fans do pretty much as they please. As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Many thanks for the brief mention of my link in your blog. I was surprised and honoured. :-)

Annette said...

I cannot believe that O.J.Simpson is going to write that book! For once in my life I am speechless!

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