Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Something from the weekend

Phenix & Phenix is a firm of publishing publicists based in Austin, Texas. Their main web site contains some interesting information for published writers and for those who wannabe: they report, for instance, that their self-published client Sherrie Mathieson is about to published by Random House. Which is a nice encouraging story for first thing in the morning -- though note, please, that it is a non-fiction book. Ninety per cent of publishing is non-fiction, a statistic often overlooked amid all the razzmatazz.

More to the point, perhaps, Phenix and Phenix staff have just started a blog. This makes available further chunks of free and valuable information for writers. See, for example, the piece on how to get ink in a publishing trade journal; or how to prepare for a radio/TV interview.

Fancy yourself as a graphic novelist? If so, go see what is on offer at Random House UK. Jonathan Cape, the Observer, and an outfit called Comica are putting up a prize of £1000 plus a full page in the Observer, and, presumably, an entree into the graphic-novel biz.

Martin Goodman has thoughts on being reviewed, and much more, on his blog.

The reviewing policy on the GOB, by the way, is that I only review stuff that I can be reasonably enthusiastic about. Occasional exceptions are made for heavily hyped books which, imho, don't really deserve to be singled out for a big push, but have been, nevertheless.

Linda Kelsey has some really interesting thoughts on how you not only have to write a book, but sing and dance for it as well.

Puzzling, isn't it? C.S. Harris reflects on how she feels When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers. The reflections come in part one and part two. (Link from Chap O'Keefe n Misfit Lil.)

You enter this business at your own risk, folks. And nowadays you have no excuse for not knowing what you're letting yourself in for.

Well, dammit, here's a pretty good offer. Novelist/playwright Susan Hill also runs a publishing company: Long Barn Books. The company's web site now offers a couple of blogs, and the new one contains information about how to submit a proposal for a book (The Quest, 28 August). Not many companies make it that easy. Agent not required. Non-fiction, on the whole, preferred.

There's a lot to be said for niches these days. Find a niche market, write for it, collect books within that sub-genre, blog about it, and so forth. Either for fun or profit, or both.

One such niche is occupied by Paul Taylor's blog With Sword and Pen. This focuses on first edition and collectible books pertaining to the American Civil War.

There are blogs, and blogs. Although I'm reluctant to give it publicity, here's one which rips off posts from other blogs (including one of mine), without credit, and uses them to encourage readers to click on the ads and links. (Tip-off from Debra Hamel.)

Technically, it seems, these things are known as spam blogs, or splogs. More on Wikipedia.

Bat Segundo interviews an awful lot of writers, in more or less hour-long mp3 formats. Among the more interesting subjects recently are SF novelist William Gibson and the controversial date-rape theorist Katie Roiphe.

Hotel St George Press is an unusual enterprise. It is is both an online, literary and arts quarterly and a new, experimental imprint of Brooklyn-based Akashic Books.

The quarterly features original fiction, artwork, short films, music, soundscapes, spoken word and secret histories; all of these occupy carefully designed rooms in an ever-expanding virtual hotel.

More recently, there are books. The first book, published in April,was not unreasonably by the Hotel St. George cofounder Aaron Petrovich: The Session. (Scroll down to the foot of the page.) This was was released in April and attracted good reviews. Now (well, October actually) there is The Musical Illusionist and Other Tales, by Alex Rose. Judging by the extract, this is an intriguing mixture of pseudo-science and well informed flights of imagination. Probably an acquired taste, but some people are certainly going to admire it.

On Thursday nights, four English guys get together in the pub and, over a few beers, decide how the world really ought to be run if it was done on sensible lines. And they invent new products that people really do need but no one so far has had the wit to manufacture. Then they write to the good and the great and explain what's what. Then they publish the results. Allegedly.

See more on the Thursday Night web site. Dovegreyreader likes the book.

Bear Parade, dedicated to non-profit literature, has just published Compassionate Moose, by Mazie Louise Montgomery.

This is another one which is a bit of an acquired taste, but Mazie has a voice all right. And just think: twenty years ago, the author of this book would have had to xerox a few copies, staple them together, and stand on the street corner, handing them out to people who were too shy to say no. Now she can get it on the web and weird guys in England can read it. And tell other people about it in India, and South Africa, and New Zealand. This is what's called progress. Don't underestimate it.

Compassionate Moose may not be the one which takes off and spreads faster than Ebola, but one day something will. From wholly outside the mainstream hit machine.


Anonymous said...

All in all, August seems to have been a slow, uninspired world in publishing, without much real creativity to stimulate interest. It's the humidity, no doubt.

As is natural, we tread water in such times until, as you say, something comes along "from wholly outside the mainstream hit machine." Or at least in that direction.

SusanHill said...

May I make a tiny correction to your kind note about the Long Barn Books submissions ? We do indeed accept all submissions VIA THE FORM ON THE WEBSITE, no agent needed but I don`t say that non-fiction is preferred. I say fiction is difficult to sell, promote etc. But we DO want fiction, we do publish it and especially FIRST NOVELS. It just isn`t easy. But in publishing, what is ?

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