Jonny Geller (Twitter handle: @jonnygeller) the literary agent & MD of Curtis Brown books decided he would share a few of what he calls "publishing euphemisms" which he tweeted recently under the #publishingeuphemisms hashtag. Very soon other people piled on, and what emerged is a glimpse of what goes on behind the doors of publishing houses. What is said is in quotes, and what it really means or what they think it means is after the "=" sign:
"This is too British for the American market" = I have no idea what this is about
"There is such excitement in-house" = my assistant loved it.
"All our focus is on the paperback"= the hardback tanked.
"Multi-layered" = too many characters.
"Extraordinary breadth" = too many scenes.
"Epic" = too long.
"Desperate to buy it but marketing/sales just couldn't see it"= why did you send me this?
"Well-researched" (for fiction) = maybe try writing nonfiction
"Sadly we are publishing a similar book to this next spring"= it too has a beginning, middle and end.
"I enjoyed the book so much, i finished it, even though I shan't be making an offer"= I read the first & last chapter.
"This novel is too commercial for our list"= I could have written it.
"This is too literary for our list" = it's boring.
"Though, at times, an exhilarating read, I found the tone of the novel to be uneven" = hysterical nonsense.
"The novel never quite reached the huge potential of its promise" = your pitch letter was better than the book.
"The manuscript is nearly finished" = I'm up to chapter 3.
"I don't quite love it enough" = I fell asleep reading it!
"A compulsive read" = I've got insomnia.
"I just don't love the book ENOUGH" = I hate it.
"Genre-busting" = Unmarketable but another editor pissed me off recently so I'll recommend it to them.
"My muse" = the poor sod I plagiarized.
"You should hear back from us in January" = of 2015.
"I didn't feel enough empathy w/ characters." = I suspect author may be nut job.
"Laugh-out-loud funny" = it might just make you smile, once.
"You might consider reworking the opening section" = you spelt your name wrong.
"You have a unique world view" = you are totally bonkers and probably the next Unabomber.
"It's not one for us.'" = I'm glad to get this pile of old tosh off my desk.
"The author is highly promotable" = the author is smoking hot.
"Just a couple of tiny changes needed." = I'm about to send you 27 pages of edits.
"It's a new classic." = same as an old classic but the names are changed and it probably has vampires.
"I couldn't put it down!" = the printer used cheap glue on the spine.
"We're expecting the trade paperback to do better" = uh oh start thinking about writing the next under a pseudonym.
"We have a very strong online campaign for your title" = we're using all the inhouse blogs/newsletters but not spending $.
"Complex thriller" = even the editor had trouble following the plot but you love the author don’t you?
"Literary-commercial cross-over" = has a plot but not too many adverbs.
I want to state first of all I am not a sour puss. I like humor, and I like dark humor even better. I can understand that people under stress make up their own inside jokes. In fact I was surprised the following old standby was not included: "You manuscript is both good and original" = the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. But I want to say the following: From my perspective these people hold the hopes and dreams of thousands of authors in their hands. I recognize they are burdened with the impossible job of judging whether the many manuscripts that pass through their hands are good enough for publishing, and I sympathize with them; really. However, whether they think about it this way or not, their job is to squash the majority of these hopes and dreams. We will never know how many talented authors who deserved to be published were denied entrance through these gates and whatever became of them. So if you think about it this way it's not funny anymore. But I understand. It's a business; only a few make the grade. And it's a tough job; somebody's got to do it. Fine, I get it. And until recently if you wanted to publish you had to go through this gauntlet and your book would have probably provided more fodder for some of these inside jokes.However, now all that has changed. With self-publishing and the e-book revolution we can bypass these gates, these gatekeepers, and these jokes. We can take our work directly to the readers and let them decide whether our work meets their expectations. Finally: Why did the self-published book cross the road? Because it was too original and subtle for the side of the road it was on. Now, that's funny! : ^ D ***If you like this blog you can have links to each week's posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.
This was sent to me by fellow writer Sunny Lockwood. It is brilliant!
You have probably heard that Penguin Books announced that it was ceasing to distribute e-books to libraries. As a result of this decision Random House now remains the only major publisher that offers libraries unrestricted access to its e-books although it has announced it will raise their prices. So what is the problem here? Why do most big publishers not want to allow libraries to carry their e-books? The answer is: because it's too easy for people to read them.
You heard that right. The major publishers are concerned that the ease of downloading e-books from libraries will turn potential readers into book borrowers rather than book buyers thus eating into their profits. They argue that borrowing a print book from a library involves a hassle. You have to drive to the library to get the book and then to return it. However, with e-books you can download them from your home. So all these publishers are currently in talks with the libraries to figure out how they can make e-book borrowing more difficult.
On the other hand Amazon makes Kindle books available to 11,000 local libraries in the United States and the pace of e-book borrowing from libraries is currently exploding.
Jeez, why are traditional publishers having so many problems?
If they can't answer that question they deserve to go the way of the dodo!
These are the new covers I have obtained for my book "The Sun Zebra." They were made by the talented artist Julia Baumgard, and I am really thrilled by them. Please let me know which cover you like by voting in the poll below. The poll will be open for a week, and I will take your combined opinion into account when I republish my book with the new cover. For those of you who are in the process of reviewing my book please let me know if you want a copy with the new cover. For those of you wishing to review my book send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a copy.Thank you very much for your participation!
For the purpose of this review the author provided me with a Microsoft Word copy of her work, so I have not read the actual e-book. This book is intended both as a memoir and a portrayal of the effects that the holocaust had on its survivors and their children. The first fourth of the book centers on the lives of the author's mother, Channa Perschowski, and father, Nathan Poltzer, beginning when these lives begin to unravel. Channa was taken by her brother Issac to join the resistance against the Nazis at the tender age of 12 while Nathan at age 18 was deported to a concentration camp. They both managed to survive their brutal ordeal but they lost their family and friends. These chapters were harrowing to read. Eventually Nathan and Channa traveled to America, met and got married. When their first son was born Nathan thought to himself that "Hitler had not won" because his lineage would continue. As it turns out, even though Hitler indeed had not won, his poison had become embedded deeply in both Nathan and Channa. The rest of the book chronicles how this poison affects their marriage and their children resulting in a deeply divided and dysfunctional family. Hence the title of the book: "Broken Birds." Jeannette Katzir deftly describes in minute detail and analyzes how her parent's insecurities, unresolved anger issues, and a mistrust of strangers verging on paranoia slowly spread over the years into her and her four siblings affecting everything from their choice of spouses to how their own children were treated. We often have the notion that if a person survives a period of intense hardship that person can face whatever life throws at them. The author in this book dispels that myth. The skills that one may develop to survive a war may not be the ones required during peacetime to have a healthy marriage and raise balanced children. Overall reading Jeannette Katzir's book was a powerful experience. It is both a very intimate look at the inner workings of a family affected by the holocaust and a slice of history that documents very trying times for a group of people persecuted for their race.
As many of you know, Amazon has a program called the KDP Select which allows books to be checked out as a loan by readers participating in the program. Amazon has created a fund of money that is distributed among the total number of loans. Therefore, authors get paid every time a reader checks out their book. Additionally the program gives authors the ability to offer their books for free for 5 days. The catch is exclusivity. If you enroll your book to participate in the program it cannot be sold in any other outlet but Amazon. So, how has this program fared? Amazon claims that so far the program has been a success. In December of last year 295,000 books were borrowed paying each author $1.70 per borrow and the KDP Select lending library has swelled to 75,000 books. As a result of this, authors and publishers participating in the program increased their income by 26%. The company now has increased this fund from $500,000 in December to $700,000 in January. In addition to the money earned from books being lent, Amazon also noted that sales of KDP Select tittles also increased compared to those that were not in the program. An evaluation of Kindle owners participating the in the program compared to those that did not revealed that the ones participating bought 30% more books than the ones that didn't. The combined effect of royalties coming from borrowed books and from sales of more books has resulted in the top ten KDP select authors growing their book income 449% from November to December.By permitting authors to give away their book for free for a few days, Amazon has given them a powerful promotional tool that allows new readers to discover them. Overall the KDP Select program has had the effect of allowing self-published authors access to the top 10 slots of the different genres, displacing books by more traditional publishers.So it's that easy eh? Enroll your book in the KDP Select program, give it away for free for a few days and sit back and watch your sales increase. Not so fast.Giving your book away for free only seems to drive its sales after the free period if your book makes it to the top 100 in the charts of its respective category. Therefore making your book free is not enough. You have to promote your book to make sure it gets enough downloads to reach that magic 100 bracket. Thus authors have to alert their e-mail contacts and work their social media to let readers know their book is free on a particular day. In fact, some authors have placed paid advertisements in major book blogs. Yes, you read that right. Pay money to let readers know that you are giving your book away for free! The program seems to work best for authors with several published books because free promotion of one of the books will drive sales of the others. This is especially true if the book being promoted is part of a series. Also, having more books in the program gives you more free promotional days. Finally, the genre in which the book is in also seems to matter. If your book is in the more popular genres, it will tend to get more downloads when promoted. So the answer is yes, the KDP Select program seems to have worked for self-published authors as a whole but in general it favors those who have been around longer, have more books, and/or are able to marshal the promotional forces that can make their books reach the top ranks. For the no-name author who has put out his/her first book it is an additional promotional tool but the climb to the top is still steep. There are two final considerations to be made. One is that, as the KDP Select program becomes more popular, the market will be swamped with free books and its effectiveness may decrease. The other consideration is that the avalanche of free books may provide a windfall for book plagiarists who can now obtain many books for free and quickly republish them with new covers and author names. This is a big problem at Amazon and it's getting worse every day.
Some people have asked me where Nell came from. Nell, of course, is the unusual little girl that is at the center of my book of stories The Sun Zebra. Part of Nell comes from my real life daughter and my own experiences as a child, but I think another part comes from the comics I have read or watched on TV over the years.There is a long tradition in the world of cartooning that involves viewing the complexity of the world of adults through the prism of precocious children in order to expose its follies. Let me take you on a tour of some of the influences that may be behind my Nell.Little Lulu was created in 1935 by Marjorie Henderson Buell (Marge) and went on to become a hugely successful cartoon running for almost half a century in the nation's funny pages. Marge was also the first female cartoonist in the United States to achieve international success. Lulu is a lively and independent little girl who always outsmarted the boys (and sometimes the grownups) around her.
Nancy was introduced in 1933 by Ernie Bushmiller into the comic Fritzi Ritz which he inherited from Larry Whittington. Within a few years the character became so popular that the comic strip was renamed simply "Nancy" or later "Nancy and Sluggo", referencing her boy friend from "the wrong side of the tracks". At its peak in the seventies it ran in 800 plus newspapers and inspired artists such as Andy Warhol. Nancy always found the funny and the unusual in everyday things.
The comic strip Peanuts created by Charles Shultz was one of the most influential and longest running in the United States (from 1950 to 2000). It has become an American icon popularizing terms like "security blanket" and metaphors regarding someone removing the ball just when you are about to kick it. In the strip the children interact with adults that are never seen but they mostly interact with each other in a manner that constantly shifts from child- to adult-like behavior and back.
Lesser known in the States but very popular in Latin America and Europe is the comic strip "Mafalda" drawn in Argentina from 1964 to 1973 by cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado better known by his pen name "Quino." Mafalda is a soup-hating shrewd little girl concerned about the state of the world and her country. She often rattles her parent's nerves with age-inappropriate questions (e.g. "Daddy, what is a sex maniac?") and mixes with a band of friends of very unique idiosyncrasies. For example one of her friends "Libertad" (Spanish for liberty) is a tiny girl. When Libertad meets someone she asks, "Have you drawn your stupid conclusion? Everyone who meets me draws their stupid conclusion." The strip often addressed contemporary issues like those stemming from the conflict between communism and democracy.
Bill Watterson's strip Calvin & Hobbes about a hyperkinetic albeit imaginative kid and his alter ego tiger ran from 1985 to 1996 in the United States. Calvin is the quintessential brat who strains the nerves of his suffering parents. His only friend is a stuffed tiger that comes to life when no one is looking. Despite being a child Calvin often wrestles with extremely grownup themes which often end up parodied in one way or another.
The Simpsons created by Matt Groening in 1987 needs no introduction. It's the most popular and longest running animated sitcom in the United States. The character I like is Lisa. She is a level headed precocious girl who often acts as the only voice of rationality amidst the utter chaos generated by her brat of a brother and the incompetent grownups around her.
My Nell is concerned about the how and why of things like Lisa or Mafalda, she has a great imagination like Calvin, and she can display a combination of traits of both an adult and a child like Little Lulu, Nancy, or any of the characters in Peanuts. But I think Nell is more subtle. This may be because I am not constrained to delivering a gag in a small amount of panels. Or it may be because when you write a story, as oppose to drawing the characters, you can rely on the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. I think Nell is different because first and foremost she remains a child.Check out my e-book The Sun Zebra It's a quick and inspiring read, and it will be free from November 17 to 18 on Amazon.
R.I.P. John and George, Beatles Forever!
This cartoon reminded me of a conversation I had with a Muslim when I was in grad school. I started asking him questions about the way women were treated in his and many other similar countries. I was very surprised when he let me know that what I considered oppression, paternalism, and sexism, he called "respect." He went on to tell me how dismayed he was over the way women were not respected in the United States. He said that in his country no man would allow his wife, sister, or daughter to go out to the streets alone by herself, especially wearing revealing clothing.
Of course I was not swayed by his arguments, but it always amazes me how some of the things that are abhorred by one culture are considered rock solid values in another. Idealistically I always like to think that "What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us." But with such strong cultural differences that we feel so passionately about separating us, is there any chance we will ever work together to deal with the challenges facing our world?