Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Links & Things

You have hopefully noticed my More Red Ink header change -- a new logo. At BayCon over Memorial Day weekend, I participated on a panel with Lee Moyer, an illustrator and graphic designer. We chatted briefly before the end of the con, and exchanged business cards -- at which point I admitted that I needed a new business card (referring, as I was, to the schlocky design on my existing card). To make a long story short, Lee designed a new biz card for me, and with some tweaking on his part, I was able to use the basic logo design for the header on my blog. That BayCon panel, by the way, was entitled "Judging a Cover by Its Book."

Also, I have added two new pages to the blog, you'll see them just above the start of this post. One is "Is Anybody Out There?" which lists all of the blog posts that specifically pertain to this anthology, including the six stories I posted in their entirety. The second page is entitled "Authors and Their Books" and lists all of my author-specific blog posts.

I should note here, too, that I just completed reading a book entitled Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age by Steve Knopper (Free Press, 2009). This book should be mandatory reading for executives and upper management in the (New York specifically) book publishing, marketing, and distribution businesses.

Here are my links and such for the month of June. I've listed them here, with additional detail and comment. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern.

  • The final volume in Matthew Hughes's trilogy of Henghis Hapthorn tales -- Hespira -- has finally been published by Night Shade Books. The first two titles in the series, Majestrum and The Spiral Labyrinth, were published in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Hapthorn is a discriminator (investigator) by profession, and to appreciate Hughes's characterization and world building, imagine if Jack Vance had written the Sherlock Holmes stories, and Holmes' investigations took him to other planets. Wonderful stuff. Hapthorn uses intellect and reason to solve crimes and resolve issues, but in The Spiral Labyrinth we learned that "sympathetic association" (magic) was slowly becoming the dominant force, and Hapthorn was doing his best to survive in a changing world in which he did not fit. Mark Rose at Bookgasm reviewed Hespira earlier this month: "In this tale, Hapthorn accidentally stumbles into a woman who has lost all of her memories. She has no idea who she is, nor any thoughts about her past or future. Hapthorn, though decidedly not interested in her in a romantic way, feels obligated to protect her somehow and, in turn, find out her identity. What follows is a picaresque adventure as he slowly ferrets out certain details that help him discover her origins, all of which of course leads him and his companions into grave danger.... Hughes has the panache to put all of this across to the reader without it seeming made up along the way. There is much to like here in this series, and here's hope that more books are on the way." [Note: I edited the Tales of Henghis Hapthorn series by Matthew Hughes for Night Shade Books.]
  • When I read a character name like "Henghis Hapthorn" I tend to wonder how the author came up with this name. There are some great character names in the sf/fantasy genre: Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Leto Atreides, and Gandalf, to name just four that immediately come to mind. So I was pleased to see a blog post by RasoirJ entitled "Much in a Name." After listing a group of well-known character names, Ras writes: "The characters listed here do have something in common, though. Their names fit, and very nicely indeed. Admittedly, there's a certain circularity in my argument. It's hard to say whether Jake Barnes seems so right for the character because we're exceedingly familiar with the great novel in which he appears, The Sun Also Rises, or whether the name Jake Barnes is a small but crucial element in the interwoven artistry of a great novel." Ras goes on to break down the name "Jake Barnes" to determine how Hemingway may have come up with the name. Other sections in this article include: discussions on "It's easy to go too far with a name" and "How is a writer to come up with good names?" (via @AdviceToWriters)
  • Are you an editor concerned about job security in the ever-growing digital publishing market? Arthur Atwell (@arthurattwell) discusses the subject "What ebooks mean for professional editors" on his blog Publishing, technology, and related opinion. Atwell writes: "Only by continually moving your skills (and value-adding activities) up the flow towards its creative end can you keep your job in publishing. Any jobs at the automation end of the flow are quickly taken over by robots of one sort or another.... So, what do you do as an editor to stay at the creative end of the flow? Well, many editors are already pretty safely up-stream, as you may have guessed by now. It's very difficult to automate the imagination required to really improve the quality of an author's writing. But here are five tips to keep editors there." And if you are an editor and wish to read about these five tips, please check out the blog post. (via @gabrielle_h @draccah @papertyger)
  • Self-Publishing Review (@selfpubreview) provides a list of "Important Questions to Ask Before You Self Publish (and sign on the dotted line)" -- and some of the bulleted points contain multiple questions. Number 1, for examples, asks: "Who owns the rights to the final edited AND unedited manuscript versions of your book? Who owns the cover art? Who owns the copyright? You or the company that published you? Does it cost extra? Does it expire? Who owns the copyright to your book's characters? If you cancel your agreement and you don't own the cover image of your book, you will have to remove it from every place it has been posted." There are a total of 11 numbered points, and if you are considering the self-publishing route, I strongly suggest you read this blog. In fact, you should be subscribed to SPR's blog to receive all of their posts.
  • Another SPR blog post, entitled "Self-Publishing Has Arrived," Henry Baum speaks to (and links to) Laura Miller's article in "When anyone can be a published author." The Salon article isn't at all positive about nor supportive of self-publishing, implying that only 1 out of 10,000 manuscripts that a publisher receives (i.e. the "slush pile") is in fact publishable -- the 9,999 others she refers to as "dreck," and then goes on to state that these will be the self-published titles of the very near future. And are all the readers of electronic books ready for this, as they will have to sift through all this "dreck." But SPR's point in its post is that simply because Salon has in fact addressed self-publishing implies that it has arrived, so to speak. The SPR post has more than 25 comments, and it links to the article, which has more than 90 comments. Both articles and their respective comments are well worth reading if you are even thinking about self-publishing. One commenter on the article states: "What if the major record companies spent as much energy and bile reviling garage bands? Wouldn't it strike you as ridiculous? Wouldn't you wonder what the heck they were so afraid of?"
  • Here's yet another reason you should be subscribing to SPR's blog posts and Twitter account: they put me on to a blog post by Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) entitled "The No. 1 Most Important Factor for Writers Considering the Self-Pub Option." And that No. 1 most important factor is: What is your primary goal for self-publishing? Jane works her way through what she believes to be the three most important goals, and provides some questions, answers, and direction for those who find their goal amongst this list. At the end, Jane links to her previous blog posts and resources on self-publishing.
  • If you've been reading my monthly Links & Things column throughout these past months, then you've seen links to author Dean Wesley Smith (@DeanWesleySmith) and his "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing" series of blog posts. His most recent post is on "Agents and Contracts" and is a necessary evil read for all new authors. Dean covers a variety of options, including selling the book yourself (or not), negotiating the terms of your contract yourself (or not), and hiring a lawyer (or not). He breaks down these options, including the numbers -- e.g. how much the author may make after paying agent fees, one-time lawyer fees, etc. As of this writing, there are 80 Comments, all well worth reading.
  • Chuck Sambuchino, on his "Guide to Literary Agents" editor's blog, speaks on a subject near and dear to every unpublished writer -- if they are willing to admit it: "5 Lies Unpublished Writers Tell Themselves (and the Truths That Can Get Them Published):
    Lie #1: The rules don't apply to me.
    Lie #2: Agents and Editors have it in for me.
    Lie #3: I'm not a marketer, I'm a writer!
    Lie #4: I should spend a lot of time fantasizing over where I will be published now that I've written two chapters of my novel.
    And Lie #5: I'm a better writer than most published authors.
    If your guilty as charged, and you're open to moving beyond these lies, then read Chuck's blog post. (via @mattstaggs)
  • Ebookism is a new site for cataloging and reviewing eBooks. Authors/publishers can submit any and all eBooks (with some restrictions on content, e.g. no spam ebooks) for inclusion in the catalog on this site -- for free, the only caveat being that you must install an ebookism "badge" (essentially a PR logo) on your site. There is, however, a 10-book limit per author/publisher. If you are a serious eBook reader, then you'll want to check out this site. (via's @ebooknewser)
  • The U.K.'s Telegraph (@TelegraphBooks) has an article entitled "Collecting first editions is a kind of madness." And to tell you the truth, I don't really need to read this article to know it as fact. I have over 1,000 unread books in my library, and if I were able to read and complete one book every other week, it would take me more than 35 years to work my way through my library -- assuming I don't add any more titles to the pile (and trust me, it is a pile). I know this is never going to happen -- all that reading, and not acquiring any new titles. Ah, well.... But getting back to the Telegraph: this article deals with the price of first editions (classics, Shakespeare, and such).
  • In 1998 José Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Portuguese writer to be so honored. On June 18, he passed away (he was born in 1922). Amongst those many books in my personal library is a copy of the first British edition of his novel Blindness, from Harvill Press. In honor of Saramago's passing, The Paris Review has posted online an interview with the author that was published in the Winter 1998 issue. [Note that the interview was conducted more than a year before he was awarded the Nobel Prize.] Prefacing the interview is a mini summation of Saramago's life. (via @niallharrison)
  • And finally, an article by Susan Orlean (@susanorlean) in The New Yorker entitled "Alphabet Soup," in which she takes you on a tour, so to speak, of all the editors and publishers with whom she has worked -- often by choice, often not. Ms. Orlean uses letters of the alphabet to represent the many editors and publishers, thus the "Alphabet Soup" of the title. She says this is a true story. It reminds me of a saying we have here in Silicon Valley: Be nice to you co-workers; you never know who you'll be working for next. This is how she begins:
            "My first book was acquired by two people I will call Editor A and Editor B, who ran a small imprint at a big publishing house. We had a great lunch to celebrate. A few months later, Editor A left book publishing to become a newspaper writer. Editor B
            A few months after that, Editor B was promoted to publisher of the larger house—let us call it Publisher W—that owned the small imprint. Because Editor B—that is, Editor/Publisher B—now had too many duties to edit my book, I was assigned to Editor C."
    (via @AdviceToWriters)

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