Tuesday, April 5, 2011

March Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of March's Links & Things; you can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. Note, however, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these month-end posts. Hopefully, you will find some value in what follows; and if you are new to my blog, you may want to catch up on my previous month-end posts: just look for the "Links and Things" tag in the right column of this blog; there are 28 previous blog posts.

  • I've blogged previously (here, here, and here) about Liz Williams's fifth, and most recent, Detective Inspector Chen novel, The Iron Khan. But this is the first time I've come upon a review of a Chen book in which the reviewer so succinctly sums up what is so special about these novels. The reviewer's name is "Paul," the review is on Goodreads.com, and this is merely one of Paul's 836 (as of this writing) reviewed books. Paul writes: "As is usual for the Chen books, the narrative not only focuses on Chen, Zhu Irzh and their friends and allies, but new characters, whose goals, desires and needs bloom like a flower quickly coming into full season. Both the titular antagonist, the Iron Khan, other antagonists, and those who oppose their efforts, such as the Japanese warrior Omi, have their narrative threads intersect with our main characters. They have pasts, presents and futures of their own, and never serve to act for the benefit of the main characters. If anything, these characters draw our main characters and their talents into their stories, for ill or will." [Note: I edited all 5 volumes, so far, of the Detective Inspector Chen series; the first 4 titles for Night Shade Books, the most recent title for Morrigan Books UK.]
  • The Jacqueline Howett meltdown may have been the major controversy this past month, but there were no shortages of others. Mediabistro.com's @ebooknewser reported that publisher HarperCollins plans to limit the number of checkouts to 26 that their eBooks may have at the public library. This means that after 26 checkouts the library is required to purchase another copy of the eBook. The Pioneer Library System, Norman, Oklahoma, responded with a video showing various HarperCollins print books, their condition, and the number of times each has been checked out; had there been a limit on these print copies, hundreds of readers would never have read these books because the library simply cannot afford to replace a book unless it is both in demand and severely damaged. The HarperCollins decision has led to numerous libraries throughout the country boycotting HarperCollins eBooks. So if you cannot find a HarperCollins eBook at your library, don't blame the messenger (your public library), blame HC. In fact, feel free to send HC some feedback right now!
  • Two Very Big Names in publishing were in the news this past month: Barry Eisler and Amanda Hocking. NYT bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a two-book, one-half-million-dollar deal with St. Martin's Press in order to self-publish his future books himself. On the other hand, bestselling self-published author Amanda Hocking has gone New York, signing a four-book, two-million-plus deal, after a very heated bidding war, with St. Martin's for her next series of books.

    Via The Daily Beast, Jason Pinter (@jasonpinter) interviews Barry Eisler to find out just why the author decided to self-publish. In the interview Eisler explains the numbers and reasons behind his decision. Here's a taste: "What happens whenever I hit that point [the earn out point] is that I'll have 'beaten' the contract, and then I'll go on beating it for the rest of my life. If I don't earn out the legacy contract, the only money I'll ever see from it is $142,000 per year for three years. Even if I do earn out, I'll only see 14.9% of each digital sale thereafter. But once I beat the contract in digital, even if it takes longer than three years, I go on earning 70% of each digital sale forever thereafter. And, as my friend Joe Konrath likes to point out, forever is a long time."

    As to Amanda Hocking, the St. Martin's deal was announced in the New York Times, which stated that Ms. Hocking explained herself to her readers, via her blog, thusly: "I want to be a writer," she said. "I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation." (via mediabistro.com)
  • Self-Publishing Review (@selfpubreview), whom I have linked to on numerous occasions, has a follow-up piece on Amanda Hocking, noting that though she has garnered all the attention recently as a self-published author -- and she may indeed be one of the wealthiest – she certainly isn’t a self-pub pioneer. But who are said pioneers you may ask? Boyd Morrison, Lisa Genova, Zoe Winters, and Dean Wesley Smith. You can read their stories on the Self-Pub Review link.
  • And another link from Self-Publishing Review, introducing its readers to a new book blogger, Scott Poe, and his Indie book blog. Scot's blog is yet another source for readers looking for reviews of indie and self-published fiction; his blog is also a source for indie and self-published authors who seek a new review outlet for their work.
  • And, surprise, surprise! At ACES 2011 -- the 15th National Conference of the American Copy Editors Society -- research was presented documenting that "Readers prefer edited news" online, just as they do in print. ACES found that "...the rush to be first online has often meant that stories get posted without going through the copy desk." [Fiction, too!]
  • Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) poses the question(s): "There are many mediums for ebook publishing today. But how does a publisher or author choose which one to use? Or does he or she even have to choose at all?" The author of this article -- Michael Ashley (aka "Mash") -- provides a mini history on eBooks and ePublishing, and then "Having helped thousands of authors get over the hurdles on their way to publishing, [he's] come up with three suggestions that can save you a lot of trouble and help you decide where and how to sell more books." You can read Mash's suggestions via the Gizmodo link.

I always manage to include a link or two that really doesn't have anything to do with publishing, per se, but as a writer, these types of references are indispensable.

  • The New York Times has an interesting "Personal Tech" column entitled "Gadgets You Should Get Rid Of (or Not)." Bottom line? You can get rid of your desktop PC (amongst other gadgets), but keep your books! (via @PublishersWkly by way of @themediaisdying)
  • Paul Di Filippo, one of the contributors to my Fermi Paradox-themed anthology, Is Anybody Out There?, occasionally sends me links to related science articles. The latest is from The Daily Galaxy: "BOK Globules & Black Holes: Could They Be Prime Habitats of Advanced ET Civilizations?" The assumption, according to the article is that "If AI-powered machines evolved, we would be more likely to spot signals from them than from the 'biological' life that invented them." SETI Chief Astronomer Seth Shostak states that just as we have progressed, other civilizations will have progressed as well; thus: "Certainly what we're looking at out there is an evolutionary moving target." Also quoted at length is British physicist Stephen Wolfram. According to Wolfram, "intelligent life is inevitable. But there is a hitch. Although intelligent life is inevitable, we will never find it -- at least not by looking out in the Milky Way. As evidence Wolfram points out, In order to compress more and more information into our communication signals -- be they mobile phone conversations or computer -- we remove all redundancy or pattern." It is this redundancy or pattern in signals that differentiates it from cosmic noise.

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