Tuesday, June 5, 2012

May Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of May's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern; or Friending me on Facebook (FB). Note, however, that not all of my tweeted/FB links make it into these month-end posts. May was another busy month, so there is a lot of content here. Previous monthly recaps are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column. 
  • What would the publishing world be without another "authors beware" entry.... In this case I'm referring to Open Casket Press, Living Dead Press, and Undead Press. Don't be fooled: these three presses are all run by the same individual: Anthony Giangregorio -- and when "Tony" mentions his "editor" (Vincenzo Bilof) he's also talking about himself, though he wants you to believe that he is referring to some other nebulous individual. New author Mandy DeGeit was excited to have her first published story accepted for an Undead Press anthology -- that is, until she discovered after the story was published how the "editor" had rewritten her work, going so far as to include a paragraph of a dog beating (and sexual arousal) that was never in the original story. Mandy's sad tale went viral shortly thereafter, and when Richard Salter read it, he decided to go public as to why he pulled his novel, World's Collider, from Open Casket Press. You can read Richard's blog post, which also contains a link to Mandy's blog post. Bottom line: Stay away from Open Casket/Living Dead/Undead Press and Anthony "Tony" Giangregorio/Vincenzo Bilof. You have been duly warned.
  • But I'm not quite finished with Tony Giangregorio. Author Adam-Troy Castro posted a lengthy Facebook piece concerning this individual; since only FB users could read said post, I asked Adam to repost it elsewhere, and he graciously complied. So now non-FB users can read his "Secret Sequels" post. Here's a quote: "What Giangregorio has done is specifically, and deliberately, hijack the name of a better work and superior work to his sequel; he is specifically saying, 'This is a sequel to Dawn of the Dead.' Which he has no right to do."
  • I spent Memorial Day weekend at the annual BayCon convention here in Santa Clara County. One of the many panels in which I participated was entitled "Editors, Agents and Other Endangered Species"; the moderator, Dario Ciriello, posted a recap of the panel, with particular emphasis on the "editors" part.
  • Hugh Howey. Recognize that name? If not, neither had I, until May 14 when I read in Publishers Weekly online that film rights to his science fiction series Wool had sold to 20th Century Fox -- and partnering with Fox on the film deal is Scott Free, none other than Ridley and Tony Scott's production company. So I purchased a copy of Wool myself, and in the process learned that Hugh Howey had originally self-published Wool as a series of five novellas. The book will be published in hardcover in the UK, and the author is currently at work on a prequel series. If you search out Wool you will read nothing but rave reviews of this book. It represents one of the true self-publishing success stories, the result of a great story and great writing, and hard work. Howey's guest blog on IndieReader provides some personal history on Wool and how the movie rights came about. And he even writes on his own blog about receiving payment from a reader who originally obtained a copy of his book for free from a pirate site. As Howey writes: "How cool an exchange is that?"
  • Self-publishing is, of course, what everyone is talking about, especially when you read success stories like Hugh Howey's above. Rudy Rucker (@rudytheelder) has posted a four-part series on his step-by-step road to creating an ebook, which includes working with HTML code and apps like Calibre and Sigil. Begin at part one: "Getting Started," and you'll find links at the top of each page to get you to parts 2, 3, and 4. In part 4, you can even purchase the ebook edition of Rudy's How to Make an Ebook for only $1.95 from his own Transreal Books press.
  • Catherine Ryan Howard (@cathryanhoward) has a bit of a reality check for authors before they dive into self-publishing, with a blog post entitled "How To Sell Self-Published Books: Read This First." Catherine delves into five points: 1) By Default, No One Cares About Your Book; 2) Your Book is a Product—and It Had Better Work; 3) Social Media is About Connection; 4) You Can’t Sell New Concepts with Old Ways; and [my favorite] 5) You Are Not The Next Amanda Hocking. And be sure to check out the more than 240 Comments, too. (via Jane Friedman’s FB page)
  • But once you have that self-published book, how do you sell it beyond your immediate family and close friends? Mediabistro.com's GalleyCat (@galleycat) -- a website that every author should subscribe to! -- links to an article from the American Booksellers Association (ABA) on how self-published authors can sell their books at a few independent bookstores. And then GalleyCat takes it one step further by listing a few additional bookstores that will sell self-published titles.
  • Traditional publishers have their name as their brand; but what about self-published/independent authors? The UK's Guardian online, on its Book Blog, has an article on author collectives, entitled "Author collectives signal a new chapter for self-publishing." The opening paragraph reads: "With online groups working to sift out the hidden gems, and a New York co-operative instituting a 'seal of quality,' is the world of independent publishing finally getting organised?" (via @thecreativepenn via @dirtywhitecandy)
  • We all have experienced the "time suck" that social media presents; I mean, just look at these Links & Things blog posts I do each month! On The Creative Penn blog, guest blogger J. Steve Miller explains why he has given up trying to attract social media followers, and concentrates on other ways of promoting his book. He divides his post into two parts: 1) Problems with Building a Social Media Following; and 2) How I Use Social Media. And, there are more than 50 Comments, too. (via @thecreativepenn)
  • This is another site that every author -- especially bloggers -- should be subscribed to: Copyblogger -- and the post I wish to bring your attention to is Sonia Simone's "The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People": Bad Habit #1) Being thin-skinned; #2) Flakiness; #3) Selfishness; #4) Greed; #5) Distractibility; #6) Self-doubt; and #7) Arrogance. With more than 130 Comments as well. (via @RachelleGardner)
  • For the past three years at BayCon, I have participated in the Iron Editors panel. Attendees turn in one or two pages of writing, and the panel of authors and editors gets to critique them -- up close and personal in front of the entire audience. In this year's panel, the subject of "names" came up. My response was that if I have to spend time trying to figure out how to pronounce the names in a story, I will simply find another story to read. I never have a shortage of backlogged stories/novels. However, the information conveyed in the selection of a name must also be considered. Juliette Wade (@JulietteWade) has a blog post entitled "Manipulating the Feeling Conveyed by Character Names." Juliette writes: "Fantasy and science fiction often involves making up names. This can be fun and challenging in its own way - and also full of potential pitfalls. Each time you make up a name, it's important to consider not only the onomatopoetic feel of 'bright' or 'dark' consonants and vowels, for example, but also the different similar words that will be evoked by the name."
  • Getting into more profound thinking is Charles Stross's (@cstross) essay, which appears on Charlie's Diary, entitled "SF, big ideas, ideology: what is to be done?" Here's an excerpt: "In fact, those people who are doing the 'big visionary ideas about the future' SF are mostly doing so in a vacuum of critical appreciation.... And there, over in a corner, is Bruce Sterling, blazing a lonely pioneering trail into the future. Chairman Bruce played out cyberpunk before most of us ever heard of it, invented the New Space Opera in Schismatrix (which looked as if nobody appreciated it for a couple of decades), co-wrote the most interesting hard-SF steampunk novel of all, and got into global climate change in the early '90s. He's currently about ten years ahead of the curve. If SF was about big innovative visions, he'd need to build an extension to house all his Hugo awards... So what's at the root of this problem? Why are the innovative and rigorously extrapolated visions of the future so thin on the ground and so comprehensively ignored?" And prepare yourself for the more than 600 Comments! (via @catvalente)
  • Speaking of big ideas, culture -- and inventions, The Atlantic's technology section contains a piece by Suzanne Fischer entitled "Do Our Values Shape Our Inventions, or Do Our Inventions Shape Us?": "Imagining a futuristic world can help us tease out the relationship between culture and technology." Unfortunately, the article refers to "sf" as "speculative fiction" even though hard science fiction writer Karl Schroeder is specifically mentioned. You'll never read the words "science fiction" in The Atlantic! (via Dario Cariello's Facebook page)
  • Pamela Sargent, in a post on her FB page, pointed me to a three-part series in The New York Times online on Philip K. Dick, entitled "The Sci-Fi Philosopher." From the article: "On Feb. 20, 1974, Dick was hit with the force of an extraordinary revelation after a visit to the dentist for an impacted wisdom tooth for which he had received a dose of sodium pentothal. A young woman delivered a bottle of Darvon tablets to his apartment in Fullerton, Calif. She was wearing a necklace with the pendant of a golden fish, an ancient Christian symbol that had been adopted by the Jesus counterculture movement of the late 1960s. The fish pendant, on Dick's [written] account, began to emit a golden ray of light, and Dick suddenly experienced what he called, with a nod to Plato, anamnesis: the recollection or total recall of the entire sum of knowledge."
  • Do we have time for one more internet meltdown? Here's another author/publisher rant and rave that went viral. But first, let me preface this with a comment: If you write a book -- and the book is then published by a publishing company/press that you, the author, have created for the sole purpose of publishing said book -- then by definition: you are a self-published author and the book is a self-published book. Author, and publisher, M. R. Mathias, posting with much vehemence on the Fantasy Faction website forums, insisted that he is not a self-published author (but only because he has published a lot of books and won a lot of awards). Fantasy Faction recaps the entire episode with a blog post entitled "The Man Who Thought He Was King." [Note to authors: Do not do this!]

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