Ether for Authors: Are Publishing Firefights Hurting the Mission?

In Discussion by Porter Anderson

10 June 2013 iStock_000015848960XSmall photog Icholakov TEXTED STORY IMAGE

Table of Contents

  1. ‘Fire­fight­ing at Each Stage’
  2. BEA’s Response: Steve Rosato
  3. Authoright’s Response: Gareth Howard
  4. New One-Eyed Stats From Bowker
  5. Craft: The Heal­ing Side of Honesty
  6. How Not to Link to The Onion
  7. Con­fer­ences
  8. Last Gas: Jonah’s Whale of a Nerve

 

‘Fire­fight­ing at Each Stage’

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Across the value chain, the way publishing industry works today, there is chaos and firefighting at each stage. Almost everything happens at the last moment. In the language of management science, [the] publishing industry is imploding…it needs real entrepreneurs who can make authorship worth a career.

Kristen McLean

Kristen McLean

Did you see those words at the end of last week?

Those lines lie in the first comment on Kristen McLean’s Why Publishing Needs to Foster Its Own Startup Economy here at our Ether for Authors host, Publishing Perspectives.

The commenter is Shridhar Lolla of Bangalore.

Shridhar Lolla

Shridhar Lolla

I don’t know him or his work. But it seems he has our number. I love that phrase:

Firefighting at each stage.

One hot zone sparked a fireball this week when a community-leading entrepreneurial author became enraged that a former Author Solutions manager, Tim Davies, had posted a write-up at The FutureBook headlined Author Solutions and Penguin Random House: The Real Deal?

Tim Davies

Tim Davies

Davies is now managing director of the History Press, the chairman of Authoright; and founder of his own packaged author-services outfit called Swift Publishing.

For the record, Authoright CEO Gareth Howard and marketing director Hayley Radford have assured me that their own author-services outfit, Authoright, has had no connections with Author Solutions (ASI) for three years; the same timeline, it seems, on which their chairman, Davies, parted ways, himself, with ASI.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

When Davies got into FutureBook with his first piece, however—largely unremarkable for its speculation that Penguin acquired Author Solutions for its production capabilities—author David Gaughran was incensed.

And this is where a choice of words comes into important play—and where the explosions and firefights can cause us to forget the mission: literature for readers.

Gaughran’s headline and story, even now, say Davies is a “hire.” The Bookseller Hires Author Solutions Exec To Spout Propaganda. In truth, Davies has not been hired. I have checked with both FutureBook’s Sam Missingham and with Philip Jones of FutureBook’s parent, The Bookseller. No hire. None of the bloggers at FutureBook—myself included—is paid, I’m assured.

FutureBook Conference

Seriously, I’m at pains to be fair here. I really like Gaughran. I have published the fact that I’ve appreciated his concerned but usually measured tone in the self-publishing community. His statement to the Department of Justice in the anti-trust cases against the Big Five publishers was assured and smart. He shares my interest in seeing literary authors find their footing in the self-published world, still predominately a genre field, and recently dropped me a couple of fine reading recommendations. Gaughran is a warm and friendly personality, whose concern for “author services” operations that take advantage of unsuspecting writers is important and authentic. I fear it can also overtake his judgment.

And which if us doesn’t have an issue that can plunge us into palm-itching Strangelovian spasms? I’m not throwing that first stone, thanks very much.

 

But it must be said that despite a note at the bottom of his piece about his use of the term “hire,” the word is still all over his article (why not change it once it’s clearly wrong?), and its confusion has been compounded by his lobbing of terms including “propaganda” and “censoring” at The Bookseller/FutureBook. Is Gaughran alone in an unwise choice of words? Hardly.

Philip Jones

Philip Jones

I’ve been in touch with my valued friend and excellent colleague Jones at The Bookseller and FutureBook.

I’ve made the suggestion to Southwark Street that the text on the FutureBook comments section might want reviewing. It reads, “Comments go live immediately.” They do not go live immediately. Once again, wrong words are here.

The Bookseller staff moderates all comments—which is wise and appropriate for a journalistic medium, by the way.

In more than one recent case, those comments, however, have shown up…less than quickly. More contention has ensued.

There are now, indeed, comments showing up on Davies’ piece at The FutureBook. Naysayers are well represented.


One of the commenters, interestingly, is that non-hire, Davies, himself, the writer of the article. He, too, seems to be at some pains:

To clarify a few points: I wasn’t hired by FutureBook, rather I was recently invited by them to join their 150 or so bloggers, I imagine because of my wide experience across numerous areas of the trade over more than 30 years, 4 of which were spent at Author Solutions.

FutureBook had no idea what the subject of my first post would be, indeed neither did I until the day before I wrote it. It was by chance that I chose Author Solutions / Penguin Random House as my first topic; it was certainly not a pre-meditated decision.

I am neither a critic nor a supporter of Author Solutions and I was and am aware of the strength of feeling around them. My post was not about their business model or practice, rather it was a presentation of my theory of one of the reasons why Penguin may have acquired them, namely to use their prepress operation to facilitate the Penguin Random House merger.

 

 

Of one thing, we can be sure: plenty of words, chosen well or otherwise, are headed Author Solutions’ way. 13 May 2013 iStock_000009523968XSmall photog naffarts TEXTED STORY IMAGEAs we know, there’s a class-action case assigned to Judge Denise Cote in New York. I detailed it in Ether for Authors: The Author Solutions Lawsuit. See how much good my “A Time for Restraint” heading did?

And to widen this thing a bit now, I submit that all of us—yes, all of us, nobody gets away—need to be more careful of how we say things.

Not just because we’re writers, for God’s sake, and don’t you think we should know how to speak accurately? But also because we set off firefights each time we torch the strung-out, exhausted Kindling of the industry! the industry! with mis-phrased, over-heated, and usually ill-researched accusations.


Remember the mission? Literature. For whom? Readers. To make? A living.

Alliance of Independent Authors 2 (ALLi) @IndieAuthorALLiLook, I’m grateful that we seem to have moved past the screaming-meemies era of (Joe) Konwrathful self-publishing hysteria during which the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) was formed a bit over a year ago. What then was blind rage at anything remotely related to traditional publishing seems to have focused into the more palpable concerns behind Gaughran’s distress: “author services” providers truly can be crooked and the Pearson acquisition of the deeply questionable Author Solutions, let alone Simon & Schuster’s Archway deal with ASI, are part of what has driven the publication by ALLi of Mick Rooney and Ben Galley’s cautionary Choosing a Self Publishing Service.

Choosing a Self-Publishing Service 2013But there’s a point at which even the best-intended cooperative efforts like ALLi, or Gaughran’s and his associates’ objections to Author Solutions can become oddly counter-productive. There’s a moment at which any organization can unwittingly begin to perform a litmus test—”are you with us or against us?” There’s a pivot in which even good concern gets nasty, demanding that everyone else agree with it.

We’re getting uncomfortably close. And surely the rise of the entrepreneurial author is too significant, hopeful, and challenging a thing for it to be about hyperbole.

With luck, by the time you read this Ether, I will have posted an article of my own at The FutureBook—an unpaid article, David: call me Jones’ “hire” and I’m coming after you in the Ether company car. My piece is headlined Orna Ross: The Pudding Would Like a Word. I’ll let it speak for itself. But it’s me with my fire extinguisher, having to put out a flare-up of misplaced anger that I experienced from the author camp, myself, during BookExpo America in New York last week.


The LIterary Consultancy @TLCUKAnd during this past, fraught weekend, Jon Slack’s Literary Consultancy gathering in London—which I’d love to have attended but the call came too late (alas, Roger Tagholm it thoroughly covered here in today’s Publishing Perspectives) — included not only what clearly were many healthy, productive sessions on the state of “Writing in a Digital Age,” but also some dismayed back-channel messages about the “background row bubbling away” over the FutureBook Davies piece; genre battles; and, inevitably, Self-Publishing vs. Just About Everything.

Alastair Horne

Alastair Horne

Thanks to the valiant live-tweet artistry of my Twitter twin Alastair Horne, I’m aware of another write-up from journalist Molly Flatt on the weekend conference, The Literary Consultancy: Writing in a Digital Age at BookBrunch. In it, you can review her commentary on some of the events addressing our “very confusing times” (she’s quoting Robert McCrum, formerly The Observer’s literary editor).

Molly Flatt

Molly Flatt

I’ve excerpted Flatt’s thoughtful, sometimes interstitial cautions, drawn from many speakers. I’m going to give her some run here, stay with me. You’ll find these phases move almost like madrigal lyrics when freed from the exigencies of attribution and reportage:

Allow time for the artists to catch up with the technology…stop worrying so much…readers still care most about compelling stories…quality, original writing, rather than esoteric technological dabbling…reminding aspiring authors that writing has never been free or easy…take a longer view of progress…focus on the language and ideas that are urgently meaningful to us now…in all the conversation about author services, publishing strategies and interdisciplinary doodahs…the ultimate audience had a tendency to get obscured… the degree to which these innovations truly improve on the core reader experience…a middle-ground between elitism and amateurism…insisting that he would never give his book away free on a commercial platform…if we all believed more literally in the value of literature, and more strongly in the goodwill of readers…heartfelt, personal passion and talent at the core of the literary ecosystem…”pull our socks up.”

Pull our socks up. Before the next strafing sets off an explosion.

 

One day we’ll know that the hands and hearts of our writers are the digital disruption. It’s their heads we need to keep focused on the task: the need to wrestle a story and its meaning to the ground is, even now, the fuel in the engine of distribution that we call “digital.”

We can afford to loosen the grip. We can let publishers’ people and tech people and McLean’s startup people (so many startup people) and ALLi’s organization people and even the myriad author-services people, the just and the unjust, chew each other’s legs off.

 

Writers, on the other hand, need to know they already have won whatever is here to win. Stories seek their most direct line, from teller to hearer, from writer to reader. Digital’s genius is always about shortening that distance and delivering that story. The digital dynamic is inexorable. I know this because I saw it rip apart the newspaper industry I was in, and then I watched it reduce the network-news industry to glowy, ditzy infotainment. Authors don’t have to fight digital’s battles for it. Old Publishing will bob and weave for a while to come, getting stiffer with each compromise. Crooked author-service efforts will be starved as the digital author-grapevine strangles them.

 

Rachel Edidin

Rachel Edidin

In Why Book Publishers Are Still Dragging Their Heels on Selling You E-Books at Wired, Rachel Edidin writes:

The truth is, book publishers still aren’t sure what to make of digital publishing. BEA 2013 boasted a “Digital Discovery Zone,” but for every business aimed at revolutionizing delivery to consumers, there were two whose purpose boiled down to making the digital landscape less frightening for hidebound publishers.

Tom Chalmers

Tom Chalmers

And I’m reminded, finally, of Tom Chalmer’s FutureBook get-over-“Big Bad Wolf”-Amazon piece this week, Book industry: stop moaning and be creative.

Our industry is not looking for martyrs, bemoaning their dashed businesses, but entrepreneurs. And one thing is for certain: moaning is far easier than innovating.

I’m glad to have had Edidin’s perspective and Chalmer’s admonition. They apply to authors, too.

It’s become all too easy to sneer with knee-jerk author-ity at the agonies of an industry being steadily eviscerated by the digital dynamic.

And with only a few, tantalizing best-selling exceptions (most of them as accidental as savvy), writers haven’t yet figured out how to capture the digital light now streaming onto their shoulders and making them think they see halos in the mirror. We could all do with a bit more humility, a lot fewer firefights, and much more care in how we talk to and about each other. Back to Table of Contents

 

BEA’s Response: Steve Rosato

3 June 2013 key image starter BEA TEXTED STORY IMAGEIn last week’s Ether for Authors here at Publishing Perspectives, How London Beat BEA’s Pants Off, I wrote of my dismay at the way BookExpo America in New York presents authors. Instead of the AuthorLounge facility programmed by Authoright to gave entrepreneurial authors a hubbed presence at London Book Fair, I saw what I call authors as “creatures of the publishers,” being presented in the old ways—organized autograph lines, in-booth signings, some speeches.

I asked for some response from Steve Rosato, who heads up BEA, and am really glad he has provided it. This is the important voice for us to hear on the matter, and Rosato has graciously come back with a clear and detailed explication of how he views the issue.

Steve Rosato

Steve Rosato

Because this kind of cooperative dialogue is exactly the type of non-flame-throwing discussion I’d like to see more of in the business, I’m going to practice tweet abatement here, and not interrupt his comments with cameo tweetings. And I’m giving you the full text he has sent without further comment from me. In journalism, we have a phrase, “we spoke, they spoke.” It’s Rosato’s turn, and I appreciate his care and speed in getting to me.

Steve Rosato:

“I did meet Gareth [Howard] from Authoright to discuss the concept of an authors’ lounge like they were planning for LBF. A planned meeting when Gareth was to be in NYC was waylaid by Superstorm Sandy, and we just were never able to connect in person, but we did pursue. As I recall, what he proposed (right or wrong on my part) seemed to be self-serving in that it was promotional for Authoright services. This is natural for anyone that represents a company that their information will be biased towards what they do whether that is me representing BEA or anyone speaking at anything from TED to DBW. It would have been fine for a program or two, but we had already planned for 3 Author Stages at BEA + the BEA Autographing area – creating an Authors Lounge did not make sense. Still I was intrigued by some of the content that Gareth suggested and tried to include Authoright on the BEA program, but it never worked out.

“BEA does already attract a number of the new breed of entrepreneurial authors as you have nicely titled and we feel we have addressed that by creating really inexpensive booth options that allow them to exhibit at BEA and display their wares on equal footing with any traditional publisher. Yes this space is more on the periphery of the show floor, but it is $1,600.00 vs. $4,600.00 in a more central location (any of those entrepreneurial authors are free to take that a booth in the $4,600.00 locations too). We do invest in ways to draw traffic throughout the floor with the stages, VIP tours, etc…which was very effective noting the success we had for the Sidelines area which is aggregated on the periphery as well.

“We also run the uPubU event as part of the BEA evolution, working to meet the needs of indie authors, the one-day conference dedicated to indie authors Any BEA badge was able to meet with the exhibitors in this area. In addition, the price to attend was held to $99, and included 40 speakers, 30 exhibitors, lunch and more. This is price is significantly less than almost any author conference in the industry and featured speakers like Guy Kawasaki and Cindy Ratzlaff.

“Many exhibitors on the show floor offer services to indie authors – here is but a brief list from 2013-

  • Archway Publishing
  • Bestseller in a Weekend
  • Book Baby
  • Book Country
  • Book Hub
  • BookWorks
  • Bowker
  • Enthrill Distribution
  • Gotham Writers Workshop
  • Ingram Content Group
  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Kobo
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Smith Publicity
  • Writer.ly

“BEA Education Conference included – self-published authors, here is some off the top –

  • Bella Andre
  • Barbara Freethy
  • Brittany Geragotelis
  • Lori Culwell
  • Guy Kawasaki
  • Cindy Ratzlaff

“Sorry if this is overkill, but I did see your article, “LBF Beats The Pants off BEA” as it was forwarded to me numerous times and I felt like it misrepresented BEA significantly. Not only is BEA embracing and recognizing the entrepreneurial author, but we do an awful lot of great things for them to level the playing field, treating them for what they are: producers of great content that is looking to reach its audience.”

Back to Table of Contents

 

Authoright’s Response: Gareth Howard

Gareth Howard

Gareth Howard

With Rosato’s fine response to us in hand, we then turned to Authoright CEO Gareth Howard to see if he would like to make some comment relative to Rosato’s remarks about Authoright and AuthorLounge. Here, again without Ether-eal intervention is the answer we’re glad and grateful to have from Howard, another guy moving fast to get back to us quickly, much appreciated.

Gareth Howard:

“We’d love to take the AuthorLounge to BEA but as we understand it they are not interested in expanding their author-offering beyond what it already set up at uPublishU. We understand why they are preoccupied – as LBF were to begin with – with the idea that Authoright would profit exponentially from curating the event, that our involvement was a commercial endeavour pure and simple.

“But given the small size of our team and the labour intensive commitment of researching, designing, revising, booking and staging the seminars, workshops and pitching event – not to mention the 45 minute film we funded and produced – that we undertook on our own, the investment we made was certainly not a commercially viable one. It was a huge distraction for us but a valuable one, the right one; we did it because we wanted the event to succeed, to be absolutely targeted towards the needs of modern-day authors, whether self published, hybrid, traditional or unpublished, and we felt we were the best placed company around to do it. Because unlike any international book fair, Authoright deals with authors every day of the week.

“The fact that we worked hard to keep the event neutral, despite their being sponsors involved, was testament to how much those high-level sponsors bought in to what we were doing. Giving authors a home.”

Back to Table of Contents

 

New One-Eyed Stats From Bowker

Self-published titles make up 12% of all e-book sales, according to new findings from Bowker Market Research. The popularity of self-published titles rises when looking at certain categories, with the self-published share of e-book volume sales more than 20% in areas such as crime, science fiction and fantasy, romance and humour.

BowkerThose Shirtless Men Kissing Beautiful Women. How would we get the percentages up without them?

The opening quote there is from Joshua Farrington at The Bookseller in Bowker: self-published e-books 12% of sales. Farrington isn’t the shirtless one, he’s the writer of the report. Actually, in all journalistic fairness, I don’t know that. Farrington may have been shirtless when he wrote that story. See the lengths to which we journos go to ferret out the accuracy of it all for you?

Joshua Farrington

Joshua Farrington

It turns out that another thing coming from Jon Slack’s conference in London this weekend, was a new set of stats on self-published output in the United Kingdom, delivered at The Literacy Consultancy conference by Bowker’s UK research director, Steve Bohme.

Per the potentially shirtless Farrington, this interesting bit on that long word we all love to type, discoverability:

The pattern of discovery for self-published books is different from both print books and other e-books. Whereas having previously read the author or the series is the most cited cause for discovery for print and e-books, it is browsing online that is the biggest driver for self-published books. The findings also show that self-published books are more likely to be discovered online through offers and recommendation sections than traditionally published books.

And:

The figures also show that heavy readers are more likely to buy self-published books, with 61% of people who buy self-published books likley to read every day compared to 37% of all book buyers. 36% of self-published book buyers are females over 45, who make up 24% of all book buyers.

But here’s the thing we need to keep in mind. Bowker—a company I’ve worked with many times on research reports, they’re great—cannot actually know as much as we need them to know. Amazon and other major retailers don’t share sales data with the industry. This is their proprietary right, let nobody say they’re not well within their prerogative to keep such numbers unreported.

 

But as long as a seat of so much self-pubslishing of ebooks as Amazon isn’t sharing its numbers with us, not even the sharp folks at Bowker research can actually see the entire field. They can get some significant portions of the pasture, and they can do some extrapolation on what’s happening on the other side of the thicket…but they don’t know. It’s not their fault. It is the situation. And going back to McCrum’s mention about this being a time of confusion, this is one of the reasons. We simply don’t have all the data we need to be sure what this market looks like. Back to Table of Contents

 

Craft: The Heal­ing Side of Honesty

Last Tuesday afternoon to be exact, though not in the way I’d heard. It wasn’t quick but it was violent, a wave that built with a sense of silent ease before crashing over me. I felt it in my body just as much as my soul:

Writing no longer brought me joy.

Billy Coffey

Billy Coffey

And how good that we work in a business in which a guy in a cowboy hat can write a thing like that.

Seriously, I want to highlight author Billy Coffey’s The One Thing Every Writer Needs for you today. Coffey is a client of our good colleague, the literary agent Rachelle Gardner, and his guest post at her site is a straight-ahead meditation on losing the pleasure in the work.

If it were no more than that, it would be worth the read. But it’s more.

How many authors is he speaking for when he writes:

You think your problems will be solved once you’re published. That isn’t true. You only exchange one set of trials for another, and you’re still faced with the very same obstacle as before—you’re trying to be found in a crowd of thousands of other writers out there. You’re trying to scream and wave and say I’m here and they’re all trying to do the same, and the result is an unending clatter that drowns everyone out. And you know what? It gets tiring sometimes. You begin to wonder if it is worth it, or if what you’re really doing is gazing at solid ground while mired in quicksand.

When Mockingbirds Sing by @BillyCoffeyWhat are you waiting for as you read this? The turnaround. The aha, Oprah. The moment Coffey goes, “But then my gorgeous wife walked through the door and the sunlight fell on my children and I realized…”

It never comes.

Coffey never tells us he has regained the joy he had in his writing.

Three books into his career, with his new When Mockingbirds Sing (beautiful cover), this hit him. As he writes:

I was in the middle of promoting one novel while editing the next and writing the one after that, trying to keep up with my website, trying to stay on social media and discover new contacts and seek out new opportunities—everything a writer in this modern age was supposed to do.

I don’t like the idea that the guy may, in fact, be in deep trouble with his relationship to his work, especially at a relatively advanced stage of publication. But I do like that he’s not jerking us around with a lot of Kumbaya palaver about how you have to belieeeeeeeve in yourself and you’ll find your way back to giggling at the keyboard. For all we know, he hasn’t found his way back, and repeated playings of Lena Horne may not save him.

 

In a business awash in what I call “inspi-vational” blog posts for writers, it can be really helpful to have someone willing to just state the problem, and well, without falling for that “you have to offer them a solution” rubbish. No you don’t. Some problems aren’t fixable. Sometimes your best inspiration may be the fellow feeling of somebody else’s stumble. Some writers don’t find the joy again. Here’s how Coffey ends it:

It is a tenuous thing, delicate and at times fleeting. And I’m here to tell you that losing it is not a myth. It happens. But as long as you can find that joy again, as long as you can hold it tight, hope is never lost.

Back to Table of Contents

 

How Not to Link to The Onion

Publishers Weekly PWWe all give The Onion a lot of rope.

Maybe too much.

I, for one, am not prepared to cut Publishers Weekly as much slack.

When The Onion took it into its collective head to publish If You Wish To Be A Writer, Have Sex With Someone Who Works In Publishing, it bylined the piece Joyce Carol Oates. And it used her picture.

 

Publishers Weekly "Daily," June 5, 2013

Publishers Weekly “Daily,” June 5, 2013

It’s not even that funny an article—like a bad sophomoric joke, it goes on too long and has no point beyond the initial, ancient, casting-couch chuckle.

It’s weak enough that The Onion apparently felt they needed to send up an unsuspecting author to make it fly.

But worse, when the Publishers Weekly email arrived on June 5, it included a link to the piece in its Roundup section.

The link made no note that the piece was on TheOnion.com, let alone pointing out that it was a rip-off of Oates’ name and face.

Was it worth it, PW?
Back to Table of Contents

 

Con­fer­ences

If you have a publishing conference in the offing, let me know about it via my contact page, and I’ll be happy to consider including it in my site’s listing and in columns as I have the chance. Here’s a look at conferences coming in the near term. Please note that a listing here is not my endorsement of a conference or other event, but an informational inclusion.

Jackson Hole Writers ConferenceJune 27-29 Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Jackson Hole Writers Conference: “Each year distinguished speakers, editors and agents join our resident faculty to deliver a weekend of active and engaging dialogue, collaboration and the opportunity for all of us to raise the stakes on our work.Manuscript critiques are an important part of our conference, providing a way for you to discuss your work one-on-one with experienced writers, editors and agents.” The program also features a pre-conference writing workshop.

Digi.lit conference from LitQuakeJune 29 San Fran­cisco: digi.lit: Litquake’s Dig­i­tal Pub­lish­ing Con­fer­ence: “Litquake’s digi.lit is a full-day con­fer­ence that will explain and demys­tify the new dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing landscape.digi.lit will put you in the same room with authors, pub­lish­ers, edi­tors, mar­keters, agents, and book­sellers who are defin­ing the future of read­ing and pub­lish­ing.” Note speak­ers include April Eber­hardt,Jon FineLaura MillerNeal Pol­lackJohn Tay­man..

Design Conference by BooksellerJuly 8 London Southbank: The Bookseller Design Conference: “Great design is a collaborative effort. The conference will focus on effective use of design across every element of the book business. We’ll explore ways in which we can all be braver, have more fun and escape the trap of the copycat cover into which we are all forced far too regularly.” List of speakers.

Marketing & Publicity Conference by BooksellerJuly 9 London Southbank: The Bookseller Marketing & Publicity Conference: “The Bookseller Marketing & Publicity Conference launches as a full-day event (Tuesday 9th July 2013 at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre), for the first time. The programme will reflect that the lines between publicity and marketing are blurring. The aim of the conference is to provide inspiration and practical tips to drive sales and reader engagement. We’ll be bringing marketing, publicity and brand leaders from outside the industry to give us some time to look up from our books and understand the wider trends.” List of speakers.

Pacific Northwest Writers Association PNWAJuly 25-28 Seattle: Pacific Northwest Writers Association: “This annual summer conference is an opportunity for writers of all levels to meet other writers, attend sessions focused on different aspects of the craft, and pitch your ideas to agents and editors. Sessions led by industry experts are crafted to address many aspects of the publishing industry. From keeping track of your expenses to crafting the perfect pitch, sessions give you a chance to interact with experts and ask questions in a friendly and open environment.” Speakers include Donald Maass, Debbie Macomber.

Marketing + Publishing Services Confab of DBW and PubLaunchSeptember 26 New York City (Metropolitan Pavilion): Marketing + Publishing Services Conference & Expo: “This innovative conference & expo is really two related shows, held together. The Marketing Conference is a full-day dedicated event that presents a comprehensive strategy for marketing in the digital age. ThePublishing Services Expo offers three finely-targeted “mini-conferences” for important and often-overlooked publishing constituencies. Each track is an affordably priced, efficiently programmed two-and-half-hour session that pairs concise educational sessions with vendor speed dating to learn about new solutions.” Produced by Digital Book World and Publishers Launch (Publishers Lunch’s Michael Cader and Mike Shatzkin).

Writers Digest West 2013 WDCWSeptember 27-29 Los Angeles: Writers Digest Conference West: “You’ll make real connections with fellow writers, experience the thrill of pitching your work to literary agents and editors, and get practical publishing-industry advice and writing inspiration from successful authors at Writer’s Digest Conference West.”

Back to Table of Contents

 

Last Gas: Jonah’s Whale of a Nerve

 

Here comes [Jonah] Lehrer again, securing a deal with Simon & Schuster to publish a new book, his fourth. This one’s called “A Book About Love,” at least tentatively. It finds its source material in the author’s own fall from grace and his alleged realization that the love that remained in his life after the loss of his career and the wealth and prestige it brought him was the only thing that really mattered in the first place.

 

Jeff Bercovici

Jeff Bercovici

Jeff Bercovici, a favorite of mine, minces none of his artfully selected words in Jonah Lehrer’s Sick, Cynical Quest For Forgiveness Gets A Book Deal at Forbes.

Quoting S&S’ Jonathan Karp going on about “We believe in second chances” (I wonder if strings swell up when he says this aloud), Bercovici writes:

Who doesn’t, really? And that’s what makes this whole thing so icky to anyone who cares about journalism, or integrity in general. Both Karp’s positioning of the deal and, in a different way, the content of the book itself are clever pieces of manipulation, luring critics via a false choice into acquiescing to Lehrer’s comeback.

Listing many more than two chances Lehrer has squandered, Bercovici goes on:

Only an idiot would assume someone with this kind of history would be prepared to change his M.O. — and indeed, it looks like Lehrer helped himself over-generously to another writer’s work in preparing his 62-page proposal for “A Book About Love.”

Daniel Engber

Daniel Engber

He then links you to Daniel Engber’s writeup at Slate, Is There Plagiarism in Jonah Lehrer’s New Book Proposal?:

A chapter on the secret to having a happy marriage, for example, comes close to copying a recent essay on the same subject by Adam Gopnik, Lehrer’s one-time colleague at The New Yorker.

Engber has a point-by-point comparison of text in Lehrer’s book proposal to that of Gopnik.

Score it to the Kander and Ebb soundtrack from the musical Chicago. You’ll hear Billy, surrounded by showgirls with lots of feathers, singing:

I don’t care about expensive things
Cashmere coats, diamond rings
Don’t mean a thing
All I care about is love.
(That’s what he’s here for.)

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Porter Anderson is a Fellow with the National Critics Institute, a 32-year journalist with several newspapers and three networks of CNN, as well as a producer posted to the Rome headquarters of the United Nations’ World Food Programme. This column, Ether for Authors, appears here at Publishing Perspectives on Mondays. Anderson’s Writing on the Ether is read on Thursdays at JaneFriedman.com, and he is a regular contributor to WriterUnboxed.com. His all-new London on the Ether for The Bookseller was inaugurated during the London Book Fair. More about him is at PorterAnderson.com.

 

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.