Category Archives: Publishing

The knot between authors and readers

The NY Times has reported that David Mamet will be self-publishing his next play, with facilitation from his agent. This is a big deal because it’s one of the first times a big-name literary author is bypassing the traditional publishing model.

I’ve previously referenced the squirrelly ethical dilemma faced by agents who want to facilitate their clients in self-publishing. It seems the agent has a strong motivation to choose the easiest, most profitable route — which is a challenge as well for home sellers dealing with a real estate agents.

But another reason the David Mamet news is interesting is because it raises an entirely different question: Is he really self-publishing?  Continue reading

Even more on digital stuff: Is a “revolution” a good thing?

My wife suggested I sounded a bit angry in this rant about digital self-publishing. My bad. As the guys know, I have a cranky old man persona that likes to come out, and it’s a fine line between humorous satire and just plain mean.

But I have thought deeply about our era’s rapid technological changes, what might be called a “revolution,” and like any sensible person, I have quite a few mixed feelings about it all. Perhaps my skepticism of change is ingrained in my southern bones. As Tracy Thompson tells the NY Times:

I think Southerners place so much store by history and tradition because we all have this constant, nagging sense that everything familiar to us is about to disappear. And it probably is.

But I think it also has to do with this problematic term “revolution.” Continue reading

More thoughts on digital self-publishing

It’s been pointed out to me that in ranting against self-publishing, I’m representing the conservative old guard – anti-progress, anti-cool, even anti-American.

I feel I should point out that while I personally never plan to read a self-published book – especially, God help me, a self-published ebook — I think it’s great these things exist.

After all the promise of America – the promise of democracy – is that through hard work and innovation, we can bring culture to the masses. Consider, for instance:  Continue reading

Some thoughts on professionalization

Yesterday, I blogged a link to one of Cathy Day’s Literary Citizenship student’s round-up of harsh publishing truths. Cathy commented to ask when should students learn professionalization? Someone anonymous asked why shouldn’t students learn the business of their future field?

These are good questions. One good point is that undergraduate creative writing students are going to go into a variety of professions — as editors, agents, copywriters, journalists, etc. Some of them will go to law school. Some of them will go into academia. Others might marry someone making respectable money and stay home with the kids. Maybe one of them will actually make money as a commercial fiction writer, and maybe one of them will become a serious artist.

Given how scarce some of those jobs are, professionalization is certainly welcome. My flip comment — that I’m not sure it’s good for a person’s writing to obsess over publishing — is really directed to the one artist out of the bunch. Here are a few harsh truths for undergraduate creative writing majors who want to be artists:  Continue reading

Weekend News Roundup

I don’t know what’s going on in Cathy Day’s literary citizenship class, but her students are coming away with a harsh (realistic?) view of publishing. On one hand, I really admire this effort at professionalism, but on the other hand, I’m not sure it’s good for writers (or at least, their writing) to be obsessing over publishing before they’ve spent some time on their craft.

Most contemporary literary fiction is terrible, says a guy who writes contemporary literary fiction. He makes some fair points, and I think you can waste an awful lot of time trying to keep up with the hottest new writers out there, but I’m also skeptical of blanket statements like that.

Here’s a feel-good story for those of you toiling away: A teenager just landed a three-book deal for her romance novels. It sounds like writing is her hobby, and she plans to do other, perhaps better things with her life.

PBS aired its American Masters special on Philip Roth last night — well worth checking out.

James Salter’s new novel, All That Is, comes out Tuesday. Rumor has it that it’s the 88-year-old author’s best work. Why isn’t he more popular?

On Networking, Business and Writing

I spent much of this past work week at a personal development program which emphasized, among other things, the importance of networking. Networking — or at least networking for the sake of networking — is not something that I do naturally; in fact it kind of turns me off. But there’s a lot to be said for having a web of people you respect who are allies and even friends, and this is true in writing as well as in business. I’ve been reflecting on all this while doing some weekend decompressing. And because it’s the weekend, I’m excusing myself from presenting the following thoughts in any coherent order. Like a southern rock protagonist, this post was born to ramble.

My Writing Network
One thing I acknowledged over the course of the week is that my professional network is probably too small.  However, it is strong — my connections are my friends, who I joke with in the hallways at the office and invite over to watch sports. My writing connections are similar. I don’t keep in touch with writers who visited my MFA program (despite the fact that Davy Rothbart assured me that I am one of his doggs), or who I met at the bar at AWP (disclaimer: I’ve never actually done this), but the people who I do stay connected to I really know and admire: great teachers from grad school, night classes, and high school (shout out to Mr. Briggs!); writing group members from San Diego, now spread around the country; fellow writers from my MFA program. These are people who I can send a story to for honest feedback (some of them will be getting one in their in-boxes this week), and whose updates on their writing and their lives I am truly interested in. We remember each other’s unpublished stories from over a decade ago, and take genuine pleasure in each other’s success. Continue reading

How do you evaluate a good bookstore?

While we’re on the subject of bookstores this week, do y’all have any test books you use to evaluate a bookstore? On episode 4, Ben mentioned the value of curating, but curating only works if a bookstore is somewhere in the region of your interests.

I used to be a much more ardent reader of southern literature than I am now, but for many years, I evaluated a store based on whether it had a few of my favorites:  Continue reading

“The Devil’s Bay”

Jon’s a little aww-shucks to post this himself, but Ben and I think you should check out the good Mr. Sealy’s new story “The Devil’s Bay,” available online in the new issue of Fiddleblack. The story is but one of many ways to highlight his versatility, as he seamlessly showcases the Carolinas through a Gothic lens and tosses around verbs like “bushwhacked” as if he had a lifetime supply to spare. Which he probably does.

Cheers, Jon!

On Getting a Book Published

I recently found out that my first novel, The Whiskey Baron, has been accepted for publication by Hub City Press and will be out in 2014. Brian suggested I write a blog post about it, but I really don’t know what to say.

My formula has always been read a lot, write a lot, and keep at it until you get lucky. I suppose the “keep at it” part is the toughest, because for years now people have been asking me, “How’s your book coming?” “Fine,” I’d say. Or, “I’m working on it.” Or, “I’m sending it out.” There’s really not a whole lot to say.

I do, however, have a few thoughts about self-publishing.  Continue reading