Monday, May 27, 2013

Direct Sales/Digital First from Big Publishers

I'm traveling and off my regular routines these days, so I'm taking a short cut on this blog for a few weeks--namely, providing you with links to great blog posts at other blogs that I think are really interesting for us as writers, but may not be on your usual list of must-reads.

Today, a post by Jason Allen Ashlock over at Digital Book World from a DBR series called The Change Agents, which is about people inside Big Publishing who are confronting the digital disruption to traditional publishing head on and are working to help their companies adapt, innovate, and succeed with digital.

In this interview he talks with Dan Weiss of St. Martin's Press, which has created digital-first imprints and is exploring how to become a major player in the digital book world.

Have you thought about getting your book published traditionally in the digital first approach? Although Weiss says the Big Publisher perks of developing a book for publishing are in effect with their digital approach, presumably there's another perk: getting the work out faster. Here is the discussion between Ashlock and Weiss.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Right Agent Is Key: Jennie Shortridge on Her New Book, and On Writing

Jennie Shortridge is a founding member of Seattle7Writers, a collective of well-published Northwest authors devoted to promoting literacy in their communities. She writes mainstream fiction/women's fiction that often touches on serious mental health issues in some way. I went to a reading she gave on her latest book (LOVE WATER MEMORY). Two things stood out from that event—how interesting the book is, and how important it is to find the right agent and publisher who will support the writing process that's right for you.

First, the book: I was riveted by the passages she read, about a woman who wakes up standing in the San Francisco Bay and has no idea who she is, where she is, how she got there, or why she's there. She has a rare and dangerous form of amnesia called dissociative fugue, which is brought on by emotional trauma.

She's taken to a hospital in San Francisco, and her fiancĂ©, who has been searching frantically for her since she disappeared from their home in Seattle a week earlier, finally finds her when her picture is put on tv. But of course she doesn't recognize him when the doctors bring him to her, and for a long time after she goes back to Seattle nothing seems to help her jar her memory so that she can reclaim her life. What snippets of memory she does get are confusing, and as she begins to learn about herself from possessions and people around her, she realizes she doesn't like her old self much at all.

Needless to say, the book is a great read. Highly recommended.

Second, making sure your agent is one who will support your writing process. Rather than reprise what she said at the reading, I'm going to share a video of Jennie with you, in which she's being interviewed for Author Magazine. It's an interesting 9 minutes, (she talks about the agenting issues starting around minute 4).

Click the link below to go to the video, and enjoy!

Jennie Shortridge (Love, Water, Memory) says the biggest lesson she learned writing her fifth novel was that agents make a difference. In this case, her new agent told her to take as much time as she needed to finish her novel. As she explained in her interview with Bill Kenower, the result was perhaps her best work to date. Writing teaches us that all our choices matter. Jennie says she will never choose to rush a novel again.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

To all of you out there who are moms, a big Happy Mother's Day! And to those who are not moms, you, too, know how important Mom is in the equation of life, how your own mom shaped you. Yesterday, one of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings, in a tribute to Mother's Day, posted some letters of love and advice from famous women to their children.

Have you considered leaving a letter for your child to read once you are gone? It's a powerful thing, not just for your child, but for you.

I was struck by moments in several of the letters, which are quite different from one another. Anne Sexton, a renowned and powerful poet who suffered from undiagnosed mental illness, which was deeply damaging to her daughter, Linda Gray (no relation), expresses her love and care and makes it clear that her daughter is beloved. Does this redeem Anne Sexton for the chaos she created as a mother? Only her daughter could tell you, but the letter is heartfelt, and no doubt was important to Anne as well as to her daughter.

On a less emotional but not less powerful note, the excerpt below, from Abigail Adams to her son, John Quincy (who, as you know followed in his father's footsteps to become President of the United States), is one of my favorites. It reminds me of what we reach for in the characters we write. A vigorous mind and contending with difficulties, yes, these are qualities our favorite characters have.

The Habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All History will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruits of experience, not the Lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the Heart, then those qualities which would otherways lay dormant, wake into Life, and form the Character of the Hero and the Statesman.

For the full post on motherly advice, go to the Brain Pickings post, here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Self-Publishing Pros/Cons: The Best Discussion Yet

For my money, the attached discussion of pros and cons of self-publishing now (spring, 2013), is the best I've seen. It was presented last week by blogger and author, Allison Winn Scotch on the blog, Writer Unboxed.

Rather than write a post today, I'm just going to give you the link to that blog post and discussion, in case you missed it. This topic is too important to writers not to be highlighted. We need all the good, down-to-earth discussion of this thorny issue we can get to make the right decision for ourselves in our constantly evolving publishing landscape.

Hint: If you don't have time to give Allison's post a thorough read, scroll down in the comments section to Donald Maass's (well-known literary agent) first comment. The back-and-forth that begins there, which is v. civil and on-point, is excellent.

The New Era of Self-Publishing, by Allison Winn Scotch.

Where do you stand?