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Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Typo Nazi or Grammar Nazi

I cringe and get thoroughly annoyed whenever someone calls me a Typo Nazi or a Grammar Nazi, I do not feel I am in any way as nasty, horrible and all encompassing as anything the Nazis did. Yes, it’s true, I might upset someone briefly and sometimes they’ll be annoyed or worried for a while longer but I don’t haunt them over it for weeks, months or even take their lives and their family’s lives. Or even destroy their artworks or livelihoods.

Read this article all the way to the end and then come back.

You’ve read it? Good, now keep those images of those children in your mind. I understand this is a very American centric article but we seem to find ourselves copying America in far too many ways and with the number of memes I’ve seen going around the traps with the word Nazi in them but not in relation to the Holocaust I feel we’re copying them again in this regard. And, I feel it is totally unnecessary and wrong.

There are far worse things in the world than those like me who pounce on typos and grammar problems.

Publishing house names

Publishing house names can be an interesting thing. When they first started they were named after the founder and there are some big names in publishing. I’m talking people such as Gollancz, Shuster, Knopf and the ubiquitous many more. There’s been a shift and I’m going to talk about the publishing houses named after birds. Here are some examples: Penguin; Pelican; Puffin; and Black Swan. I won’t mention Bantam!

If you look at all those birds they’re much loved. They give the image of loveability and stability. Almost everybody loves the Penguin, they’re considered small, loveable and cute (except for Emperor Penguins which are probably half my height). Pelicans are big, with a large wingspan and an interesting beak, they make one feel grounded. Puffins are again cute with a great appeal to children and the brand has provided many much loved (there’s that ‘loved’ word again) books directed at children, you can find many top fantasy tales published by Puffin including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Black Swans are seen as elegant creatures and in the UK they would have also been seen as fantasy as they only had white Swans and couldn’t conceive of Swans with black feathers so when reports of  black swans filtered back from Australia to the UK they were disbelieved.

One publisher I’m going to include here is Ladybird Books. You’re right, they’re not birds but they have bird in their name and so many people are captivated by them. I’ve been passing people in the park watching something intently and when I look carefully I see a Ladybird. Like bees they are a valuable part of the food chain and are used by growers instead of pesticides. The brand exudes trustworthyness and cuteness. Ladybird is actually coming up to 100th birthday and as a result has released its Retro Vintage range of goodies.

And, not only but also. I was actually going somewhere with this article but last night was the first decent sleep in a while and my brain won’t let me remember where. On that note I’ll leave you to enjoy, or not, whatever weather you’re experiencing in your neck of the woods.

Lend Me Thine Ears

Here are just a few things I’ve found on the web recently.

Asteroid named after Scottish author Iain Banks

The late Iain Banks had some influential fans and this one decided to honour him after his death by naming an asteroid after him.

Mills & Boon and Cosmopolitan sign up sizzling bestselling author to kick off new e-book series

Here we go, M&B goes electronic with a sizzling new series designed specifically for the ereader.

Has Amazon got a monopoly yet?

Not sure I agree with the summation in this article, but I’m sure that’s where Amazon is heading.

Kickstarter pulls the plug on a campaign due to a copyright issue.

I’m of two minds with this one. It’s good for copyright issues but it makes it hard for the fan to write fan fic when everything they write could potentially cause copyright issues. My first thought was that I was okay then I remembered Mondayitis and I can’t help wondering how close I’m coming to having potential copyright issues in the future. Food for thought.

New player

There’s a new player in the ebook publishing industry. Draft2Digital has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged Smashwords to a duel. Not really but it sounds good. What Draft2Digital actually say is that they fill a hole in the market that Smashwords doesn’t fill.

Smashwords is a publisher of ebooks. They are there for the author and they have an exacting process whereby you have to work through a series of steps to get your ebook published but at the end you have full control of your ebook and then how it sells is up to you as you do the marketing. Draft2Digital seems to have staff onboard who do all the donkey work so you fill out some forms, upload your draft and they do the rest.

There’s problems with both and most of those are to do with proofreading and editing. If you haven’t taken the time and put the money into having someone else proofread and edit it then it could easily be a dreadful book that is likely to sink (except for 50 Shades of Grey type books which fill some kind of need). There are vanity presses who will take your draft and publish it, printing as many copies as you want, their processes also don’t have proofreading or editing involved as they don’t employ the staff for that. And as an aside, if you want your book published by a regular publisher then it’s best to ensure the you’ve done the proofreading and editing before you send it in as it means they have less to do and it’s more likely to get further through the slush pile process.

Also, traditional publishers will dismiss a book that is obviously tripe and won’t publish it whereas with vanity publishers, Smashwords and now Draft2Digital there is no medium to say this book is total rubbish and shouldn’t pass muster. I foresee a lot more ebooks which should never see the light of day…will mine be one of them? Stay tuned to find out.


Three things that have come across my computer this week I feel moved enough to talk about.


The Royal Society of Literature enrolls its fellows using a special pen. Traditionally they’ve used a quill once belonging to Charles Dickens but that is beginning to wear after only a century and a half of use so they’re retiring it (do you think it’s old enough to be retired? What could be the retirement age for a quill?) and replacing it with a pen once owned by TS Eliot given him by his mother. How awesome it would be to become a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and have the chance of using these great mens’ pens/quills.


It used to be that a tragedy would be written about some time after all the fuss and bother was over, or at least that’s what it looked like to me. The Oscar Pistorius story is in the process right now, South African Eyewitness News reporters Mandy Wiener, author of the bestselling Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed, and Barry Bateman have been given the go ahead to write the Oscar and Reeva story. The good news? It won’t be published until after the trial is concluded but it still seems very money grubbing to me. I understand it means they’ll be able to attend every day and do their own research behind the scenes to come up with a story so they won’t have to piece it together after the event but it just feels dirty.


I found this discussion on academic etextbooks. They feel etextbooks won’t take off, I beg to differ. Books are made out of paper which are made out of trees and there are only a finite number of trees in the world so it just makes sense that we should turn to ereaders and stop cutting down trees, stop destroying the forests and animals’ homes in order to read our books. I truly believe we will all be reading books on ereaders in the future and that printed books will be a luxury. There are a few problems still to solve though. The article talks about the researcher only reading up to 100 pages of a book and then never referring to it again so being able to rent/borrow books for a certain period of time makes some kind of sense. And how do you highlight passages in an ebook? One self help book I read recently had the author talking about reading self help books and making notes in the margins, it’s a little harder to do that in ebooks, but if we could then it’d make it easier to read a book for any kind of writing or to read books and refer back to individual passages later on.

Oval Up

Just a few words about book type things I’ve found this week. I’m running late and I’m sure you’re expecting a really good oval up because of it but you’ll be wrong. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins then on no account pick it up as you’ll have great trouble putting it down, I finished it this morning when I should have been writing; and I also had a visitor.

If you’re in the book industry then attending conferences is a must. Here’s one in London in April. As it’s in the UK it’ll be big, there’ll be workshops, authors, publishers, agents and lots and lots of people. An event I’d love to attend.

Agent Orange talks about publishing being a dying industry. I think they’re right, publishers seem to have forgotten that they need authors in order to have books to publish and it’s so easy nowadays to self-publish and then sell your books that publishers really need to have a good hard look at themselves and see what needs changing.

Paragraph looks great. I’m a big fan of short stories, they’re not always easy to read but they’re short and can fill in time quite nicely. Many people have made a useful amount of money from short stories over the years and produced some top quality fiction. I’m looking specifically at pulp fiction magazines such as Analog and ASIM.

I don’t know what to think of this. MacDonald’s will be giving away free books with Happy Meals. On the one hand it’s great for getting kids to read, on the other hand it means parents will be giving their children junk food.

Do you remember those days of learning by heart? I recall trying to learn my times tables by rote and not succeeding, but I don’t recall having to learn poetry. I think this effort is good as memorising  helps the memory, it creates new neurons and makes things easier when you get older.

State of Play part whatever

Just a little wander around the internet this week gives a few links for you.

This little article talks about pop up shops and it reminded me of one I saw the other day at Brandon Park. I don’t recall the name of the shop but it sold books and the lady had no idea how long they’d be there. I saw one a few months ago at Chadstone for soup, they were advertising for staff but I declined to apply, I find it challenging to sell something I can’t eat.

This one is lovely. You can buy a DVD of crime writers and crime experts. They were there for CSI Portsmouth 2012 and with the recording you can pretend you were actually there and know everything about everything to do with crime; or just do what I’d do, put it in a drawer meaning to watch it some day and never manage to find the time.

“The name is Bond, James Bond.” I find that the silliest sentence in spy history and so many agree with me, so why are they writing a new James Bond book. William Boyd has won the prize and you can read more about his thoughts on the book here. I hadn’t actually heard of him before but a smidgeon of research shows he created a work of fiction presenting a painter as a real person, David Bowie was in on the joke and read excerpts of the book at the launch.

If you’re an afficianado of Mark Morris you’ll want to know the Gollancz Gateway Project is publishing a back list of his works. You can see the list of titles here or not depending on your level of interest.

This one I found interesting. If you’re into poetry then you’ll want to know about it. Some of the world’s top poets have founded a poetry magazine called, get ready, POEM! I might make fun of the name but it’s going to be an exciting publication even for plebians like me who don’t like poetry.

I figure that’s enough for today. I could go on for ages but I won’t, I promise.

Written on Pluto!

You heard it here first!

Suz’s Space will be the first to write a book on Pluto. Being published in the year 3000 it will consist of bon mots, double entendres and words that don’t exist in the word world today.

Add your comment here and sign up to be the first to own this fantastic little book. I’ll be taking payment as soon as I get through all the paperwork. Each book will cost a paltry $1,000 and I’ll only be charging $50 for each signature, but for friends I promise to only double those charges.


Yesterday I wrote a few words about publishing and the slush pile being like the piles of books in Fahrenheit 451, if you want you can read it all here and then click back to this tab for the next link in the chain.

Today I looked around to see what I could write about and found the article I really wanted to write if I’d had all the information. This article talks about publishing and how things have changed over the decades. The author, Mike Shatzkin, speaks from a higher position of authority than I do as he has actually been in publishing as was his father before him. I suggest you read it carefully as it indicates a total change in publishing behaviour.

I’m going to assume you’ve read the article. If every publisher stops publishing new books and relies totally on sales of their backlist then the industry is going to get stale very quickly. Of course, that would never happen as people want new books by their favourite authors and then they find new authors and, funnily enough, want new books by these authors too. I was going to posit a society where this had actually happened and therefore publishing companies had a minimum of staff with no slush readers, no editors and really only enough staff to manage the printing and sales of old books or even just enough staff to publish their backlist into digital format. If they went entirely digital then at some point in time they would only need one person to staff the entire organisation. It would be an interesting supposition if this did happen that at some point someone wrote and published a new book, what a furore that would cause.

Hope! I tell you!

When printing really got going anyone could be published and it wasn’t called vanity publishing, actually, not anyone but almost anyone. Then as the decades went by publishing houses developed and more decades went by until publishing houses were becoming more and more picky about the books they published.

At this point I’m going to step aside and apologise for not having much detail about the history of publishing. I have very sketchy ideas about it and don’t want to give you wrong information so I’m giving very little at all. I have tried to do some research with little luck. I could sign up for the Encyclopædia Britannica website but I don’t like giving my credit card details for a free trial, they wouldn’t charge much after the seven days but it’s the principle of the thing.

It’s now at the point where they want a surefire guarantee the book will sell well and make them lots of money. They’re not greedy. They want proven authors such as Robert Ludlum or Robert Jordan, or even Douglas Adams. If you’re not a proven author you can send in your manuscript via an agent who will often throw it away unless you’ve provided a reply paid envelope. The other method is to send your manuscript to lots of publishers who may put it in their slush pile and may eventually get around to looking at it. I’ve heard only three out of every 10,000 unsolicited manuscripts are published. I imagine the slush pile looking very similar to the pile of books in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury except without the fire, I do see lots of people wandering around the pile looking lost as they wonder which one they’ll pull out and read next. Will it be safe to pull this manuscript out or will it cause a bookalanche? Will it be my fingers that pulls out the manuscript that makes the whole pile tumble down and bury everyone? Will I be the one to pull out the gold manuscript so the publisher makes a mint and I get forgotten?

With this information in mind I was pleasantly surprised to read about a book which has been published without a lot of this happening and where some of the publishers hadn’t even read the book or even had it translated yet. This book by a mystery Chinese blogger looks set to be the best thing since sliced bread (I only use overused clichés) and it’s fabulous as no-one seems to know the name of the author. I liken it to Primary Colours by Anonymous which was later revealed to have been written by Joe Klein. I do hope this sees an increase in publishers taking a chance on unknown authors. I also hope she manages to retain her anonymity. I’ve read that it’s a fabulous romance story so I probably won’t be reading it, sorry about that.

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