On authors, editors, and the state of the Publishing Union, author Declan Burke (Crime Always Pays and The Big O) says it better than most in a recent guest column in Irish Publishing News:
…like-minded writers should get together and set up a co-op, akin to the United Artists studio of early Hollywood lore. In theory, it can be done: e-publishing and print-on-demand are just two elements of contemporary technology that allow writers to circumvent the publishing circus and go straight to readers.
What worries me is the loss of income for writers in what is a pretty healthy market, the loss of good editors from publishing houses and the disdain for writers by retailers – people who depend on them. If they are not careful the core talent of the book trade may well combine in new types of ventures – collectives and transparent relationships where writers and editors go into business together on a 50:50 basis and are enabled by web platforms, ebooks and print on demand… disintermediation of a more radical sort.
This may not exactly be news to the avid reader but it’s worthy of stating again, if not only for picking a nasty fight (as are all “Top Whatever” lists, no?) Here are the “100 Best Novels” and “100 Best Nonfiction” books as listed by The Modern Library, a division of Random House. Note the literati smackdown already in play between “The Board” and “The Readers”. Fun!
If you haven’t read ‘em, what are you waiting for and, if you have, which are your faves?
A recent piece in the Los Angeles Times by staff writer Susan Salter Reynolds offers writers and readers a reminder of the transcendence of the written word in the Age of Distraction.
A few choice quotes:
[L]iterature has a big head start when it comes to helping us live our lives. On the world map literature would be Europe and the Internet, America. Escaping is one thing — science fiction, romance novels and nonfiction make excellent magic carpets — but for turning and facing, there’s nothing like good old literary fiction.
In order to be truly useful, fiction has to have a certain psychological density and depth. And as much as authors like to deny it, much of that depth comes from the autobiographical component of all fiction.
[A]uthors have to be particularly conscious. And so do readers… If we become too depleted by, say, the pace of life, the bombarding of information or our disconnection from the natural world; too emptied out, too dependent on external stimuli, we run the risk of being lousy writers and lousy readers.
I am honoured to have been asked to be a part of Wendy C. Ortiz and Andrea Quaid’s five-year literary triumph, the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series. If you happen to be in Los Angeles in December, come relax to some original contemporary fiction, a few inventive cocktails, and good company.
Rhapsodomancy Announces the Writers Reading on Sunday, December 13th, 2009:
SUSAN TAYLOR CHEHAK STEVE ABEE DIANE J. WRIGHT MEEHAN RASCH
One of our most beloved Story Spot readers sent in a question about query letters that many of you–whatever form your work takes–may find helpful (let us know if you do!) Mote writes:
A friend of mine is thinking about approaching some specialty production companies with a script he’s working on — when it’s finished. I told him, if it were me, I’d include a logline and tell them a little bit about myself, my background, and my writing experience — as well as talk about the script itself. He’s doing some research on production companies, but it would basically be a “cold call” situation. He wants to send query letters to these companies to see if they have any interest in reading his script before sending them an actual copy of it. Do you have any examples of a query letter or do you know of any on the web?
Ah, the query. Ken’s advice to his friend is sound*. For those of you new to the query letter, here’s the deal. A query letter is one standard, industry-accepted method to introduce yourself and your project to a potential development or production partner. Queries are one part of your overall pitch package for your project.