Monthly Archives: April 2013

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

In 2012, booksellers and publishers “were surprised and angered” when Pulitzer Prize officials, for the first time in decades, failed to award a fiction prize, depriving them of the bump in sales the award has guaranteed for decades.

This week, booksellers and publishers are sighing in relief. The 2013 fiction prize went to The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.  It is set in North Korea, where today’s young dictator, very much in the news, threatens an atomic blast.

Other promising payoffs in the letters division included winners of the history prize: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall; biography: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss; nonfiction: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King, and poetry: Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds.

Publishers of the all the above ran advertisements. Four of the five winners were published by Random House divisions.

LECTURE: At least one successful author is being treated like a great cello soloist. Da Vinci Code writer Dan Brown will talk of “symbols and secrets” at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on May 15. Ticket buyers will get a copy of his next book, Inferno. Fans at cello concerts go ungifted.

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NYT’s Report on David Mamet’s Self-Published Book Heightens Debate

David Mamet’s decision to self-publish his latest book through a new service offered by his literary agency, ICM Partners, adds fuel to the debate raging over whether authors will do better on their own than with a traditional publishing house.

“The announcement by ICM and Mr. Mamet suggests that self-publishing will begin to widen its net and become attractive also to more established authors.” Leslie Kaufman wrote last week in the New York Times.

The news has drawn hundreds of responses from bloggers, authors and others, including bookseller Marion Abbott, who in the Sunday edition of the Times warned about the perils of self-publishing.

The latest post by Huffpo blogger Julie Gerstenblatt offers a cautionary tale that echoes Abbott’s sentiments.

A far more optimistic picture comes from Jon R. Anderson of the Navy Times, who on Friday urged service members to get their story out, writing, “While self-publishing used to bear the vanity press stigma… independent publishing is quickly becoming the preferred road to readers for many authors.”

Self-publishing has indeed borne a stigma, even though it has a history to be proud of. Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” Irma S. Rombauer’s “Joy of Cooking,” and Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon” are prominent examples of self-published works from the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries. Is that stigma now gone? Maybe not, but the stigma seems to be fading as the economics of self-publishing improve for some authors.

New Books by Members

Check out this week’s batch of new and recent releases by our members:

Mary Higgins Clark: Daddy’s Gone A Hunting

Pat Lowery Collins: The Deer Watch

Lulu Delacre: How Far Do You Love Me?

Eric Jerome Dickey: Decadence

Tom Dunkel: Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line

Patrick A. Durantou: Communs Vertiges

Peter Eichstaedt: Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak About Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future-and Why America Should Listen

Ginger Fogelsong Gibson: Tiptoe Joe

Bernette Ford: Little Red Riding Hood

Kristin Hannah: Fly Away

Marissa Moss: Barbed Wire Baseball

Walter Dean Myers: Darius & Twig

Michael Northrop: Rotten

Tracy Thompson: The New Mind of the South

Susan Wiggs: The Apple Orchard

Wallis Wilde-Menozzi: The Other Side of the Tiber: Reflections on Time in Italy

Have a new book? Submit here to be listed online and in the Bulletin.

User Discussion and Privacy Policies

Now that we’re posting to our blog more regularly, we’ve been grappling with user discussion guidelines. We’ve looked to newspapers for useful models, and The Washington Post seems to have a good one. We’ll use that as a starting point (though we have no plans to implement the “badge” system the Post uses) and assign a staff member to oversee that. Our general privacy policy applies to user comments.

Bulletin Board

Each week, we’ll post a handful of contests, fellowships, and residencies our members might be interested in. This week we’re serving up two short story and two poetry contests, each with May 15th application deadlines

The James Laughlin Award is given to honor a second book of original poetry, in English, by a citizen of the United States. To be eligible, a book must have come under contract with a United States publisher between May 1, 2012, and April 30, 2013. Suggested length is between 40 and 75 pages. The Academy of American Poets will award the winning poet $5,000 and will purchase copies of the book for distribution to its members. Deadline: May 15, 2013. For more information, visit their website.

The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition honors emerging short fiction writers. The winner receives $1,500 and publication in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. The runners up receive $500 each. Entries must not exceed 3,500 words in length. The entry fee is $15 for stories submitted early and $20 for those submitted by the deadline. Deadline: May 15, 2013. For more information, visit their website.

The Montreal International Poetry Prize is offering $20,000 for one original, unpublished poem of no longer than 40 lines written in English. Entry fees range from $15 to $25. Deadline: May 15, 2013. For more information, visit their website.

Carve Magazine’s annual Raymond Carver Short Story Prize is now accepting submissions. The contest is open to US and international residents but submitted stories must be written in English and should not exceed 6,000 words. The winner receives $1,000; second place receives $750; third place receives $500. Two editors’ choices picks will be selected and will win $250 each. All winners will be published in the Fall 2013 issue. Entry Fee: $17 online / $15 mailed, per entry. Deadline: May 15, 2013. For more information, visit their website.

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

James Salter, 87, has published All That Is, his first novel in 32 years.  He was the subject of a Profile in The New Yorker (April 15). His reputation is as a writer’s writer “or, as John Ashbery once said of Elizabeth Bishop, a writer’s writer’s writer.”

The author of the profile, Nick Paumgarten, wrote: “Salter is not famous. Among many writers, and some literary people, he is venerated for his sentence-making, his observational powers, his depictions of sex and valor, and a pair of novels that, in spite of thin sales and obscure subject matter, have more than a puncher’s chance at permanence.”

The big question: Why has Salter never had a big bestseller when some of his books are a lot more erotic and sexier than a hundred shades of gray?

The following is a brief, random sample of Salter prose, found by flipping open his best-known novel, Light Years:

“Summer. The foliage is thick. The leaves shimmer everywhere, like scales. In the morning, aroma of coffee, the whiteness of sunlight across the floor.”

Salter once wrote: “Life passes into pages if it passes into anything.”

He told his profile interviewer, “I like to write about certain things that if they are not written about are not going to exist.”

TAX TIME:  In 2009, Barack and Michelle Obama paid taxes on $5.5 million. Most of their income came from royalties from Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Figures released just before April 15 showed that last year’s royalties amounted to $273,000.  Maybe everyone who wanted to buy a book by Obama already has one. Will they have to wait till 2017?

REMEMBERED Peter Workman, 74, founder of Workman Publishing, died April 7. Among his many best-selling trade books are The Silver Palate Cookbook, What to Expect When You Are Expecting and The Official Preppy Handbook.

He published about 40 books a year and was noted for the passion with which he promoted his list. His New York Times obituary said that, “one of every three books issued by Workman sold 100,000 copies or more.”

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New Books by Members

Here’s this week’s batch of new and recent releases by our members:

Robert Alter: Ancient Israel: The Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings: A Translation with Commentary

Jerry Apps: Letters from Hillside Farms

Linda Ashman: Peace, Baby!

Robert J. Begiebing: The Turner Erotica: A Biographical Novel

Drusilla Campbell: When She Came Home

Nathan Clement: Speed

Daniel Hoffman: Next to Last Words

Elizabeth Huergo: The Death of Fidel Perez

Keith Koeneman: First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley

Michael Largo: The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World’s Most Curious Creatures

Patrick F. McManus: The Tamarack Murders

Bobbi Miller: Big River’s Daughter

Walter Mosley: Stepping Stone/The Love Machine

Marissa Moss: Home Sweet Home

T. Jefferson Parker: The Famous and the Dead

Sherri Duskey Rinker: Steam Train, Dream Train

Have a new book? Submit here to be listed online and in the Bulletin.

Booktalk Nation Hits 50-Bookstore Milestone. Next up: Video.

Four months ago, we launched Booktalk Nation and began bringing author talks to living rooms through nationwide conference calls. That’s been going great, and we now have a network of 50 brick-and-mortar bookstores from 23 states and the District of Columbia serving as order fulfillment partners and affiliates for Booktalk Nation events.

Now we’re taking the plunge and trying out video for select author talks. We’re using Google Hangouts, which we pair with a live chat service to allow viewers to interact with the author and interviewer. This week’s author talks offer a great chance to see how this works.

On Tuesday night, Douglas Rushkoff discussed his book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now with science and technology writer Clive Thompson. Their conversation was lively and wide ranging, well worth checking out. We’ve archived it here.

You won’t be able to see how the chat feature works without attending a live event. You’ll have a chance to do that this Thursday evening, when Joe Hill discusses his new novel, NOS4A2, with science fiction writer John Scalzi. Sign up for that event here.

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Scott Turow on Piracy, Lowball E-Royalties & Literary Culture

In a New York Times Op-Ed today, Scott Turow takes on the threat posed by book piracy, e-lending and traditional publishers’ lockstep, 25% ebook royalties to the health of our literary culture. Check it out: The Slow Death of the American Author