I’d like to wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2015!
I am delighted to be the new Executive Director of the Authors Guild. For over 100 years the Guild has been working arduously for the rights of authors to make a living—and providing services to enable them to do so. As I begin my tenure at the Guild, I can attest to the fact that the hard work continues. Our work is more important than ever in these turbulent times when many authors find it more and more challenging to make a living with their words.
It’s an exciting time to be at the Guild. The Council and staff have done a tremendous job laying the groundwork for a number of new initiatives and services. In the coming months, we will be focusing on new programs such as recruitment, branding, an ambassador program, and further development of the new website, together with our ongoing advocacy and litigation initiatives. We will also be fundraising to help us carry out these initiatives.
It has been a busy couple of months. For one, there has been much activity on the advocacy front. On December 3rd, we argued our appeal in the Google Books case, Authors Guild v. Google, to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. We expect a decision in two to six months, and, if necessary, may take the case to the Supreme Court.
by Campbell Geeslin
The New York Times Book Review devoted last Sunday’s edition to “spiritual matters.” Writers were asked to recommend novels with religious themes.
Poet Christian Wiman suggested Fanny Howe’s Indivisible. He said, “Any real faith includes, rather than simply refutes, atheism.” This “brilliant novel . . . gives as stark and marvelous a rendering of this truth as any book I know.”
Novelist Christopher Beha named Evelyn Waugh’s The Sword of Honor trilogy. Beha said it is Waugh’s “most explicitly religious” work.”
Cynthia Ozick named The Second Scroll by Canadian poet A. M. Klein. Ozick said, “Think not of Roth but Blake.”
Last batch of new books by members before the new year! Check out this week’s recent and upcoming books, which include titles by Rochelle Alers, Patrick A. Durantou, Tess Gerritsen, Donna Grant, Amelia Grey, Joe Haldeman, Vlatka Herzberg, Susan Mallery, Karen Robards, and Kirby Williams. Titles below the jump.
Macmillan CEO John Sargent announced yesterday in a letter to authors and agents that Macmillan has reached a multiyear agreement with Amazon for the sale of both print books and e-books. Under the deal, e-books will be sold under the agency model, which allows the publisher to set its own prices and avoid Amazon’s strategic discounting of key titles. This will allow Macmillan to sell books above Amazon’s artificially deflated prices, potentially leading to more income for authors, but it leaves in place the inequitable 25% of net proceeds royalty rate that Macmillan regularly offers authors on e-book sales. The agreement will take effect of January 5, 2015.
The deal makes Macmillan the third major publisher to announce a new agreement with Amazon after the expiration of the publishers’ settlement agreements with the U.S. government, which banned the agency model and required each publisher to allow retailers to discount e-books for a defined period. These agreements, known as “consent decrees”—whose durations were staggered at six-month intervals (Macmillan’s ended December 18)—were settlements of the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice accusing five major publishers and Apple of conspiring to fix e-book prices in the lead-up to Apple’s 2010 iPad launch. After the publishers each settled, the case continued as U.S. v. Apple.
A page one headline in the New York Times’ business section caught our eye this morning: “Amazon Not as Unstoppable as It Might Appear.” The article describes Amazon’s susceptibility to competition from start-ups in the retail sector. We’ve noticed a similar trend in the publishing industry. Now there are more—and more inventive—ways than ever to buy books without logging in to Amazon. We’d like to highlight a few of them. In our view, the more ways there are to get our books to readers, the better things are for us all.
One of the major developments has been publishers’ experimentation with selling directly. Last week Hachette rolled out a new sales program, letting readers purchase select titles from the publisher by clicking a “buy” button embedded in an author’s Twitter message. The program pairs books with limited edition collectibles: it began last Thursday when Amanda Palmer announced in a tweet that the first 100 people to buy her new release, The Art of Asking, would get a signed manuscript draft page. The program also includes astronaut Chad Hadfield’s book You Are Here—accompanied by an outer-space photograph of the Greek island of Corfu—and an offering from the satirical paper The Onion. So far, these are the only books slated for inclusion in the program.
While most major publishers sell directly nowadays, HarperCollins has distinguished itself by sweetening the deal for authors. In October, HarperCollins launched an e-commerce platform that lets readers buy books straight from its web page—sans bookstore, sans Internet retail giant. Kudos to Harper for passing on some profit to authors when it cut out the middleman: writers who offer their books through the program receive an additional 10% net royalty on e-book, print and audio sales. This applies even when authors sell the books through their own web page.
by Campbell Geeslin
The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure was edited by C.D. Rose and reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by Dave Shiflett.
“Among the many types of failure that life has to offer,” Shiflett wrote, “literary failure ranks among the most devastating. It is sometimes even more painful than romantic rejection, which may simply be the result of mundane factors (crossed eyes, a small income). Literary failure, however, is a thing of the soul, made all the more toxic when it comes at the hands of that confederacy of Precious, Insular, Sanctimonious, Smug and often Young (work out the acronym for yourself) writing program grads who seem to rule the literary roost.”
Shiflett quotes from the dictionary: “The power of writing is one of the greatest things we have, whether it is read or not. I was there, I saw.”
This week’s batch of contests include a residency for poets, a fellowship program, and an award for Civil War fiction writers. Deadlines range from Dec 31-Jan 15.
The Dartmouth Poet-In-Residence Award is now accepting applications for a six- to eight-week residency in poet Robert Frost’s former farmhouse. The residency begins July 1 and ends August 31, and includes an award of $1,000 from The Frost Place and an award of $1,000 from Dartmouth College. The Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place will have an opportunity to give a series of public readings across the region, including at Dartmouth College, for which the Poet will receive a $1,000 honorarium. To be eligible, applicants must have published at least one full-length collection of poetry at the time of submission. Applicants should submit five poems from their most recent book, a resume, a personal statement, and contact information for two references. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: December 31, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.
by Campbell Geeslin
Jeffery Deaver’s latest mystery is The Starling Project. He has published 35 novels and sold 40 million copies of them, but this new “book” is coming out as an audiobook only. In a Page 1 article, The New York Times said, “If Mr. Deaver’s readers want the story they’ll have to listen to it.”
Deaver said, “My fans are quite loyal. If they hear I’ve done this and that it’s a thriller, I think they’ll come to it.” He told the Times that he hadn’t had a clue about how to write a sex scene for audio. “Do we have a zipper sound? Two shoes hitting the floor?” They went with swelling music.
There are no plans to have a printed version of the book. Deaver said, “There are so many time-wasting alternatives to reading out there, and authors are up against formidable competition. . . This is an easier way for people to get access to good storytelling.”
This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by John Enright, Bonnie J. Fladung, Jane Green, Gail Carson Levine, Sarah MacLean, Donna Jo Napoli, David Poyer, Naomi Gladish Smith, and Nancy Tafuri. Titles below the jump.
This week’s batch of contests includes a summer residency as well as a prize for a debut work of fiction. Deadlines range from Dec 31-Jan 2.
The Glimmer Train Fiction Open Contest is now accepting submissions. The contest is open to all subjects, themes, and writers. Entries can be from 2,000-20,000 words. The winner will receive $2,500 and 20 copies of that issue; second place will receive $1,000 and 10 copies of the issue if accepted for publication; third place will receive $600 or if accepted for publication, $700 and 10 copies. Entry fee: $19. Deadline: January 2, 2015. For more information, please visit the website.