Archive for the ‘Reference – Writing’ category

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print Slow Suicide

December 23, 2008

Read it and weep
The economic news couldn’t be worse for the book industry. Now insiders are asking how literature will survive.

The end of days is here for the publishing industry — or it sure seems like it. On Dec. 3, now known as “Black Wednesday,” several major American publishers were dramatically downsized, leaving many celebrated editors and their colleagues jobless. The bad news stretches from the unemployment line to bookstores to literature itself.

“It’s going to be very hard for the next few years across the board in literary fiction,” says veteran agent Ira Silverberg. “A lot of good writers will be losing their editors, and loyalty is very important in this field.”

Who was it that said, “If you want loyalty, get a dog”?

Yes, writers who are treated well are loyal. Stupid us. The rest of the world runs on money.

This is key:

Finally, experts suggest that publishers missed crucial opportunities to cope with digital books, Internet innovations and economic pressures. “The big houses proved incapable of looking at the future. I’ve always been struck at how relatively un-nimble the big houses are,” says Tom Engelhardt, a consulting editor at Metropolitan books and the author of the prophetic novel “The Last Days of Publishing.” He recently wrote an essay about the crisis at his Web site, TomDispatch.com, and says he predicted the crash for years — but no one would listen.

Emphasis added by me.

He’s right. Just ask the newspapers.

Here comes the future:

Neelan Choksi, Lexcycle’s chief operating officer, agrees that the midlist will suffer in coming years. “There’s going to be less support for smaller writers in the traditional publishing model, in the big buildings in Manhattan,” he explained. “But self-publishing and digital books haven’t been considered. This upheaval will cause many authors to look at the alternatives more seriously.” The Stanza reader, for instance, stocks thousands of e-books at varying prices, from free public domain books to self-published titles to 40,000 titles from Fictionwise, one of the leading digital book vendors. That list includes a variety of bestsellers like David Wroblewski’s “Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series and the nonfiction hit “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.”

Emphasis added by me.

Lexcycle will wind up with a store of its own at some point. I hope they do it right, unlike Apple. (Stanza, by the way, just got a glowing PC Magazine review.)

What’s needed is a WordPress-type thing, where authors can set up a site to flog their books. Basically, a blog with transactional capability. It has to all be blogging-easy, too. Writers don’t want to be techies and web designers. In fact, I’m surprised WordPress itself hasn’t added this yet.

This bit was a surprise to me. Writer Iain Levison (who still lacks a new website) alerted me to it via email this morning:

Rumors of publishing’s demise are probably overstated, but the future of publishing may depend on what those laid-off editors, publicists and industry leaders do next. The morning after Black Wednesday, a publishing blogger and e-book aficionado named Mike Cane stirred up his readers with a bite-size manifesto on Twitter: “If the FIRED NY pubstaff are such hot fucking shit, let them coalesce and form an EBOOK-ONLY IMPRINT to crush their fmr employers.” However callous this Twitter-versy seemed at the time, it posed an interesting challenge: Can the publishing world channel all of this collective anger, bewilderment and fear into industry-altering strategies?

Emphasis of me by me.

But really, that guy is a pain in the ass! I should know.

Still, that challenge holds. I’d like to see those book people get back into books — as eBooks. Apple isn’t doing writers any favors and we need book people.

We just don’t need Big Corporate Dying Dinosaurs of Print book people.

And neither do the Big Corporations, either.

Writer Michael Muhammad Knight In NYT

December 23, 2008

Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book

CLEVELAND — Five years ago, young Muslims across the United States began reading and passing along a blurry, photocopied novel called “The Taqwacores,” about imaginary punk rock Muslims in Buffalo.

“This book helped me create my identity,” said Naina Syed, 14, a high school freshman in Coventry, Conn.

A Muslim born in Pakistan, Naina said she spent hours on the phone listening to her older sister read the novel to her. “When I finally read the book for myself,” she said, “it was an amazing experience.”

The novel is “The Catcher in the Rye” for young Muslims, said Carl W. Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Springing from the imagination of Michael Muhammad Knight, it inspired disaffected young Muslims in the United States to form real Muslim punk bands and build their own subculture.

Emphasis added by me.

I just wanted to emphasize once again that this was a direct publishing Win. From photocopied novel to printed book to New York Times coverage and a movie. (And I await Soft Skull Press doing the eBook versions!)

“I’m a Muslim and I’m 100-percent American,” Ms. DeWulf said, “so I can criticize my faith and my country. Rebellion? Punk? This is totally American.”

The novel’s title combines “taqwa,” the Arabic word for “piety,” with “hardcore,” used to describe many genres of angry Western music.

For many young American Muslims, stigmatized by their peers after the Sept. 11 attacks but repelled by both the Bush administration’s reaction to the attacks and the rigid conservatism of many Muslim leaders, the novel became a blueprint for their lives.

Emphasis added by me.

There’s the power of a writer.

Mr. Muhammad Knight was born an Irish Catholic in upstate New York and converted to Islam as a teenager. He studied at a mosque in Pakistan but became disillusioned with Islam after learning about the sectarian battles after the death of Muhammad.

He said he wrote “The Taqwacores” to mend the rift between his being an observant Muslim and an angry American youth. He found validation in the life of Muhammad, who instructed people to ignore their leaders, destroy their petty deities and follow only Allah.

After reading the novel, many Muslims e-mailed Mr. Muhammad Knight, asking for directions to the next Muslim punk show. Told that no such bands existed, some of them created their own, with names like Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five.

Emphasis added by me.

He imagined it and readers created it.

At school, her Koran teacher threw chalk at her for requesting literal translations of the holy book, Ms. Arzay said. After she was expelled from two Muslim schools, her uncle gave her “The Taqwacores.”

“This book is my lifeline,” Ms. Arzay said. “It saved my faith.”

Emphasis added by me.

It just takes one writer to say the things he or she really feels to start something. That something can be helping people not see themselves as alienated or it can be creating an entire social movement.

That is the power of writers and writing.

This is an interesting report about writer Michael Muhammad Knight and the sub-culture his book has helped to form:

Previously here:

Two Books To Read By Michael Muhammad Knight

Apple Approves Of Shooting Nurses In The Face!

December 23, 2008

mj via Twitter informed me of a game available on the UK iTunes App Store, called Silent Hill: The Escape.

This is the listing at the UK App Store:

silenthillappstore
Click = big

In this not-so-charming little game, one of the things to do is shoot nurses in the face:

silenthillnursejpg

Don’t look for it in the American App Store. I already did. It’s not there.

That raises several questions:

1) Was it rejected for inclusion in the American App Store?

1a) If so, how can Apple approve it for the UK App Store?

2) If it’s still pending approval for the American App Store, will it now get it?

3) How is shooting a nurse in the face not worse than using “objectionable” language?

4) If an argument is made that the nurse is “imaginary,” guess what? So are the characters in an eBook!

5) Is provoking people to actively shoot nurses in the face better than passively reading, say, the word fuck in an eBook?

6) Does Apple at this point have any leg to stand on in terms of defining what’s “objectionable” and what’s not?

7) How can Apple claim a moral high ground in terms of eBooks when it continues to make epic profits from music and movies that are far worse than language in eBooks?

8) When will Apple stop making itself a hypocritical laughingstock?

Supplemental:

Silent Hill on App Store

Previously here:

God Bless Writer Derek Raymond
How Many Of THESE eBooks Will Apple Ban?
Apple Bans ANOTHER Book From App Store!

The POPE Endorses eBooks!

December 23, 2008

Sacred texts: Vatican embraces iTunes prayer book

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican is endorsing new technology that brings the book of daily prayers used by priests straight onto iPhones.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications is embracing the iBreviary, an iTunes application created by a technologically savvy Italian priest, the Rev. Paolo Padrini, and an Italian Web designer.

The application includes the Breviary prayer book – in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Latin and, in the near future, Portuguese and German. Another section includes the prayers of the daily Mass, and a third contains various other prayers.

After a free trial period in which the iBreviary was downloaded approximately 10,000 times in Italy, an official version was released earlier this month, Padrini said.

Don’t be fooled. The Pope has the Final Say over there.

And dig it:

Pope Benedict XVI, a classical music lover who was reportedly given an iPod in 2006, has sought to reach out to young people through new media. During last summer’s World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, he sent out mobile phone text messages citing scripture to thousands of registered pilgrims – signed with the tagline “BXVI.”

Emphasis added by me.

Who knew?

The Last Man In England?

December 23, 2008

Pistol-whipped husband vows to get revenge on robbers who beat up his wife during raid on their home

A husband whose wife was beaten up by robbers during a raid on their home has vowed to get revenge if they meet again.

Graham Eaton, who was also pistol-whipped by the thugs, told how the couple were held at gunpoint in their £750,000 converted barn and warned they may be killed.

Mr Eaton’s terrified wife, Lesley, had a knife held to her throat and the butt of a pistol smashed into her eye during the half-hour ordeal at their home in Wimborne, Dorset.

He was struck on the head with a handgun, tied up and beaten about the legs with a baseball bat.

The couple were convinced they were going to be tortured and killed until Mrs Eaton faked a heart attack and the three thugs fled.

Now Mr Eaton, who runs a successful horticultural business, has vowed to get revenge on their attackers.

He said: ‘I can look after myself but I will never forgive them for what they did to my wife.

‘I just want to get revenge for that and want to meet them man to man and see what they’re really made of.

‘I would kill them and I know I’m capable of doing that to them and I’ve told the police that.

‘They are scum of the earth and should be exterminated – we are quite robust but what they did would kill someone fragile and older than us.’

Graham Eaton should be the next Prime Minister.

He’d sort out the shit I see daily in the horrifying headlines I get from England.

I’m telling you, if England goes under, we all do.

Previously here:

England Needs Serious Sorting Out

This Smells Like … Hope
Happy Veteran’s Day 2008?
Writer Melanie Phillips: The Multicult Cult
England: Land Of The Doomed West
Writer Melanie Phillips
You’ve Been Google-Burgled!
What’s Up In England?!
Smile U Dumbo
Sick England: Happy Slapping
Disintegrating England: Soldiers Go Hungry!
England Continues To Fall
But They’ve Given Murdoch Great Footage!
You Decide: Greed Or Stupidity?
Bloody England
England: You Can Die For Nothing There
England Continues To Sink
Degenerate England
Britain: The Lion Stirs?
England Slides Into National Insanity
England Goes Totally Off Its Nut
England: The Coming Explosion
Britain’s Last Man
Britain Commits Suicide — Again!
Dark Future
Hey! I’m Not Homeless! I’m A Geek!
Cue My Blog’s Title Picture…

God Bless Writer Derek Raymond

December 22, 2008

Death at One’s Elbow: Derek Raymond’s Factory Novels

Their stories are baroque, bizarre, even repellent. The characters inhabit the outer limits of the fringe of those who can be thought of as society’s victims, and yet the extremity of their tales marks them as doomed messiahs, their suffering meant to stand for, if not absolve, the suffering of all victims. And while the books end with the cases solved, the evildoers either dead or destroyed, there is no sense of triumph, no illusion that justice has been restored.

Apple is not worthy of having Derek Raymond grace its App Store in eBook form:

Writing about I Was Dora Suarez presents the temptation to play at the critical form of hard-boiled braggadocio, saying in effect to the reader, “I was tough enough to take it. Are you?”

I’m not sure I am.

Reading the book made me nauseous. Rereading it for this piece, I found it necessary to restrict my time with it to daylight hours. Reading it after dark gave me nightmares. Nor do I want to play at listing the specifics of the book, thereby feeding the kind of interest that will send people to it for a kick, the way they go see the latest piece of horror-movie torture porn. I don’t know if I Was Dora Suarez can be called literature at all. If it’s possible for a book to be utterly repugnant and deeply compassionate at the same time, then I Was Dora Suarez is.

Emphasis added by me.

iwasdorasuarezcover

I Was Dora Suarez is one of the grimmest, unrelentingly bleak books you will ever read — and possibly that has ever been written.

And where the writer of the article isn’t sure, I am: It is Art.

But if it were all to do over again, I would do it all over again; I know my hands are clean.

I felt like going outside for a minute, so walked down to the bottom of Palmyra Square, where long ago I had been sent down to see into the deaths of a young couple who had lived in the top flat at number eight. There had been no point in my going, really, because they were both dead, and there was nothing I could find out or add to what the Brighton police already knew, that they had been credit-card ripping and it was catching up with them –had caught up. They had a great lunch at Wheelers, where they had invited people over to their table for brandies, after which they walked hand in hand down the pebble beach where I had just been standing and then on out to sea. The sea did for them what they had asked it to do and then afterwards brought them back to the beach in its own time, wet as fish and green with weed, their faces greyish white and their arms still half trailing round each other, and I don’t know why, but when I saw them like that in Brighton morgue, I was convulsed with what I felt in myself to be a rightful fury.

I looked out to sea again. It was the end of February, the twenty-sixth, and all at once the short afternoon had had enough; it scattered its way off towards the night chased by short, dirty clouds. I remember I got home to my wife Edie in the end at about two in the morning and she said: ‘You look dreadful, what was it?’

‘A double suicide at Brighton, boy and girl. Banks, credit cards. They asked the Factory to send someone down.’

‘Why get in a state?’ said Edie. ‘It happens all the time, you’ve only to open a paper.’

‘I know it does,’ I said, ‘and I always want to know why.’

‘Well, that’s what they pay you for, to find out, if you call that pay, what you draw.’

‘That’s what I’ve just been doing,’ I said, ‘and it isn’t that, it’s a question of two deaths down to a square of fucking plastic.’

‘The pubic has to be protected,’ she said.

I said: ‘They were the public, you stupid woman.’

‘They tried to get their hands into the till and it didn’t work,’ said Edie severely. That was always one of the troubles with my wife Edie. For her and for her father the low-grade police was beneath her socially; she wasn’t the daughter of a big wheel in the fruiterer’s trade for nothing, apples by the ton up from Kent. ‘Scratch my back for me, will you?’ I remember she said then. ‘I’ve got an itch between my shoulder blades where I can’t reach it.’

We went to bed and I said: ‘I’ve seen them.’

‘Seen what? Look, just settle, will you? Why won’t you settle?’

‘Seen their bodies,’ I said.

‘So?’

‘The sea had turned them surprisingly fucking little,’ I said.

‘Oh?’ she said. She added: ‘I do wish you wouldn’t swear.’

‘You just can’t help it in my job, Edie. Don’t you see, the words sometimes take the place of tears.’

‘I wish you’d just go to sleep,’ she said, ‘it’s nearly four.’

‘I can’t, Edie,’ I said. ‘Oh, why can’t you just be a wife to me for once, just hold me quietly for a while and don’t say anything more just now.’

But she said: ‘I think you really ought to know it, and Dad agrees with me, you’re a dreadful load on me at times — all this perturbed thinking of yours and you nothing but a detective sergeant who’ll never go up in rank because you insist it isn’t rank that matters.’ She sat bolt upright in the bed, pointed to her stomach and screamed: ‘Well, all right, then, if that’s the way you want it, look at the load I’m carrying thanks to you, Mr Police Officer with the Lofty Ideas — I think you’re altogether too sensitive for the police sometimes, I really do, and now there’s the child due in May with all the expenses it’ll bring, and a fat lot you care! She’s due on the twentieth, the doc says, and I tell you I am near the point when I don’t want to know.’

But presently she lay down again and her voice faded; I was glad of that. That night I realised that I had married Edie for her fatal, extraordinary body, not her opinions. I understood that no body could ever be enough if it held opinions in dead opposition to my own. I already knew that I wanted the coming child, who was, for nine short years, to be my daughter Dahlia, far more than Edie did; I loved Dahlia even before she was born, which may have been why Edie always hated her, who knows, and my love for the child meant that I would always find a means of tolerating Edie on account of Dahlia; I would find some means of growing deaf. All I had wanted that night was to hold Edie against me in my vulnerable hour after that day in Brighton. It was her primitive security that I needed; just a fraction of what Edie’s body was giving to the child she bore. That was all I needed to recover and so, through being reassured, feel enabled to get into perspective that greenish couple still in their trailing decomposed embrace, their swollen, expressionless faces nibbled by fish — what I needed from Edie then was her kisses, her comfort, just for a few minutes, and so prove to me that love can banish the frozen, lazy rottenness of eyes that have been eight days underwater.

We all have our weak moments.

— I Was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond; pgs. 34-36

But those eejits at the Apple App Store would deny you this.

I’d like the bluenoses at the Apple App Store to read I Was Dora Suarez. Maybe it would encourage them to suicide and thus improve the human species. At any rate, it’d get rid of them.

Hey, Apple App Store eejits, this applies to you lot:

[. . . ] Disinformation is invariably one of the most powerful weapons available to any regime whose members know perfectly well that they should never have been allowed to occupy the positions they do.

— The Hidden Files by Derek Raymond; pg. 143

Emphasis added by me.

In other words, Apple, get some real fucking book editors in there to do eBooks.

Supplemental:

Derek Raymond tribute site

Previously here:

Writer Derek Raymond Tribute
Writer Derek Raymond

At the old blog:

Derek Raymond: He Makes All Others Look Like Shit

Caliban’s End Is POD Available

December 22, 2008

Following up on an earlier post, after Lulu sorted out all the problems they caused him, Paul F. Stewart reports he has a satisfying POD copy of his novel, What Lies Beneath, in his hands at last.

It looks like this:

whatliesbeneathcover

Happy ending?

No, not near.

When you use a service such as Lulu, you are at its mercy.

If Stewart wonders why he’s not getting any sales, it could be due to the fact Lulu apparently hasn’t found time to actually list it.

Look at this pathetic search result:

lulusearch
Click = big

Despite searching both by title and “creator” (WTF?) name, what came up was not his book. Not even close. (I’ve redacted the result because the guy in it is not the subject of this post and can damn well get his own post pimpage somewhere else!)

This is not good for any writer.

Does Lulu care? Ya think?

They Keep Trying To Kill The Long Tail

December 22, 2008

Long Tail theory contradicted as study reveals 10m digital music tracks unsold

The internet was supposed to bring vast choice for customers, access to obscure and forgotten products – and a fortune for sellers who focused on niche markets.

But a study of digital music sales has posed the first big challenge to this “long tail” theory: more than 10 million of the 13 million tracks available on the internet failed to find a single buyer last year.

Emphasis added by me.

And:

However, a new study by Will Page, chief economist of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, the not-for-profit royalty collection society, suggests that the niche market is not an untapped goldmine and that online sales success still relies on big hits. They found that, for the online singles market, 80 per cent of all revenue came from around 52,000 tracks. For albums, the figures were even more stark. Of the 1.23 million available, only 173,000 were ever bought, meaning 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.

Emphasis added by me.

On the face of it, those figures are devastating and disheartening.

But I wondered: Was any marketing done for the unsold portion? Did anyone know they were there to be had?

And: What services were measured? I’d like someone to do a study of how much music is sold via MySpace and compare those bands against, say, the iTunes Store and Amazon’s MP3 Store.

All this is directly applicable to writers.

Any writer, for example, who direct publishes an eBook and expects people to find out about it without any marketing is just asking for a bagful of disappointment.

Previously here:

The Long Tail: Not Entirely Discredited
Google Book Search: Medialoper FTW
More Long Tail Debate
The Long Tail: A Lie?

I Hat Proofreading! I Hade It!!

December 20, 2008

The impotence of of proofreading

— via Twitter from SteveAverill

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #478: I.D.

December 20, 2008

Premise: The rich will not be amenable to any solution that essentially reboots the entire worldwide economic system and leaves them holding a bag of shit. A bag of shit, mind you, that everybody else will also wind up holding.

Solving that is not easy …

777tweets122008

… why don’t you try it?

Especially all you whiny crybabies who weep for “solutions.”

This is your cue. Go!