Posts Tagged ‘Authors’

The Literary Life

Monday, July 27th, 2015

In the 1950s and 1960s, I grew up in Westchester County, thirty minutes from New York City (think Don Draper in “Mad Men” for the  typical train commute), and I was the son of a book publisher 9k=living in the center of the literary world.  My dad would have frequent parties with other book publishers including Sol Stein, the founder of Stein and Day; Max Schuster of Simon and Shuster; Jovanovich of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; Nat Wartels, the founder of Crown; luminaries such as Bennet Cerf of Random House; and many others whose names have receded into the mists of publishing history.  I remember the parties and the characters, they seemed larger than life and enjoyed every aspect of living with great emphasis on fine food and drink.  After all these years I forget many of their names, but their companies (such as Sterling) live on, now owned by larger corporations which have changed the publishing world and which, no doubt, in fifty years will in many cases have disappeared as well.

The literary life itself has changed.  As a society we do not cultivate great writing; we really don’t.  I am not sure if great writing is still possible.  And this is not because of technology, but in spite of it. More people are writing more books more easily than ever before. There are more writer’s groups,  more writing courses, more “How to be a Best Selling Author” seminars, and more access to getting books published than in any previous moment in history.  So the problem with the lack of great writing is actually neither access nor time to the tools and the profession. The problem, as far  as I can determine, is with the times in which we live.

There is much focus on commercial success and seeming relevance that it is rare for those who read to take the time to cultivate great writing.  Great writing takes time. Great writing takes  rewriting.  Great writing does not ensure commercial success.  The recent release of Harper Lee’s  “Go Set a Watchman” is a case study that proves why there is little if any great writing or great publishing at this moment in time. “To Kill a Mockingbird”  is a great book, it has withstood the test of time.  It will still be read fifty years from now, more than one hundred years after it was published. But I doubt that even five years from now “Go Set a Watchman” will be read. It is not great writing. It was not meant to be published; it required rewriting.  The rewriting is what created the timelessness of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  The editor took time, months of back and forth with Harper Lee, hundreds of hours of thought and comment from both editor and author.  This could never happen today.  Both publisher and author can not  take the time to have a book percolate. There is too much financial gain or loss at stake.  And besides, is anyone other than a few literary critics or erudite publishing industry or academic specialists going to notice the flaws in books not truly gestated, not truly edited, but published for great financial benefit?

I write books myself and they are well written. One, “The Twelve”, has sold more than 500,000 copies. My authored books however are not great writing.  I was not motivated to write a great book. I hired an outside editor. I had a wonderful editor provided by the publisher. They did as good a job as the time and money allocated justified. Readers have enjoyed my books, and I receive wonderful compliments from them. For some my books have changed their lives for the better.  They are good books, just not great.  In the fullness of time my books are unlikely to survive.  Only truly great works of art survive.

I recommend that those of you interested in writing strive for greatness. It will not be easy, there will be distractions. You will have to find great editors and you will have to pay them.  You will have to allocate time. You will have to be unattached to the financial results.  You will have to cut back on your social media and dedicate all of your creative energy to the book itself and not the marketing. You will have difficulty finding a major publisher. But if you write a truly great book, your words may live forever.

Now, that would be a true literary life.

TOO BUSY TO BLOG

Friday, November 7th, 2014

I  was seduced into blogging by my wonderful publicist Antoinette Kuritz. She explained that all  twenty first century authors must blog; that it is the best way to create community around your books and eventually titus doris Gaylecommunity will lead to greater book sales. (I believe I am in the majority of authors in wanting to increase book sales.) We all write because we have ideas we want to share and book sales are the only way we know we are actually reaching people.  Of course, book sales also indicate that we are generating income from our writing, an essential from the perspective of the internal revenue service if we want to justify our tax write offs. Once in a while my books do sell sufficiently to create meaningful six figure income streams, but my primary motivation for writing has never been monetary rewards.

So now I am blogging but not regularly.  For more than six months I blogged three times a week.  I enjoyed  blogging  and was between books so it was not difficult.  Then, last march I  began writing “Dr. and Master Sha: Miracle Soul Healer” and it was obvious l that I could not meet the deadline of a 90 day schedule for the manuscript and keep blogging.  So I stopped.  I thought I would return to blogging as soon as I completed the manuscript but with editing and other activities I delayed until actual publication in September.  Since then I have returned to blogging but only weekly and even then have not blogged every week or every Monday as I had intended.  No doubt the number of  readers following my blog has dropped because of this.  Whether that is the case or not I shall continue to blog.  Not just because Antoinette thinks it a good idea, but because I actually enjoy blogging, especially when I have the time. (more…)

Libraries and Global Publishing

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of addressing librarians at their annual conference in Charleston, South Carolina as the Interior_view_of_Stockholm_Public_Libraryguest of Mitch Davis of Bibliolabs, Mitch is working on a number of initiatives that will enable libraries, if they choose, to become centers for self-publishing. I strongly support this concept and intend to work with Mitch to enable all one hundred thousand libraries in the United States to in effect become book publishers for their author constituents. With projections of up to one million self-published books to be released in the next two years, it is only logical that libraries participate as partners for these authors whose books are, for the most part, likely to sell fewer than one hundred copies.

One of the unique concepts Mitch and I are exploring is the ability to publish these titles as ebooks with distribution to all one hundred thousand libraries as a free or nearly free subscription service. Authors will benefit from exposure of their works to all libraries and can coordinate local promotions with their initiating co-publishing.  Local library costs for ebook self-publishing can be reduced from what existing self-publishing services are charging,  Even low cost Create Space, which Mitch founded and then sold to Amazon several years ago, would be more expensive. (more…)

Money

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

As I was thinking of topics for today’s blog I had lots of options. I was tempted to write another blog about my novel, The images-1Power of Twelve, which was officially published yesterday, but doing so seemed too self-promotional – even though I encourage all authors, including myself, to be shamelessly self-promotional. After all if you are not willing to constantly promote your own books, why are you willing to write them?

But I have also been thinking about money lately. In part this may be because our federal government has run out of the stuff and starting Tuesday put itself officially out of business, closed, kaput, gone fishing, not available.  Use your own hopefully increasingly pejorative phrase to get across the point that our brilliant leaders and politicians have not figured out a way to keep our government operating. Ok, there are some contingency plans and not every aspect of government is closed until this budget issue is resolved, but millions of people are out of work, millions more are being inconvenienced, and we look like a third world country unable to manage our affairs. (more…)

I Don’t Do Much But I Get A Lot Done

Friday, September 20th, 2013

In many ways I don’t do much at all and yet I get a lot done. I do write my blog, my books, my pitch letters to book Schreibtisch.2publishers, and I do negotiate terms on contracts. That may seem like a lot, but in actually does not take that much time. The real work is preparing the proposals to send out, sending out the proposals, coordinating the submission process, notifying the authors when offers come in, notifying publishers that they have to respond because competing offers have come in, etc. etc. Of course for my own writing it is all me all the time, but only until the editing process starts. Then an entire team takes over and spends much more time than I ensuring that the design, the grammar and syntax and all other details are as perfect as possible.  Same goes for correcting my blog, choosing the right picture and posting. (more…)

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN AUTHOR?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

I love the publishing industry and have spent my life finding and supporting new talent; I love sharing what I have learned along the way.  This weekend I got to do that once again speaking to a large crowd at Author 101 – my reason for being a day late with this blog.    It was a wonderful weekend in LA with several hundred authors, some top agents, and book publishers exploring and explaining ways for authors to either self-publish or break in with traditional publishers. I represented the more conservative view that this is not the best of times for authors and publishers, but many speakers disagreed. Their logic was that since more books are being published than ever before and since more money is being generated from book sales than ever before, this is a wonderful time for authors. They also pointed out correctly that the cost of entry to self- publishing is down to almost zero from twenty-five thousand dollars or more just a decade or two ago, before the invention of print on demand. (more…)