Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

#Publishing ~ Good and Bad

I’m going to report on three articles today—three views into the workings of today’s Publishing Industry… 

First, David Gaughran‘s piece, How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors.

An excerpt:

“The most prestigious event in the UK publishing calendar, the London Book Fair, welcomes predatory operators with open arms, deliberately positions them opposite author events for extra cash, and then helps to whitewash their reputation – even running misleading interviews and puff pieces on its own website to help them get more leads.”

David’s talking about what are called “Vanity Presses”.

They pretend to be regular trade publishers; but, they lure a writer in then attempt to trick them into paying exorbitant fees to publish their book.

This is extremely different from a writer who chooses to pay certain fees for services to help them Self-Publish.

It’s also very different from Traditional Publishing, where the writer (if providentially accepted) pays no fees; in fact, is given a cash advance

Two more excerpts:

“I’m sure many of you are angry about this – and you have every right to be. This is the leading event of the UK publishing industry, and one of the most prestigious in the world. And the London Book Fair is not just allowing these guys to appear, but it’s actively generating leads for exploitative services, and directly engaging in PR efforts on their behalf to make them seem like legitimate publishers.”

“The deeper I dig – five years of this, let me remind you – proves that these guys are central to the industry, and that whole swathes of the publishing establishment is geared towards separating inexperienced writers from their money in incredibly dishonest ways. And we never even talk about it, let alone take action.”

That’s the Dark Side

Now, for Jane Friedman and her article, The Publishing Industry in 2016: A Status Update.

“According to Nielsen Bookscan, for print book sales (primarily traditional publishing sales):

  • During the first quarter of 2016, frontlist adult fiction sales were down by 17% compared to 2015
  • During the second quarter, they were down by 4%
  • First quarter backlist sales were up by 4% compared to the prior year
  • Second quarter backlist sales were up by 9%”

Then, this:

“…the picture became more clear when the biggest New York publishers released their financial results for the first half of 2016—compared to the prior year:

  • Penguin Random House (PRH): sales down 10.7 percent
  • Hachette Book Group USA: sales down 6.6 percent
  • HarperCollins: sales down 2.5 percent
  • Simon & Schuster: sales down 3.5 percent”

One more excerpt:

“For Penguin Random House, the CEO said the shortfall was related to ‘the absence of newly published megasellers’, as well as the  poor performance of ebooks in the United States and UK. Helping make up for the losses: steady print book sales and audiobook sales.”

There’s a lot more in Jane’s article (especially about Amazon…); but, I’ll leave it to the folks who Need To Know to go read both full articles

Finally, there’s an interview between Jane and Joanna PennPublishing Trends In 2016 With Jane Friedman—where Jane talks about “empowerment”; which, to me, clearly means Self-Publishing:

“There is a class of author who I think is more empowered. But I don’t think the emerging writer, the person without any credits to their name, are they more empowered? Not necessarily. But there are lots more options and paths for them if they educate themselves.

“But in that first book contract, if they choose traditional, it’s hard. It’s as hard as it’s ever been.”

So, three articles, lots of opinion, some facts—just like Life-in-General—Some Good, Some Bad, Educate Yourself………
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5 things I didn’t expect when I released my first novel

Because my short novel was published 5 years ago; and, even though I’ve already done a bonus post today about Banned Book Week, I give you Roz Morris in re-blog, about her 5-year-old novel—which I read and deeply appreciated…

Nail Your Novel

It’s five years since I released My Memories of a Future Life. I actually hadn’t realised it was that long ago, but Facebook has an algorithm that nudges you to repost old updates. And recently it gave me this:


Still, I wasn’t feeling especially retrospective until I happened upon this post by Caroline Leavitt at Jane Friedman’s blog, which talked about a few realities of author life.  And I thought: yes. Releasing that book marked a big change. A set of new and unforeseen challenges.

Model posed in ornate costumes: in black pressed pleats, with top hat; standing tip-toe on champagne bottle Pic from Wikimedia Commons

1 Lovely reactions – which will wildly delight you

My Memories of a Future Life wasn’t my first book. I’d ghosted lots of titles (more about that here), so I was used to seeing my work bound between covers. I’d also published the first Nail Your Novelbook, and knew how nice it was to get feedback. But…

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#BannedBooksWeek ~ Sept. 25 to Oct. 1

Amnesty International and the American Library Association sponsor what I feel should be a Global Celebration. #bannedbooksweek 2016

Banned Books Week is, according to the ALA:

“…an annual event celebrating the freedom to read…it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

You can see a list of the ten Most Challenged Books of 2015 on the Banned Books Week Coalition Site.

Time for a short video about Banned Books:

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Can writing be taught? And what do writing teachers teach?

Roz Morris has written a number of books about writing…

In today’s re-blog, she explores whether writing can actually be “taught”…

Nail Your Novel

2658174628_049a403892_bThe other night I was watching The Rewrite, in which a Hollywood scriptwriter reluctantly becomes a writing teacher. In the early part of the film he asserts that writing can’t be taught.

In some ways, I agree.

But wait, you might say. And you might brandish a kettle at me, or a pot as black as night. What, Ms Morris, are you doing here? On your blogs, in your seminars, with your nifty tips and nailing books?

Well, I hope I’m being useful, but it’s interesting to consider how much of a writer is made by what is taught, and how much is … something else.

You do the work
No matter how many courses you take or books you read, they won’t build your facility for you. You’re the one playing the instrument, and you need years of practice and exploration. The fabled 10,000 hours to achieve…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Ten

My Pet SunDogs

Alexander M Zoltai
Dedicated to
Jane Darnton Watson


What a pair they are, my brilliant SunDogs—strikingly red when they’re near each other—flashing through the spectrum as they run apart—misty blue just before they dash together again.

Their names are Crystal and Diamond; and, I must say, I know of no other being who has such a set of pets.

Where and how I found them is, to say the least, improbable…

I was climbing the Northern Mountains—my usual trek—when the Sun, near the horizon, suddenly gave birth to my pets.

Of course, they weren’t yet my pets; but, I knew, instantly, I had to possess them, nurture them, love them…

How to attract them…?

A chant for the Sun played with my mind…

Was my memory reliable?

I certainly didn’t know what effect that particular chant would have… Would it chase them away?

As they say in the mines, “Can’t win if you never try and it takes many losses to win.”

I began.

Aul Wen…

Aul Wen Oni…

Aul Wen…

Aul Wen Multa…

Aul Wen, Aul Wen, Aul Wen…

I watched…

They changed their colors without moving…


They were by me—each side of me—warming my body and my heart…

I thought if I moved they’d flee…

I stood still—they hovered in their iridescent beauty…

Time slowed…

Many breaths later, I chanced a step forward—they followed…

I ran down the mountain path—they followed !

I slipped and fell over the brink—they swooped down and cushioned my fall…

Whoa !

I thought I heard my mother singing (she always sang the Sun down…).

The Sun did set then—my SunDogs dimmed but their ghostly glow let me know I was Blessed.

That was many years ago…

I don’t trek the mountain anymore; but, my SunDogs will sometimes bear me up on their warmth—let me survey the setting Sun from the heights…

My pets have chased away every one of my worries and cares……… except one…

What will happen to them when my body sets in this World and my soul rises in the Next?


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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