WRITING ON THE ETHER: Clear Surface

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls


Perfect Skin by Nick EarlsPerfect Skin: A Novel by Nick Earls

A finalist in the 2003 Australian Comedy Awards and adapted into a feature film in Italy (Solo un Padre, Warner Brothers/Cattleya)

“Readers should enjoy this amiable, well-crafted and genuinely romantic book.”

Publishers Weekly

Find out more on Amazon and download a sample to your Kindle.


Table of Contents

  1. Clear Surface
  2. Publishing/Missingham: Gender in Digital
  3. Jonah Lehrer: Tales Told Twice (or more)
  4. Business: Quick notes
  5. Agents in Transition/Curtis Brown: Who better?
  6. The other ‘Agency’: Don Linn’s O’Reilly Webcast
  7. More ‘Agency’/Litte/Greenfield: Our DoJ Summer
  8. Craft/Muir: WordPress Zen
  9. Craft/Rusch: Hurry Up vs. Wait
  10. Craft/Lawton: An Agent’s Client Loads
  11. Craft/Talty: Test-driving Kobo’s new ‘Writing Life’
  12. Responsibility/Ford: Measure It in Heartbeats
  13. Conferences: An updating list
  14. Books: Reading on the Ether
  15. Citations/The Writer: Flattery on the Ether
  16. Last Gas: Excruciating eloquence

Clear Surface

Even today, so late in the game, on the 2012 summer solstice, when you picture vacationers reading your book, do you find it hard to envision…a tablet?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Microsoft Surface / Microsoft.com

In their hands. Your book. A tablet. An e-reader. A laptop. A phone.

No swizzle-sticky paperback under the towel. No Coppertoned dustcover, as Brian O’Leary wrote this week, “DRM-free since Gutenberg.”

No, a tablet. This is why we pay attention to the bright-shinies. And how ’bout that new Surface tablet/PC that Microsoft introduced Monday? When have both the snot-nerds and the fanboys been so welcoming to the Stuffy Ones from Redmond?

Microsoft Surface Just Made the MacBook Air and the iPad Look Obsolete, chortled Jesus Diaz in his homily at Gizmodo.

Microsoft has guts. It’s what you get when you’re the underdog; either that or you curl into a RIM and die…After yesterday’s Surface event—assuming they don’t fumble the execution—Gates’ children may have found the weapon to stop the heirs of Jobs and turn the tide.

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At the Times, Sam Grobart was working to get Diaz’s head-to-head assumption out of the way, in Microsoft’s Not Competing With the iPad — Not Entirely:

There’s a significant population out there, people who look at an iPad and say, “I like it, but can I get one to replace my laptop? Even for just some of the time?” And the honest answer has always been, “No.” The iPad has plenty of accessories, but it’s not a productivity device.

Matt Rosoff at Business Insider went looking for the rationale behind Why Microsoft Was Forced To Make a Tablet. In fact, two tablets:

At least two models of a new product called Surface. Make no mistake: these are PCs, not just “tablets.” Microsoft does not draw the distinction between PCs and tablets as Apple and other vendors have.

And that’s the point.

While the bright-shiny folks were worrying along about the Surface’s great-looking cover keyboards — and parsing the RT version (lighter operation) vs. the Pro version (to run legacy Windows apps and compete with MacBook Air and Ultrabooks) — others were catching on to a shape, if not the shape, of markets to come.

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Richard Waters of the Financial Times in an interview on CNBC:

What’s happening is the entire personal computing market …is being completely reinvented. The iPad has two-thirds of that market, and nothing has come even close to scratching the (ahem) surface. Microsoft is making an incredible gamble.

CNET’s Scott Stein, also on CNBC:

They’re trying to do what Google has failed at and what BlackBerry and others have failed at, and that’s to create something clear to go against Apple.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Microsoft Surface / Microsoft.com

Waters:

They (Microsoft) are scared…The real problem is that developers creating the most exciting new apps are not doing them for PCs…They (Microsoft) have to spend billions of dollars to get into hardware…(And) when will Microsoft get into smartphones?

Still, it was easy to remain overly focused on the unveiling event.

The big screens, company honchos dressed way down (some shirttails were out!) and pacing around the stage, live-bloggers from all our favorite tech-mania sites. My fave: Dana Wollman for Engadget.

And, sure enough, while Microsoft pulled some praise for updating its announcement modus (the “kids” do love these big old CES-ish spectacles, you know), it was dicey to go out there without pricing or release dates.

Brett Sandusky wrote that UX marked the spot on which Redmond faltered, in When will the Surface surface?

Yeah yeah yeah, specs. Good. Nice. USB. Ooh. Ahh. Cover. Ooh. Ahh. Price? When? Ooh. Cover. Cover. Cover. Typing on the cover. Compete with iPad. Ooh. Ahh. Price? Ok… NOW! Price?

 

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No, Steve Ballmer and cohorts didn’t name a price — leaving pundits to guess all week, which is tedious. And the best guesses at timing seem to be fall-winter, the Windows 8 Pro Surface following the RT model by three months. In these areas, and in the prototypic sense for the thing, the event was a bit like announcing your startup before it starts up.

But the user experience (that’s “UX,” you know) of the announcement event was less critical than what’s to come when, as Sandusky puts it, the Surface surfaces.

As Quentin Hardy had it in his piece in the Times, Microsoft’s Surface Pro: Sorry, H.P.:

With Microsoft’s new tablet, called Surface, you can finally get Windows Office on something like an iPad.

Catch that? Your Ethernautical UX goes like this:

  • First, we want them selling sunscreen with each unit for beach reading on that baby next summer solstice.
  • And second, yes, Virginia, you can work your manuscript on it. By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea…

As Nick Bilton cinched it in Microsoft Surface Allows People to Create:

The iPad, for all its glory, suffers from one very distinct flaw: It’s very difficult to use for creation. The keyboard on the screen, although pretty to look at, is abysmal for typing anything over 140 characters. There isn’t a built-in pen for note-taking, either…Apple doesn’t seem to want the iPad to be a creator, but more of a consumer. Microsoft, and its new Surface tablet, wants to do both.

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Publishing/Missingham: Gender in Digital

It often appears that the digital debate is being had, and being led almost exclusively by men.  The numbers back this up. Taking the last three main digital publishing conferences, speakers at these conferences were predominantly male.

FutureBook, December 2011 Ratio of Men to Women 4:1
Tools Of Change, Feb 2012 Ratio of Men to Women 4:1
LBF, Digital Minds April 2012 Ratio of Men to Women 3:1

 

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Sam Missingham / Image: perininetworks on Flickr

Sam Missingham, head of events and marketing for the BookSeller Group in the UK, is a co-founder of TheFutureBook. She’s someone I envy daily, living as she does in Bath, a Georgian city in the West Country, in which I spent a year at university.

One of the most effective things about her blog post on Women in digital publishing is her wide-open honesty about how she got into this topic:

I’ll confess that before accepting (a speaking gig with the Women in Publishing group), I questioned the need for a women-only publishing organisation. I’ve worked in magazine and book publishing for over 15 years and I’ve always worked quite happily on equal terms with my male colleagues.

Her experience of spending “the evening in a room full of smart women in a very collegiate and supportive atmosphere” led her check up on those ratios of male to female speakers at digital-publishing conferences. And at the conference she produced, FutureBook in December, she noted the attendance was 50-50 men and women — it’s up on stage the men dominated.

And yes, I take responsibility for this disparity.

Missingham looked further.

I have 84 people on a Twitter list that, in my mind, represent globally the leading thinking in this sector. Again the ratio of men to women is 3:1.

Being the inquisitive and forthright soul many of us know her to be, she ducked nothing. She called the question, on herself and the rest of us:

So if the digital publishing community is pretty much equally split down gender lines, why are women not more visible?

 

And here, her essay gets even better: No cheap shots, no dodging, no ducking. Missingham pays good and right respect to the demands on professional women who are struggling “to make tougher decisions to balance professional success with personal fulfillment.”

I’m certainly not being critical here, as a single mother I’ve been forced to make these decisions myself and I understand these pressures all too well.

She also visits “the language often used to describe women in senior positions.”

Publishing is not exempt from people using derogatory terms like ball-breaker, ice-maiden and – let’s be honest – much worse.

But, again, she’s unwilling to take the simple line on this:

I can’t say that men are entirely to blame for this use of language as woman often perpetuate this. In a baffling lack of solidarity women are often each other’s toughest critics professionally.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsRegular readers of my work should note, by the way, that the issue Missingham is wrestling to the ground here is not the gender balance question I’ve raised at time in terms of writing-conference attendance. Here, we’re focused on digital-publishing conferences. And I think that to some degree, the prominence of men in tech can be expected to factor into some percentage of the effect she’s seeing.

But what raises Missingham’s piece here above many others of its kind is her refusal to settle for easy explanations of traditional perceptions.

In this instance I think the onus is on women themselves to make the change. Unlike a lot of industries, publishing is not actually one big boy’s club. Men are not holding women back. If visibility is the issue, and there is no obvious reason (family and childcare notwithstanding) for this lack of drive to push oneself forward, then it does seem to be entirely in the hands of the women of digital publishing – women are in a position to improve their standing and create their own platform as thought and industry leaders.

This takes guts.

And, not surprisingly, some robust comments follow Missingham’s piece, be sure to have a look.

  • I like, especially, author Nick Harkaway’s comment on the tone of his school training: “an above average grip on the skill of flannel. It’s an accepted part of the classroom to try to bluff, to play with ideas out loud.” He sees “flannel skills” missing from girls’ training.
  • Richard Nash jumps in with the point I was making, only better than I managed: “In the world of tech, the average conference will see gender ratios in panels more like 10:1 or even 15:1 (male-female). You add the 1:1 in publishing, and the 4:1/5:1 ratios you see in the future of publishing (which are effectively tech plus publishing conferences) look ‘normal.’  Of course it shouldn’t be normal.”
  • And a “Kassia”I think we know picks up on Missingham’s lead: “Women often expect to be noticed for their efforts while men will speak up about their successes (and failures, to some extent).  To me, this means women need to take the initiative when it comes to public speaking or pimping products.”

An important post and conversation. I hope you’ll make some time to go over it and engage.

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Jonah Lehrer: Tales Told Twice (or more)

Almost anything might have seemed a welcome distraction from Isaac Chotiner’s damning The New Republic review of Jonah Lehrer’s new book Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Jonah Lehrer

Choitiner had written of the new book’s opening, for example:

The reason for dwelling at length on Lehrer’s consideration of Dylan is that almost everything in the chapter—from the minor details to the larger argument—is inaccurate, misleading, or simplistic.

But on Monday, things got worse. Few were talking anymore about that acidic review, once media watchdog Jim Romenesko announced that Lehrer had opened a piece at the New Yorker — Lehrer’s new gig — with three paragraphs he’d used in a Wall Street Journal piece. Hunting season had been declared. Everybody got into their orange vests, and started search-diving.

It turns into a game, The Google Game. Let’s see what else this guy stole, people think. So they plug a few sentences or entire paragraphs into the search box and see what turns up. Anybody can do it.

And everybody did do it, or so it seemed, as Craig Silverman at the Poynter puts it in Jonah Lehrer is the latest target of Google Game, crowdsourced investigation.

 

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsSoon citations were piling up. Lehrer-lifting-Lehrer. There was even a claim of him having picked up some lines from fellow New Yorker fun-thinker Malcolm Gladwell, don’t blink. There seemed to be little online stomach, though, for the idea that Lehrer might have “borrowed” from a brother in pop science. Instead, it was the “self-plaigiarism” charge that got everybody into an uproar.

paidContent’s Laura Hazard Owen — and to some degree Slate’s Josh Levin — saw a real challenge in Lehrer’s work, which could help explain the 13 or so total lapses discovered. As Brian O’Leary interpreted the Owen-Levin concept:

Sustaining new, big and counterintuitive ideas can lead a writer to repeat past material. Asking someone to write about what they have already written about invites repetition.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsOwen’s piece was headlined Jonah Lehrer, self-borrowing and the problem with “big ideas.” But it might have carried the same title as the one that initially got Lehrer into trouble, the June 12 New Yorker essay: Why Smart People Are Stupid.

Kelly McBride at the Poynter — which, by my count, has gotten off six articles in two days on this — says the “big idea” defense Owen floats won’t wash.

Like a boyfriend who recycles the same seemingly spontaneous romantic moments on a succession of dates, Lehrer has already taken some other audience to this same place, for that same experience.

The Poynter’s people are even questioning whether “self-plagiarism” is the right term, since by definition, plagiarism is supposed to be the stealing of someone else’s material and presentation of it as one’s own.

 

But as Jennifer Schuessler reported at the Times late Wednesday in Lehrer Apologizes for Recycling Work, While New Yorker Says It Won’t Happen Again. She quoted Lehrer saying, “It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong.”

It’s a hell of a hole he has to dig out of now. Hamilton Nolan at Gawker’s latest word on the matter is headlined Jonah Lehrer Just Does Not Know How To Do Journalism:

Send him down to the minors. A few years rewriting scientific press releases for LiveScience.com could probably do him a world of good.

 

And, hey, still, if things blow over and nobody dwells too much on this bad spate of re-used material, there always are the rips of Chotiner’s review to fall back on:

Nothing is more soothing than quick answers to life’s mysteries. “For the first time in human history,” Lehrer notes near the end of the book, “it’s possible to learn how the imagination actually works.” Really?…(Jonah Lehrer’s) book is a failure of the imagination.

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Business: Quick notes

Harper Trims and Reorganizes Sales Department with “Flatter Management”
I don’t like layoffs. And I appreciate how Michael Cader at Publishers Lunch went right to those things in HarperCollins’ announcement of its  “significant changes in our sales organization to help our company compete and thrive.”  No burying of the casualties. In his first graf, Cader writes:

As a result, Ken Berger, Mike Brennan, Mark Hillesheim, Kathy Smith and Jeanette Zwart, hailed as “respected and beloved colleagues,” will leave the company on July 20.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsThere are three additional employment changes that a cynical observe might be forgiven for calling retirements of convenience.

I fear we could see a lot more of this in the big houses, in our digital future. Cader is right on-track: The news is as much about people losing their jobs, when that happens, as it is about companies currying the favor of their boards of directors.

Seth Godin: Not $40,000 but $216,783 (and counting) on Kickstarter
Sarah Weinman at Publishers Lunch wasn’t caught off-guard when Godin’s “Icarus Deception” Kickstarter bid flew sunward.

One interesting potential takeaway for other authors and publishers is that these early supporters are not driven by the lowest-priced offerings. (Godin’s) recommended “no-brainer” package was fully subscribed with 800 backers at $111 each (and 3 of the 4 higher-priced packages are also filled). That’s about the same number of backers who have now elected for the least expensive $4 digital preview only.

 

Barnes & Noble ereader sales fall
Do you follow Barney Jopson’s reports for the Financial Times? Always good. He got at the numbers from BN this week cleanly, smartly:

Barnes & Noble reported a fall in sales in its digital division as a weaker-than-expected set of quarterly results sent its shares down more than 6 per cent. A 10.5 per cent drop in sales to $164m in its Nook business, which includes devices, ebooks and accessories, in the three months to the end of April pointed to tough competition with Amazon’s Kindle.

See also: B&N earnings: Nook Simple Touch drags revenues down, though digital content sales are up from Laura Hazard Owen.

 

Libraries Cut E-Book Deal With Penguin
Jennifer Maloney at the Wall Street Journal reports:

Penguin Group and electronic-book distributor 3M have made a deal with two New York City public library systems that will return Penguin e-books to library shelves for a one-year pilot.

Maloney points out that the pilot program — at New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library — “will delay the release of ebooks to the libraries for six months after the titles on on sale in stores and online.” This windowing, according to Penguin’s Tim McCall, is “intended to prevent library ebooks from undercutting other sales.”

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Agents in Transition/Curtis Brown: Who better?

Curtis Brown Creative are delighted to announce two writing courses for the Autumn.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsIt’s the Curtis Brown in London, not in the States, we’re talking about here.

In October we will be launching our first intensive 6-week children’s writing course, Writing for Children, to be taught by Curtis Brown children’s book agent Stephanie Thwaites and Tony Bradman, acclaimed author and Guardian Children’s Fiction prize judge.

And:

Our hugely popular and successful 3-month Novel Writing Course for debut writers returns in September, taught by Curtis Brown literary agent and novelist Anna Davis and experienced author Christopher Wakling.

What, in our house? That’s from the Unmentionable Scottish Play, Lady M, I’ve had her pegged for a literary agent for years.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

CurtisBrownCreative.co.uk/courses

Yes, this Hall o’ Gatekeepers actually admits authors.

Those mean, seething agents are teaching 15 writers per course, in workshops and one-on-one sessions.

With enviable guests:

Previous guests to this course have included authors Jeffrey Archer, Jojo Moyes, D J Taylor, Harriet Evans, Jane Harris and Nigel Williams; publishers Dan Mallory and Emma Beswetherick (Little Brown), Helen Garnons-Williams (Bloomsbury)and Francesca Main (Picador) as well as the Curtis Brown book agents.

Now, wait just a damned minute. Writers are supposed to hate literary agencies these days because they do nothing to help authors who’d like to be successful, let alone represented, right? Men who say No! And women, too. Door-slammers, manuscript-shredders, dream-flushers, right?

Not right?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsYou mean we need to get those YA-romance-hack snipers back down off the roof?

Launched in 2011, we are the only UK creative writing school offering substantial tutoring from professional literary agents. Curtis Brown Creative aims to provide expert teaching to aspiring writers and to foster new talent in a tough publishing environment.

Aha! ‘Tis still rare, you see, even in the Sceptered Isles.

And in the Colonies? Can someone enlighten me?

ATTENTION ALL LITERARY AGENCIES
(Ginger Clark, look up from that smartphone.)
Who else is teaching authors, holding classes, giving courses, training the talent?
Stand and be recognized.
Chuck Sambuchino, can you tell us this?– which agents in the States are teaching courses?

Why do I want to know?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

CurtisBrownCreative.co.uk/courses/

Because this is a sign of a different relationship, a better, healthier, smarter agent-author relationship. When you help make authors better?–you have better authors to rep. And authors, you get to talk to these nightmares without pitching something. Chunk no MS in their direction, instead study with them. Listen. Find out what they know. Let them get to know you, your gifts, your not-quite-yet-flushed dreams.

OK, Ethernauts in the UK, here’s the info on the CB courses. They want £1600 for novel-writing (26 September to 13 December), and £900 for the writing-for-kids course (23 October to 27 November).

American agents. Don’t let us down here. You don’t want us all to have to move to London, do you? #cmonson, think about this.

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The other ‘Agency’: Don Linn’s O’Reilly Webcast

Gather around the computing machine on June 28 at 1pET, when Firebrand president Don Linn leads a free O’Reilly Media webcast, Agency vs. Wholesale Model: Which One Is Best?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Don Linn

Contrary to my original understanding, this is a discussion moderated by O’Reilly’s able Joe Wikert with Linn, not a debate between the two.

With the Department of Justice’s public comment period on its lawsuits of publishers closing, the timing is right to grapple with the details of the agency model, what it means, and how it has performed.

Points to be covered, per O’Reilly’s material, include:

  • Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

    Joe Wikert

    The terms generally associated with both models

  • Why some publishers have opted for the agency model with ebooks
  • The financial impact of choosing one model vs. the other
  • How the recent DoJ ruling affects the agency model

 

 

And if you can’t listen in on the 28th, I think we can trust the good folks at O’Reilly to post a recording of the session for you to review. These webcasts are always a service, this one looks to be especially useful.

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More ‘Agency’/Litte/Greenfield: Our DoJ Summer

The retail price maintenance (“RPM”) instituted by five of the big 6 publishers is commonly known as Agency Pricing. It is a pricing model wherein the producer of a widget, like the publisher of a book, gets to control the price.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Jane Litte

If you want to get the jump on Don Linn’s webcast on the 28th (see the item above)on issues around “agency pricing” and the DoJ actions, Jane Litte’s explication of the points involved is a great place to start.

She headlines it Agency pricing and MFNs are like peas and carrots or why the DOJ settlement won’t disallow discounting. “Agency” is the term, by the way, because a retailer acts as a publisher’s “agent” in charging the publisher’s required price for a book or, in this case, an ebook.

Litte bases her writeup here on the fact that many industry players who have written to the DoJ in defense of agency pricing have addressed the associated “MFN” or Most Favored Nations element. Here’s a long-ish paragraph, but it gets the concept across fully:

A MFN is a clause that requires a book to be sold at the same price no matter the retailer. Under the wholesale model, retailers would be guaranteed that they received the best wholesale price. Retailers could still compete against each other on price. Under Agency, however, the publisher sets the price. If the publisher makes a deal with Barnes & Noble to sell at a price, then every retailer with an MFN in their contract gets to lower (to match) the price as well, even if the publisher hasn’t adjusted the price with the other retailers. In other words, the MFN is the trump card in the pricing scheme that works to set the price as the same at every retailer. It eliminates pricing as a form of competition between retailers.

From there, Litte goes on to lay out her concept of “why I believe the DoJ would not enter into a settlement that would eliminate discounting.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Jeremy Greenfield

And note the interview Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World has done with Jay Levine, a partner in the Washington office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (based in Birmingham).

In Antitrust Lawyer: Judge Cote Likely to Approve E-Book Settlement, Greenfield points out that the settlement hanging in the balance at this point would prohibit MFN clauses from publishers’ contracts for five years.

James Cooper, at George Mason University School of Law, tells Greenfield:

“There’s a lot of detail in the proposed settlement that greatly restrains if not completely eviscerates the ability of these publishers to control retailer pricing.”

For his part, Levine says he sees little out of the ordinary in the settlement, though the publishing community experiences this as an extraordinary situation:

“The publishing industry finds the settlement troublesome, but from an antitrust standpoint the settlement is pretty much par for the course considering the allegations.”

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Craft/Muir: WordPress Zen

There’s almost no avoiding distraction. The trick is to distract yourself with what you are already doing. Zen mode lets your writing put your attention in a headlock.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Caitlin Muir

In How To Find Zen Mode in WordPress, Caitlin Muir reminds you that you can get into what she terms “zen mode” in WordPress, a view of your blog page without the framing of your dashboard. It’s full-screen mode on your icons or Alt+Shift+G on your keyboard.

Set a timer, put away your smartphone, and get writing! Some of the top bloggers use zen mode to make sure that their words are getting the attention they need.

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Craft/Rusch: Hurry Up vs. Wait

Almost every day, some writer writes to me and asks if they should go traditional or indie on some new project…Here’s what you’re choosing between:  Hurry up and wait, or  Wait and hurry up.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In The Business Rusch: Hurry Up. Wait., Kristine Kathryn Rusch looks at the dynamics of self-publishing and traditional publishing, in terms of where the outlay of time falls.

Hurry Up And Wait  could be another name for indie publishing…You have the finished manuscript edited, copy edited, and proofed. You design a cover, follow all the instructions to distribute your book electronically and in print-on-demand formats. Then you sit back and wait for the cash to roll in. And wait. And wait.

And:

Wait And Hurry Up  could be another name for traditional publishing…The book editors take months, sometimes years, to respond. If you stick an agent in the middle of that, an agent will take months, sometimes years to respond, and then if you’re lucky, the agent will send the book to editors who will take months, sometimes years to respond.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsAs do most of us, Rusch has strong feelings about self-publishing and traditional modes. Her bias, I think it’s fair to say — I hope so, and correct me if I’m incorrect, Kristine — is generally not in favor of traditional publishers’ procedures and attitudes. The basic energies and pacing of the two approaches, however, are interesting to compare, as she does here, in terms of where the “hurry up” and where the “wait” may come in getting out a book.

I think it’s worth pointing out that under the pressure of the rising self-publishing industry, some traditional publishers understand now that speeding up their normal route to launch is important. We’re in the very early stages, however, of most such change in this direction in established houses, which are grappling with the top-to-bottom impact of digital.

 

I’d be wary of anyone who points to a specific publisher and says, “That house has doubled its speed to market.” While the pacing of the process — including the agent community as well as publishers, themselves — ostensibly is picking up, instances are anecdotal and actual progress may be apocryphal.

Bottom line, yes, timing may figure into your choice of publication route, and Rusch’s post offers some good points to consider. As she notes:

Neither decision is right or wrong. It’s only right for you.

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Craft/Lawton: An Agent’s Client Loads

One of the questions we are most often asked at conferences is how many clients we represent. Most agents skirt this question because it is difficult to put into context in a short question-and-answer period.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Wendy Lawton

Agent Wendy Lawton goes right to the numbers in this post, How Many Clients Does an Agent Represent? 

At this moment, I represent fifty-eight clients. I am seriously considering five more. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

As Lawton begins to parse the status of her authors, it becomes clearer how she might be able to effectively handle the load. In fact, “uber-clients,” as she calls them — marquee clients, big-name authors — are harder to handle, not easier. As much as an agent might enjoy them, “the bigger the career, the more time it takes” off the table for others.

And standing clients — hers will be glad to know — are the priority, Lawton adds.

The area that gets the short shrift is in handling queries and not-yet-client inquiries. We always care for our clients first and do client acquisition in the time left over.

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Craft/Talty: Test-driving Kobo’s new ‘Writing Life’

I got the email on Friday after BEA giving me access to the beta test of the new Kobo Portal. I had a book from an author to load, so I immediately said why not try it this way.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Jen Talty

Think of Jen Talty at Cool Gus Publishing as your advance guard on Kobo’s new self-publishing platform, Writing Life. While she reports it taking only “about an hour” to load a book with the system, Talty has a couple of points she’d like to see addressed.

There are a few things I’d like to see changed in the portal. There needs to be more category choices. For example, when loading one of my books the option for “Romantic Suspense” is not an option. There are actually only four options under Romance. This needs to be changed.

On the other hand, she writes, categorization goes better:

They do, however, let you choose 3 categories. I believe that is a good number. 3-5 is perfect. But just as a small piece of advice, if you book only fits in 3 categories on B&N where you get 5, don’t just go pick 2 more because you can. That will upset readers. And Readers Rule.

 

All in all, Talty is pleased, having met with the Kobo team at BEA, then settled down in the office to give the very new Writing Life a spin.

Writing Life is a work in progress, but I really do believe that once more authors are on there we will all see a spike in sales.

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Responsibility/Ford: Measure It in Heartbeats

If we are going to ask people, in the form of our products, in the form of the things we make, to spend their heartbeats—if we are going to ask them to spend their heartbeats on us, on our ideas, how can we be sure, far more sure than we are now, that they spend those heartbeats wisely?

Paul Ford’s address to the graduating class of the Interaction Design MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City is a think piece on what our digital construct means to how we understand time, and how we use it. It’s titled 10 Timeframes.

If this speech was as long as the universe is old the earth would just be forming right now.

Rather than getting things to a gee-whiz moment and sending everybody out laughing, Ford takes a decidedly non-digital swerve near the end and starts talking about how:

The only unit of time that matters is heartbeats. Even if the world were totally silent, even in a dark room covered in five layers of foam, you’d be able to count your own heartbeats…If this speech were a century long Clinton would have just been elected president.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsSort of like when you’re at your desk writing.

We’re constantly switching accelerations; we’re jumping between time frames. That’s what we’re asking people to do every time we make something new, some new tool or product. We’re asking them to reset their understanding of time.

What kind of work are you writing? Or publishing? Editing? Or proofing? Agenting? Or publicizing? Is it worth your time? Is it worth readers’ time? What are you doing with the time of your life when it comes to reading? How many heartbeats are you putting into it? Is that the best you can do?

I want you to ask yourself when you make things, when you prototype interactions, am I thinking about my own clock, or the user’s?

And isn’t it running out? Time?

What is the new calendar? What are the new seasons? The new weeks and months and decades? As a class of individuals, we make the schedule.

We make it.

What can we do to help others understand it?

 

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Conferences: An updating list

With F+W Media, Tools of Change, and Publishers Launch developing new conference programming, the outlook for major confabs is enriched this year. National and international events are being scheduled at a more nearly year-’round pace.

I’ll be adding to the Ether’s listing as we go along.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls Happening now (June 21-22) Milan: Editech in cooperation with Tools of Change – “Book publishing today is a market where digital and traditional coexist, where borders and frontiers blur and at the same time defy each other. It is a world where the roles of readers, publishers, authors, distributors refuse to be rigidly defined.”


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls July 26 NYC: Publishers Launch: Book Publishing in the Cloud – “A new summer conference about the benefits and opportunities afforded to publishers by cloud-based services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.” (Includes a signature “program book” of articles and data.)
Register now for $200 off full price.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls September 24-25 NYC: DBW Discoverability and Marketing 2012 (hashtag #DBWDM) – “Publishers and content developers: To successfully market a new novel, author, brand or app, you need to put your message where your readers live, work, and play: online.”
Use code PORTER to save on registration — early-bird rates extended to July 20.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 8 Frankfurt: Publishers Launch Frankfurt – details to come.
Early-bird registration runs to July 31.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 9 Frankfurt: Tools of Change Frankfurt Conference – “Tools of Change Frankfurt returns for a fourth year on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 — the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair (10-14 October) — gathering the best and brightest in our global publishing and technology community for a full day of intriguing keynotes, sessions, and networking.”
Early-bird registration runs to July 31.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 17-19 Hollywood: StoryWorld Conference + Expo (hashtag #SWC12) – “Learn to build your story into an exciting transmedia storytelling experience—and meet the partners who can make your dream a reality.”
Use code PORTER to save on registration — early bird rates run to July 19.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 19-21 Hollywood: Writer’s Digest Conference West (hashtag #WDCW12) – “For the first time ever, Writer’s Digest Conference brings its real-world publishing knowledge, writing inspiration and networking opportunities to a West Coast audience in 2012. Join us in Hollywood to find out how publishing and tech developments affect writers, how you can make your work and your pitch irresistible, and what you can do to get going, get discovered, and get published. ”
Use code PORTER to save on registration — early-bird rates run to July 19.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 19-21 Hollywood: Screenwriters World Conference (hashtag #Screen12) – “Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned pro, you’ll find an educational track at Screenwriters World that covers what you want to know about writing, marketing and selling your feature, TV or web script.”
Use code PORTER to save on registration — early-bird rates run to July 19.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 20 Vancouver: Mini TOC Vancouver – “At Mini TOC, the presentations are just the jumping off point for discussions that involve everyone in attendance. We mix up the format so there will be some “thinky” idea-oriented sessions where presenters will lead discussions post-preso — and some “do-y” technical Q+As, where attendees can ask the experts on things like digital conversion, layout, and UX. It’s BookCamp, meets unconference, meets TOC.
Registration not open yet.


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls October 22 Hollywood: Publishers Launch Hollywood: Film/TV-to-Book – “Books derived from film and TV properties have always found a vibrant market, and the burgeoning ebook marketplace presents a new and vastly expanded set of opportunities: publishing on a much larger scale, without inventory costs, and publishing without a far larger set of potential partners/service providers, or even publishing directly.”

Projects in development Hell could well be rescucitated by being novelized and launched as a book.

Mike Shatzkin writes about prepping this conference in Hollywood last week: Talking to Hollywood folks about publishing

Early-bird registration is open at the StoryWorld site — see Publishers Launch Hollywood.    


Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls November 7 Charleston: Mini TOC Charleston: The Age of Curation – “O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change and BiblioLabs in cooperation with The Charleston Conference presents Mini TOC Charleston, a one day event of conversation focusing on the thriving publishing, tech, and bookish-arts community.
Registration is now open.
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Books: Reading on the Ether

Here are books mentioned recently in Writing on the Ether.

The inclusion of them here is not necessarily an endorsement, but a chance for you to check out work that’s come into play in the column of late.

I encourage you to read anything and everything that interests you. To paraphrase a recent United States president, you are the endorser.

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Citations/The Writer: Flattery on the Ether

The Writer Magazine’s July edition carries a selection of top Twitter and Facebook “Feeds to Watch” for writers, compiled by Rochelle Melander.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsThe selection of 15 top Twitter feeds for writers includes several familiar to Ethernauts, including:

Congrats to my colleagues on the list. Don’t call us Top Feeders, please, I get these images of birdseed and suet.

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Last Gas: Excruciating eloquence

Few things could appear much worse, to the lurker, glimpser, or guesser, than this scrolling suicide note of Western civilization.

Guess what the editors of n+1 are writing about.

Looks like the human attention span crumbling like a Roman aqueduct.

Here you go:

The endless favoriting and retweeting of other people’s tweets? Sounds like a digital circle jerk.

 

Like something out of Checkhov, Please RT arrives as something only tragedians understand as “comedy.”

Birds were born to make the repetitive, pleasant, meaningless sounds called twittering. Wasn’t the whole thing about us featherless bipeds that we could give connected intelligible sounds a cumulative sense?

I’ve seen few things less funny since the publicist for a rotating repertory company said our staging of “The Cherry Orchard” was about “those zany Ranevskayas in rollicking old Russia.”

A tweet’s a narrow window, but nothing says that one of those can’t disclose — or, by way of URL compressers, link to — a big terrain.

 

This is good material. So good that I wish a name or names were credited here, instead of “the editors.”

In this passage I want you to catch the sad, compassionate twist (“I know for you it’s the same”) that he, she, or they can pull off:

Look at your Twitter feed at the wrong moment or send a dumb tweet yourself, and a bad infinity opens up onto the narcissistical sublime. What tweet is that, flashing, subliminally, behind the others? In exactly 140 characters: “I need to be noticed so badly that I can’t pay attention to you except inasmuch as it calls attention to me. I know for you it’s the same.”

And this: .

In this way, a huge crowd of people — 40 percent more users since last year — devalue one another through mutual self-importance.

 

We’re going to talk about this self-importance business on Saturday at Writer Unboxed. “Join us, won’t you?” as the TV anchors inevitably tweet to their supposed viewers.

But keep an ear to the feed:

When Beckett wrote, in 1930, that it was every bit as illogical to expect tomorrow’s self to be gratified by today’s experience as it was to expect your hunger to vanish at the sight of your uncle eating a sandwich, he could take it for granted that nobody expected one person’s sandwich to satisfy someone else.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick Earls

Image: cerebralgirl.com

In the Twitterverse, how many times a day do you come across the Instagramatic mortification of a friend who should know better tweeting out pictures of his or her food? As if this weren’t a world wracked with hunger on one hand while NPR reports that North Americans are the fattest in the world? (Check it out, Study: Fat People Burden Earth’s Resources has Linda Wertheimer talking about some fascinating new research with Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine based on relative weight of populations.)

The supreme ease of putting words online has opened up vast new space for carelessness, confusion, whateverism.

“Supreme ease” never was very good for us. Damned red button. EASY. Gets us into all sorts “whateverism.”

On Saturday, we’ll look at what all this “social” means we are, or appear to be, in relation to our content. And in relation to each others’.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsAs Andrew J. Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur,  makes clear in his book Digital Vertigo, you use “social” as a noun now, you know.

Like an “ice cream social,” remember those? I don’t either. I recall my mother mentioning them.

Fattening.

Forget “media.” Just “the social.”

Today, in an age of radically transparent online communities like Twitter and Facebook, the social has become, in Shirky’s words, the “default” setting on the Internet, transforming digital technology from being a tool of second life into an increasingly central part of real life.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Will Entrekin, Exciting Press, Nick EarlsThat’s Keen referencing Clay Shirky of Here Comes Everybody.

And those unnamed editors at n+1 — it’s a “collective project,” Carla Blumenkranz there tells me — have nailed what Keen and Shirky know, what we all need to know:

The tweet is a literary form of Oulipian arbitrariness, and the straitjacket of the form has determined the schizophrenia of the content.

And if, in the snark-laden exhibitionism of the tweeting we can sometimes spawn an essay as strong as this one from n+1, all isn’t quite lost. Yet. Not quite.

They write, that Twitter has:

…brought about a surprising revival of the epigrammatic impulse in a literary culture that otherwise values the merely personal and the super-colloquial as badges of authenticity. “Write as short as you can/ In order/ Of what matters,” John Berryman counseled in a pre-tweet of 44 characters. Favorite that, followers.

Click to comment

 

Main image: Agios Pavlos, Crete | Porter Anderson


Perfect Skin by Nick EarlsPerfect Skin: A Novel by Nick Earls

A finalist in the 2003 Australian Comedy Awards and adapted into a feature film in Italy (Solo un Padre, Warner Brothers/Cattleya)

“Readers should enjoy this amiable, well-crafted and genuinely romantic book.”
—Publishers Weekly

Find out more on Amazon and download a sample to your Kindle.


Posted in Writing on the Ether.

Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

View posts by Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He's The Bookseller's (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He's a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he's a regular contributor of "Provocations in Publishing" with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various players in publishing, such as Library Journal's SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair's Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.

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Mike Cane

Criticizing Twitter? I thought we’d moved past that. It also shows no sense of history. Twitter first existed waaaay back in the early 1980s on the CompuServe Information Service. It was then called the CB Simulator (go to Wikipedia). If you think Twitter is vapid, CB Simulator would have given you a stroke. Imagine a world without links, without being able to point people to something *even inside CIS*, and what you have are a bunch of people just chatting away about mostly nothing — and at a *per-hour connect-time rate* too. But guess what? It was THE moneymaker for… Read more »

Porter Anderson

No criticism of Twitter is here, Mike. Nada. None. Ne rien. You’re reading what you want to read, picking a fight where you think you can. The last item of the Ether to which you refer ( http://ow.ly/bKZHI ) is about a well-written criticism of how we use it. What we are on it. What we make of ourselves on it, tweet after tweet after tweet published with “carelessness, confusion, whateverism.” This is beautifully written stuff from the n+1 team. I chose to hold up that good work. Good criticism. I know it when I see it, because that’s my… Read more »

Friend Grief

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not read all the hysteria surrounding Jonah Lehrer. But I find the discussion of the term “self-plagiarism” interesting. Time and again, I’ve been taught – yes, taught, not just advised over drinks – to “re-purpose” my writing: rework the same material for different situations. When I do, I always refer to the original publication: my blog, or a freelance article (the rights have reverted to me for all of them). So now this is bad? Is it different than tweaking the 2011 Prius and selling it as the 2012 version? Unless Lehrer… Read more »

Porter Anderson

So glad the move to London is on you, Viki, let me know when you and Seth get that Kickstarter up. 😉 OK, here’s my Lehrer Quote for the Day, just offered to Kathy and Anne above: From Felix Salmon’s write for Reuters http://ow.ly/bKW5O: “As the editors of the American Chemical Society write, ‘self-plagiarising is fraud, because it is “an intentional attempt to deceive a reader by implying that new information is being presented.”‘” Lehrer is in a very, very exposed spot. He’s worked his way up (admirably, we hope) to stand next to Gladwell, the big guy of this… Read more »

Anne R. Allen
Anne R. Allen

A tablet you can write on. The best thing since the lined legal pad! I’ve got to say I’d love to have one of those Surfaces…

I’m in agreement with Friend Grief here. We’re always being told to re-purpose our writing by the “experts.” I do not see what Lehrer has done wrong. Of course the brouhaha has got his name in front of a lot of readers. Maybe this is all some publicists promo plan for his book?

Porter Anderson

Well, Anne (thanks so much for reading and writing, as ever, I’m walking around today with this quote about the Lehrer story to explain: From Felix Salmon’s write for Reuters http://ow.ly/bKW5O: “As the editors of the American Chemical Society write, ‘self-plagiarising is fraud, because it is “an intentional attempt to deceive a reader by implying that new information is being presented.'” What Felix is using that quote to help us all remember is that the “big idea guys” like Lehrer and Gladwell sell themselves to us as just that — new, always thinking, thinking, thinking, and kicking over with some… Read more »

KathyPooler
KathyPooler

Porter, I’m halfway through reading (and enjoying) Imagine so all the hoopla over Jon Lehrer’s”self-plagiarism” stopped me in my tracks. I’m with @Viki_Noe regarding repurposing our work so fail to understand the degree of uproar over him reusing his own work. His celebrity status and high visibility probably factor into this uproar. But, it certainly has me wondering what this all means to people like myself who are working hard to do it right. Agents teaching writing classes sounds great. I’ve had the privilege of being in workshops with a former agent-turned-memoir coach who offered some very valuable agent-perspectives to… Read more »

Porter Anderson

Hey, Kathy! Took me a while — so much material on Jonah Lehrer — but I found this quote I wanted to offer you from Felix Salmon’s write for Reuters http://ow.ly/bKW5O: “As the editors of the American Chemical Society write, ‘self-plagiarising is fraud, because it is “an intentional attempt to deceive a reader by implying that new information is being presented.'” This is the core problem in the matter of using your own work in various places as a professional journalist. And it’s particularly difficult in Lehrer’s case because, as our friend Laura Hazard Owen has pointed out, he’s an… Read more »

Susan
Susan

As long-time owner of Apple products, I was pleasantly surprised at the design of the Surface. It’s the first non-Apple tablet I’ve seen that appears to be genuinely concerned about users, and what they might do – as well as aesthetics. Apple is more consumption-focused, MS is more productivity-focused. I think there’s room in the market for both. The big question is, if Apple continues to lock up media consumers, and MS makes inroads on the power users, what’s left for Android? My prediction is not a lot.

Porter Anderson

A very sharp insight, Susan. I agree that Android is starting to look like the endangered species here. And yes, I have to say, the concept and look of the Surface are very exciting. I’m much more productivity oriented than entertainment, myself, which is why I think this approach will suit me far better than the iPad has done. And I think a lot of writers, in particular, are going to be attracted to a really premium tablet they can write on. Thanks for reading the Ether and commenting, great to have you!

Darrelyn Saloom

I love my MacBook Air but have never been able to wean my hubby off Microsoft laptops. If the price is right, I’ll buy him a Surface for Christmas. Thanks, Porter.

Porter Anderson

Hey, Darrelyn, thanks again for the great Ethereal tweets today AND for commenting — since I, like your hubby, have stayed in the land of Redmond, I’m very up for the Surface, I must say — the Pro version. I’m a productivity person, not an entertainment one, so I like the whole idea. Hope the execution lives up to the promise.
Thanks again!
-p.

Dave Malone

Per usual, a rich installment, sir. And dare I say, a novel-writing course with an agency, also a rich installment. Like you, I applaud this diligence toward more connection between agent and author. However, that fee is about the equivalent of $2500 dollars, correct? Wowee. I checked the Curtis Brown site to see if they offered scholarships of any kind, and I don’t believe they do. Are other agencies doing this? If so, I think the model needs to include ways to give instruction to writers who cannot afford the exorbitant tuition.

Porter Anderson

Couldn’t agree more, Dave, the fee is very high. Granted, it’s a three-month course and you’re in a small group with one-on-one attention from an active, working agent. And if I understand this correctly, it’s not just “tips from the agents” as you might expect at a conference, but genuine back-and-forth working on your project. So I do think the quality of the offering is very high. But yes, so is the price. And the Brits feeling the pressure as so many in Europe are right now, I can’t think that 1600 pounds sterling is that easy for a lot… Read more »

Dave Malone

Well said, my friend. A three-month intensive with genuine and timely feedback, that is worth a lot. I once did a three-day workshop with Arthur Kopit (for a fee). And in that situation, the money seemed reasonable. All in context, right? So let’s see what happens stateside. 🙂

Porter Anderson

Well, I don’t deny it’s a steep price, mind you. I’m just saying that’s a lot of exposure and depth, if handled correctly. Hope something of this kind develops in the States. I think it can help agents move toward less silo-ed models of working with authors who are now collating their own resources.

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[…] JONAH LEHRER DISCLAIMER*: I have used this point before. I referenced both Mssrs. Keen and Shirky in Thursday’s Writing on the Ether, section 16, “Last Gas: Excruciating Eloquence.” […]

Stephanie Queen

For an outspoken woman’s voice on change in the publishing industry, read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog “THE BUSINESS RUSCH”. She’s good and well followed. http://kriswrites.com/2012/06/20/the-business-rusch-lines-in-the-sand/

Porter Anderson

She’s in this edition of the Ether, Stephanie.
https://janefriedman.com/2012/06/21/writing-on-the-ether-43-2/#9

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[…] Writing on the Ether: Clear Surface by Porter Anderson (June 21) […]

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[…] I particularly appreciate Shatzkin — who writes about complicated topics in publishing all the time — pointing out how hard it is to write about the DoJ case (and how) because it involves not only publishing but antitrust law. He’s right. And many have written to the legal side of the story well. In the last Ether, for example, we heard from Jane Litte in her explication of the DoJ settlement. […]

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[…] there seem to be glimmers of hope in a couple of limited pilot programs, the major publishing houses are still holding out from allowing their front list ebooks to be […]

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