WRITING ON THE ETHER: It’s War

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook


Handmade Memories by Guy LeCharles GonzalezHandmade Memories: Poems & Essays, 1997–2011
by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

Features selected work from 1998 National Poetry Slam Champion (Nuyorican Poets Café) Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, co-author of Burning Down the House (Soft Skull, 2000) and founder of a little bit louder (aka louderARTS).

“This is a beautiful and intimate collection of poems and essays. My favorites were Sunday Mornings in the Kitchen with Gan’ganny, Behind the Music, and the incredibly powerful (and written for his wife) Daughter of the Revolution. The poems have such power and rhythm that I could hear them being read out loud … If you’re looking for something new and fresh, here it is.” —Kalen Landow [read the full review]

Find out more at loudpoet.com.


Table of Contents

  1. It’s War: Post-DoJ Maneuvers / Bosman, Owen, Jones, Shatzkin, Weinman, Cader
  2. Serialization: Sequel to a Conversation / Anderson
  3. eReading: Three to Get Ready / Wikert, Arico
  4. Un-Locke That Name: Your Opinion, Please / Locke
  5. Sock Puppetry: Socking It To Them / Konrath, et al
  6. Libraries: It Costs Them How Much? / Brantley
  7. Submissions: Harper Voyager’s Open Transom / HC, Boog
  8. Craft: Literary – Selling It, Writing It / Penn, Long, Day, Jacobson
  9. Books: Now Ending – Men / Brooks
  10. Books and Conference Notes: Reading on the Ether
  11. Last Gas: Criticism vs. Reviewing / Mandel

 

It’s War: Post-DoJ Maneuvers / Bosman, Owen, Jones, Shatzkin, Weinman, Cader

  • Get your helmet on, watch for low-flying prices.
  • Look out for Big Sixers racing past you down the slippery discount slope.
  • And take it from the ranking general here at Ether HQ: You’re going to want Campari in that little BEA souvenir canteen.

Not for nothing had they all been saying this could mean war.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Julie Bosman

Julie Bosman of the Times arrayed her lead in full battle terms for her write, Judge Approves E-Book Pricing Settlement Between Government and Publishers:

In a decision that could start an e-book price war in the publishing industry, a federal judge on Thursday approved a settlement between the Justice Department and three major publishers in a civil antitrust case that accused the companies of collusion in the pricing of digital books.

You remember the hundreds of letters during the comment period, right? — the ones that said to Judge Denise Cote, “Don’t you dare approve this settlement?” Well, of course you do.

And here’s the Bosmanian dispatch from the front again:

The long-expected approval soundly rejected criticisms of the deal that had accumulated throughout the summer from hundreds of parties, including Barnes & Noble, the Authors Guild and the American Booksellers Association.

Laura Hazard Owen

And among the first into the flak jackets: Laura Hazard Owen (hey, her middle name is…) of paidContent, who noticed That was fast: Amazon is already discounting HarperCollins ebooks.

Just four days after a federal judge approved the Department of Justice’s settlement with HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster for allegedly colluding with Apple to fix ebook prices, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and other ebook retailers have already begun discounting HarperCollins ebooks.

“Fast” because many of us had interpreted the settlement’s provision of a 30-day period for renegotiated contracts to frame a month as a likelier wait before we’d see new algorithmic deployments.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook But, no. And before you start chanting the clarion call of the industry! the industry! — “Amazon did it!” — note that Owen has confirmed it isn’t only Seattle doing the discounting:

Discounted prices on HarperCollins titles are now appearing at other retailers, like Barnes & Noble and Kobo, as well.

In fact, Owen reports — in Apple is already fighting Amazon in the ebook price wars — she has tracked instances in which Apple takes the lead, undercutting Amazon — and Amazon’s mighty computers, of course, then drop their prices to match Apple.

For instance, James Rollin’s Bloodlines and J.A. Jance’s Judgment Call were each $10.94 in the Kindle Store…and $9.99 in iTunes. Just a few hours later, both books are down to $9.99 at Amazon as well.

As the Ether rolls out, the other two settling publisher-defendants’ titles aren’t yet in pricing play, but HarperCollins‘ titles certainly are.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Philip Jones

And among the first to notice a rise in HarperCollins’ own ebook prices is Philip Jones of TheBookseller and TheFutureBook in London.

Jones’ handy newsletter fell into everybody’s inbox, clattering with The lowdown on price:

One perhaps unintended consequence of the judge’s ruling is that e-book list prices have risen, so as to allow individual retailers to discount and deliver to the consumer e-books at the prices they were paying before the agency agreements were lifted.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Mike Shatzkin

Mike Shatzkin has predicted, in an extensive and widely commended analytical essay, Hats Off to Amazon, that the settlement’s agreements were, in fact:

Actually designed to unleash broad and deep discounting in the ebook marketplace and I think we’ll see evidence very soon that it will succeed in that objective beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. (I have repeatedly expressed my concerns about what I think are inevitable consequences of that achievement.)

If anything, Shatzkin’s write opens with a D-Day tone familiar to viewers of the History Channel:

When the story of how Amazon came to dominate the consumer book business is written ten years from now, there will need to be a chapter entitled “September 6, 2012″.

Don’t let the drone of planes overhead throw you, though. Shatzkin’s write is one of the most meticulous you’ll find in describing Amazonian dominance, and well worth a read. In it, he looks at such factors as these — and I’m abbreviating his discussion of them to a list here:

1. Leveraging their ownership of Audible, the dominant player in downloadable audiobooks, Amazon has introduced a Whispersync feature that enables seamless switching between reading an ebook and listening to the audiobook version.

1A. In addition to the use of Whispersync to allow seamless toggling between reading and listening, Kindle introduced a feature called “Immersion Reading” that allows you to read and listen at the same time.

2. Leveraging their ownership of IMDb (the movie and TV database), Amazon is enhancing the experience of watching video by making information about the film and its personnel available at a click.

3. Leveraging their publishing capabilities and their role as the only retailer with an audience large enough to deliver a critical mass of readers all by itself, they are introducing serialization by subscription with Kindle Serials.

4. Amazon is subsidizing all their devices with ads served as screen savers…Although the initial reaction to this apparently forced a change, and they’re now offering the Kindle Fire without ads for $15 more, this still opens up a series of other thoughts and questions.

5. Amazon’s X-Ray feature, which basically collects core metadata (characters, scenes) from books and movies, is a building block to ultimately deliver summaries and outlines that could be an exciting additional unique capability of the platform.

6. Amazon has built a parental control capability into their Kindle ecosystem called FreeTime so that kids can use the device and even obtain content but only in approved ways.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Sarah Weinman

Meanwhile, it’s Sarah Weinman at Publishers Lunch who has taken the trouble to register the fact that Judge Cote didn’t simply bear-swipe all objection to the settlement off the table.

Weinman writes, in Judge Cote Approves eBook Settlement, Deems Case “Straightforward Price Fixing”:

The judge took respectful note of the many objections filed during the comment period. “Clearly, this is no ordinary Tunney Act proceeding…. Given the sheer volume of comments opposing entry of the proposed Final Judgment and the significant harm that these comments fear may result, hesitation is clearly appropriate in this case.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Judge Denise Cote / Photo: University of Cincinnati College of Law

And here, Weinman gives us a bit more insight into the thinking of Judge Cote — who in 1991 became the first woman Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Southern District of New York).

You see Cote here, in Weinman’s write, demonstrating that she did indeed get the message from the many who didn’t want to see this settlement approved:

Among those comments, she (Judge Cote) concluded that “perhaps the most forceful species of criticism leveled at the decree is that it will have manifestly anticompetitive effects. The comments make a variety of arguments along these lines; the gist of their critique, however, is that Amazon was a monopolist engaged in predatory pricing and other anticompetitive practices, defendants’ use of the agency model reduced Amazon’s market share and capacity to engage in these practices, and the consent decree will encourage a return to the anticompetitive status quo.”

Weinman captures one of the most salient takes on the judge’s opinion:

She (Judge Cote) rejects these arguments for a variety of reasons, including the reasoning that “even if Amazon was engaged in predatory pricing, this is no excuse for unlawful price-fixing.”

Here, should you like to read it, is Judge Cote’s opinion.

 

And the rattling sabre of the price wars then passes to Weinman’s colleague at Publishers Lunch, Michael Cader. He writes here in Annals of Agency Lite:

While people wait for the next shoe (or two), here are some additional observations on nouveau Agency.

In the phrases “agency lite” and “new agency,” Cader is referring to the developing state of ebook pricing. Settling publisher by settling publisher, those shoes are to fall, and those contracts with retailers are being rewritten to no longer require the retailers’ adherence to the prices publishers set for ebooks.

 

You’re familiar, no doubt, with that notation frequently seen on Kindle pages, This price was set by the publisher. If not, have a look at the page for The End of Men by Hanna Rosin. This is a book we’re talking about later in the Ether. And it’s published by Penguin. You can see that notation from Amazon on its Kindle page. That’s Amazon telling its customer that agency pricing is in place on this book — Penguin has chosen to fight the Department of Justice’s anti-trust lawsuit and is not one of the three publishers covered in the new settlement.

And as some have noted, that message about a price being set by the publisher is disappearing from listings for HarperCollins books.

 

Cader takes on a series of questions about the changing terrain, including What About Authors’ Income? He answers, emphasis mine:

If the Harper-style Agency Lite model prevails, authors can expect to earn more from their ebook sales. If publisher prices go up, and retailer commission rates stay at the same percentage, the publisher’s “net” goes up and so does the author’s share of net–regardless of the retailers’ selling price. Check your publisher’s site to see what your ebook is listed for; don’t worry what retailers are selling it for.

If your ebooks are discounted, it could drive extra volume, too–but if your ebooks aren’t discounted and the price is higher, it’s possible your sales volume would decline. (You also have to factor whether a discounted frontlist ebook is going to further cannibalize any hardcover sales, which still yield bigger credits to the author.)

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook One final thought for the moment from Cader’s write — on that $9.99 price. Here’s a realistic little look over the edge into the ravine.

Consumer media is making a big deal out of the handful of frontlist ebooks that are now discounted to $9.99. But the publishing landscape has changed a lot in 3 years. If $9.99 is as low as frontlist discounting goes, you’re going to find a lot of relief inside publishing houses. (It could be a lot worse–up to, and including, free.)

Watch your step, soldier.

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Serialization: Sequel to a Conversation / Anderson

I’m one of the writers of the Plympton serials (in Amazon’s new Kindle Serials program), and I started working on it more than a year ago. My original story is done, but when it comes to reader input, that wouldn’t come into play unless there’s demand for follow-up stories.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

E.V. Anderson

This is E.V. Anderson, author of The Many Lives of Lilith Lane.

It’s one of the eight serial novels launched last week by Amazon Publishing. When he mentions Plympton, he’s referring to a publishing house that specializes in developing digital serials.

Three of the eight new Kindle Serials are from Plympton.

I covered the Kindle Serials development and some issues around it in Extra Ether: Serial Iterations, with the help, as usual, of a lot of good comments from readers.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbookWe spent a good deal of time working through issues of reader interaction with the Kindle Serials project.

A #LitChat session led by Carolyn Burns Bass was fraught with the idea of readers influencing authors, for example, and Ethernaut comments from writers indicated that in most settings, they’d resist requests to adjust their work in response to reader feedback.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbookAnderson thoughtfully dropped in to make some extensive comments, himself, which is great. What he has to say as one of the initial “gang of eight” authors with the Kindle Serials program is helpful.

To be clear: The Many Lives of Lilith Lane is not a crowd-sourced book. It’s a novel in five parts, with each installment having its own feel while adding up to a cohesive whole (I hope!). I wrote each chapter as its own entity, but kept the “big picture” in mind. I started working on it in August 2011 and finished in January 2012.

Anderson credits Plympton co-founder Yael Goldstein Love with being an “amazing editor.” She is, he says, the only input, story-wise, other than himself.

Answering my question about whether he has other serials in the works, Anderson says:

I’m a freelance writer, so I’m working on several projects, but I do have a sequel to Lilith Lane in the works. We’re all just waiting to see how this whole serialized fiction thing works out. I envision my heroine as a sort of sci-fi Nancy Drew. So her adventures are meant to continue. But, you know, that depends on the audience.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook And Anderson has thoughts, as well he might — sweetly positioned on the newest initiative from Amazon Publishing — about what the digital dynamic means for him and other authors.

To be honest, a few years ago, as bookstores started dropping at an alarming rate, I thought something to the effect of, “Damn, real books are dying, and now I’ll never get published.” I was fearful that books would die before I ever got my chance. But digital has revitalized the industry.

And yet. Anderson traces his fondness for the serial form back to comics he says. And you can tell he means the kind printed on paper. Because while digital is being good to him, he says:

When The Many Lives of Lilith Lane gets its print edition, that’ll be a pretty great day.

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eReading: Three to Get Ready / Wikert, Arico

 

Every ebook purchased today makes it harder for that customer to switch platforms tomorrow.

In case you haven’t noticed, Joe Wikert at O’Reilly Media has been unusually productive lately.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Joe Wikert

He already had called the question in Barnes and Noble, what’s the game plan?

In that post, he looked at Amazon’s launch of its new Kindle models and the approval of the Justice Department settlement with three of the Big Six publishers. And Wikert asks:

So what’s B&N, the #2 player, going to do now? Can they really match Amazon on pricing for very long? I don’t see how. And what’s the “why-to-buy” for a Nook anyway?

The momentum belongs to Seattle, Wikert is saying, and time is running out for Barnes and Noble to respond.

There’s a belief that’s rapidly growing in the consumer space: “Nobody ever regrets buying Amazon/Kindle.” After all, you can get plugged into the $79/year Prime membership program and buy just about anything effortlessly, you get access to all those free ebooks, video, etc. Why wouldn’t someone buy a Kindle device?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook While waiting for an answer, Wikert goes over a Bloomberg Businesseek story by Karl Taro Greenfeld, ESPN: Everywhere Sports Profit Network.

In Taking a page out of ESPN’s playbook, Wikert notes ESPN’s unusual one-for-all approach:

If you’re a subscriber to any one of those channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, etc.) you’re able to watch all of them online via the free WatchESPN app.

His interpretation:

Think about that for a moment. That would be like buying one ebook but getting access to the entire series it’s part of. That’s unheard of in book publishing.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Joe Arico

And, back to the wither-Barnes-and-Noble question, Wikert finds some good thinking going on, same topic at Joe Arico’s Media Mind column. In The Nook and the Future of Barnes & Noble, Arico nails a critical truth about the fast-evolving digital ecosystem:

In the age of the e-reader and tablet, every person who purchases an Amazon Kindle, Nexus tablet or iPad should be viewed as a customer Barnes & Noble will likely never get the chance to serve again. Today, when a person decides which e-reader or tablet they’re going to buy, they’re also committing to the online retailer to supply books and other content.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook And this leads Wikert to the best of his trio of posts, Kindle Remorse: Will consumers ever regret ebook platform lock-in?

What if B&N comes out with a killer tablet that has all sorts of terrific features not found on any other device? And what if you’ve spent the past 5 years building your Kindle ebook library but the B&N device doesn’t support the Kindle app? Unless you’re prepared to abandon your library you probably won’t purchase and enjoy that new B&N tablet.

Backing the right horse is always a crap shoot, if you’ll forgive a mixed metaphor. And Wikert thinks that choices made now will catch up with some consumers later.

What do you think? Consumers may not have buyer’s remorse today but is this platform lock-in something they’ll eventually regret?

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Un-Locke That Name: Your Opinion, Please / Locke

“Sean” and “John” rhyme pretty closely, but for the first consonant.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Sean Locke, not John

And Sean Locke is worried.

I’m a very new author, with exactly zero publishing credits to my name. I’m in the middle of editing my first novel, and I’m also dipping my toes into the world of publishing short fiction. I fully intend to be a good actor in the writer community.

And:

I’m only passingly familiar with the works and reputation of John Locke, whose name bears an unfortunate resemblance to my own, but I gather that much of the community of writers (and possibly editors and agents) have a bad taste in their mouths about the man.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

John Locke, not Sean

Yes, many people do have that bad taste about John Locke, who confessed in the New York Times to buying some 300 positive reviews of his own work. In case you’d like to relive the ignominy, I’ve written about the review-buying and sock-puppetry scandals in these posts:

Here is Sean Locke’s question:

Given all that, do you suppose I should consider taking a pen name, in order to avoid any unwarranted negative prejudice? I dislike even having to ask anyone the question, but this other fellow has made it a necessity.

I’ve given him my answer, but I’ve asked him to permit me to put this to you, too, Ethernaut, so he has more input on the matter.

What I’m asking you to do, then, is jump to our fabled comments section ( Click here ) give us the benefit of your thoughts on the matter.

If your name was Sean Locke and you were about to start publishing books, what would you do?

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Sock Puppetry: Socking It To Them / Konrath, et al

I mostly lurk here and usually agree with a lot of your posts, but I don’t this time…Just because a system has always been corrupt doesn’t mean it’s wrong or pointless for people to want to change it.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Rick Gualtieri

That’s commenter Rick Gualtieri at author J.A. Konrath’s blog, Get Over Yourselves.

In his post, Konrath seemed to have had trouble explaining his position on authors buying positive reviews of their own books in order to run up their sales and rankings. He creates both an “Addendum” and then an “Update 2” as he finds, “I seem to be getting misunderstood a lot.”

I confess, I’ve found it as difficult as many of his commenters have, trying to nail down his argument. Normally, I think of Konrath’s regulars as near-fanboys, folks who warm to the kind of shock-blogger tone this self-publishing success likes to take. But that’s not what I saw this time. He was taken on by reader after reader.

There seems, too, to be an odd disconnect between the commenters and Konrath’s frequent return comments.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Dora McAlpin

For example, writer and independent publisher Dora McAlpin comments:

Amazon does have review guidelines that prohibit some of these behaviors, as posted at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines

She goes on to list “What’s not allowed” by Amazon policy:

Promotional content:
• Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
• Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
• Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
• Solicitations for helpful votes

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook But Konrath then immediately follows her to say:

When a group of people get together and morally declare something wrong, that doesn’t make it wrong. And when a group of like-minded folks don’t band together for the express purpose of voicing outrage against something they consider immoral, and pointing fingers at those (who) don’t meet their ideals, that’s bad. And I’m pretty much done saying that same thing, over and over.

As it turns out, he’s not done saying it over and over. There are some 230+ comments on the piece so far, and Konrath has dropped in many times to try to clarify or deflect a point.

But that statement does seem to hold the basis of what he wants to say to his very large following of blog readers.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Joe Konrath

Konrath seems to feel that the naming of authors who have broken Amazon policy and ethical behavior in buying or otherwise falsifying reviews is a bigger wrong than the fraudulent actions, themselves.

  • He equates the signers of No Sock Puppets Here PleaseJeremy Duns‘ and other authors’ statement against sock-puppeting — with a “mob” action.
  • And he likens the calling-out of three authors — John Locke for buying positive reviews of his work, RJ Ellory for sock-puppetry, and Stephen Leather for using pseudonyms to create buzz online about his work — a “witch hunt.”

As I read it, what Konrath isn’t taking into account is the covert nature of fraudulent reviews. The fact that readers couldn’t tell that these authors were creating their own glowing  encomiums — and in some cases were in fact hurting other authors with slams, also without identifying themselves — doesn’t factor in to his thinking.

Konrath approves of commenter “sympathy for the devil’s” characterization of the affair as:

A coordinated witch hunt that vilifies three men in particular and gets busy on Twitter making everyone hate and condemn those three men.

“Shit,” Konrath answers, “you said it better than I did. Nicely done.”

 

In his original take on the matter, Konrath wrote:

Buying reviews isn’t wrong. Using sock puppets isn’t wrong. Leaving fake one star reviews isn’t wrong.
It’s shitty, and I wouldn’t do it. And that’s how I’m able to prove I’m right.
Amazon allows one star reviews. In other words, the existing system allows and encourages people to publicly trash books.

It’s the conflict of interest that holds, as it were, no interest, for Konrath.

The fact that the authors criticized have “costumed” themselves as regular customers in the online-retail setting in order to praise themselves and/or denigrate colleagues, apparently holds no water for him.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Peter L. Winkler

He gets agreement from some. But he also gets a steady fight from many others, whose comments might be summed up by this one from Dennis Hopper biographer  Peter L. Winkler.

You’ve lost it here, Joe. You keep admitting that what Leather, Locke and Ellory did was unethical. Then you try to whip up some kind of smokescreen that tries to extenuate their behavior in some relativistic context. It doesn’t fly. Unless you’re clairvoyant, you don’t know whether a reviewer leaving a 1-star review intends to damage an author or just express their opinion and disappointment. And their review is an honest expression of opinion, not a fraud. That’s the crux of the issue. Fake reviews pretending to be the authentic opinion of a reader are fraudulent.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook A glimmer of agreement (and maybe revelation to this very seasoned blogger) appears finally around a question Konrath asks, as quoted by commenter W. Dean:

So if every one of those reviewers said “I was paid to do this review” no one would be upset?

At last, the issue of subterfuge appears to start gaining some traction — or at least getting across to Konrath.

And it’s that same commenter, W. Dean, whose own post at his Plato’s Head blog puts the debate into elemental coherence. Dean’s comparatively brief post is titled Missing the Point on the Sock-Puppet Reviews Controversy. And he writes, with winning clarity:

Some of the usual stars in the indie-verse have missed the cause of the outrage because they’ve focused on the righteous tone of it.

So here’s the real problem in a nutshell: Writers aren’t angry at the sock-puppeteers because they’ve behaved unethically. This isn’t about being holier than thou. They’re mad because the unethical behaviour of these authors has undermined the product review system (which) new writers—especially new indie writers—depend on to sell their books.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook As laborious as it can be to slog through volleys of comments and counter-comments, I contend that we’re learning more about the sheer diversity of thought in the writing community from this issue in commercial ethics than we’ve learned from many other issues.

What might seem an open-and-shut outrage to one camp (and not just traditionally published authors) turns out to be, for others, a near-bottomless swamp of confusion, rushed assumptions, and thin-sliced interpretations of what’s OK and what isn’t. It’s a hard look at how vulnerable the world of digital sales can be to doubt.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Jon Evans

For a bit higher sense of things, I can call to your attention Jon Evans’ write for TechCrunch, Sock Puppet Spectacular: Are Online Reviews Completely Worthless, Or Only Mostly Worthless?

Evans is an author, himself. His latest is Swarm.

And I’ll leave you with a thought from him that gets at the more writerly side of this dilemma, which cannot be dismissed as something less important than it is.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook What Evans reminds us here is that this controversy is not just about sales and an online retail feature being undermined by our colleagues.

There is more. And he says it:

What particularly pisses me off most about sock-puppet reviews is that they penalize people naïve enough to believe in such quaint notions as truth and honesty.

 

A welcome late arrival on the scene at Forbes, David Vinjamuri’s Do Consumer Reviews Have A Future? Why Amazon’s Sock Puppet Scandal Is Bigger Than It Appears, also treats the issue with the gravity it deserves.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

David Vinjamuri

Vinjamuri refers to Konrath’s “flawed argument” as “the kind you see a lot in college-level debating.”

Konrath is conflating two very different types of reviews: an honest negative review and a dishonest negative review.   As we’ve seen previously, a fabricated one-star review is not actually allowed; it’s against Amazon’s terms of service.  It may also be illegal.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook You begin to realize why so many commenters on the Konrath blog are chewing the blogger’s legs off, as Vinjamuri unravels the dirty yarn:

Saying that something is terrible when it actually is terrible (or at least when you believe it is terrible) is in no way dishonest.  Saying that something is terrible merely because it competes with your own products is very dishonest.  The first kind of review helps other consumers while the second deceives them.

 

There is no moral equivalence.

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Libraries: It Costs Them How Much? / Brantley

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James…is available for $9.99 at Amazon, but libraries have to fork out $47.85. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is $12.99 at Amazon, but an amazing $81.00 from both 3M and Overdrive (the key distributors of books to libraries).

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Peter Brantley

This is Peter Brantley writing, surely one of the best friends libraries have ever had.

In those cases where ebooks are available, the report shows usurious markups, up to six times the consumer price for the same title.

In What’s a Library Dollar Worth? at the Publishers Weekly PWxyz blog, he’s covering a new pricing report from the Douglas County Libraries of Colorado. The report focuses on “print and ebooks appearing on the New York Times weekly bestsellers lists for fiction and nonfiction,” Branltey writes.

For print books, library prices are generally on par (and often slightly cheaper) than consumer prices for the same book. The digital picture, however, is entirely different. Great swaths of the spreadsheet are missing, illustrating the effect that publisher boycotts are having on the ability of libraries to provide access to their patrons.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook Brantley is right to congratulate Douglas County’s system, and he’s also right when he admonishes the wider system:

It is the kind of data that libraries should have been exposing months ago, and it is fortunate that Colorado libraries have a policy against accepting non-disclosure agreements. I hope that more libraries can contribute to the conversation that should emerge from the release of this information.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook He even hints at a potentially worrisome similarity of prices, “the constancy of pricing between 3M and Overdrive in the library market. Library pricing is nearly always identical.”

You can see for yourself what he means. Here’s the Douglas County Libraries Report’s pricing comparison as of September 5.

Here’s how a smart man posits a question without allegation:

In the shadow of agency pricing and a Federal judge’s approval of a settlement between the Department of Justice and some of the defendant publishers, this kind of pricing synergy raises more questions than it otherwise might.

 

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Submissions: Harper Voyager’s Open Transom / HC, Boog

Anybody here old enough to remember submitting “over the transom?”

For the first time in over a decade, Harper Voyager (is) opening the doors to unsolicited submissions in order to seek new authors with fresh voices, strong storytelling abilities, original ideas and compelling storylines. So, if you believe your manuscript has these qualities, then we want to read it!

That’s a publisher speaking. See how times have changed?

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook Those are submission guidelines for a two-week blink of the gatekeeper’s eye, titled Harper Voyager Guidelines for Digital Submission – Accepting Manuscripts from October 1st – October 14th, 2012!

Those exclamation points are theirs.

It’s an interesting move from the fantasy/sci-fi Harper Voyager imprint of HarperCollins. The search is for manuscripts ready for ebook publication, not print, says Voyager.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Jason Boog

As Jason Boog writes at GalleyCat in Harper Voyager to Accept Unagented Manuscripts for Two Weeks, this is an invitation for writers to send (finished) unagented manuscripts to the imprint, between October 1 and 14.

Joshua Farrington at TheBookseller notes that submitted manuscripts should run between 70,000 and 120,000 words, pretty standard. He adds:

On its website, the publisher says that it are looking for enough projects to launch a new e-book each month. Each contract will cover world English language distribution, with Harper Voyager reserving the right to also publish the books in physical form.

The guidelines at the Voyager site take the form of an exhaustive FAQ, the tone of which couldn’t be friendlier. So can you get that thing ready by October 14?

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Craft: Literary – Selling It, Writing It / Penn, Long, Day, Jacobson

As the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize is announced — Charlotte Williams has TheBookseller’s writeup here — two interesting entries present themselves.

A lot of literary people are kind of snobby, in the sense that they have MFAs and that sort of thing and feel that traditional publishing is the only way to go…And literary fiction just has a smaller audience… there are no zombies, no werewolves.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Terri Giuliano Long

This is author Terri Giuliano Long, who is self-publishing literary fiction, talking with former Ether sponsor and author Joanna Penn in Selling Literary Fiction, a video interview about the scarcity of literary fiction in the self-publishing ranks.

Long credits a lot of her own success in publishing to the focus of her literary fiction, its family-based story — a teenage daughter “getting in with the wrong crowd,” as Penn puts it. Long describes In Leah’s Wake as a dark book that nevertheless touched a chord for many readers.

Once I started to realize that marketing doesn’t necessarily have to be about me-me-me…it’s really about relationships and that’s something I do enjoy and I think I’m good at…It’s been a journey for sure.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook Long says her view is that the stigma of self-publishing is fading faster than many realize, and that most self-publishing authors she meets are “very professional, very conscientious.”

I spoke to an agent the other day who told me that publishers are changing the way they do business, bringing books to market faster… I think the entire industry has changed.

In less a tone of camaraderie — more the stereotypical line of the old guard — Booker-winning author Howard Jacobson is profiled by Elizabeth Day for the Guardian in fine form.

The interview is headlined Howard Jacobson: “I write fiction. The others write crap.”

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Howard Jacobson / Photo: Eamonn McCabe, Guardian

His forthcoming book, Zoo Time — releasing October 16 in the States — as Day puts it, “features a publisher who has committed suicide, an agent in hiding and a novelist harangued by book groups.”

She asks the author if this means he thinks publishing is doomed.

He answers:

It’s not my experience that my publisher shot himself or my agent is always hiding from me but I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t think there was something worrying about, not so much publishing, but the state of the book… some of the things that I play with, some of the jokes I make, attack things that need to be attacked.

But as far as Jacobson seems to see it, it would be fine if genre work were doomed.

I’m contemptuous of genre things… You go into a good bookshop like Foyles and see a kind of “vampire room”. I was sitting in the American Embassy a while back, trying to get a visa, and every woman in the room was reading the vampire series – you know, the one with the black cover and the bit of blood. Now people are reading soft porn!

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook Day’s profiles are always a pleasure to read, and in this case she’s in primary Q&A mode, most of the text going to her subject.

And while Jacobson doesn’t fit the standard community-minded model of author-hood many like to see today — this is not your beta-group member — I think it’s good, in a way, to remind ourselves that all talent doesn’t easily move into the social modes of the current moment.

Granted, this seems to make Jacobson somewhat irascible — “I hate the phrase “literary fiction”. I write fiction. The others write crap.” — but Day’s work makes it clear that this is a guy who’s personable, gifted, and possessed of a fine sense of humor about himself.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook He’s simply not the joiner that popular wisdom seems to insist we all must be these days.

Hell, this guy doesn’t even like T-shirts:

I like a proper shirt with a collar. There’s nothing else that I think I look nice in. I don’t think there’s anything else that other men look nice in, to be honest. Things with words on! Can you imagine? On grown-ups! Words are to make books with.

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Books: Now Ending – Men / Brooks

In her fascinating new book, “The End of Men,” Hanna Rosin posits a…theory. It has to do with adaptability. Women, Rosin argues, are like immigrants who have moved to a new country. They see a new social context, and they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Men are like immigrants who have physically moved to a new country but who have kept their minds in the old one. They speak the old language. They follow the old mores. Men are more likely to be rigid; women are more fluid.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

David Brooks / Photo: Josh Haner, New York Times

This is David Brooks at the Times writing up Hanna Rosin’s just-released and eagerly awaited (by me and others) The End of Men.

Thanks to their lower skills, men are dropping out of the labor force. In 1954, 96 percent of the American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today, that number is down to 80 percent. In Friday’s jobs report, male labor force participation reached an all-time low.

In Why Men Fail, Brooks takes on — as too many guys are unwilling to do — the clear evidence and implications of men’s economic decline.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Hanna Rosin / Photo: Penguin Speakers

And what I like about his op-ed is that he does it without setting up a competitive context — there’s no assertion that one gender must lose or give ground to the other.

Rosin is not saying that women are winners in a global gender war or that they are doing super simply because men are doing worse. She’s just saying women are adapting to today’s economy more flexibly and resiliently than men.

We got a strong overture of Rosin’s symphony of concepts back in her 2010 article of the same title at The Atlantic. That piece stung at the time, to tell you the truth. And that, of course, is frequently a sign of something we needed to read. Here’s Brooks:

Young women today, Rosin argues, are more like clean slates, having abandoned both feminist and prefeminist preconceptions. Men still adhere to the masculinity rules, which limits their vision and their movement.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbookYou don’t have to say aloud whether you agree or disagree. You need not even nod or shake your head.

There already is a lot of press on this book. Gender-relations work does that. You’ll see much more.

You know what I recommend? If you’re interested in the highly regarded intelligence that Rosin brings to her material, forget the fact that we’re all supposed to be so social nowadays that we can barely walk. Shut your door — real or virtual — and just give Rosin a chance to put herself across to you solo at first. Read her, cover to cover, quietly.

Your buddies, your besties, your followers? They can wait for your response to the book. And you can surely wait until you’ve read it — and thought it through for yourself — before you let the “madding crowd” come storming in to tell you what they think.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook I’m not sure which worries me more right now — the position in which men find themselves in our culture or the blowsy assumption that we all want to read socially, heave marginalia at each other, natter on and on and on about every book we touch… before we ever stop to sort out what we think, all by ourselves.

You notice I’m not telling you what I think of Rosin’s new book. I’ve pointed out from time to time how in our great publishing conference settings, particularly in the authors’ field, I see so many more women than men. And this is part of what I bring to Rosin. I want to understand this better.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook Brooks again:

If (Rosin is) right, then men will have to be less like Achilles, imposing their will on the world, and more like Odysseus, the crafty, many-sided sojourner. They’ll have to acknowledge that they are strangers in a strange land.

Don’t tell me that doesn’t pique your curiosity.

We’re going to say a bit more about literary criticism later in this edition of the Ether.

But what I want to tell you in this segment, as a professional critic, is something I’ve written in many of my reviews, to the consternation of both readers and editors:

You are the best critic you know. Think for yourself. It’s heady stuff.

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Books and Conference Notes: Reading on the Ether

For an updated list of planned confabs, please see the Publishing Conferences page at PorterAnderson.com. You’ll see that the upcoming F+W Media conferences have opened registration for Digital Book World in January (in New York).

Frankfurt-bound folks may want to give special consideration to the Tools of Change (TOC) Metadata Goes Global program with Brian O’Leary and Laura Dawson, and a very promising-sounding Publishers Launch event from Mike Shatzkin and Michael Cader.

Ed Nawotka has announced that his Publishing Perspectives will host a free two-hour session in in Frankfurt on the morning of October 13, an “ignite”-style round of presentations on the subject of self-publishing. You’re asked to RSVP to warmuth@book-fair.com

 

The books you see here have been referenced recently in Writing on the Ether.

I’m bringing them together in one spot each week, to help you recall and locate them, not as an endorsement. And, needless to say, we lead our list weekly with our fine Writing on the Ether Sponsors, in gratitude for their support.

 


Writing on the Ether Sponsors:


 

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Last Gas: Criticism vs. Reviewing / Mandel

Replanting rows of seedlings on a blasted tract of recently-logged land does not, of course, constitute the creation of a forest. In her brilliant memoir, Eating Dirt, Charlotte Gill doesn’t shy away from the half-truths of the profession:

“We slide waxed boxes [of seedlings] from the backs of the trucks and fling them down at the road. Handle with Care, the boxes read. Forests for the Future. Nothing about this phrase is a lie, but neither is it wholly true.”

As criticism in the United States dwindles into something almost entirely commercial, the occasional event of genuine critical examination is heartening.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Emily St. John Mandel

Author and critic Emily St. John Mandel does labor, faithfully, in the land of criticism. Not reviewing.

Would you like to know the difference? It’s actually pretty clear, although we use the terms interchangeably.

A critic looks at the relative merits of a work, evaluates its components on the basis of what it’s trying to do and how well it does it, and then stops. A bona fide critic may well call a work good or bad, but will rarely exhort you to read or don’t read, go or don’t go, buy or don’t buy.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook A reviewer tells you to read or don’t read, go or don’t go, buy or don’t buy. A reviewer serves a consumer’s interest. Stars, thumbs up and down, little men jumping up and down in their theater seats (I’m thinking of a certain California medium’s version of the star system), those gimmicks don’t appear on critiques. They appear on reviews.

There is nothing wrong with reviews.

There is something better about criticism.

In Eating Dirt: On Charlotte Gill and the Life of the Treeplanter, Mandel shows yet again how lucky readers of The Millions are to have her.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook

Charlotte Gill

For one thing, Mandel brings a ready connection to Charlotte Gill’s book to the table: Mandel is the daughter of a treeplanter in British Columbia.

Treeplanting families tend to generate strange baby pictures: babies in high chairs by the sides of logging roads, toddlers playing on massive off-road truck tires in camps.

Bolstered by such telling points of familiarity, Mandel’s write becomes its own essay based on and inspired by Gill’s book.

Eating Dirt excels as a memoir of Gill’s time as a treeplanter: the cameraderie and occasional danger and peculiarities of the work, the near-brushes with grizzly bears, what it’s like to live in the bush with one or two dozen men and no more than one or two other women at a time.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Guy Gonzales, poetry, Handmade Memories: Poems & Essays 1997 – 2011, Free Verse Media, chapbook I’d like to have read more excerpts from Gill’s book, more references from that work woven in with — not replacing — Mandel’s own memories and insights. But it’s good to read something serious, by someone seriously interested in a serious work. It’s good to read some criticism.

Here is no trace of entertainment, no worry about whether you “just want to sit back and relax” or are willing to work along with Gill to understand her 20 years in a difficult and often heartbreaking work life.

Gill presents treeplanting as a job with awful moments, but all jobs have awful moments, and this job holds its own strange allure: “We gave the trees some small purchase in the world,” she writes, “and they gave us the same in return.”

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Handmade Memories by Guy LeCharles GonzalezHandmade Memories: Poems & Essays, 1997–2011
by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

Features selected work from 1998 National Poetry Slam Champion (Nuyorican Poets Café) Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, co-author of Burning Down the House (Soft Skull, 2000) and founder of a little bit louder (aka louderARTS).

“This is a beautiful and intimate collection of poems and essays. My favorites were Sunday Mornings in the Kitchen with Gan’ganny, Behind the Music, and the incredibly powerful (and written for his wife) Daughter of the Revolution. The poems have such power and rhythm that I could hear them being read out loud … If you’re looking for something new and fresh, here it is.” —Kalen Landow [read the full review]

Find out more at loudpoet.com.


Images: iStockphoto / Main: Rockfinder / From Extra Ether: 4×6

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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The business of writing challenges the very creativity it supports.WRITING ON THE ETHER EXCLUSIVE: ‘Rogue’ Authors on a New Route | Jane FriedmanSean LockeIndustry News-September 16 » RWA-WFJK Recent comment authors

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Dave Malone

As always, Porter, brilliant. I really enjoyed reading a bit about EV Anderson’s journey. 🙂 My favorite sentiment from Gonzalez’s poetry was there are “more poets in the ghetto” because paper is cheap and guitars aren’t. And you know I love sock puppets! 47 bucks for 50 shades. Seriously?

Porter Anderson

Hey, Dave, thanks much for reading and the great comment. Yeah, I know, $47 for that book. News tonight is that Hachette (one of the Big Six) will increase the price of approximately 3500 titles to libraries (via OverDrive, the distributor) by an average of 220%. it just gets worse for libraries. http://ow.ly/dHAFi

Thanks again for reading and commenting!
-p.

Lisa Myer

I’m gobsmacked at the $47 price tag, too, Dave. I have a copy of 50 Shades that I cannot bring myself to read. Think I can donate it to my local library and save it some cash? >:)

Porter Anderson

And did you hear the latest thing on this, Lisa? Hachette is raising its prices for libraries on 3,500 titles by an average 220 percent. InfoDocket has it: http://ow.ly/dHAFi

Rachelle Gardner

Interesting question from Sean Locke. My short answer for him would be “no,” he doesn’t need a pen name. The two names sound the same but don’t look similar in writing. If he wants to further differentiate, maybe consider a middle initial? In any case, there is huge value in writing under your own real name, whenever possible. That’s my two cents!

Porter Anderson

Hey, RAchelle, thank you for dropping by — and this is excellent advice for Sean Locke, I agree completely. Right across social media and onto your book covers, I always recommend writers use their real names, it’s almost always the best solution.

Frankly, I thing “Sean” is different enough from “John” that there’s little chance of mixups. Great idea about the middle initial, though, hadn’t thought of it (since I go by my middle name, Porter).

Super stuff, thanks again!
-p.
@Porter_Anderson

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Roz Morris fiction

Sean, what a conundrum. Personally I wouldn’t worry about the name similarity. Rachelle makes the very good point that your names look sufficiently different on the page to make confusion unlikely.
Of course some authors adopt pseudonyms to cash in on comparisons. Look in a (physical) bookshop and see the glut of Martins in the fantasy section. (Don’t look at the bulge of Jamesalikes in the erotica section; the heartsink will send you blind.)

In fact, in an age where getting attention is authors’ biggest problem, you’ve got a great conversation opener. Revel in it and be different. Best of luck.

Porter Anderson

LOL, love the conversation-opener point, Roz.. “No, no relation to that Locke.”) And good advice, definitely aligned with what most folks are saying. Thanks for having a go at it!
-p.
@Porter_Anderson

JK
JK

Your names are not similar at all, especially on the printed page. I don’t know why there’s an issue.

Porter Anderson

Good observation, JK, and thanks for it. I think Sean Locke is getting very consistent advice on this. Thanks for reading the Ether and commenting!
-p.
@Porter_Anderson

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Sean Locke

My thanks to you all for your commentary! Looks like I’ve got nothing to worry about. Writing good stories ought to be my focus anyway, and forget the business piece of things until a little later.

Porter Anderson

Good advice for everbody, Sean, lol. Thanks!
-p.
@Porter_Anderson

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[…] whose post about the Douglas County Libraries of Colorado and their pricing report in the last Writing on the Ether — now goes into his Publishers Weekly blog on the news that Big Six publisher Hachette is […]

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[…] It’s an element of the clean approach Duns and others seemed to think they wanted when he helped lead the “No Sock Puppets Here Please” campaign. […]