WRITING ON THE ETHER: The “W” in AWP

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13 Authors in the Spotlight: How To Turn Your Readings Into Book Sales
with Porter Anderson

Join me in this spe­cial three-hour inten­sive Boot Camp ses­sion at Writer’s Digest Conference East (#WDCE) at 12:30pET on Fri­day, April 5. We’ll look at pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion for the entre­pre­neur­ial author in an interactive, up-on-your-feet workshop format: come with two pages of your work in progress, ready to rock and read.

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Table of Contents

  1. That “W” in AWP
  2. When There Is No Good Answer
  3. The Price of eBooks
  4. It’s Spelled “Foreword”
  5. #FutureFoyles & Bookstores: Not Groovification
  6. Books: Reading on the Ether
  7. Did We Mention Conferences?
  8. Last Gas: The DRM Chair

That “W” in AWP

It stands for “writer” and it refers to all writers.

This week, we’re heading, in our thousands, into Boston’s Hynes Convention Center for the three-day Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ annual conference—#AWP13 to your tweetly neighbors, and the Epilogger I have running on it is right here, good way to look in on it.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, DBW, #DBW13, Publishers Launch, Authors Launch, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, The Bookseller, TheFutureBookHaving written about AWP in general at Publishing Perspectives earlier this week in Ether for Authors: AWP’s Boston Foray, I want to bring up a yearly factor in this big, big college-festival gathering. And I want to do it carefully, respectfully, and as positively as possible.

In a moment, in fact, I’m going to tell you what I’m not saying. Because it’s very hard, at times, for us to handle this issue without charged feelings waylaying the discussion. And I’d like you to be perfectly clear on what I’m not saying.

Ready?

I am not saying that there are too many sessions at AWP focused on women’s issues. Twenty-three sessions, by my count.

I am wondering why there aren’t more sessions than there are—I count just one—having to do with men’s issues.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13AWP claims to be the largest literary conclave in North America, and some 11,000 people are anticipated this week. I’m glad to tell you that in past years, I’ve found the male-female ratio at this gargantuan conference looks to be far closer to 50-50 than you might expect from a 23-to-1 imbalance of gender-themed sessions.

A couple of years ago in Portland, Oregon, in fact, organizers of the Willamette Conference turned men’s rooms into women’s rooms because that major regional conference was almost overwhelmingly attended by women. We guys were left one restroom, which was kinder than directing us to the bushes outside by the parking lot.

Nevertheless, the campus-fueled sessions at AWP are, each year, curious in several regards beyond the lack of real-publishing-world developments, as I mentioned in the earlier article.

 

The more-than-500 sessions of the conference are selected from proposals solicited by the governing core of AWP at George Mason University. Indeed, one session at each conference is devoted to making just such a proposal. (Best Practices for Submitting an AWP Panel Proposal this year is at 10:30aET on Saturday, Room 101, Plaza Level, Session #S128, in case you’d like to be there.)

I’m not privy to the system by which sessions are selected. But I get no sense that a Dan Brownish wearing of the hooded cassocks is involved, and I have no reason to think that lots of proposals for men’s-issue sessions are being turned down for any reason.

As might be expected, some of the women’s-issue sessions have the ring of resistance, the good fight, the perceived lack of parity in literature. Such entries are so relentlessly in place each year that you wonder whether anyone would notice if things actually had got better for women since, say, last year’s AWP.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13Personally, I’m not persuaded by the VIDA numbers that depict a fearsome bias in favor of men in media coverage of books. My skepticism comes from my own newsroom experience of how books normally enter the system for review-coverage consideration. But regardless of the militancy of some VIDA adherents, any suppression of women’s work and of media-writing by women is a completely serious concern, of course, always well represented at AWP.

http://twitter.com/yunanswered/status/309572988469145601

 

Probably more helpful in bringing the good work of women to light are such sessions as:

  • Writing the Ends of the Earth: Women Writers on the Arctic and Antarctica. (Thursday, ##153)
  • Readings from the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (Thursday, #R171)
  • Women Poets on Mentoring (Thursday, #R251)—I’m glad to see this one’s description mentioning, “Women poets today have a wealth of literary models to turn to in their reading.”

Maybe less effective, for my money, are the politically tinged sessions such as Thursday’s Women’s Caucus (#R274). When that one’s description asks “Where is the place for the women writer(s) within AWP and within the greater literary community?” it seems to me that a 23-to-1 imbalance of women’s to men’s issue sessions calls the question into doubt.

There’s no men’s caucus, of course. What a silly thought.

 

Probably one of the more intriguing discussions might be heard in Friday’s The Bible, Women, and American Literature (#F268), which promises “five women writers who use Bible-based themes transformatively (sic) in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.”

The entertainingly named Women in Crime is on Saturday (#S136). The speakers are authors who will discuss, we’re told, “their choice to build a crime series around a female protagonist.” Mrs. Marple may ride that bike through the room at some point.

The New (England) Guard: A Poetry Reading (#S205) on Saturday does itself no favors in its description. It’s described as a way to “showcase the excellence and diversity of contemporary New England poetry.” That “diversity” is brought to you by a panel of five women and no men.

 

Similarly, the description of Smart Girls on Saturday (#S256) is about as dispiriting as a visit to Hooters, proclaiming, “‘Girl’ does not denote age but power—no men in it.” Ghetto-ization hasn’t worked yet, and probably won’t work on Saturday, either.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13I’d expect Translation: Across Languages and Codes to interpret some smart points, including, as it does (#S243) Vanessa Place’s inversions of male and female pronouns. I love Place’s text in Boycott Project #13, The Laugh of the Minotaur:

I shall speak about men’s writing: about what it will do. Man must write his self: must write about men and bring men to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies—for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal.

This, in fact, is probably related to the one session directly focused on men’s issues, Writing Masculinities on Thursday (#R117). In that panel, there’s to be a look at work “that reimagines the landscape of the masculine, directly or obliquely, through a dense exploration of subject matter and language.”

 

And as frequently as we hear in the industry! the industry! that men aren’t reading enough, I’d like to think we might be getting closer to finding more ways to bring things together, not keep delineating them as separate and discrete.

This won’t be that year at AWP, obviously. But perhaps some work with some of the sponsors of the event can help bring some pressure to bear on the session-development process to begin to look at both the practical and economic advantages—let alone the sheer societal good sense—of getting us past gender “caucuses,” for God’s sake, and into more compassionate territory.

 

How much more can we ask anger to do for us?

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Vanessa Place

Place writes:

It is time to liberate the New Man from the Old by coming to know him—by loving him for getting by, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Man will be, as an arrow quits the bow with a movement that gathers and separates the vibrations musically, in order to be more than him self.

And she is right.

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When There Is No Good Answer

As indignant as Thayer might be, I find his perplexed state to be rather disingenuous if he’s been keeping up at all with the evolution of online journalism. One can imagine a brief “No, thank you,” would have been the more graceful gesture, but on the other hand, if writers don’t express outrage at not being paid—and don’t take editors to task for it—can they really expect the situation to change?

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Jane Friedman

After days of debate and comments and posts and counter-posts, the issue remains no more nearly resolved than when Jane Friedman wrote those lines. The Virginia Quarterly Review digital strategist and editor—and long-suffering host of Writing on the Ether—probably made more sense of the Nate Thayer affair than anyone else in her piece The State of Online Journalism Today: Controversial.

The umbrage Thayer took at being asked if he’d consider cutting down a piece for use, without pay, by The Atlantic has set off a widening debate about:

  • Whether publishers should be purveying work provided at no charge by writers;
  • Whether writers should be willing to produce work without payment (even for “exposure”);
  • Whether publications in the digital dynamic are as cash-strapped as they say they are;
  • Whether writers are “entitled” to earn a living in online freelance work; and
  • How the online journalistic industry is to go forward, the traditional advertising structures for various media having come apart and left fiscal realities afloat in largely uncharted waters.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13 Friedman has continued to update her piece with newly published articles and discussions. Her post thus serves as a backbone you can use to sort out the basic elements of the debate and look at the parts of it you’re interested in covering.

Friedman is also getting quite a bit of push-back from readers, in a lively round of comments well worth reading.

As one of the longer-term journalists watching this play out (some 30 years for me), I confess that I’ve found there’s simply almost nothing of the earlier industry left. There was a day when a freelance journalist really could make a comfortable living—I know because I did it for three years as the regional newspapers started coming apart. I was also able to firmly augment a full-time network salary with very good freelance magazine assignments at rates unthinkable today.

http://twitter.com/Ginger_Clark/status/309021213295005696

 

One of the elements of this only obliquely touched on in the conversations I’ve followed is a huge infusion (that’s the kind term) of amateurs into the mix in recent years. Like the folks who somehow see the advent of the Internet as a signal that they have the talent and skill to write books, there are many more largely untrained and inexperienced people who somehow believe they know how to be journalists. And in many cases, the industry’s changed posture in terms of pay structures and revenue is being subsidized by the willingness of these newcomers to work without compensation. They are, after all, hungrier for exposure than practiced journalists are and have no personal experience of being well and consistently paid for their work.

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Alexis Madrigal

I find that I appreciate any medium’s effort to pay something to freelancers, even if it’s not a lot of money. And when The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal answers Thayer’s A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013 with his own  A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor, 2013, his candor is a gleaming example of why he’s so prized by many of us.

If the financial underpinnings of journalism have changed in the flying leap to online, so has the impetus for someone in Madrigal’s position to write, “So far, there isn’t a single model for our kind of magazine that appears to work.” Think about it. When did publications’ people become so open about the struggles and perils of their media? This kind of honesty from a major like The Atlantic?—doubtful it would have been possible even five years ago.

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Nate Thayer

And among the enlightening back-and-forth, Friedman points out some editors trying to make sense of their own and other publications’ positions in all this on Branch — now a long, long thread.

Two items there stand out for me.

First, here is an editor named Sarah Blackwood:

A magazine (no-profit, no money in sight) I co-edit, avidly.org, edited a piece, “Why I Write for Free,” that was just picked up/republished by The Atlantic Wire. The writer was paid for it, which we fully fully fully support. But this skimming model seems odd. (Ironically, we also just ran a “Why I Don’t Write for Free” piece that seems unlikely to be picked up/republished…..!!!)

And here, indeed, is that piece on The Atlantic Wire, Why I Write for Free(I really wish we could quit saying “for free,” which is a bad colloquialism.) It’s by Stephanie Lucianovic.

https://twitter.com/bradfordlit/status/309100701064241153

 

Blackwood, Lucianovic’s original editor, comes back later on the Branch chain with an extremely good beef and, sorry to say, it’s Madrigal’s outfit on the receiving end. The Atlantic paid the writer but not the originating medium.

My experience today, having one of our pieces republished by a major outlet has been surprisingly rankling. The writer got paid (yay!) but we did not– though I put some time into editing that piece.

It seems to me that Blackwood is right. Why shouldn’t The Atlantic owe her outfit something for a story it paid to create? Even publications, not just writers, are losing out in this free (!) for all.

 

And, the second stand-out for me? Madrigal, himself, at the Atlantic, in his piece, ends with the only thing anybody can feel sure of about this today: we have nothing of which to be sure. Madrigal:

The biz ain’t what it used to be, but then again, for most people, it never really was. And, to you Mr. Thayer, all I can say is I wish I had a better answer. 

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http://twitter.com/ColleenLindsay/status/309334862668652545

 

The Price of eBooks

In the past several months, the average price for a best-selling ebook seems to have stabilized somewhat at around $8.00. While the prices have jumped around somewhat, there is a clear trend.

 

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Jeremy Greenfield

Digital Book World’s (DBW) Jeremy Greenfield, however, is the first to tell you that the weekly updates he does with Iobyte Solutions are germane, as it happens more to themselves, week to week, than they necessarily are to the market at large.

At bottom, the problem has always been that ebook sales are not fully reported. Proprietary sales information is often held private, and so the extrapolations being made by anyone may be good or bad, it’s very hard to know.

That said, in After a Roller-Coaster Ride, Ebook Prices Have Stabilized Somewhat in 2013, what Greenfield is reporting is that some of the heavier gyrations of pricing the lists have seen since their inception in August have given way to a less turbulent looking pattern. Gone are descriptions of the prices as “plummeting” and “in a tailspin.”

http://twitter.com/ChrisKubica/status/308689741325406208

 

Greenfield now writes of discounting by the major U.S. publishers (in the post-DoJ climb-down from the full agency model) and holiday-season offers as key drivers of the field.

This past week, the average price of a best-selling ebook dipped below $8.00, driven mostly by $2.99 and $1.99 big-six titles.

And in a chart of the Top-25 ebooks’ pricing since August 20, Greenfield notes the start of HarperCollins discounting in September, Hachette and Simon & Schuster starting discounts in December, and so on—these discounts being driven by Big Six settlements with the Department of Justice over alleged anti-trust violations.

Greenfield has an extensive footnote on this piece, gratifying because in it he explains the unavoidable shortcomings of a device like these lists. For example, he and his Iobyte cohort Dan Lubart are unable to weight each position on the list. Writes Greenfield:

It would be better to know exactly how many copies of each title are sold, multiply that by the price, add up the final dollar amount for the top-25 and then divide by total number of titles sold. That would give us a better idea of what people are spending overall. For now, what I’ve done above is, I think, the among best we can do when thinking about what the average consumer is paying for an ebook today.

 

Here in the era of what Michael Cader at Publishers Lunch calls “agency lite,” it’s interesting to read Greenfield talk of seeing older dogs studying new tricks.

We are now seeing some of the largest publishers experiment with discounting even newer titles. This past week, the average price of a best-selling ebook dipped below $8.00, driven mostly by $2.99 and $1.99 big-six titles.

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http://twitter.com/DonLinn/status/309498379258449900

 

It’s Spelled “Foreword”

As in a book. Not forward, as in motion.

Foreword Literary is, it seems, another effort in the agency community to take advantage of the fast-evolving position of the author-as-entrepreneur.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13According to a news release carried at Digital Book WorldNew ‘Hybrid’ Literary Agency, Foreward Literary, to Aim for Both Traditional and Self-Publishing:

Laurie McLean and Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, both former literary agents with Larsen Pomada Literary Agents, along with Gordon Warnock, formerly a senior agent at Andrea Hurst & Associates, have joined forces to create Foreword Literary Inc., with headquarters in the Silicon Valley and offices throughout the country.

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Laurie McLean

Having offices “throughout the country” promises to be one spectacular feat. And it’s never reassuring when folks in publishing overstate their announcements so severely as to engage bad writing.

But the new venture’s site looks like a knees-up effort, and the release talks of a good round of clients following the newly partnering agents into the fold:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling YA fantasy author Julie Kagawa, who landed three seven-figure deals while McLean’s client, will make the move to Foreword, as will 24 of McLean’s clients, 23 of van Hylckama Vlieg’s clients, and all of Warnock’s clients.

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Gordon Warnock

And they seem to be nothing if not digital:

Foreword Literary will be a virtual agency with professionals in the San Francisco Bay area, Sacramento, Chicago and the Central Coast of California to begin with. But geographic limitations will be swept away through the use of cloud-based technology.

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#FutureFoyles & Bookstores: Not Groovification

The question is not what would make Foyles more profitable, for then Foyles should just quit and become a casino. The interesting question is, how can Foyles be more profitable as a bookstore?

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13Thanks to Cambridge’s Rushda Khan, we now have a word for what was worrying me as I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the “bookshop of the future” initiative so keenly taken on by the bookstore Foyles’ marketing czarina Miriam Robinson in Ether for Authors: Framing #FutureFoyles in London.

“Groovification.”

I’m enjoying this term, even as an adjunct to the glut of corporate-cutesiness I find so off-putting in the publishing world—particularly, as regular readers know, in the astonishingly silly names of many startups, which lower books and publishing to the level of cat pictures.

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Rushda Khan

Khan writes, in Future of Foyles: Shelving the Bookstore? at The Bookseller’s fine (and free) TheFutureBook blog site:

The answer lies, I think, not in ‘groovifying’ Foyles (think “touchscreens everywhere, even on the walls outside the store”) – which is at most a finishing touch – but in the positive aspects of theexperience of buying a book that Amazon can’t capture. Foyles has something Amazon can never have: physical depth. It is much nicer to browse through a book collection you can see and touch. This may be a good candidate for a focal point on which to reconstruct the bookshop experience.

What Amazon can’t compete with is the feeling of being in a bookstore, and the aspiration to be the kind of person who visits bookshops. Adding a disco or selling stationery wouldn’t address this aspiration, but book-related accessories (why aren’t there posters for books like films?) could, with a distinctive Foyles bag in which to carry away your purchases. Even a café isn’t totally relevant, but a café where you can read the books from the shelves around you could be.

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Here’s Hugh Howey in the London tube with one of the posters (there are nicer ones) for the hardback release there of the first set of five Wool novellas.

There are posters for books, by the way. Khan might notice in the Underground these days, a handsome rollout of posters for the hardback publication in the UK of Hugh Howey’s Wool omnibus edition.

I’m especially glad to see Khan note the confusion you find in so much retail these days about who is the key person in the store—staff or customer? I was gratified to find folks at the workshop talking about how, even at Foyles, hand-selling is really a thing of the past. We may be praising a lost feature of these bricks-and-mortar outfits. Khan writes:

Anything that solves a practical issue for staff at the expense of making shopping less easy for customers surely deserves a rethink.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Writer's Digest, webinar, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution DayAnd for the most part, she’s dead-on with her assessment of the danger I felt, too, in seeing so many not-books ideas crop up—all with good intention—in the workshop I attended in London at Foyles, all of which has been taken on by Robinson, Sam Husain and others at Foyles with grace and energy.

Khan really nails it on her way out:

Foyles’ success is exciting for everyone who is a lover of real bookstores and real books. But let’s remember to measure their success in relevant ways, rather than just on profit. After all, it won’t count if Foyles turn their bookstore into something that isn’t really about books.

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Books: Reading on the Ether

Ether Sponsor News: Dave Malone’s new View From the North Ten: Poems After Mark Rothko’s No. 15 is ready for pre-order from Mongrel Empire Press.

Click to comment Back to Table of ContentsIt’s well worth your consideration.

Material from this collection of poems, in fact, was the first of Malone’s work I read when we became acquainted a couple of years ago. We both love Rothko’s work and Malone let me read some of what he was working on as we talked about the Rothko Chapel, works in MoMA’s collection, and more.

It’s just great to see this book come together, I’m looking forward to seeing the final product.

And, by the way, in reference to the question of finding affordable editing, Malone is a developmental editor of solid experience whose prices run between $400 and $1,000 for most developmental edits (depending on length of a book and complexity of a project). I’m seeing so many people talking outlandish figures, thousands of dollars, for a developmental pass—not often, if ever, the case, in my own experience.

You can find out more about Malone’s editing work at his site or by flagging him own on Twitter.

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As each week, the books you see below have been referenced recently in Writing on the Ether, Ether for Authors, or in my tweets.

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

 


Writing on the Ether Sponsors

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Did We Mention Conferences?

Are you producing a publishing or writing conference? Feel free to let me know, and I’ll be happy to consider it for listing here on the Ether and on my Publishing Conferences page at my site.


 

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, DBW, #DBW13, Publishers Launch, Authors Launch, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook March 6-9 Boston AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs AWP last year drew 10,000 attendees to icy Chicago (it looked like 40,000 attendees when everybody’s coats were on), and, per its copy on the site this year, AWP “typically features 550 readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums, as well as hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings.” The labyrinthine book fair is said to have featured some 600 exhibitors last year. The program is a service-organization event of campus departments, hence the many (many) readings by faculty members and a frequently less-than-industry-ready approach that worries some of us about real-world training the students may be missing.

Registration is open, information is here.
Live-tweet coverage from this conference.


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, DBW, #DBW13, Publishers Launch, Authors Launch, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, #LBF13, London Book Fair, Digital Minds, #DigiConf13March 24 Bologna Children’s Book Fair O’Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) Bologna: “This unique event covers new developments that relate to the whole children’s book industry. Whether you are an editor or writer, a publisher or illustrator, a marketeer or web producer this is one place to gather practical tools and insights into the changing face of children’s publishing.”

Registration is open, information is here.


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, DBW, #DBW13, Publishers Launch, Authors Launch, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, #LBF13, London Book Fair, Digital Minds April 5-7 New York City Writer’s Digest Conference East: Author James Scott Bell, who knows the value of coffee, gives the opening keynote address this year at “one of the most popular writing and publishing conference in the U.S. Writer’s Digest Conference 2013 is coming back to New York at the Sheraton New York Hotel. Whether you are developing an interest in the craft of writing, seeking an agent or editor and publisher for your work, or a veteran hoping to keep current on the latest and best insights into reaching a broader readership, Writer’s Digest Conference is the the best event of its kind on the East Coast.”  (Note that this year’s hashtag is #WDCE.)

Registration is open, information is here.
Live-tweet coverage from this conference.


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13At WDCE: Public Speaking for Writers: How to Turn Your Readings into Book Sales – Join me in this special three-hour intensive Boot Camp session at 12:30pET on Friday, April 5. We’re going to look at public presentation for the entrepreneurial author. How do you learn to deliver your work with impact—with your text in your hand and a live audience in your face? We’re going to stand you up and workshop your presentation in real time. I want you to bring two pages of a work-in-progress or published work along to use as your session material. And we’ll go over everything from material selection and the real purpose of a reading, to presentational aids and delivery of your “brand.” It’s a lot more than “letting them hear a little sample of the work” whether you’re in the room with your audience or doing a web reading. There’s an additional charge of $149 for this workshop — hope to see you there. Drop me a note or flag me down on Twitter (@Porter_Anderson) with any questions.

Registration is open, information is here.


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13April 5-7 New York City Screenwriters World Conference EastLed by the tireless Jeanne Bowerman, Editor and Online Manager for F+W Media’s ScriptMag, this is the East Coast iteration of the Los Angeles conference held last fall. Complete with a “pitch slam” like that of the Writer’s Digest conference, Screenwriters World is, the material tells us, “your chance to meet and learn from professionals in every aspect of the entertainment industry. Our panels, sessions, and workshops are hosted by leading experts that can help you improve your craft, find and agent, and sell it to the people who make movies and television shows. You’ll receive real feedback from successful screenwriters, agents, execs, actors, filmmakers and more.” (This conference’s hashtag is #SWCE. I’ve started an Epilogger account on it,  which you might find useful in keeping up with materials in one spot.)

Registration is open, information is here. 


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13

April 14 London Digital Minds Conference at the QEII Conference Center: Author Neil Gaiman gives the keynote address in this fifth year of the Digital Minds program. Also included are Small Demons’ Richard Nash, Safari’s Pablo Defendini, Osprey’s Rebecca Smart, Dosdoce’s Javier Celaya, Valobox’s Anna Lewis, Perseus’ Rick Joyce, Penguin’s Molly Barton and Eric Huang, Poetica’s Blaine Cook, and more.The conference is in the “pre-day” to the Fair, as Author (R)evolution Day was set on the pre-day to Tools of Change in New York this year.

Registration is open, information is here.
Live-tweet coverage from this conference. 


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13April 15-17 London Book Fair at Earls Court.  “The London Book Fair encompasses the broad spectrum of the publishing industry and is the global market place and leading business-2-business exhibition for rights negotiation and the sales and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.”

This year’s Fair includes an AuthorLounge “curated” (oh, that word) by Authoright, touted as “the inspiring new space at the book fair for authors.”

Registration is open, information is here.
Live-tweet coverage from this book fair.


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, DBW, #DBW13, Publishers Launch, Authors Launch, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook

April 17 New York City paidContent Live: Riding the Transformation of the Media industry Brisk and bracing, last year’s paidContent Live conference was efficient, engaging, and enlightening, not least for the chance to see many of the talented journalists of Om Malik’s GigaOM/paidContent team work onstage — Laura Hazard Owen, Mathew Ingram, Jeff John Roberts (in history’s most difficult interview), Robert Andrews, Ernie Sander, et al. Among speakers listed for this year’s busy day: Jonah Peretti, Jason Pontin, Chris Mohney, Erik Martin, David Karp, Mark Johnson, Aria Haghighi, Matt Galligan, Rachel Chou, Lewis D’Vorkin, John Borthwick, Andrew Sullivan, Jon Steinberg, Alan Rusbridger, Evan Ratliff, and, of course, the two people the law says absolutely must be in every publishing conference, Dominique Raccah and Michael Tamblyn.

Registration is open, information is here.
Live-tweet coverage from this conference.


agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, DBW, #DBW13, Publishers Launch, Authors Launch, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook

May 2-5 Oxford, Mississippi Oxford Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference & Workshops Susan Cushman follows her Memphis Creative Nonfiction confab with this year’s gathering at the shrine. Among faculty members: Neil White, Leigh Feldman, Lee Gutkind, Dinty W. Moore, Beth Ann Fennelly, Bob Guccione Jr. and Lee Martin. Pre-conference workshops or just the creature itself, your choice.

Registration is open, information is here.


Grub StreetMay 3-5 Boston The Muse & the Marketplace 2013 is a production of Eve Bridburg’s fast-rising non-profit Grub Street program. It’s material reads tells us that organizers plan more than “110 craft and publishing sessions led by top-notch authors, editors, agents and publicists from around the country. The Manuscript Mart, the very popular and effective one-on-one manuscript reviews with agents and editors, will also span 3 days. We expect nearly 800 writers and publishing professionals to attend, while maintaining the conference’s wonderfully intimate, ‘grubby’ energy that we love.”

Registration is open, information is here.

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Last Gas: The DRM Chair

It’s been a long winter in Geneva.

My thanks to our colleague Sebastian Posth in Berlin for calling to my attention this highly edifying little video. If you began your career, as I did, around the time of the Magna Carta, this piece might be called performance art.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13

Thibault Brevet works on The DRM Chair.

It is the work of Switzerland’s Thibault Brevet in collaboration with Gianfranco Baechtold, Laurent Beirnaert, Pierre Bouvier, Raphaël Constantin, Lionel Dalmazzini, Edina Desboeufs, Arthur Desmet and Thomas Grogan.

It’s part of a somewhat gamified project-of-projects called The Deconstruction, each entry comprising several collaborators and being made in a 48-hour time span. This work, The DRM Chair, was produced under these regulations, including the creation of the video you see here as its result.

The DRM Chair provides seating for eight wary people in succession. Each person, you’ll note, sits quite gingerly on the seat for a few moments—none wanting to be the butt of the joke, of course—and then decamps. After its eighth seating, the chair then self-destructs.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13

Jean-Henry Morin

One of the commenters, Jean-Henry Morin, sums up the message of the Chair quite well, quoting an authority who goes by the name Unpleasant Design (based at this intensely unattractive site).

DRM as currently designed, is nothing more than the digital equivalent of planned obsolescence in the manufacturing industry. An old, defunct and not sustainable business model.

That sentiment rests, all too aptly, you’ll find, on The DRM Chair.

Make yourself uncomfortable, won’t you?

 

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agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, TOC, #TOCcon, Author (R)evolution Day, #ARDay, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, The Bookseller, FutureBook, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Foyles, #FutureFoyles, London Book Fair, #LBF13 Authors in the Spotlight: How To Turn Your Readings Into Book Sales
with Porter Anderson

Join me in this spe­cial three-hour inten­sive Boot Camp ses­sion at Writer’s Digest Conference East (#WDCE) at 12:30pET on Fri­day, April 5. We’ll look at pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion for the entre­pre­neur­ial author in an interactive, up-on-your-feet workshop format: come with two pages of your work in progress, ready to rock and read.

Click here and see the top listing for details.


Main image: Porter Anderson ; WDCE Boot Camp image: iStockphoto: _nav_

 

Posted in Writing on the Ether.

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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18 Comments on "WRITING ON THE ETHER: The “W” in AWP"

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Richard Mabry
Porter, here’s a view from the ground floor–a reader, a published author, a husband, and someone who fancies himself a conservative both politically and theologically. My first four (unpublished) novels of medical suspense weren’t picked up by a publisher, despite what I was told repeatedly was good writing. As a professor in medical school told us, you can teach a white mouse in three times. It actually took me four to realize that male protagonists weren’t selling. I wrote with a female protagonist and am about to have my fifth novel published. Word has it that, in Christian fiction, at… Read more »
Porter Anderson

@7064b1beb57907041637d68c34f421c7:disqus

Hey, Richard, just a quick note to say I’ll get more to you, am at the AWP Conference and running hard right now, but thanks for this comment, more to come from me.

Porter Anderson
@7064b1beb57907041637d68c34f421c7:disqus Hi,Richard, Getting back to you a little more fully here, I hope — I understand your frustration here, and have run into many variants of this, myself. For the life of me, and with no disrespect meant to a great many superb women in our field, I can’t help but feel that men – both as writers and as readers – are being given a bad reputation here. For quite some time, for example, I’ve had to explain to women who wanted to tell me that men WOULDN’T come to conferences, that those men WOULD come to conferences if… Read more »
Victoria Ryan
As a reader, published author, wife, mother of six sons, and sibling to eight sisters I enthusiastically applaud this post. I’m as pro-women as anyone and I get that men had the upper hand in churches and society for centuries. But let’s update ourselves and see, as you have pointed out, the progress made–the attainment realized over the last decades. I speak from personal and professional experience: stop leaving our boys/men behind. Start calling on them in school again. Start portraying them as the varied, capable individuals they are: not always stoic as in the 1950’s; not always crying (watch… Read more »
Porter Anderson

@3d90f3d6a69ba27bdd6d339f9769980f:disqus

Victoria, really appreciate your comment! I’ll get back to you shortly, am at the AWP Conference in (snowy) Boston and tied up with events but more to come.

-p.

Porter Anderson
@3d90f3d6a69ba27bdd6d339f9769980f:disqus Hi, Victoria, And thanks again for your good, good comment here. Can’t disagree with a thing you’re saying, and just want to thank you for saying it all so well. I’m not sure why some folks seem to want to denigrate men’s position in writing and reading. As I was saying in my note back to Richard Mabry below, there’s a frequent need, it seems, to say that men “won’t” participate in reading and writing, which is flatly untrue. I’ve had some great chats and correspondence with Bethanne Patrick (the Book Maven), in fact, on the assertion some women… Read more »
Dave Malone
I loved this Ether, Porter. I was particularly interested in AWP and your thoughts about gender. I think you have a wonderful call to get folks past “gender caucuses” and into “more compassionate territory.” I hope the sponsors hear you. I resonate with @Victoria’s comments, and that portrayal of both men and women in those types of TV sitcoms is sickening. A great number of men read and are liberated from the Old Man, as Place writes about. I have sorely missed the energy of the men’s movement of the late 90s, as I think back to the power and… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@twitter-113151901:disqus Hi, Dave, Thanks for this good input. I like Tom’s Good Men Project, too, and I’ve liked seeing it develop over time. I’m not sure there is as much a movement for men at this point, but I’m also not sure that’s bad. Men are far less comfortable working in “movements” than women are. This is why, in fact, it can be so much harder to draw men to conference events and so forth — women enjoy the communal sharing thing whereas I think a fundamental element of how men approach these topics is that the’re going in as… Read more »
Dave Malone

Thanks for this, Porter. I have thoroughly enjoyed your point of view on this subject. And also enjoyed your banter with Victoria Noe. You raise a perspective here I’ve rarely heard. And (embarrassed), I’ve found myself perpetuating this myth somewhat when talking to clients about perspective publishing routes, about audience. I particularly liked your thought that men are often engaged in reading and writing in a solitary way. Interesting and enlightening, sir.

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Victoria Noe
Back in the days of Consciousness Raising and Women’s Liberation, much was made of the disparity in classroom (at any level) reading. Works by women authors were rarely read, rarely acknowledged. Dead White Guys were the order of the day. That gave rise to the long-overdue study of writing by women. For a while it remained in its own ghetto, so to speak, of Women’s Studies. It’s still a struggle in some places to find gender diversity in the offerings of any general literature class. Hell, it can be a struggle to get a book reviewed in some genres if… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@twitter-240542789:disqus Hey, Viki, Thanks, as ever, for the comments. I agree with you completely on the AWP shortfall and since your comment have gone to the mat, as you know with a much more extensive #Ether-eal round of criticism: http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/03/ether-for-authors-looking-for-awps-leadership/ I don’t agree, actually, that all literature NOT about women is about men. Nor do I agree that not having “men’s literature” — specifically about the issues and needs of men — is OK. In fact, it does exist, and the American Men’s Studies Association is one fine place you can find it written and taught. On most campuses, under… Read more »
Victoria Noe

Ah, Porter, we’ll have to agree to disagree.This is a discussion to be continued when we can sit down at Stecchino’s over vodka and Campari. :). Then we can define women’s literature and men’s literature, along with the true definition of musical theatre.

But as interesting at the DBW list is (and it is), it still represents only one week. I’ve become enough of a data geek to want to see more lists over more weeks before I draw any conclusions.

Bob Mayer
Oh, AWP. I find the whole organization sadly out of touch with any reality other than the ivory tower. Get an MFA? Why? So you can teach in an MFA program. Maybe. Certainly there are some success stories, but most MFA programs are self-propagating machines, with little interest in publishing that concerns making money. The chasm between ‘real’ publishing and the academic world of writing is huge. Universities would rather hire some twenty-something with one book of poetry publishing by a university press as long as they have that MFA, than a NY Times bestselling author with decades of teaching… Read more »
Porter Anderson
@google-09a2be7b6f84fae4eec329151af4fc09:disqus Hey, Bob, Thanks for this input. I must say, now back from AWP13 and having just written it up in pretty flammable terms on Ether for Authors — http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/03/ether-for-authors-looking-for-awps-leadership/ — I’m afraid you’re more right than I wish you were! Since I actually have both an MA and an MFA, myself, I can move among these types with relative ease and impunity, but the real question becomes, as you’re suggesting, why would I want to? The organization today, as I re-learned this year at AWP, is incredibly out of touch with the industry, and not preparing its fine young… Read more »
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[…] so, when I write, as I did in Writing on the Ether as the conference in Boston began, about the astonishing imbalance of women’s issues session […]

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[…] I wrote here, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), God bless its gigantic heart, seemed awfully light on sessions themed with men’s interests, […]

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