Archive for August, 2010

This summer I put aside my writing and blogging for the most part (sorry) to focus on our move across the country. One benefit was after scrumptious, boozy farewell dinners or days spent at museums and amusement parks I could fall into bed with an absorbing read (and you too, Tim of course). So now that it is back to school time, I feel like I need to report on my summer:

Larry’s Party – Carol Shields (this is an oldie, but goodie that makes everyday life scintillating)

Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon (I like to try to catch up on Pulitzer Prize winners. Although I’m not an avid reader of comic books, Chabon managed to hold my interest by weaving the history into the much broader narrative. At the risk of sounding sexist, I think blokes (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy) might find might find the comic book aspect of this book more interesting, but still it was an incredible read.

The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver (Her most ambitious novel yet. I finished it today and can’t stop thinking about Shepherd, the main character.)

Books on my “to-read” list:

Tinkers by Paul Harding

Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy (he did a reading in Southampton, NY and I bought the book. It was that good.)

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Ok. I’ve typed the list, but don’t hold me to it. I have a wandering eye. Have any of you read these books? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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Wikipedia defines disintermediation:

in economics, disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain: “cutting out the middle man”.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, I can tell you about the talk I went to yesterday. Two panels of publishing luminaries discussed the future of publishing at Giga’s loft-like space in downtown San Francisco.

Panel 1: Brad Inman – CEO Vook, Rob MacDonald from Scribd and Zeke Koch from Adobe

  • They agreed we haven’t perfected the digital reading experience … yet.
  • Brad believes stories are moving to a shorter form not unlike what happened to the newspaper when USA Today debuted.
  • Lots of technical discussion on epub and html5. From what I could gather, epub works well on low-powered devices like the Nook and html5 only works on higher powered devices. It sounded like html5 will be the go to development tool. People were asking about a standard format for uploading books to reading devices, but Zack was not very optimistic about this happening. “The people making the technology have a vested interest in keeping their developments proprietary.
  • Digital gives the author more assets. For example, Vook took some backlisted work from Ann Rice and revived it by adding embedded video, author interviews and Twitter creating a wider digital fan base.
  • Vook also has a company called ‘Turn Here’ which has reduced the cost of short-form video author profiles from $15,000 to about $2,500 for those of you ready to go there.

Panel 2: Mark Coker, CEO Smashwords, Nathan Bransford, agent Curtis Brown (and one of my favorite bloggers), Simon Wood, mystery author and John Warren who is on the board of the Media & Policy Center Foundation and works at RAND Corp.

  • John suggested the author model could change, perhaps where people donate money to an author so they can write a book. The author could even use the donor’s name for one of their characters. This suggestion was met with many snorts from the audience, but never say never.
  • One person asked how the reader can sort through the drek to find the gems in the self publishing world. Mark said he’s proud of the drek because if an author helps just one person, then he/she has done a good thing. I think the consumer needs some kind of sifting/reviewing device. Bloggers and social networking sites (i.e. Goodreads, Librarything, Scribd) are a good start.
  • How does an author create his own platform? Simon saids he sends out e-review copies of his books to about 50 bloggers. He can often see an increase in sales the day after a blogger reviews his book.
  • And, the best way for an author to succeed? Nathan said “do what you do best, and do it well” Meaning, only blog if you’re going to stay with it and you are willing to take the time to post interesting material. If you’re no good at Twitter, don’t worry about it.

Thanks GigaOM for an enlightening (and might I add complimentary) morning. It was worth the trip.

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Any of you part of a writer’s group? We’re looking for submissions featuring your best work. Here’s the official request:

Fresh Pond Press is accepting submissions for an anthology of work from writing groups across the country. Non-fiction or fiction, up to 5,000 words, previously unpublished (unless with rights to republish). Authors must currently belong to a writing group or salon. Please supply a brief description of the group, including location, number of members, and years in operation. Selected pieces will receive $100.
Please send submissions to submissions@freshpondpress.com no later than December 31, 2010.

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Yesterday, I signed up for a writer’s conference in my new home state — California! There are three reasons why I want to go:

1. My favorite blogger, Nathan Bransford a literary agent based in San Francisco with Curtis Brown is the keynote speaker. Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent

2. The workshops feature several areas of interest including self-publishing, publishing anthologies, using new media and one called “Query letter Mad Lib”. Maybe this last one will help me write the magical query letter that will get me published. Cuesta College Writers’ Conference Page

3. The conference is located in San Luis Obispo. I’ve always loved the sound of this name and the drive from Palo Alto down the coast should be beautiful.

I’ll be sure to report back after I attend the conference on September 17 and 18.

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