August 21, 2012 06:17
As an indie press, we enjoy some liberties.
One is the flexibility to publish a book when it needs to be published.
Joanna Rush's Asking For It: A Rockette's Tale, her intimate memoir of life on the stage, dovetails with her September performance (also called Asking for It) in New York City's All for One Theatre Festival.
Among other themes, Asking for It documents the sexual assaults endured by the author, and how she comes to process these traumas.
According to recent biology-defying statements from Missouri, we learn that some classes of rape may, in fact, be considered legitimate. At least by some people.
'Legitimate crime' is a top example of what George Orwell called "Doublespeak" in his acclaimed novel about totalitarian society, 1984.
As a book publisher, Heliotrope challenges such linguistic sleights of hand and their inevitably smarmy public apologies — like those of Rush Limbaugh to Sandra Fluke, and the Komen Foundation to Planned Parenthood.
We were never fooled ... and are proud to publish Joanna Rush's eloquent account at a time when the language about rape and female sexuality has become, frankly, twisted.
We hope that Asking for It helps pave the way to more accurate, mature and compassionate dialog.
August 2, 2012 17:39
One of forty fiends presumably exorcised by Jesuits during the Spanish invasion — and invoked in Shakespeare's King Lear — FLIBBERTIGIBBET has now come to spook the American publishing industry.
Submitted anything to a literary agent lately? Then you'll know what I mean.
"Oh! That envelope. Can't find it. Please send it in Word to my Kindle… Oh! I can't open it on my Kindle. Guess I'll have to pass on it."
"This is the best writing I've read in a while. But I don't know how to sell it."
Can you imagine a real estate agent turning down an outstanding property because (s)he doesn't know how to sell it?
Can you imagine even a used car dealer not having the imagination to sell a 2007 Buick? Or saying they have to "just really love it" in order to make a sale?
Why do we tolerate this foolishness in book publishing? Why do we let Flibbertigibbet run rampant in our most intellectual business?
Sales strategies aside, have you noticed how many literary agents can't return an email submission with even a polite automatic reply: "Thank you for your query. Please allow us a three-week turn around time." Well why let writers know where they stand when you can keep'em guessing?
The truth is, as the new model of publishing gains traction these middlemen will be the first to go and the smarter ones know it. These days, many are "getting out of the business."
We may be saying goodbye to the agents with soul — those who've made a difference, and whose brilliance and discernment has touched all of our lives. Who are we left with? Doctor's spouses, confused kids and other hobbyists … Flibbertigibbet! Flibbertigibbet! Flibbertigibbet!
February 2, 2012 10:47
I've decided to blog eight times a year, on the days that traditionally mark the changing seasons: Groundhog Day, Vernal Equinox, May Day, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Autumnal Equinox, All Saint's Day and Winter Solstice.
If you want more, then please tell me.
Today I'm sticking my nose out into 2012, and predicting that the book marketing power attributed to social media will plateau this year. Has your agent been yacking to you about getting on Twitter or starting a Facebook page? The truth is, neither suggestion will hurt you. But guess what? it's not going to make or break your book either.
Remember the email newsletter craze from seven or eight years ago? We learned that when everyone has an e-newsletter, no one has an e-newsletter ... because there are so many that no one opens them anymore. When everyone has a "cool new video" on Facebook, no one will look at yours — they'll be too busy looking at all their friends'. Of course some videos may yet "go viral." At least, after the 2012 election. Of course, if your book is ABOUT the 2012 election, go for all publicity channels and make hay while that sun shines.
For whatever it's worth, my twitchy groundhog nose is smelling the coffee, not the kool aid. If you want to sell a book there's nothing like: 1. writing a really good one, copyedits and all; 2. believing in it, sharing it, transferring your excitement; 3. hiring a respectable publicist and getting media reviews; 4. getting TV spots and radio interviews from same publicist; 5. getting good Amazon and B&N reviews; 6. getting into libraries through services like Overdrive and Early Word; and if you've been able to do that — why not share it on social media? It can only help you.
Just make sure there's something worth helping to begin with ...
October 13, 2011 15:55
At Book Expo in 2011, I learned several surprizing facts: recent BISG stats revealed that indie bookstores are faring better than large chains in the US; literary fiction is making a come-back, while adult non-fiction struggles. And, refugees from Darfur who live in camps in Eastern Chad wish for books. This last revelation didn't come from BISG, but from a gracious, petite woman I met at another seminar. Afterwards, we found ourselves heading to the cafeteria for one of the Javitz Center's over-priced sandwiches, speaking about the organization that she and her son founded, The Book Wish Foundation. Their mission is to build libraries in Chad's 12 refugees camps.
"I've never thought of refugees wanting books," I told her. "I imagine that their lives would revolve around food and medicine." But I've never been to such a camp, and Lorraine has. She told me that, for many refugees, books represent education and the means to a better life, as well as an opportunity to heal and grow, to imagine, to be entertained. It then occured to me that my own childhood was filled with stories and books, and my life would have been unthinkably different without them. I suspect the same is true for anyone reading this blog.
I immediately offered to send books to the camps. Lorraine thanked me, but told me that such shipments are typically intercepted by the government in these African states. Books must be accessible from within the country's borders.
In order to help Book Wish raise funds to build libraries, the Penguin Young Readers Group just published an anthology of short stories and poems by renowned, bestselling writers. What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur weaves stories and poems with photographs from the camps, blending many dreams and wishes into one rich volume.
On Monday evening, October 17, Books of Wonder in New York will host a signing at which seven of these authors will read. This event is free and open to the public. Come by if you can and if not, check out this incredible book whenever possible. Buy it as a gift that keeps giving, as each purchase benefits the literacy and education of Darfuris. The stories, by writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Meg Cabot, and Ann M. Martin, and the poems, drawings and photographs keep giving, too.
February 17, 2011 16:53
My commitment is to story-telling, however it happens.
I'm sitting here leafing through bound galleys of one of our forthcoming books.
Even in these electronic times we hold fast to bound galleys, or uncorrected page proofs.
We circulate them (often in spiral binding) to people who've agreed to read the manuscript months before it's published, and perhaps review or endorse it.
That's how we garner comments on the back covers or first pages of a book.
I'm set to hand-deliver our galleys to a well-known personage who kindly agreed to read this zesty memoir that you'll hear more about soon.
But first, I call a literary agent with whom I'm working on another project — selling a timely medical self-help manuscript about statin drugs.
My agent mentions the Borders bankruptcy debacle, quoting that Borders now owes publishers 141 million — or something outrageous like that.
As if our fragile industry needs another hit!
Still, I trot to midtown on this blessedly warm day, deliver bound galleys into welcoming hands and then head over to a production studio.
We've just taped two Shakespeare plays for a special project that combines words and images, and will be announced soon.
I sit with the director and my co-producer, who's managing the splices with an expert in Avid.
Watching colorful actors on screen, I think of typed words in the bound galleys I just handed over.
I think of all the ways to convey stories and sequences.
This is my passion, why I've stuck with this crazy publishing industry, even as it founders and sputters.
There's almost nothing so thrilling as helping a story to unfold.
January 19, 2011 13:20
Thanks to the intriguing personaes who've seen fit to comment here!
You might be interested to know that I've been mildly scolded for expressing a "negative opinion about blogging" in my last post. An anti-opinion.
I'll take the occasion to clarify, and express the 'pro' side of this coin: I often find blogs about current events quite useful — when they're written by those who know what they're talking about, and have something to say.
Blogs barometer the moment more immediately than any book could.
Books have a built in lag time, since they need editing and development and even eBooks must be manufactured. Print books require the additional time of shipment and distribution, to say the least for being marketed in a catalog and promoted in stores by a sales force.
Time works to potentially enrich a book, but the race to provide time-sensitive information effectively is on.
And who wins? The short, pointed blog that answers to the moment — or the more extensively researched book?
As I've written before on this blog, it's a good time in the history of information dissemination to avail ourselves of simultaneity ... and perhaps not expect an apple to taste like an orange.