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.
September 27, 2011 04:06
Not About Madonna: My Little Pre-Icon Roommate and Other Memoirs by Whit Hill makes good on the title’s promise. The beautifully written memoir made me laugh and cry. It held my interest and made me think twice — or more. And, along the way, Whit presented a more real, likeable and vulnerable aspect of Madonna than we tend to see in media.
Back "in the day" Whit — or Anne, as I knew her — was one of the ‘perfect’ girls in 4th and 5th grade: she was upbeat, mature, resilient (“not in math,” she now claims) while I was the “artist” and jester. Our P.S. 59 class reconnected on Facebook decades later. I had no idea that a wonderful and unique book was going to come of it. Please check it out and let us know your response, on this blog or on our Facebook page for Not About Madonna. I promise it will be time well spent.
April 20, 2011 16:44
“Maybe we’ll merge with (smarter–than-human intelligences) to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities...”
— Lev Grossman, 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal, Time Magazine (Feb. 21, 2011)
“Who would have imagined that the computer … could fly a plane and guide a missile before it could ride a bike? … As computers have mastered rarified domains once thought to be uniquely human, they simultaneously have failed to master the ground-floor basics of the human experience: spatial orientation, object recognition, natural language, adaptive goal-setting…”
— Brian Christian, Mind vs. Machine, The Atlantic Monthly (March 2011)
“With all due respect, Hare, you’re a sent. Not my doctor, or my wife, or my mommy!” — Jake Anderson, Harold the House
In the last months, magazines like Time and The Atlantic Monthly have featured cover stories about artificial intelligence.
These articles explore a turning point in human history in which A I figures even more prominently that it does already — a turning point that many contend we are quickly approaching. What might such a time portend, what are its implications? Will the “human era” end, as Lev Grossman ponders, or might humanity assert itself yet more compellingly, as Brian Christian suggests?
Author Jake Anderson envisions a future when A I lords over our homes and private desires. I was not only gob-smacked by this astonishing (and plausible) tale, but I felt Harold the House should be illustrated and presented as a serialized graphic novel. And I knew just the person to bring it to life: Angela Bocage, friend of my youth and underground comic artist extraordinaire.
The next step is for you, gentle reader, to weigh in. Please use this blog to post any comments about the world that you see unfolding in this hot bot drama. Would you be as "chummy" with Harold as our hero Mark? How many years in the future do you think this story is set?