May 4th, 2011
First photo of body of the Wicked Witch of the Middle East
The Wicked Witch of the Middle East is confirmed dead.
Meanwhile, publishers and agents are bracing for a flood of memoirs from people who had nothing to do with the mission and thriller proposals that are sure to sell because Bin Laden is dead. In other news, the fringes of the Tea Party are promising a flurry of bestsellers combining total misunderstanding of events and rage. Our favorite so far is the “Death Certificate” conspiracy: ”If Obama can’t provide an unimpeachable long form death certificate for Bin Laden, then the unelected terrorist leader isn’t qualified to be dead.”
Thank you for your attention. We will now return to more news and information about the publishing industry.
September 23rd, 2010
I’ll be on a panel about publishing at This Week in LAW which will be live streamed at http://live.twit.tv/on Friday September 24 at 11-12:15 p.m. PDT, 1-2:15 Central, 2-3:15 Eastern time. Drop by in your web browser or visit the TWIL page afterwards to pick up the podcast. If you rely on an iPod, the podcast will also be on iTunes. There are so many possible topics, I can’t say what we will cover, but I’m sure authors and fellow agents will find it interesting. Post your thoughts here afterwards, too.
August 2nd, 2010
I’m happy to report that my interview with Jeff Rivera is on The Huffington Post today. So click on over and learn how we view author’s works as investments, not “deals,” and how we Focus on Finance and the Future for our clients.
July 16th, 2010
Ever since the iPhone 4 was released thousands of people have contributed to a huge shared fictional world centered on the “iPhone antenna problem.” Everyone has an opinion including many, often the most angry posters, who have never touched the iPhone. We have two iPhone 4 units that replaced our iPhone 3GS models on release day. It is absolutely true that bridging the gap with the “grip of death” has the effect of dropping the signal bars in the display and often, but not always, dropping calls and lowering 3G data services. I can see website loadings slow down if the iPhone 4 is held a certain way. But not always.
The fiction is coming from the human nature to demand an explanation for all things, and increasingly an explanation in Hollywood terms, in which there is a single bad villain (possibly assisted by minions in orange jumpsuits) who must be found and captured or killed. So bloggers take positions on self-appointed moral grounds and demand that Apple fix the problem, or when Apple fixes the problem it will cost $1.5 billion. Yet, while there is certainly reproducible, unexpected behavior with the iPhone, there’s no evidence that there is a villain to kill or design defect to fix. All we know is that there exists some symptoms of behavior in the device.
Apple will shortly (within the next ten minutes) hold their press conference and hopefully resolve the plot. Predictions range from: “Apple will deny the problem, piss off everyone and the stock will nose dive,” to my own estimate, that the iPhone 4 is unusually sensitive to its environment and requires some refinement in the software and possibly user expectation to work best.
We will know shortly.
My purpose in writing is to call attention to the ongoing co-creation of a world view simply by the use of foreshadowing, creation of suspense and involving the reader emotionally by tying a few observed events, to a range of possible dramatic situations. Mystery writers call this technique “red herrings.” Can you make money writing red herring news? Sure. If you can drop Apple stock by a few percent, you can clean up on short sells. The profits are greater than selling a mystery novel.
Here’s an example of a benign explanation of the iPhone dropping calls. Fact: the iPhone 4 is a more sensitive device than the previous models and competitive phones. Fact: the iPhone 4 can find a real signal where other phones can’t. Fact: sometimes an iPhone 4 drops calls where other phones either couldn’t make them at all, or they do not drop calls. A Hollywood plot calls for their to be some crucial defect in the phone that causes this. Is it however, a defect if the iPhone 4 can find service where others can’t–even if it sometimes loses the call? Cell towers (hopefully) are set up in circular patterns that overlap at the edges to provide service continuity. The places where service doesn’t overlap (or is blocked by a mountain or large metal buildings) is called a dead zone. A cell phone calling from the edge of one tower’s service is probably also at the edge of more than one cell tower. Not quite overlapping circles that almost touch; get it? So a traditional cell phone may see no service or one tower that it holds on to and keeps a call going. Because the iPhone 4 is the more sensitive phone (most everyone agrees this is so), it may see several choices of signal, gets confused and drops the call. Possible? I’m not an antenna engineer but I did waste a lot of my yoot tuning short wave receivers listening to ham radio. Is this a defect, a simple behavior, or an easy software fix? We are about to find out.
July 12th, 2010
Carrie’s latest novel of Kitty Norville, Kitty Goes to War (Tor) debuts on the New York Times mass market bestseller list. The official debut date is July 18, 2010, but you can see the list online here. Grab a copy at your favorite bookstore, Apple’s iBookstore or the Amazon Kindle store and other electronic sellers. Shopping in the iBookstore requires an Apple iPad, or most models of the iPod Touch/iPhone running iOS4. The audio book edition (Tantor) is also available. Kitty Goes to War is the eighth novel in the series and the fourth title in the past three years to make the NYTimes list upon publication.
While browsing, treat yourself to Discord’s Apple (Tor), Carrie’s new fantasy novel, now in hardcover, electronic formats and on audio from Brilliance Audio. While it is very much an urban fantasy, it is also an international thriller of power politics and a chase for the ultimate weapon: not a nuke, or pandemic-class bio-weapon, but the Apple of Discord.
July 3rd, 2010
The New York Times has an essay in their Bits Blog titled Apple Hopes to Re-Enter the Living Room, about the Apple TV. It’s wildly speculative roundup of wild speculation from anonymous sources. I posted a comment, not about Apple, but illustrating the ease with which speculation can invent futures. Apple articles always draw lots of reader comments (there are now 41), but to my surprise, my comment was recommended 31 times; three times more than any other comment (the next most recommended comment has 9 recommendations) and almost as many times are there are comments. To see what the article says and check the comments (I’m comment #8) click on the link above. A free registration may be required. Feel free to comment yourself or comment back here, unless you want to tell me you just saved money on meds, car insurance, or know a great site with hot links. <g>
UPDATE: After nine days, the NYT store has drawn 54 reader comments and my comment has been recommended 50 times. Was it something I said?
May 20th, 2010
The Good Humor Man
The May 15th issue of Booklist, named The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox (Tachyon) one of 2010′s Top Ten SF/Fantasy novels. See the whole list and details of the novel at Booklist Online. Well earned recognition for Andy, his editor/publisher, Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications and his agent at AGLA, Denise Dumars.
Andy’s debut novel, the darkly magical, Fat White Vampire Blues and the sequel, Bride of the Fat White Vampire (Ballantine) truly capture the feel of old New Orleans–funny, scary fun and over the top. Having fearlessly addressed the fact that vampires feeding on the rich blood of victims full of gumbo and absinthe would be obese, in The Good Humor Man, Andy cuts right to the fat and spins a tall tale to be sure, but not a lanky one.
May 3rd, 2010
NOT. Here’s the sad statistics, based on my shallow and incomplete survey:
Number of iPads sold by Apple in 28 days: 1,000,000
Number of iPads in the hands of book editors: 2
Wouldn’t you think that the most significant e-book reader; one that, weeks before release, caused Amazon to change it’s e-book strategy and is projected by most analysts to be the device that will save newspapers and magazines would be in the hands of the people who are on the front line of book publishing? It doesn’t seem to be the case. I admit to poor survey techniques. I simply called lots of editors we regularly work with and asked them: Do you have an iPad? Do you know anyone who does? Has the company any strategy regarding iPads? In almost all cases, the responses were: no, I saw someone in the office with one last week and no. Editors are largely so underpaid, that virtually none are buying them for their own use, and publishers are so cheap that we can’t expect the companies to outfit the whole staff overnight, but wouldn’t it make sense to have some pilot programs? I couldn’t find any. Every editor I spoke with is interested and curious but there’s a surprising undercurrent of “I don’t see what it means for me.” I attribute this to ongoing efforts of publishers to isolate their editors from the world.
Our agency has two. Our 16GB WiFi unit arrived at noon on the day of release. Our first 64GB 3G unit arrived last Friday. We will be blogging about what this product means for authors and editors, but initially we have little to say other than they work exactly as promised. What I can say is that no one can judge the iPad who has not held one for five minutes and tried to read something with the iBooks application. Getting your hands on one in an Apple store is actually harder than buying one. There’s about a five minute wait to get to the demo tables.
Help this survey be more accurate. If you are an editor and have an iPad, post a comment.
April 26th, 2010
Apparently some of the country’s most successful authors of fiction work for the General Accountability Office (GAO). They resolved to check on the usefulness of the EPA’s Energy Star rating system that rates “green” appliances. So they created four imaginary companies and filed requests for Energy Star status for twenty fake devices, of which fifteen were approved. My favorite is an air cleaner that was only a feather duster taped to a space heater
Fortune Magazine has the whole story at: How to ‘green’ an appliance.
The challenge of being a novelist is being held to a higher standard for made-up stuff.
April 6th, 2010
Directive 51 by John Barnes (Ace)
Directive 51 is President George Bush’s directive that specifies how Executive Branch powers will be transferred in the event of a catastrophic event that kills or incapacitates the Constitutionally authorized successors to the office. Every administration has had such a plan, Directive 51 is just the most current. This techno-thriller novel envisions just such an event occurring and the efforts of the surviving Americans: government officials, military forces, and just plain folks to survive and rebuild. You can read a brief essay by John on the Penguin website, just click here. More than just a disaster novel, this is a political action thriller unlike anything we’ve seen before. There’s lots of neat, cutting edge issues in the book: the real danger of a fully open internet, an epidemic of both bacteria and nanotechnology, and the consequences of thoughtless extremism of all sides of the environmental questions.
If you are an aspiring author who wants to know what sort of novel appeals to our Agency, read Directive 51.
If you have a Bug Out Bag, or participate in the preparedness movement, or are uneasy about disasters like the recent earthquakes, read Directive 51. It will help you visualize what the conditions would be if there’s a complete collapse of the national infrastructure, and no matter what might happen to you: wildfire, earthquake, terrorist attack, you can smile and say, “I’ve seen worse” as you get on with saving yourself, your family and community.
Directive 51 is on sale today, at all online bookstores including Barnes and Noble, Borders and at their retail stores and independent bookshops as well. Check out Amazon.com, they are selling this first edition hardcover at the unbelievable price of $9.99, the same price as the Kindle edition, but we don’t know how long they will offer this discount. If you are a lucky iPad owner you can grab the Apple iBook edition from the iBookstore (only accessible via the iPad).