Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Exclusive: Bin Laden death photo

Wednesday, 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.

Gee, I’m popular with New York Times readers

Saturday, 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?

Fortune flames Fed’s fake fiction for fooling EPA

Monday, 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.

Rework Attack ad on Karl Rove

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010


The founders of the website 37signals.com are also the developers of Ruby On Rails, the hottest new technology for building websites available. In addition to being innovative programmers, they are shrewd business people and www.37signals.com offers a variety of web collaboration tools for managing contacts, content, and tracking projects. Anyone can try these cloud applications for free and upgrade to paid services as business grows. We’ve used these cloud applications at the Grayson Agency since the first version to lower cost and improve productivity.

Now they’ve written a book on business innovation: Rework. It’s on my must read list, but today they innovated some book marketing; they released a gorilla marketing meme for their book (already a success) in the form of an attack ad on Karl Rove’s book: Courage and Consequences. I plan to read Karl’s book too, right after I finish all the books in the other great fantasies: Harry Potter, Twilight, and Kitty Norville. In case you’ve been living in Grand Fenwick or Narnia for the past decade, Karl is the popularizer (if not the inventor) of the angry political attack ad that plays fast and loosey with the truthiness of content. Check out these links. This is modern book marketing at its best. Hey, it got me to post their PR for a book we don’t even represent.

Stay tuned. This blog will shortly return to its regular program of revealing the real secrets of publishing.

Graphjam illustrates bookselling

Monday, December 14th, 2009

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Self-publishing that makes money

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
The brass of self-publishers is without limit, but one fellow named vic.martin, just sent me an email I have to post. It cuts to the heart of self-publishing and eliminates all the usual risks. Here’s what vic says:
Just a brief insight of my ways and means of making millions of Euros, I have a printing papers for printing Euros currencies, the result is that of original Euro currency, Upon your request, samples are readily availble for your perusal, so that you can check out the result, it has no different with the ordinary Euro currency, the bank accepts it as the production is of a very high quality,it is generally acceptable legal tender.

The brass of self-publishers is without limit, but one fellow named vic.martin, just sent me an email I have to share. His plan cuts to the heart of self-publishing and eliminates all the usual risks of turning what you print into money. As always, the author’s own voice is so much better than any summary I could craft:

Just a brief insight of my ways and means of making millions of Euros, I have a printing papers for printing Euros currencies, the result is that of original Euro currency, Upon your request, samples are readily availble for your perusal, so that you can check out the result, it has no different with the ordinary Euro currency, the bank accepts it as the production is of a very high quality,it is generally acceptable legal tender.

If any US Treasury Agents are reading my blog, get in touch. I’ll be happy to pass on vic’s email address.

Harlequin Hystericals

Friday, November 20th, 2009

We are living in the world of The Onion. After opening the week announcing Harlequin Horizons, the pay-to-be-published venture, and getting called on it, the Big Romance Publisher shot itself in the other foot yesterday by responding to the RWA response by saying:

“we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business.  As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way.  We will initiate this process immediately.  We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.”


Harlequin employs lots of literate people who understand things like character motivation and the credibility of prose. How then, did they write this stuff? The wording is clear and concise but understanding the context is lacking; it’s like publishing a romance novel with no romance. It addresses all the superficial text of the issue, without grasping the point: the business operated by this venture would not be an acceptable career for the hero of an Harlequin Romance. Changing the name for what you are doing is not going to make the activities acceptable. I’m sure any mystery author could spot the problem: rationalize everything during questioning but don’t let go of the game.

If this slackness in business catches on, we will shortly see announcements like these:

  • Miss America no longer pole-dancing under her title. While reigning as the symbol of purity she will be Miss America; while dancing, she will use the name Fifi La Boom-Boom.
  • Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi operations relaunched as The American Pretend Funds:  “We realized the public is unlikely to send money to Madoff With Your Money 2, but the Madoff business model is too good to let go so we changed the name. American Pretend Funds isn’t about being rich, its about imagining being rich. We help people pursue their dreams. We have to keep the dream alive.”

To quote that old saw, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

Thanks to novelist John Barnes for the Miss America line. Read about John’s new novel Tales of the Madman Underground here.

Read more about our agency at our page at Publishers Marketplace.

Amazing Earthquake Trick

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Los Angeles experienced a 4.7 earthquake last night. Carolyn and I were sitting on the sofa when the shaking began. This was the most sudden and violent quake I’ve felt in 20+ years in LA. Nothing broke and no damage is apparent, yet one, and only one, book out of a thousand on our shelves, jumped out of a bookcase and hit the floor with a resounding BAM. The book in question was Ricky Jay’s Journal of Anomalies, a collection of his essays on hoaxsters, hustlers, and cheats (to quote the cover). This flying book event is worth a blog entry because Jay’s profession, when not writing books, is making objects do unexpected things. How did he do this; he wasn’t even in the room? See Ricky at work on this youtube video. (Disclaimer: Ricky Jay is not a client; I just like his work.)

Reading publisher’s contracts is much like watching a card trick. Where did the author’s rights go? What’s the value of the contract? Everything seems to be clear  in paragraph 5, but wow, paragraph 11 really controls the deal.