Scaling the Single

29/12/2011 § Leave a comment

The above was among several responses over the holidays to a spate of articles on journalists and self-publishing. The stories I saw were by Ewan Spence at Forbes, Jenn Webb at O’Reilly Radar, and Matthew Ingram at GigaOm. Each talked about my own Kindle Single, which is why I saw them. From the many, many tweets and such that resulted, I suspect there are more stories out there, and a larger discussion.

I’ll try to answer the question. My guess is the self-publishing model could support a lot of the reporters who were previously working as freelancers, stringers and — most notably — fixers. But it would have to be done internationally, and probably in groups. « Read the rest of this entry »

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The Death of the Gentleman Publisher

10/12/2011 § 1 Comment

This week, publisher Hachette circulated a memo articulating the services it offers to authors. According to a copy reprinted on a website called Digital Book World, the memo said Hachette, and publishers in general, do four main things:

1. Curator: We find and nurture talent.

2.Venture Capitalist: We fund the author’s writing process.

3. Sales and Distribution Specialist: We ensure widest possible audience.

4. Brand Builder and Copyright Watchdog: We build author brands and protect their intellectual property.

Reading the memo caused me to think back to the spring, when I had lunch with a friend who works as an senior editor with a large New York publishing house. I’d asked him to make a similar case – to convince me why authors should market their work to traditional publishers – and he had offered a similar list. In addition to finding and nurturing talent, he provides his authors money (what he called “a banking function”) plus marketing, distribution, and legal muscle. It was a slightly uncomfortable conversation because I wasn’t convinced. « Read the rest of this entry »

Why and How A Novelist Didn’t Write a Kindle Single

01/12/2011 § 9 Comments

L.A. – based novelist Edan Lepucki just published a thoughtful takedown of electronic self-publishing, at The Millions. An excerpt:

The thought of Amazon being the only place to purchase my novel shivers my timbers. I don’t mind if someone else chooses to read my work electronically, just as I don’t mind if Amazon is one of the places to purchase my work; I’m simply wary of Amazon monopolizing the reading landscape. Self-publishing has certainly offered an alternative path for writers, but it’s naive to believe that a self-published author is “fighting the system” if that self-published book is produced and made available by a single monolithic corporation. In effect, they’ve rejected “The Big 6″ for “The Big 1.” « Read the rest of this entry »

Why and How I Wrote a Kindle Single

28/11/2011 § 8 Comments

THE WAGES PAID to foreign stringers – the occasional contributors newspapers rely on to cover vast swaths of the planet – even shock reporters. Between $200 and $300 per dispatch is common. $500 is desirable. That fee represents work taking about a day, sometimes two, to complete in a dignified manner. You identify what’s most important or interesting in a situation, talk to people about it, confirm what they tell you, perhaps travel to an event and record the details, write up the story, find a place to send it back to the publisher, and wait an hour. Then you go through one or more rounds of questions and edits. A twelve hour day is a minimum, and longer ones very common. That process doesn’t really change, whether you are covering a distillers’ convention or the Libyan Revolution.

It’s fair money if you’re sending a story every day. But you usually aren’t. « Read the rest of this entry »

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