Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Around the Word

Self-pub's prodigal pair: Two of the poster children for self-publishing made quite a media splash over the last few days, giving our favorite industry trend another shot of credibility. First, Amanda Hocking, the new "it" fantasy writer, received a blowout profile in the New York Times Magazine over the weekend, where she opened up about her multi-million dollar deal with St. Martin's, her humble beginnings as a writer, and the evolution of her prose. The piece offers some fine insight into a girl we've all heard about but whose past has remained as mysterious as the paranormal trolls inhabiting her novels.

Then it was reported early this week that mystery-thriller writer John Locke, author of the Donovan Creed series, is the first self-published author to join the Kindle million-seller club. Locke joins the elite company of only seven other authors, including superstars like Steig Larson, Nora Roberts, and Michael Connelly. If you're looking to get up to speed on this newest literary legend, GalleyCat has compiled a collection of free samples from his online ebooks, available on their website.

Illustrious conclusions: Australian author and illustrator, Shaun Tan, who won the Astrid Lindgren Award (think Nobel Prize for children's literature) a few weeks ago, recently gave a rather unorthodox interview that we thought our writer friends might appreciate. "Speaking" with the Germany's Der Spiegel -- and we use that term loosely -- Tan chose to express himself using only pen and paper, drawing his replies to a series of questions. Considering Tan has also worked as a concept artist on animated films including "Horton Hears a Hoo" and "Wall-E," this must have seem quite natural to him. Be sure to read the article to check out his illustrious conclusions on topics ranging from Hollywood to love to "things that are difficult to draw."

Read it loud, read it proud: We came across a recent New Yorker blog post by writer Flora Armetta  that makes a compelling modern plug for the old literary custom of reading aloud. Studies show that this particular oral tradition has substantial benefits for children, E.S.L. students, and (in a way) even dogs. Reading aloud also has a storied place among lovers, Armetta contends, and a renaissance could help today's couples strengthen relationships. One pair she spoke to ". . . saves the best sentences from their recent reading for each other, to read aloud together when they have a chance -- it's a bit like bringing home flowers to your sweetheart, but it lasts longer." Do you ever read aloud, either to your partner or your children, or just to soothe yourself?

Worth the price of admission? Some struggling independent bookstores have implemented a controversial survival strategy -- charging admission for author readings. The New York Times reports today that book store owners are fed up with readers who come to a free book signing with an Amazon-purchased copy, so they're charging admission to help make ends meet. Though many bibliophiles are scandalized by the practice, some fully support it. "I think it makes it more fun," said author and editor Keith Gessen. "I don't think you should be able to walk into a Barnes & Noble and get to look at Joan Didion."

Dis-proofing the editing crisis: The conventional wisdom these days is that publishers no longer edit books, leaving published manuscripts without professional proofing and causing readers to decry the sad state of publishing. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner puts these rumors to rest in her latest blog post today, explaining that publishers have always fallen on a wide spectrum of proofing proficiency. Though budget cuts have strained every publishing house's resources, Gardner holds that "most publishers' level of commitment to editorial excellence has remained stable."

"I'd like to thank the...": One of our favorite traditions was on display at last week's Webby Awards, where the honorees for digital excellence are asked to limit their acceptance speeches to five words. Our friend Cindy Starks provides an excellent round up of the the highlights from this year's ceremonies on her blog today. Our favorite? From Weight Watchers, "Losing is our specialty. Winning's nice."

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