Welcome to the blog of the Consulting Editors Alliance. This is our forum for sharing views on the wonderful, bizarre, enormously frustrating and satisfying (depends on the day) world of book publishing and our roles in it as freelance editors, writing collaborators, and ghostwriters. Please join the conversation!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Not Quite A Publisher In A Box, But A Step In That Direction

This is really interesting: From Seth Godin's Domino Project, successfully self-published author Jenny Blake provides her Excel spreadsheet listing the dozens of steps she takes from launch through publication and marketing of a new book.  It looks as though it would need quite a bit of customization to fit your individual needs, but I suspect this could be a valuable tool for someone getting started in the complicated world of self-publishing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Maybe Everything Old Really Is New Again

Back in 1922, DeWitt Wallace was recovering from shrapnel wounds he'd received in World War I when he got the idea that the flood of information being published was just too great for the average person to manage.  He got a pair of scissors and a pot of glue and made up a sample of a new magazine by piecing together the best bits of all the articles and books being published elsewhere for quick, easy reading by a busy person.  By the time Wallace's concept celebrated its 40th anniversary, Reader's Digest had 23 international editions and was the most widely-read magazine in the world.

Today, apparently, the same concept looks like this:
Gis.to is an aggregator of abstracts for the long-form web. It is a venue for the crowds to share the valuable nuggets of information held within long-form non-fiction content which often gets overlooked or ignored due to the massive amount of information produced by our society each day. . . .  
A directory of well-written abstracts (or Gists) that summarize the key points of information within long-form articles that offer readers a glimpse into what a further investment of their reading time will yield without skewing the original source article with a great deal of editorial opinion. 
Sort through the jargon and you quickly see that Gis.to is basically a Reader's Digest for the twenty-first century . . . with readers writing the "condensed" contents themselves.  If you find this idea compelling, visit the website and you'll have an opportunity to donate money to the people who are launching this thing--and who I bet are hoping to become millionaires in the process.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fame Makes Best-Sellers . . . Usually Not Vice Versa

An entertaining and fact-filled review of the history of American best-sellers (or as she corrects the term, "fast-sellers") by Ruth Franklin.  Most sobering observation: "A novel by a new writer has a smaller chance of becoming a best seller today than at any other time in history."  Of course, it helps if you are someone like Tina Fey or George W. Bush, famous from non-literary activities (in the case of President Bush, extremely non-literary).  The book business, much as we may love it (and with occasional huge exceptions as with the Harry Potter phenomenon), is increasingly an appendage to broader American culture rather than its core.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"And Thanks To The Editor Who Tortured Me Mercilessly"

I was amused by this article by Emily Gould offering do's and don'ts for author acknowledgment pages, although I must note that some of her tips (e.g., "Rule #2: Don't thank a deity") seem more broadly applicable than others ("Rule #7: Don't swing madly from throwaway jokes to forced gravitas").

Personally I judge the acknowledgment pages in books I've worked on based solely on how effusively the author praises me.  More effusive = better, in case you are wondering--although in my experience the level of authorial thanks I receive tends to be negatively correlated with my actual role in enhancing the book.  When I do little but spruce up the grammar and correct a misspelling or two, I generally get warm accolades; when I transform an unpublishable mess into a clear, interesting read, I often get tepid thanks or none at all.

In retrospect, of course, that's not surprising.  The dentist who discovers I have half a dozen cavities and spends three hours fixing them all does me more good than the one who gives me a quick, painless cleaning--but I certainly don't savor the process.  So I guess that when I tear apart and rebuild someone's painstakingly crafted manuscript, it's unreasonable of me to expect gratitude.  Yet of course I do, such is human perversity.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Genius Of M.O. Braschi: Authorship As Mashup

I used to think I was a reasonably productive writer--but that was before I heard of Manuel Ortiz Braschi, author of no fewer than 3,255 e-books. That is, "author" in the same sense that I "wrote" the music for West Side Story, since I downloaded the album from iTunes. Click here to read about a weird byproduct of the rise of electronic publishing . . .

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Note To Self For When I Write My Publishing Memoir

Remember to include plenty of "vaginal ectoplasm" (if I want a positive review from the Jewish Daily Forward, that is!).