Book Bits: Penguin settlement, the femme fatale, Alice Munro, ‘A Possible Life’
Welcome to “Book Bits,” your twice-a-week source for links to publishing, author and book information. I guess it’s the end of an era seeing Vantage Press shutting down (item 2). While growing up, every writers’ magazine carried advertisements for this company extolling the virtues of sending your manuscript to this company rather than going the big publisher and agent route. The problem, I think, was that those who went this route ended up with a garage full of books. It’s the end of an era now that self-published books are generally printed on demand rather than stocked at the author’s house.
- News: Merger Prep: Penguin Settles with Justice Department – “Penguin Group is settling the e-book pricing suit brought by the Justice Department in April. At the time, the publisher had vowed to fight the suit, but in October that approach was put into doubt when Penguin and Random House announced plans to merge next year. Macmillan remains the only publisher that has not settled with the Justice Department. It and co-defendant Apple are scheduled to go to trial in June.” ShelfAwareness – See also the Publisher’s Weekly story.
- News: Vantage Press Closes, by Jim Milliot – “Vantage Press, one of the original ‘vanity’ publishing businesses, has closed three years after its acquisition by media investment banker David Lamb. In a letter to creditors received by PW, law firm Hendel & Collins of Springfield, Mass. writes, “Vantage does not have sufficient revenue to sustain itself as a going concern. ” Publishers Weekly
- Film: Birth of the femme fatale! by Richard Lingeman – “They were Hollywood’s first female rebels, using their smarts and sexiness to undermine traditional male power “ Salon
- Feature: Alice Munro and her Editing Team – “Known for her spare and powerful prose, it’s a little difficult to imagine anyone editing Alice Munro at all.” January Magazine
- Viewpoint: Social Media: A Publisher’s Friend, Not Foe, by T. J. Raphael – “Publishers need to stop being afraid of social media. That was the message delivered today by panelists at the MPA Digital Social Media Summit at the Time Life Buildin” Folio
- Essay: Music and Modulation, by Gillian Polack – “Many of my friends who are writers listen to music when they write. Elizabeth Chadwick not only has a playlist for each novel, but puts that playlist online for her readers. She maintains a special blog where each playlist resides, because so many readers are curious about how the music and the words work together.” BiblioBuffet
- Review: “A Possible Life,” by Sebastian Faulks, reviewed by Lauren Bufferd – “Sebastian Faulks is best known for rich historical novels like Charlotte Gray and Birdsong. In his new work, A Possible Life, history is used as a backdrop to explore what connects us, suggesting that there are certain commonalities of thought, feeling and experience despite differences of time and place. This beautifully written novel is actually five self-contained character studies moving from 19th-century France to 2027 Italy, with several stops in between. “ BookPage
- How To: Stir Reader Curiosity, by Beth Hill – “And when our curiosity is wakened, we’re likely to follow along to see where something leads because we need to know the outcome. Curiosity is a force, a compelling one. A force that makes us act.” The Editor’s Blog
- News: Fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss raises more than $1 million for Heifer International by Kristen Browing-Blass – “An author’s blog post about escorting some baby ducks down a city street has led to donations of more than $1 million to Heifer International, the charity that provides cows, goats, chickens and, yes, ducks to poor families around the world.” The Denver Post
- Review: “The Sentinients of Orion” (series), by Marianne de Pierres – “The series is ideas heavy, but those ideas are not spelled out. Look and you will find post-humanism, chaos theory, the nature of God, the relevance and politics of philosophy and Bifurcation theory all disseminated to the reader through the characters. You just have to invest in them before you get the pay off.” Fantasy Book Critic
- Interview: Oliver Sacks: How I Write, by Noah Charney – “The famed neurologist and author of the new book Hallucinations talks about how ideas come to him in the water.” The Daily Beast
- Feature: Scott and Longfellow: Partners in the Long, Mild Twilight, by Micki Myers – “A hundred years ago, one of the great dramas in the history of exploration was taking place at the very bottom of the earth, a place so shrouded in mystery that it had not yet been mapped. After simmering for a long time, the “Heroic Age” of polar exploration had reached its apotheosis in the form of a mad dash undertaken by rivals to be the first to claim the planet’s last great prize: the South Pole.” The Paris Review
- News: Man Asian Literary Prize Announces Long List – “The Hong Kong-based Man Asian Literary Prize recently announced the long list for its 2012 prize. The international award is given annually for a novel by an Asian writer, written in or translated into English and published during the previous year. The winner, who will be announced in March, will receive $30,000.” Poets & Writers
- Feature: Successful Query Letters for Literary Agents, by Jason Boog – “We’ve collected 23 different agent pitch letters that actually worked in a variety of genres. We’ve gathered these samples from agency websites, agent blogs and the AgentQuery forums. No matter what kind of novel you have written, they can help you craft a better query letter.” GalleyCat
- Review: Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami, by Gretel Erlich, reviewed by Donna Seaman “Ehrlich’s invaluable chronicle subtly raises questions about coastal disasters, global warming, and nuclear power as the beauty and precision of her prose and her profound and knowledgeable insights into nature’s might and matters spiritual and cultural evoke a deep state of awe and sympathy.” – Booklist
- Feature: Why Publishing Proust Was as Difficult in 1912 as 2012, by Dennis Abrams – “Publishing Proust was no easier 100 years ago than it would be today, explains Anka Muhlstein, author of ‘Monsieur Proust’s Library’” Publishing Perspectives
- Essay: How Creative Writing Made Me a Better Blogger, by Carol Tice – “I know it sounds impossible, but I didn’t even hear about blogging — much less blogging for pay — until after I graduated from college. The ‘elite’ world of creative writing viewed blogging as a desperate author’s low-rent attempt to attract an audience.” Make a Living Writing
“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the recently released Kindle ghost story “Cora’s Crossing.” Set in the Florida Panhandle, the story is inspired by the 175-year-old legend about the ghost of Bellamy Bridge over the Chipola River near Marianna.