By day I work 60 hour weeks. At night I am a devoted father and husband to the world's greatest family. Somewhere in the non-existent time between the two, I am a writer. Join me from the beginning as I chronicle my adventures to become a successful published author.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 94 - News of the Writing World - Week Ending August 12, 2011

1) Fiction, Meet European Debt Crisis. Now is the time to Panic

NPR ran an interesting piece in their Planet Money segment about how a fictional work called The End of the Line for the Euro (like a financial thriller) affects reality. It's a European story set in 2012 where Germany withdraws from the Euro due to market volatility. It's done in such a way where you are not quite sure what is truth and what is not (similar to one of my all time favorite books Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Apparently in these rough times, such fiction can affect the real world. If you were watching the European debt crisis this last week, you would have noticed that much of the events involved French banks, which also happens to be one of the main themes in the novel which uses current politicians and bankers/banks real names. Due to a mix up with a British paper and what is real versus not, it seems that in large part the massive drop in a particular banks stocks was not caused by anything real, but by a piece of fiction! Go to the link to read more about it, but yes, fiction can be a powerful force!

2) Plagiarism... or Common Themes?

I've noticed a recent spate of accusations being tossed about regarding plagiarism, which in large part I believe has to do with both the digital age and e-Books. But what is plagiarism? There are some obvious answers: directly quoting without attribution, claiming an essay as your own that you copied from wikipedia, etc. There are also some gray areas, and therein lays the latest pseudo scandal to hit the book world this week... and it started in Turkey of all places.

Award winning author Elif ┼×afak has been accused of plagiarism by a much lesser known author, Zadie Smith, for apparent content pilfering from her (Smith's) novel White Teeth. Accusations and insults are flying between the two, but when you get down to it, I just don't see the plagiarism. As is pointed out in the article at, the theme of someone looking out from an urban basement window and guessing about peoples lives by their shoes isn't anything overly unique or new. It fits with the story of urban immigrants. I might also point out that Safak's take is much better written in my view! What think you?

3) Guess which book is the top in YA category on Amazon right now?

Yup, it's Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans. How much of this is the Oprah like power of Glenn Beck and how much is based on the actual book? It's a question many asked about Stephanie Meyers and J.K Rowling. It may be both a critical argument and completely irrelevant. It sold, it will have legions of followers, and it's getting people of all ages to read. So far the reviews are very positive, with most of the negative reviews being silly, shallow, or complaints about pricing. Barnes and Noble currently has user reviews showing a perfect 5/5 rating, while Amazon has it at almost 5/5 

4) Another eBook Success Lands a Major Publisher

Louise Voss and Mark Edwards co-wrote a thriller they just couldn't get an agent to pick up. Did they give up? Nope. Mark put up their book Catch Your Death in the UK Kindle Store where it hit Number 1 in the suspense category for June, selling 50,000 copies. Pricing? Roughly US $1.95. Harper Collins took note, and now the duo have a four book six-figure publishing deal. Congratulations to them! I would note however that unless it is more than $200,000, they have probably lost out long term. They already had great sales and they kept most of their sales money. Increase their success over time and consider four novels... well, you get the idea. Now most of it will go to Harpers and Collins... Still. They can take that path in other novels, and being published by a major publisher is a nice feather to stick in their hat. The book looks interesting and I may pick it up soon.

5) A Poor Argument in Defense of Print Publishing Pricing

The final newsworthy items comes from the UK Guardian. It seems that the American author Robert Levine is publishing a book bashing the eBook world and defending higher prices for print. The argument? That the cost of materials and assembly for print is only about $3.50, but you are paying for the text itself when you pay the $15-$20. Yup, he's talking about author advances, editing, marketing, etc. The only problem? Most publishers have poor or no editors now. Author advances are dwindling. Accounting tricks abound. Marketing is pretty much up to you as the author. Same with fact checking. So I view his argument as shallow, or maybe even delusional.

I would also add that his premise that Amazon sells books cheap to drive sales for the Kindle where it makes a bundle of money is patently false. Sounds like his publisher didn't provide a fact checker. Amazon sells the Kindle at a loss. Why? Because the money is in the eBooks and they want to sell more eBooks. But you'll see these dying gasps for breath pop up here and there for a while. I thought I would point one of them out!


Lots of interesting stuff here, Matt. Thanks.

Love reading your posts to start off my weekend. I'm so much more informed about the industry--to peak my interest in more topics. Thanks!

Thanks, Matt. I enjoy reading your industry news blurbs!

Thanks Matt! Now I don't have to read the paper (as if I was going to do that anyways ;)

Lots of interesting things to think about. I like this format for fridays.

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