TIED IN Ties Up More Raves

Tied In Cover 6-22-2010

Author/blogger Ed Gorman, founding publisher of Mystery Scene Magazine, has given TIED IN an incredibly flattering review.  He says, in part:

I say this without a whit of exaggeration: TIED-IN edited by Lee Goldberg, and written by Lee and other members of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, is the most fascinating, entertaining and honest book about the writing life I've ever read. […] we see the pleasures and frustrations of this particular craft. And in the process we see what life is really like for professional writers.

[…]TIED-IN is rich with humor, lore, wisdom about the writing life

Thank you so much, Ed! And Mark Baker, one of Amazon's top reviewers, has also given TIED IN a rave. He says, in part:

We get a look at every kind of tie-in imaginable. There are the books based on TV series, as covered by Donald Bain (author of the Murder, She Wrote books), Tod Goldberg, and William Rabkin. Max Allan Collins discusses his two most frustrating novelizations of movies. Is writing for a YA crowd harder or easier? You'll get the answer from Aaron Rosenberg. Writing a novel based on an entire season of episodes, novels based on comic books, and writing novels set between movies are all discussed. […]My respect for tie-in writers has really grown as a result of reading this book. One of the repeated facts is their short deadline. We're talking weeks to complete a book. And that's with multiple people telling them how the book should be written. This isn't easy work.[…]if you enjoy reading about the adventures of your favorite screen characters, this is a book you need to check out. You'll love getting a peak behind the scenes at how authors create these further stories.

Thanks, Mark!

Taking The Walk

The_Walk_FINAL (2) James Reasoner had some very nice things to say today about the paperback edition of THE WALK. He said, in part:

THE WALK is part adventure novel, part horror novel, part comedy. A lot of terrible, tragic things happen, but Goldberg’s dry, satiric wit crops up often enough to keep things from getting overwhelmingly gloomy. Marty and Buck are fine characters who play off each other wonderfully well, and the pacing really keeps the reader turning the pages. All of it leads up to an absolutely great ending that really put a grin on my face.

[…]this is hardly an unbiased review, since Lee Goldberg and I have been friends for years. However, trust me on this. THE WALK is one of the very best novels you’ll read this year or any other year.

Thank you so, much James!

No Kids or Cowboys, Please

Bards & Sages is a print-on-demand and RPG game publisher that also runs an annual writing contest and, inexplicably,  reviews books. Why any author would want their book reviewed by a POD publisher is beyond me  – but I got a big laugh out of their criteria for review submissions:

What we review: horror, fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, paranormal non-fiction (such as ghost story collections, urban legends, etc), writer guides and resources, roleplaying games, parapsychology, new age/mysticism non-fiction, and non-fiction works regarding ancient civilizations, dark ages, or mytho-poetic literature. We give limited consideration to mysteries, biographies, humor/parody, and political science.

What we don’t review: Under no circumstances do we review children’s books, erotica, romances, westerns, self-help, how-to manuals, unofficial guides to copyright/trademark material, fan fiction, “ripped from the headlines” fiction or non-fiction, and any book that uses the words “witch” and “Wiccan” interchangeably.

I think the New York Times should adopt these same criteria, particularly the one about proper usage of "witch" and "wiccan." Nothing riles me more.

Preying on the Self-Published

Writer Beware has an excellent overview on PW Select and other "pay-for-review" scams that prey on self-published authors. They write, in part:

[…]no matter what altruistic motive the service offers to justify its fees, paid reviews are less an effort to expand review coverage to worthy books than an opportunity to make some extra cash by exploiting self- and small press-published authors' hunger for credibility and exposure.

Now there's a new entrant in the fee-for review arena: Publishers Weekly.[…]For a self- or small press-pubbed author with a quality book, therefore, PW Select could–just possibly–be an opportunity. Problem is, most writers believe their books are quality, whether or not that's so. Many, if not most, of the writers who pay the $149 won't have a prayer of getting a review (sorry, self-publishing advocates, it's true. Large numbers of self-published books suck). All they'll receive for their money is a listing–and while the reviews may attract attention, who will look at the listings? It's hard for me to imagine that anyone beyond the authors themselves will care.[…] PW Select is a moneymaking venture that feeds on self- and small press-pubbed authors' hunger for exposure, in full knowledge that the majority of the writers who buy the service will not benefit from it.

THE WALK in Paperback

The_Walk_FINALBack in 2004, I wrote a book called THE WALK, which was released in hardcover by Five Star and quickly slipped into obscurity.  But a little over a year ago, I made the book available on the Kindle… and since then, it has sold nearly 9000 copies. Non-Kindle users have repeatedly asked me to release a trade paperback edition. I am pleased to announce that a paperback edition is now available on Amazon and CreateSpace for $11.99.

Here's the story:

It's one minute after the Big One. Marty Slack, a TV network executive, crawls out from under his Mercedes, parked outside what once was a downtown Los Angeles warehouse, the location for a new TV show. Downtown LA is in ruins. The sky is thick with black smoke. His cell phone is dead. The freeways are rubble. The airport is demolished. Buildings lay across streets like fallen trees. It will be days before help can arrive.

Marty has been expecting this day all his life. He's prepared. In his car are a pair of sturdy walking shoes and a backpack of food, water, and supplies. He knows there is only one thing he can do … that he must do: get home to his wife Beth, go back to their gated community on the far edge of the San Fernando Valley.

All he has to do is walk. But he will quickly learn that it's not that easy. His dangerous, unpredictable journey home will take him through the different worlds of what was once Los Angeles. Wildfires rage out of control. Flood waters burst through collapsed dams. Natural gas explosions consume neighborhoods. Sinkholes swallow entire buildings. After-shocks rip apart the ground. Looters rampage through the streets.

There's no power. No running water. No order.

Marty Slack thinks he's prepared. He's wrong. Nothing can prepare him for this ordeal, a quest for his family and for his soul, a journey that will test the limits of his endurance and his humanity, a trek from the man he was to the man he can be … if he can survive The Walk.

If you are a book critic/blogger, and would like a free review copy of  THE WALK… as a PDF, an ebook, or  as a trade paperback… please send your name, the address of your blog/website, and your preferred format to lee@leegoldberg.com.

Publishers Weekly Whores Itself

Publisher's Weekly has become so desperate in the face of declining advertising and an eroding subscriber base that it has decided to whore itself, and its good name, for a few extra bucks.

The magazine is launching PW Select, a quarterly "special issue" devoted to reviewing self-published authors, which would be a great and laudable thing… except that they are charging aspiring authors a $150 "processing fee" to be included. So it's just another vanity press scam, an advertising supplement pretending to be a review publication, aimed squarely at deceiving aspiring writers out of whatever money iUniverse hasn't already shaken out of them.

But it gets  even worse, my friends.

PW has also decided to piss all over their journalistic integrity, and the minimum basic standards of ethical journalistic conduct, by drafting their staff of reporters and critics to participate.  This creates a terrible and untenable conflict-of-interest for PW writers, who are now reviewing, and reporting on, authors who have paid for the opportunity.

The entire PW editorial staff will participate in a review of the titles being considered for review, and we'll likely invite a few agent friends and distributors to have a look at what we've chosen. No promises there, just letting some publishing friends take advantage of the opportunity to see the collection.[…] We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy. The processing fee that guarantees a listing and the chance to be reviewed accomplishes what we want: to inform the trade of what is happening in self-publishing and to present a PW selection of what has the most merit.

Do they really think that charging a $150 processing fee is any different than directly charging for reviews? Do they really think they are fooling anyone?

It's sad that PW,  once a fine and reputable publication, has decided to follow the example set by the disgraced, and widely derided, Kirkus Discoveries, and prey on the desperation of aspiring authors…sullying PW's good name in the process. But they have waded one step further into the sewer by dangling the enticement of possible agent representation or contract from a publisher as an incentive to submit to "PW Select." This puts them solidly in the ranks of vanity press scammers.

If  PW wanted to honestly and informatively report on the self-publishing field, and give worthy self-published titles the attention they deserve, while still maintaining journalistic integrity, objectivity, and good name, they would have done their special issue without charging authors to have their books included and reviewed. Or dangling the possibility of agent representation and a publishing contract to self-published authors for their participation.

This is a money grab, a blatant attempt to exploit self-published authors to improve their sagging bottom line. It's PW pissing on their own good name.

It's pitiful, disgraceful…and very sad. PW and its staff should be deeply ashamed.

Have Books Become Folk Art?

Over on Joe Konrath's blog, he's talking once again about how traditional publishing is on its death bed and how the ebook is the future. I agree with much of what he says, even if my friend's observations are beginning to feel stale and repetitive (much like my own observations on this topic and so many others). But I thought that this comment on Joe's post from reader Thomas Brookside offered a fresh insight…at least to me. Brookside wrote:

…if the question out there is why authors without any great financial interest in the present publishing system are defending it so fervently, I think the answer lies in a statement made by Anne Rice a number of years ago to the effect that when anyone can publish literature becomes a folk art.

The current system hands out very few financial rewards to authors but provides them with a lot of prestige.

I think even if they can make more money in the new paradigm and even if they can still find good books they want to read without much effort, these authors will feel highly aggrieved if the current system continues to disintegrate. If the statement "I've got a novel out right now," becomes the equivalent of "I sell handmade jewelry at flea markets on the weekend," these guys will be quite pissed off, even if they make more money and even if the slush apocalypse does not actually come about.

I think he makes a very good, and painfully accurate, point. I believe this is a genuine fear among published authors, whether they are making big money under the current model or not, and has gone unsaid.  But I don't think it's the only thing that motivates their concerns, and their fears, about the e-biz.

Certainly they have financial concerns, too. Can they still make a living as writers if the publishing business shifts to the ebook? Will their incomes increase or plummet?

And then there's concerns about the tsunami of self-published swill that's swamping the e-marketplace, and what the blowback from that might be on the e-book market, and books in general, which gets me back to my friend Joe.

No, I'm not saying his work is swill.  He's a clever writer, a savvy marketer, and is very helpful and generous with his knowledge. (I certainly owe my modest Kindle success to him). But it is his tremendous, and well-earned, success publishing his books on Amazon, and how impressively he has gotten the word out about it, which is making dollar signs dance in the eyes of newbies.

Hordes of newbies are rushing to get their work on the Kindle… even if it's horrendous in every way…and with no regard whatsoever to the impact that publishing crap will have on their careers. Because they aren't thinking about careers. They are thinking about money. Joe's money.

Even Joe, perhaps the biggest cheerleader there is for the Kindle format and the possibilities it offers writers, urges caution:

New writers tend not to know how crummy their writing is. No one learns to play piano overnight. Same thing with crafting a narrative. I've personally met thousands of newbie writers. I've only known two of these newbies that I knew were good enough to succeed–and both did. I've met maybe a dozen others that have potential. But that's it. The rest just aren't good enough. Maybe they'll become good enough, with practice. But putting starter novels on Kindle isn't good for anyone.

But I suspect that few, if any, aspiring authors have or will heed his wise advice in this regard. They are too eager to get their work out there.

It's not just those who have been published in print who have to adjust their thinking to embrace a changing publishing business…but also aspiring writers as well. As I have say many times, just because you can publish with a click of the mouse, that doesn't mean that you should.

On the other hand, for published authors, particularly those on the mid-list, times are changing. Accepting a publishing contract is no longer the no-brainer decision that it used to be, even if the offer is from a major house. Yes, it comes with an advance, editing, marketing, distribution, and prestige… but does it still make financial sense when you can publish the book in ef0rmat yourself, keep that agent commission in your pocket, and get a 70% royalty?

I don't have the answers. I don't think anybody does. But a lot of long-held beliefs about the business, certainly my own beliefs, aren't going to hold anymore.

Mr. Monk and Crimespree

Cleaned out Jon Jordan at Crimespree Magazine has given MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT a rave review.  He says, in part:

I love what Lee does with these books. His ability to channel Monk is uncanny and almost makes me wonder if they based this character on him in some way when they developed the series for TV. In truth it’s just that Goldberg is a Hell of a writer. […]I now associate Monk with Goldberg more than with the TV show.

Thank you, Jon!