The Mail I Get – WTF Edition

I got this strange email recently and, apparently, no response is necessary or even expected:

I’m writing this email because I just wrote a pilot and I think it might be good. I’m XYZ, I’m Italian and I’m almost 21. Direct-Mail1I would like to send it all to a network but basically it’s impossible, because writing to a network is extremely difficult plus they have to read emails like this one probably everyday,  so I found your profile online and now I’m following you on twitter so I decided to write to you. You know, writing a pilot and not having any contacts is horrible . I’m not even hoping that something could happen but it’s just a file and it’s just an email so why not??  I’m studying linguistic mediation so this is definitely not my field but I write stuff since I was a kid and here in Italy there’s no possibility for people like me who love American TV shows. I love sitcoms like Friends or Big Bang theory and even if I love shows like charmed or grey’s anatomy or lost. I think that sitcoms are my thing. I’m sorry if you had to read all this. I don’t want to bother you. I would like to send to you the pilot but here apparently it’s impossible, so thank you anyway got your attention.

The Mail I Get – This and That Edition

McGraveCover-HomeQuestions from this week’s mailbag…

Hi Lee. I’m sort of new to your work. I’ve read The Walk, Dead Space, My Gun Has Bullets and I just finished McGrave. I really like reading your books. They’re too funny to put down and I have definitely stayed up way past my usual bedtime just to finish reading one of your gems. Now that I’ve heaped on the flattery, I must say that you should do an entire series of novels featuring McGrave. […] I’m really hoping that you consider it. In any event, you’re my new flavor of the month author and I’m going to read everything that you’ve written. Now go back to work and write me something good to read.

I was all set to write a series of McGrave books… in fact, my plan was to do them in-between new King City books…but the Fox & O’Hare project with Janet Evanovich unexpectedly came along and it has changed everything. We are co-writing two books a year (the third, The Job, comes out in November) and it hasn’t left me much time for anything else, not that I am complaining. I love writing the Fox & O’Hare books. But I do intend to get back to both McGrave and Tom Wade one of these days. Speaking of McGrave, you might enjoy a new, a short video from my good friends at Firelight Entertainment Group about how the book came about.


I have written a movie novel for the DreamWorks film ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ but haven’t published yet because I’m worried about copyright. I’m thinking about self-publishing on How would I go about getting permission to do it?

Thank you,


Publishing the book yourself would definitely be copyright infringment. If you go ahead and do it, at best the studio will demand that you withdraw the book from sale. At worst, they will sue you. In order to publish the book, you would have to ask DreamWorks, the studio that made the movie, for permission and I think it’s highly, highly unlikely they will grant it. You would have more luck finding a dragon and training it.

I came across this article in the New York Times ‘I Was a Digital Best Seller’ a few weeks ago, and it made me think of you and your blog.  The article describes the experience of an established non-fiction author, and his experience with a digital publisher called Byliner, which (at least to me) looks and sounds like a legitimate publisher.  The article (and many of the comments on the article) gives me the impression that writers and musicians will still need to work with agents and publishing companies to get their work marketed in the digital world, even though it is at least theoretically possible for anyone to ‘self-publish’.  At the same time, it looks like the digital publishing industry itself is still evolving.

I read the article when it was published and I got a different message from it, and that is: Don’t be an idiot. I thought the article showed how incredibly stupid the author was and that he had no one to blame for his misfortune but himself.

An Example of the Double Standard

Bosch_BoxArt_01In today’s New York Times, authors Douglas Preston and many big-name authors, took out a full-page ad supporting Hachette in their dispute with Amazon. As I mentioned in a blog post yesterday, one phrase really bugged me:

“As writers–most of us not published by Hachette–we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want.”

But Doug, his co-signers, and the Author’s Guild haven’t shown that same outrage, or any concern at all, about booksellers boycotting books from Amazon Publishing, a practice that has been going on openly for years.

That’s a double-standard.

I believe that the Authors Guild, and guys like Doug and his co-signers, shouldn’t support one retailer’s right to carry whatever title they want…for whatever reasons they want…and not Amazon’s right to do the same thing. That was my point in yesterday’s post. Doug’s argument was disingenuous. This dispute is not about what’s best for either authors or readers.

My post sparked a lively and friendly debate on my Facebook page, where several people pointed out that booksellers aren’t going to stock books published by Amazon, a company they see as their competitor. Some people also pointed out that many booksellers feel betrayed by authors who signed with Amazon Publishing. Furthermore, some booksellers felt that authors who signed with Amazon Publishing showed a fundamental lack of concern for the future of the booksellers who’ve supported them for years.

I don’t think that’s a fair or accurate characterization. Many of the authors now published by Amazon Publishing were either dropped by their publishers (and thus radioactive as far as other publishers are concerned) or were offered terrible contracts that ultimately pay below minimum wage. Amazon Publishing has revived the careers of hundreds of mid-list authors who otherwise would be finished in publishing…or forced to take crap contracts that they can’t live on just to remain in print. I believe it’s wrong for any bookseller to see it as a betrayal if an author chooses to take an Amazon Publishing contract in order to continue supporting his family and to stay in print. By the same token, I can understand, emotionally and on principle, why a bookseller wouldn’t want to carry Amazon Publishing titles. I don’t resent any bookseller for making that choice.

And yet…there’s a double-standard among booksellers, too, about what constitutes “betrayal.”

Michael Connelly’s TV show BOSCH, based on his Harry Bosch books that booksellers have lovingly handsold for years, is exclusive to Amazon. You have to be a member of Amazon Prime, or rent episodes from Amazon, to watch it.

I haven’t heard any booksellers accuse him of “betrayal” or insensitivity to booksellers for taking his show to Amazon. In his case, making that choice wasn’t about paying his mortgage or saving his career. And I bet booksellers will continue to sell his Bosch books….and when tie-in editions of the Bosch books come out with actor Titus Welliver on the covers, bookstores will sell those, too, even though they will be promoting BOSCH, and drawing new viewers to an Amazon-exclusive TV show.

But those same booksellers won’t carry Amazon Publishing books by critically-acclaimed, award-winning mystery authors like Harry Hunsicker or Alan Russell or G.M. Ford.

The difference?

Most Amazon Publishing authors are mid list. Michael is a huge, bestselling author, so they’d be taking a financial hit by not stocking his books…and would piss off their customers. Michael is also one of the nicest guys on the planet, who has supported indie booksellers for decades with in-store signings and drop-shipped signed books. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like and admire Michael. I certainly do. There’s enormous, well-deserved affection and admiration for Michael, so booksellers wouldn’t think of hurting his feelings by not stocking his books as a stand against Amazon. If anything, they have expressed nothing but happiness that Bosch is finally coming to the screen…though it’s exclusively through Amazon.

Contractors_FrontCover_FINALOn the other hand, there’s Harry Hunsicker. He’s an award-winning, critically acclaimed novelist that booksellers enthusiastically hand sold.. and who, in return, has supported booksellers for years, both as an author and also as executive director of the Mystery Writers of America. And he’s also one of the nicest people you will ever meet. But most bookstores won’t carry him anymore, because he’s published by Amazon. The difference is, it’s easy to boycott Harry. Or Alan Russell. Or G.M. Ford. They are midlist. It’s not so easy to boycott Mike. He’s a superstar.

But if booksellers were to boycott Michael’s books because the BOSCH show is exclusive to Amazon, you can bet there would be widespread outrage from the Authors Guild, and all of the authors who signed that New York Times open letter today. But when booksellers boycott Amazon Publishing’s books, and hurt hundreds of authors, that’s okay as far as Doug Preston, his co-signers, and the Authors Guild are concerned.

That’s a double-standard.

I am not saying Amazon is right in the Hachette dispute, or that booksellers shouldn’t be able to choose what books to stock or how to price them. But I am saying that Doug’s stance, and Author United’s, and the Authors Guild’s, is hypocritical and disingenuous. And that booksellers who accuse authors of “betrayal” for signing with Amazon Publishing are wrong, too. It’s a complex issue, one that neither side can boil down to a simple argument…or simple villains.

My Letter to Douglas Preston

A bunch of literary heavy-hitters have taken out a $140,000 advertisement/open letter, written by author Douglas Preston under the auspices of “Authors United,” that’s going to run in the New York Times tomorrow that sides with the publisher Hachette Group in their on-going business dispute with Amazon over ebook pricing. There are lots of points in the open letter that I don’t agree with, or that I believe are mis-represented, but one phrase, one example of hypocrisy, stood out and I had to call Doug on it. I believe it reveals what this dispute is really about. Here’s the letter I wrote to him:

You wrote in your ad: “As writers–most of us not published by Hachette–we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want.”

Does that same sentiment also apply to the brick-and-mortar bookstores, from big chains to indies, that refuse to stock paperback books from Amazon Publishing’s imprints Thomas & Mercer, 47North, Montlake, etc? If so, why don’t I see the same level of outrage from Authors Unhachette-book-group-logoAmazon-logoited, or the Authors Guild, over this widespread ban, which has been going on for years and harms hundreds of authors?

The list of authors, many of them ITW and Authors Guild members, directly affected by bookstores refusing to carry Amazon-imprint titles includes Marcus Sakey, Kevin J. Anderson, Ray Banks, Alan Russell, Greg Bear, Ian Fleming, Ed McBain, Max Allan Collins, Stephanie Bond, Dana Cameron, Leslie Charteris, Diane Capri, Orson Scott Card, Sean Chercover, Deepak Chopra, John Connolly, Bill Crider, Ed Gorman, Peter David, Nelson DeMille, Aaron Elkins, Christa Faust, Stephen W. Frey, Jim Fusilli, Joel Goldman, David Hewson, Jonathan Maberry, Penny Marshall, Robert R. McCammon, Marcia Muller, Susan Orlean,Julie Ortolon, Tom Piccirilli, Daniel Pinkwater, Steven Pressfield, Robert Randisi, Christopher Rice, John Saul, Tom Schreck, Neal Stephenson, and R.L. Stine, to name just a few.

I have enormous respect for you and the authors who signed your ad. Many of them are also friends of mine. But the fact that you, and the other authors listed in the ad, are upset by the Hachette situation and haven’t shown any concern over Amazon Publishing titles being banned by bookstores speaks volumes about what the real issue is here.


The Mail I Get – Mondo Monk Edition

MM_Gets_EVEN_mmHere are a bunch of questions I’ve received lately about Monk. There may be spoilers ahead.

I just saw an episode of Monk that revealed Trudy’s killer as a college professor she had an affair with and had his baby. In your books you keep saying the murder hasn’t been solved. Can you explain? I still have several of your Monk books to read so the answer may be in the unread books. Thanks on advance for your feedback. Darla

That’s not the case. My books came out while the show was still on the air. The first book of mine that acknowledges the solving of Trudy’s murder is Mr. Monk on Road. I wrote four more MONK novels after that…all of which acknowledge that Trudy’s murder has been solved.

Hello Lee

First of all let me begin by telling you what a big fan I am of the Monk TV series AND your books. I was so upset when the TV series ended but your books allowed me to go on ‘watching’ it. One thing that I’m curious about though: why did you have to make Randy Disher leave for New Jersey? He was one of my top favorite characters in the series (I actually love all the characters and especially Sharona too). Anyway, just wanted to know why you had to replace Randy with Amy – you can tell I don’t like change much! 😛

Nyain from South Africa.

Disher left San Francisco for New Jersey in the final episode of the MONK television series, so I was just picking up where they left off.


Thank you so much, Travis! I hope you continue to enjoy the MONK books. Your note reminded me that I need to change my author photo and put on a leather jacket.

how about you write a book with Mrs. Monk still living, perpetrating the neurosis later found in her kids? I would read it..!

Sorry, I am not writing the books anymore…and if I was, I wouldn’t write that.

I recently read the new novel Mr. Monk Helps Himself  by Hy Conrad. It really sucked. […] Please, please reconsider coming back and writing another Monk book or at the very least talk to Hy Conrad and tell him where he’s gone wrong. I will have to content myself with rereading all your Monk novels. I miss the old Monk.

Boucheron 2013: MONK Authors Lee Goldberg and Hy Conrad
Lee Goldberg & Hy Conrad

Thank you, I appreciate your kind words but I am done with Monk… It’s Hy’s series now and I wouldn’t presume to tell him how to write it. That said, I have to disagree with you. I think he’s doing a great job.

I am trying to find someplace that I can purchase the entire series of the Monk books, and keep hitting dead ends. Just wondering if you might know somewhere that this may exist. […] They are too expensive to purchase individually, and I’m hoping to get a better deal by finding the complete set.

You didn’t look very hard. You can find complete sets on ebay…or partial sets that you can buy to create a complete set…or you can find them from used book dealers on the Internet for as little as 1 cent each. I think you just wanted me to send you 15 books. Sorry, I don’t do that.

through reading janet evanovich’s books, i discovered you and the monk books. is the book, mr. monk on the couch, the last book of the series?

No, the last of the 15 Monk books that I wrote is Mr. Monk Gets Even. That said, Hy Conrad has continued the series and has written several more great books.

I find Monk irritating and wish you would write a book where he’s normal.

Well, then it wouldn’t be Monk book, would it? I think people read the Monk books because they like the Monk character. If you remove what makes him Monk, then he isn’t Monk any more.

The Mail I Get – Bizarro Edition

King-JoffreyI got a follow-up today from one of the people I mentioned in yesterday’s post. To refresh your memory, here’s the email that he sent me and my reply:

Dear Lee Goldberg, I wish to send you two types of screen play to have you see my writing talent. Please request for script. Thank you, David.

I replied: Why would I request your scripts, David? I don’t hire screenwriters and I am not an agent. I have no interest in your writing talent. My interest is exploiting in my own 🙂

Now here’s the follow-up that I got from him today…

Dear Lee Goldberg,

I wish to Inform you that I am His Majesty King David Yomi-Alli. The King. I have a vast domain of which you might not be able to comprehend and as such would not bother you with the details. Nevertheless, I am acquainted with your work from which I have developed my writing skills. My mission Is to use this acquired skill mixed with faith and talent to meet America’s most troubling needs. Needs such as quenching the US Mountain of debt by bringing together the treasure In people and land…

I am sure you can understand what treasure In person Is, Say for Instance you are a very talented Tv Series writer. Yes, you have earn the big bucks. What of If you use that same talent to write about the British Industrial revolution and Inspire another Industrial revolution In the midst of an Economic catastrophe…

I have plenty Ideas, you can present any to some of your collys In the Industry In America. KING DAVID

This guy has got to be putting me on. He followed up that email with a list of titles of spec scripts that he has written, under the heading “HM King David Writing Services.” He then adds:


I have chated to high profile ladys Including Barbara Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Princess Beatrice, the list Is endless nevertheless I have resorted to date, court and wed an American Physician who I think would be good on and to me and of benefit to the people.

I await your response.


Your Majesty, I, too, have a vast domain that spans not only this universe, but several alternate dimensions, including one where the entire civilization is based on an episode of Baywatch that I wrote. I’m afraid I have no interest in your screenplays, or writing about the British industrial revolution, or learning about the “endless” list of prominent women you have chatted with. I do, however, congratulate you on your engagement to an American doctor. For your sake, I hope she is a psychiatrist. Yours truly, His Majesty King Lee Goldberg, Grand Poobah of the Realm, Master of the TriTip.

The Mail I Get – Clean and Uplifting Edition

Jesus-Christ-Lamb-MormonI got lots of offers and requests this week. The first, with the subject line “Check Out My Contents Which Adds Value To Your Site,” was an offer to write guest posts for this blog.


This is Alice. As an avid reader of ( would like to contribute my article and I think your readers would like as well. The Articles published in your website is really knowledgeable and impressive. You can also add my article as it is highly related to other posts in your blog. Don’t worry, I’m a great blogger and have had my posts featured on many high authority blogs approved by their editors. So I am very confident that my article will speak for its informative and structured contents. Thanks, Alice Madison

Unfortunately, Alice, one of the basic requirements I have for posts on my blog is that they be written by someone who can write in English. You obviously don’t have that ability. I suggest you stick to writing for “high authority blogs” in the language spoken in your native country…or on your distant planet.

I got this very unusual solicitation, too:

Mr. Goldberg,

I work for a national publishing house in Utah and would like to invite you to consider submitting any finished manuscripts to us for publication consideration. Here’s the link to our submissions page:

We publish more than 140 books per year in a variety of genres, including national fiction.

Best regards,
Kelly XYZ
Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

So I looked into it. Cedar Fort publishes books about Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints as well as generally uplifting fiction free of sex, violence, and profanity. Right up my alley. Currently, they are seeking:

  • Clean and uplifting fiction books
  • Mother’s Day books or pamphlets
  • Father’s Day books or pamphlets
  • LDS Church study year topics (Book of Mormon)
  • Christmas books or pamphlets
  • Cookbooks

Clearly she found the right guy when she stumbled on my site. How did she know that I was hard at work on a clean and uplifting fiction book about a Mormon family’s unforgettable mother’s day? At least now I know where to send it when I’m done.

I can understand someone soliciting work from me, even if they have no clue what I write. But I don’t get this:

Dear Lee Goldberg, I wish to send you two types of screen play to have you see my writing talent. Please request for script. Thank you, David.

Why would I request your scripts, David? I don’t hire screenwriters and I am not an agent. I have no interest in your writing talent. My interest is exploiting in my own 🙂


Jesse Stone is Saved

Blind SpotRobert B. Parker died in 2010, but his characters Spenser, Jesse Stone and Virgil Cole have lived on in new books by other authors. Ace Atkins pulled off a miracle by writing two Spenser novels that could have been mistaken for the work of Parker himself…and in his prime. Michael Brandman’s three Jesse Stone novels were awful, not just bad attempts at imitating Parker, but horribly-written books by any measure. Robert Knott’s first Virgil Cole book, Ironhorse, was a decent western, but unremarkable and certainly not up to Parker’s level (his second Cole book, Bull River, was a definite step up and, wisely, a few steps away from attempting to imitate Parker). And the less said about Helen Brann’s Silent Night, a misguided attempt to finish the book Parker was writing when he died, the better.

Now along comes Reed Farrel Coleman’s Blind Spot, a new Jesse Stone novel. I should admit a personal bias right off — Reed is a friend of mine and I am a fan of his work.  When I heard he was taking over for Brandman, I was thrilled. I had high hopes for what a writer of Reed’s skill would bring to the series and those hopes have not just been met, they have been exceeded. I am sure I am not going to be the first, or the only, person to say that he has saved Jesse Stone. His book is not only better than Brandman’s three Stone books (which isn’t setting a very high bar) but even better than the last few Stones written by Parker himself.

Reed has saved Jesse Stone by embracing the character, not by imitating Parker’s writing style. He’s done it by making Stone his own. He has fleshed out Stone’s world, and his inner life, in so many ways. His first smart move was making the crime story personal, one that goes to the root of Stone’s character, and that allows Reed to reboot the series, to reintroduce the character, his past, and his relationships and tweak them a bit along the way. He leaves the Stone series in much better the shape than Parker left it (and let’s just pretend the Brandman novels were a bad dream, okay?)

The story begins at a reunion of players from Stone’s short-lived time in professional baseball. The reunion occurs at the same time as a murder in Paradise, the small town where Jesse is Chief of Police. I won’t go into a summary of the plot, except to say it gives Reed ample opportunity to explore Jesse’s character in interesting ways.

There are many references in the story to past Stone tales, a gift for long-time fans, but Reed is not pandering to them. He’s anchoring his new Stone in the old, paying his respects but saying “we’re moving on.” Those references to past events and characters are the only nods he makes to Parker. You won’t find any imitations of Parker’s distinctive writing style and banter, something only Ace has dared, and brilliantly succeeded, in copying. Reed wisely writes in his own voice, one tweaked a bit to suit Jesse Stone but close enough to Parker’s sensibilities that it feels comfortable, familiar, and just right.

My favorite part of Blind Spot is how Reed makes everyone human, especially the bad guys, which is not something Parker ever did. The bad guys were often punching bags for either his supremely confident heroes’ fists or their wit, but they were not living, breathing people.

For Jesse Stone fans, Blind Spot is cause for celebration and, based on the final pages, perhaps some apprehension, too…at least until Reed’s next Stone novel.