The Men With No Name

Author Terrill Lee Lankford ruminates on the publishing biz over at Ed Gorman’s blog…and, as usual, he has lots of interesting things to say. Among them:

A LOT of mid-listers are going the name-change route because of the weird practice in many bookstores of ordering the same amount of an author’s next book as they SOLD of said author’s LAST book: not ordered, but actually sold. Since there are almost always returns – especially in a business that rewards you for NOT selling the merchandise – this is a law of diminishing results where the end number would almost always be zero if allowed to play out to the end. I know of many writers who are having to assume secret identities to hide from these old numbers. This is no longer a growth business for a certain kind of writer – mostly the new ones who have not had the time to establish themselves. I can easily see a time, in the not-too-distant future, where a writer’s career will have to consist of a string of two-book deals, all under different names to avoid the dreaded computer numbers.

I know a few of those authors, too, and it’s a strange predicament to be in.  In fact, a friend of mine was told by his editor that they’d be glad to publish another book in his mid-list series of detective novels, but not under his name… his name was dead. I thought that was a bizarre thing to say until yesterday, when I picked up James Reasoner’s blog post about an author who, back in the early 60s, wrote about the same detective, Mark Wonder, under two different names. But I doubt it was the for the same reasons my friend’s publisher wanted him to do it.

Of course, no discussion of the publishing business would be complete without mentioning Ben Affleck’s scrotum. Lankford has the latest reports from the field:

And Applegate is not the first Hollywood star to witness his racy humor, director Kevin Smith had to endure Affleck’s favorite prank – resting his scrotum on the back of the movie maker’s neck during breaks on the set of movie flop Jersey Girl.

Ben’s scrotum has a two-book deal with Bantam.

5 thoughts on “The Men With No Name”

  1. I, of course, was actually referring to the follow-up to Earthquake Weather, which is called Blonde Lightning. Now that I think about it, though, Earthquake Weather is out in paperback, so get that one, too. They’re both great.

  2. Mr. Goldfarb,
    I don’t know who you are, but please seece and decist immediately any references to me or my body of work.
    You, sir, do not know me, nor do you know my work, thus I will skool you:
    I have a novel coming out this autumn which is a coming of age story about an elderly man living in an assisted living building.
    He has a dog named Ben-Wa, but can never find him. And his best friend is a Cuban janitor with a clubfoot named Oreo.
    The janitor’s name is Oreo, I didn’t name his foot.
    Ben Affleck’s scrotum

  3. From Lew Perdue, who had some trouble logging on:
    The issue of sales and why/how some Gawdawful books succeed and good ones do not is addressed in an interesting essay “On the Survival of Rats
    in the Slush Pile” here:
    While the essay is born of no small amount of frustration, it does offer some interesting perspectives. I just started reading it this morning and have not yet finished.
    The essay relies heavily on work by
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb ( and his book,
    Fooled by Randomness ( …
    Indeed, Taleb also has his own essay on the subject, The Roots of Unfairness: the Black Swan in Arts and Literature ( …
    Taleb is no dilletante as evidenced by this biograhical summary on his site:
    Academic & Teaching: Deans Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Fellow in Mathematics in Finance and Adjunct Professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University, & Visiting Professor of Risk Management, Université Paris-Dauphine. My most enjoyable teaching experience is the 2-day seminar class I co-teach with Paul Wilmott in London 3 times a year. Sabbatical Note: I am on complete vacation (from both Empirica & teaching) between January 6 and September 12, 2005.
    Trading/Finance: Currently Founder and Chairman, Empirica LLC, a research laboratory and financial products trading house in New York (no, it is not a hedge fundin the common accepted sense as the bulk of the business consists in portfolio protection packages). Was inducted in the Derivatives Hall of Fame (Feb 2001). I held positions of managing director and head trader at Union Bank of Switzerland, worldwide chief derivatives trader for currencies, commodities and non-dollar fixed income at CS-First Boston, chief currency derivatives trader for Banque Indosuez (age 25), Managing Director and worldwide head of financial option arbitrage at CIBC-Wood Gundy, derivatives arbitrage trader at Bankers Trust, proprietary trader at BNP-Paribas, as well as independent option market maker on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (…).
    Current Editorial Boards and Scientific Committees: Secretary of Defenses Cross-Disciplinary Highland Panel, CISDM Center U. Mass Amherst, Journal of Alternative Investments, Warsaw Institute of Psychology, Université Paris-Dauphine DESS 203, etc.
    Current Corporate Boards: Centaurus Capital LP, TBA.

  4. See, the problem with scrotum references is I tend to get up on the semantics and miss the discussion. How does one rest ones scotum against the back of a person’s neck using the element of surprise? Awkward, to say the least.


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