Monthly Archives: July 2013

Do Readers Really Love Bad Books?

Michael Krüger, publisher at Carl Hanser Verlag in Munich, recently bemoaned the number of bad books out there. He explained that they are present in such numbers because they sell…and he can’t figure out why.

Let’s put aside judging whole categories as bad and focus on the real issues.

First, it’s about story. The MFA programs have been hammered because they churn out writers who focus on the florid beauty of their words at the expense of their characters. Thus no story. Without story, a book is just a jumble of words.

Second, it’s about story. Readers are willing to buy even poorly written books because the story tells them something they can’t find elsewhere. Look at 50 Shades…panned everywhere for awful prose yet sold oodles of copies because the storyline contained something women wanted to read about.

Third, it’s about storytelling. Bad books might be poorly written or have worn-out plotlines yet they clip along at a fast pace (nearly always, anyway). So storytelling, getting to the heart of the matter through action and forward movement, is present in a way that might not be as obvious in a pretty MFA grad’s work.

What’s YOUR story?

How Much Will a Written Analysis of My Book Cost?

A written analysis is one of the most popular services authors request. This examines the structural and storytelling elements of fiction and memoirs such as opening chapters, the
ending, primary events, character development/history, point of view, use of narrative and dialog, and other critical components. When the work is nonfiction, the structural and writing elements of that category are considered.
The write-up for a manuscript of average length is usually between 10 and 15 single-spaced pages. This is all narrative text; no tables, charts or graphs are used as filler. The commentary points out major and minor issues that should be addressed. It also makes recommendations for how to correct the issues along with discussions of how specific changes might resonate with other areas of the manuscript.
The usual turnaround time is 3 to 4 weeks.
The rate for a manuscript of standard length is $6.50 per double-spaced page. Short story or article/essay collections have a slightly higher fee if each piece is short.

There is a minimum fee for shorter books; if the project is longer than average, a flat rate is applied because the per-page rate would become prohibitive.

If you decide that you do not have the time to implement the recommendations or would like the work done for you for other reasons, this can be accomplished as the second step. A price quote will be created at that time based on the amount of work to be done. If the work progresses within 30 days of delivering the write-up, 60% of the write-up fee will be credited to that price quote.

Another way to approach this issue is to work with only the first 100 pages, including a synopsis. This allows me to see how you are handling the primary structural elements on the page. Since so often the primary issues appear in those first 100 pages, the mini-analysis can help you take a big step forward in a more affordable fashion. The write-up you receive averages 4 to 6 single-spaced pages. Once you see how certain issues impact those opening pages, you can extend the lessons learned to the rest of what you’ve already written.

Turnaround for a mini-analysis averages 2.5 to 3 weeks. The rate is a flat fee of $985.

Book Giveaway on Goodreads: Last Chance!

Ten copies of my first novel Message Stick are being given away on Goodreads for 30 days in July. The literary thriller won two national awards and a host of smaller awards.

You have until tomorrow, July 30, to put your name in the hat!

Happy reading!

Amazon Dukes It Out with Overstock.com; Indie Booksellers Lose

On Friday, Amazon began offering discounts that have never before been seen even on its own site. The move is supposedly a response to Overstock.com’s full frontal assault, which consists of discounting books to match or beat Amazon’s prices.

Dan Brown’s Inferno is now available on Amazon at a a 61% discount. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini has a 58% discount. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is at a 64% discount. A whopping 64% discount is offered on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

There are signs, however, that even Amazon is not invincible in this battle. J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is discounted only 42%. That’s right in the usual discounting area of 40% to 50 percent. Amazon likely doesn’t want to discount something that is selling well regardless of price, and wants to keep the profits involved in that title.

Overstock.com’s shot across the bow of the mighty frigate Amazon is a long-overdue attempt to take some of the wind out of Amazon’s sails. The recent verdict against Apple has already spurred Amazon toward discounting books to eliminate the real competition that is left: the thousands of indie booksellers who together hold more clout among readers than any website ever will.

Unfortunately indies do not yet hold any kind of combined economic clout with publishers and so cannot discount books at the same rate. Thank goodness someone has noticed what’s going on in book publishing and has thrown the economic might of their company onto the battlefield.

Book Agent Info: Brandt and Hochman

Emma Patterson of Brandt and Hochman is looking for literary and commercial fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, historical fiction, narrative nonfiction, pop culture, memoir, food writing, and YA and MG fiction and nonfiction. 

Book Agent Info: Barer Literary

William Boggess of Barer Literary is looking for fiction with strong voices and a fresh perspective. He loves Southern fiction and story collections.

In nonfiction, he’s interested in literary memoir, popular science, narrative history, and smart sportswriting.