TUMBLR

A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "publishing"

Aug 21, 2014
Permalink

1946 LIFE magazine profile of Margaret Wise Brown

My kid really loves Little Fur Family and Goodnight, Moon, both of which are actually really strange books, so I wanted to learn a little bit more about the author. Turns out she was pretty wild herself:

She was a lovely green-eyed blonde, extravagant and a little eccentric; with her first royalty check, she bought a street vendor’s entire cart full of flowers, and then threw a party at her Upper East Side apartment to show off her purchase. She was a prolific author, writing nearly a hundred picture books under several pen names and sometimes keeping six different publishers busy at once with her projects. She was known to produce a book just so she could buy a plane ticket to Europe.

She was also a real student of children and their responses to literature:

Brown wanted to become a writer as a young woman, and she once took a creative writing class from Gertrude Stein. But she had a hard time coming up with story ideas, so she went into education. She got a job at an organization called the Bureau of Educational Experiments, researching the way that children learn to use language. What she found was that children in the earliest stage of linguistic development relish language with patterns of sound and fixed rhythms. She also found that young children have a special attachment to words for objects they can see and touch, like shoes and socks and bowls and bathtubs.

Goodnight, Moon, btw, was not an instant bestseller:

The influential New York Public Library gave it a terrible review, and it didn’t sell as well as some of Brown’s other books in its first year. But parents were amazed at the book’s almost hypnotic effect on children, its ability to calm them down before bed. Brown thought the book was successful because it helped children let go of the world around them piece by piece, just before turning out the light and falling asleep.

Parents recommended the book to each other, and it slowly became a word-of-mouth best-seller. It sold about 1,500 copies in 1953, 4,000 in 1955, 8,000 in 1960, 20,000 in 1970; and by 1990 the total number of copies sold had reached more than four million.

Aimee Bender recently wrote a piece on what writers can learn from Goodnight, Moon:

"Goodnight Moon" does two things right away: It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them. It works like a sonata of sorts, but, like a good version of the form, it does not follow a wholly predictable structure. Many children’s books do, particularly for this age, as kids love repetition and the books supply it. They often end as we expect, with a circling back to the start, and a fun twist. This is satisfying but it can be forgettable. Kids - people - also love depth and surprise, and "Goodnight Moon" offers both.

Though she was so prolific, the story of her death at 42 is extremely sad: a nurse asked her how she was feeling post-surgery — to show her how good she felt, Brown kicked her leg up like a can-can dancer, dislodged a blood clot in her brain, and died.

Jul 02, 2014
Permalink

The Electric Information Age Book: McLuhan/Agel/Fiore and the Experimental Paperback

A history of the context in which classics such as The Medium Is The Massage and I Seem To Be A Verb were spawned. (More over at Brain Pickings.) Recommended to me by Frank Chimero.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Jun 19, 2014
Permalink

Mar 16, 2014
Permalink

What made The Scarlet Letter a bestseller

Interesting bit from The Writer’s Almanac today:

It was on this day in 1850 that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, was published. He was living at a time when there was almost no such thing as American literature, in part because the American publishing industry was so behind the times. In order to publish a book, a single printer would edit the manuscript, set the type, operate the printing press, bind the pages into books, and then sell them. It was remarkably inefficient, and so it was almost impossible to produce a best-seller, since so few copies were available to be sold.

But by 1850, books were being printed by machines. Long, continuous sheets of paper were fed into steam-powered printing presses, and factories of workers folded, pressed, and stitched the pages into books. The Scarlet Letter became the first great American novel in part because it was the first novel that could reach a large audience.

…On March 16, 2,500 copies of The Scarlet Letter were published, and they sold out within 10 days.

We think of “the classics” as all inevitable successes, but so often there was a specific cultural context that made or broke them. For contrast, see the fate of Hawthorne’s buddy, Herman Melville.

Nov 08, 2013
Permalink
The process of publishing a book is like telling a joke, then having to wait for 2 years to find out whether it was funny or not.
Alain de Botton (cf. “The Gulp”)

Nov 06, 2013
Permalink
Also, should you be lucky enough to publish a book, you’ll probably need to know about these.

Also, should you be lucky enough to publish a book, you’ll probably need to know about these.

Permalink

How to get a book published

I’ve sold three books now, so more and more I get a lot of questions from people who want to publish their own books.

I’ve discussed the subject previously, but want to point anyone interested to my agent Ted Weinstein’s audio workshops, where he discusses the business of publishing.

Beware! Any romantic notions of book publishing will be destroyed by Ted. He does not bullshit.

Here are his 3 key pieces of advice:

  1. All Publishing is Self‐Publishing
  2. Get Famous First
  3. You’re CEO of Your Own Multimedia Empire

What does he mean? Listen to the workshops to find out.

If all that sounds like a lot of work, it is, and it’s why in the very beginning, I gave up all hopes of publishing a traditional book and started a blog.

Filed under: publishing

Sep 03, 2013
Permalink
For a Classic Motown Song About Money, Credit Is What He Wants

Sad copyright story: Barrett Strong, who first wrote and recorded “Money (That’s What I Want)” for Motown, has never seen a penny of royalties for the song, because Motown executives had him removed from the copyright registration. (The single was Motown’s first big hit, and sold over a million copies, but you could probably live off the publishing from the Beatles’ cover alone…)


  In 2009, Mr. Strong had a stroke, limiting his ability to play the piano and sing. He now lives in a retirement home here, and hopes that by recouping rights to “Money” he will more easily be able to pay his medical bills and residence fees. But he also wants his accomplishments properly remembered.
  
  “Songs outlive people,” he said, with a mixture of sadness, resignation and anger. “The real reason Motown worked was the publishing. The records were just a vehicle to get the songs out there to the public. The real money is in the publishing, and if you have publishing, then hang on to it. That’s what it’s all about. If you give it away, you’re giving away your life, your legacy. Once you’re gone, those songs will still be playing.”


Filed under: copyright

For a Classic Motown Song About Money, Credit Is What He Wants

Sad copyright story: Barrett Strong, who first wrote and recorded “Money (That’s What I Want)” for Motown, has never seen a penny of royalties for the song, because Motown executives had him removed from the copyright registration. (The single was Motown’s first big hit, and sold over a million copies, but you could probably live off the publishing from the Beatles’ cover alone…)

In 2009, Mr. Strong had a stroke, limiting his ability to play the piano and sing. He now lives in a retirement home here, and hopes that by recouping rights to “Money” he will more easily be able to pay his medical bills and residence fees. But he also wants his accomplishments properly remembered.

“Songs outlive people,” he said, with a mixture of sadness, resignation and anger. “The real reason Motown worked was the publishing. The records were just a vehicle to get the songs out there to the public. The real money is in the publishing, and if you have publishing, then hang on to it. That’s what it’s all about. If you give it away, you’re giving away your life, your legacy. Once you’re gone, those songs will still be playing.”

Filed under: copyright

Aug 09, 2013
Permalink
If you’re going to publish a book, you probably are going to make a fool of yourself.

Jun 09, 2013
Permalink
We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul labouring in isolation.
Subscribe to my newsletter and get new art, writing, and interesting links delivered to your inbox every week.