Crime and passion

We’ve just released a new story by Ed Teja on amazon called A Mexican Divorce.

How is a girl supposed to have fun on vacation when blackmailers are going to try and make her pay them for pictures of it all? And what will Bart say if he finds out? Of course she can’t little thing like a greedy blackmailer ruin a perfectly good setup.

mexican divorce It’s only available as an ebook for the moment, and only on Amazon. There are more in the queue, however, and you can expect to see an anthology of short mystery and crime fiction soon.


In other news, we’ve added a mailchimp signup form to the site. If you’d like to be kept informed of books by our authors, special deals and occasional free stories, please sign up. We won’t cram your inbox full of junk.

Independent from what?

I’ve worked as an editor for a number of publishing companies (books and magazines) and interacted with them as a writer as well, having published books with companies big and small. It’s always struck me as curious that, in the magazine business, many “editors” do little editing at all. Some do management, some write. It always struck me as strange that in a business that uses words as its stock in trade, they were used rather haphazardly. Ah well.

In the current publishing environment (another curious term, seeing as I think it diminishes the actual value of the word and doesn’t describe the situation entirely accurately) we often hear of indie (or independent publishing) without as much discussion of what it might be independent of, beyond the major players. It might comes as a bit of a shock to newer writers, but traditional publishing isn’t about the machinations of the mergered remnants of the once vibrant book-publishing world called the Big X (plug in your own number. I hate to be too dated). Traditional publishing simply refers to a process, and one that has many variations. Most publishers, even self publishers, adhere to it in some form. Traditional publishing is nothing more or less than taking a manuscript that was written on spec or to order, editing it, creating a cover, choosing formats (not just ebook or paper, but the optimum size as well) and finding a way to go to market, to market.  So when I hear talk of independent publishing or of authors keeping their independence, I always cock my ear to hear what it is they are independent of.

Publishing should (a dangerously normative word) include all those things. When it doesn’t include them all (except for the marketing bit), it isn’t tradition that is threatened, but the quality of the end product. So the author is not free of editors, or cover designers. If the author becomes the editor or cover designer, and does it correctly then, while wearing those hats, they do the same thing. It doesn’t matter that it is the same person, beyond the acknowledgement that most people should not edit their own work. Not because they aren’t inordinately talented  or have the grammatical sensitivities of a giraffe, but because they will find it difficult to be objective. The point being that these necessary tasks have to get done. We are not independent of them just because we hire a freelancer any more than we expect better quality editing from someone who is “in house.” Being on staff is a circumstance, not a recommendation.

As the large, corporate publishers disappear into a miasma of complex accounting games, finger-pointing and searches for new revenue streams, they might become irrelevant, but the rest of us are no more or less independent than we were before they decided that brilliant quarterly reports beat good literature hands down. I suppose we, the small presses, the individuals who publish their books are, at least, independent of stock holder pressure and that is a good thing.


Changing Sands

Like most people involved in writing, at least those who are serious about it, I read tons of blogs about the publishing business. Some, such as The Passive Voice. Joe Konrath’s blog, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s business blog, and some others, are almost required reading if you want to stay current, keep your footing in the changing sands of publishing.

I try (not always successfully) to avoid commenting on the fate of ebooks, print books or bookstores, or whether Amazon is good or evil. To my mind much of that discussion is irrelevant to what we do. We look at every format. Barnes & Noble having business problems doesn’t mean we shouldn’t publish in epub format. They still sell books. Print is dying? We still sell print books. When these sales stop, it will be time to move on.

Passion is a wonderful thing, but to my mind much of the discussions I read are akin to passion for a sand sculpture. It can be beautiful, but will dissolve with the next high tide. I can be passionate about it, yet that passion must take into account its impermanence. So much of what we do in book publishing is impermanent; it makes more sense to accept that and move on, trying to find the best ways to connect stories with readers. It’s also important to bear in mind that it is readers who will determine what the best way is. It doesn’t have to be one I prefer or even care for (for my part, the idea of reading a book or watching a movie on a telephone is beyond weird, but that’s me).

The blogs do alert us to what might happen next, or at least what a number of people think will happen next. Not only is that often useful, at least to the extent that it allows us to prepare, but it is great fun to see how things work out, see predictions that fail wonderfully. As my mentor used to say: “Screw them if they can’t take a joke.”

It’s a good era to be in publishing. Crazy, but good.