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Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog) RSS feed

Authors Guild vs. Authors Alliance

Writing for a living vs. the broadest possible sharing of one's work

(trade authors hoping to earn royalties from book publishing

vs. academic authors who want broadest possible free distribution)

What is the Authors Alliance? May 15 note from Authors Guild board member T.J. Stiles to the San Francisco Writers Grotto, criticizing the Authors Alliance. "However, if you are an academic, or scorn the idea of making a living from writing as a quest for “fame and fortune,” the Authors Alliance may be the organization for you. If you think, in our digital age, that the biggest problem facing authors is how hard it is to give your work away for free, it’s for you. If you think you’ve got too much power over people who copy and distribute your work without your permission, by all means sign up....

     "It’s an astroturf organization. It was not organized by authors, nor is it governed by them. The four directors are Berkeley academics. The executive director and her right-hand-woman are law professors who have made many proposals to reduce copyright protections for authors and restrict remedies for infringement. (I take that wording from the writings of Prof. Samuelson.) As Samuelson stated in Publishers Weekly, the organization is intended to represent the interests of authors who don’t write for a living—academics and hobbyists. See my comments below on the financial interests they represent, and how they are at odds with those of authors who write for a living."
      The Authors Guild sent out a note later that week: "Some of our academic authors have written to make clear they don’t share the radical copyright views this organization espouses....Far too often, copyright is used to separate scholars and scientists from their intellectual property. Scientific and scholarly journals frequently insist on seizing the author’s copyright as part of the price of publication. For scientists in particular this can be galling: their work is usually publicly funded, yet privately locked up."
Why Authors Alliance Supports a Broader View of Fair Use Than the Authors Guild (Authors Alliance co-founder Pamela Samuelson, 2-22-2016) "When the Authors Alliance filed a brief in support of Google’s fair use defense, it emphasized that Google Books helps authors because it allows prospective readers to discover that their books exist and contain relevant information....Google Books also allows authors to discover other authors’ works that are relevant to their own research....If the Supreme Court decides to review the Google decision, the Authors Alliance will file a brief to explain why Google’s different purpose use is much fairer to authors than the Guild has so far been willing to admit."
Author vs. Author: The Authors Guild and the Authors Alliance Set to Duke It Out? (Rick Anderson, Scholarly Kitchen, 6-4-14) "The natural constituency of the Alliance is academic writers who make their living primarily through salaried work (which includes writing for publication) and who benefit more from building their brands than from selling their copyrights. The Guild, on the other hand, is, as its name suggests, a trade organization that exists to help its members make a living as professional writers—a mission that implies a much greater dependence on traditional publishing, and thus a greater investment in the publishing system that currently exists." The "Alliance has very explicitly set itself up as an organization in support of authors who are primarily concerned with the broadest possible sharing of their work and with new approaches to rights management and to the signaling of scholarly quality." Stiles asserts that the Alliance “exists to make it appear that there is a grassroots authors’ organization in favor of loosening copyright protections and limiting remedies for copyright infringement.”
The Authors Alliance vs. The Authors Guild (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution, 6-3-14) An interesting exchange of opinions, and in the comments a good example of how Google snippets make it unnecessary for writers to buy books (because they can get what they need from the snippets).
Founder of Just-Launched Authors Alliance Talks to PW (Peter Brantley's interview with law professor Pamela Samuelson, Publishers Weekly 5-15-14)
Authors Alliance launches, to the chagrin of the Authors Guild (Kirsten Reach, Melville House, 5-28-14). The problem: "the Authors Alliance—founded by Berkeley academics interested in providing support for authors interested in sharing their content for free—is causing some disruption at the Authors Guild, an advocacy group for published writers...focused on copyright and fair contract terms." Find a way to work together, writes Reach.
Authors Guild, Authors Alliance Battle Over Speaking for Writers (Mercy Pilkington, goodEreader, 5-18-14) Open access is the slippery slope T.J. Stiles was attacking. "AG’s feelings about a group that supports access to information by the masses should come as no surprise given its lawsuits against both Google and the Hathi Trust for scanning and digitizing rare works that have been locked away in academic libraries all this time....Authors Alliance co-founder Pamela Samuelson gave an interview to Publisher’s Weekly that very clearly illustrates how the [Authors Alliance] isn’t even on the same radar as the Authors Guild, instead planning to advocate for authors who are interested in making their works available on a widespread, no cost basis [that is, free]." See Fair Use Has a Posse (Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, 5-14-14)
What is the "Authors Alliance?" (Authors Guild, 5-16-14) Authors Guild warning against the Authors Alliance (from T.J. Stiles to the San Francisco Writers Grotto) "If any of you earn a living as a writer, or hope to, I strongly urge you not to join the Authors Alliance....As Samuelson stated in Publishers Weekly, the organization is intended to represent the interests of authors who don’t write for a living—academics and hobbyists. See my comments ... on the financial interests they represent, and how they are at odds with those of authors who write for a living."
• BIO's Fair Use: A Statement on Best Practices for Biographers (Biographers International Organization) is clearly influenced by Authors Allliance -- perhaps because so many of its board members are in academia? I hesitate to link to it in the section on Codes of Best Practices and Fair Use Guidelines because, among other things, it fails even to refer to the "four factors" at the center of fair use decisions under current copyright law:
1) The Transformative Factor: The Purpose and Character of Your Use 
2) The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
3) The Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken
4) The Effect of the Use Upon the Potential Market.
Surely BIO does not believe that all writers start with a clear understanding of the principles spelled out in copyright law. This fair use statement seems to have been developed mostly as an argument with book publishers who require authors to clear permissions for any material quoted from other works -- and leans on the Authors Alliance argument that quoting from someone else's work not only doesn't harm the market for their work but improves it by mentioning them. It's more a case for weakening fair use than a clear guide for authors on the framework for determining what's fair use in biography. Perhaps it's because the Alliance comes from academia, where so much of their writing is hidden behind paywalls for scholarly journals, that they are for expanding "fair use," and I don't disagree with them there, but please:  what practical examples from real life and the rest of the publishing world can we talk about here, and in what ways do the Guild and the Alliance truly differ?


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Doing a virtual book launch (during the coronavirus pandemic)

How to do a virtual book launch

*** A talk with actual content may be more effective than just reading aloud from your book.

The Virtual Author Talk: How to, and How Not To (David O. Stewart) Samples:“A single talking head gets old/dull pretty quick. A Q&A format is livelier and easier to watch.” and “Because people have less invested in attending the virtual event, not having had to travel or even get out of their sweatpants, they may bail out quickly if the event starts slow, or glitchily. Start strong. Don’t be dull.” Solid practical advice for author talks.
Online Book Events: A Necessary Pivot in 2020, But How Do You Compete? (Jane Friedman, 9-24-2020) Even if you offer a creative and enticing online event, it’s hard to sell when so much content right now is available for free. Before you decide to run an online event, consider this advice from Jane's Hot Sheet.
Virtual Author Events Are the Next Big Thing (Claire Kirch, PW, 5-1-2020) Booksellers say the format draws big audiences, but sales vary. St. John Mandel has drawn audiences of up to 400 people at each of the dozen virtual events she has done to promote The Glass Hotel, and sales of her 2014 novel Station Eleven, about a flu pandemic, are also way up.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Events Weighed by Publishers, Booksellers (Claire Kirch, PW, 9-9-20) Subscription required. Quoting Jane Friedman, The Hot Sheet: "One key takeaway: if an author is doing a series of events to promote a book launch, they should either all be ticketed and paid or all free. Otherwise, it’s unfair to those hosting. Also, a bookseller reported that sales don’t always occur at the time of the virtual event, but on the day before and the day after."
DIY: How to Plan a Virtual Book Tour (Jennifer McCartney, Publishers Weekly, 6-9-14) This particular type of book tour lasts about two weeks, with an author “visiting” a new blog every day, while promoting each stop on social media. An author may choose to hire a publicity professional to book a tour, or decide to go it alone. A blog tour starts with a lot of research. Aim to begin planning at least three months before your book’s publication date. First, make a list of 50 blogs that might be interested in your book—for a book review, a question and answer segment, an excerpt, a book giveaway, a webinar, a guest post, or a combination of these. She offers brief instructions for a successful event.
How to Throw a Virtual Book Launch Using Facebook Live (K.B. Jensen on Jane Friedman's blog, 5-11-2020) "Practice using Facebook Live prior to the launch and using your third party-app with a split screen, too, if you will use that. When Helen had her launch, she was able to interact beautifully with her friends and fans in an authentic and collected manner, because she’d gotten over the nerves in her practice sessions counting down to her launch." Watch recording of Helen Starbuck’s launch for Legacy of Secrets.
      "If selling books directly, announce the cost of the event ticket on your event pages. The “ticket” includes the cost of your book, tax and media mail shipping. The cost for a signed and shipped copy of Helen’s book was set at $20, for example. Ideally, you’d set up payment options through your author website. You could also create a payment link through Square. Some authors take PayPal or Venmo, as well. Whatever payment method you choose, ask your fans to put their address in the comments or email you their address, so you know where to send the books."
How to Effectively Use Live Video (Even If You Fear the Camera) to Reach Readers (Amy Collins on Jane Friedman's blog, 10-7-19)
Resources and Tips for Creating Virtual Events: Video Conferencing, Virtual Meeting, and Video Sharing Applications (American Booksellers Association) Links to information on Zoom, GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar, Crowdcast, Skype, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube, Be.Live. See downloadable PDFs for guidelines from various publishing houses.
Welcome to the New Fireside Chat: How to give a virtual book talk (Sara Georgini, Perspectives on History, American Historical Association, 1-6-21) Ready to pivot to video on the book trail? It’s time to shelve the 10-slide PowerPoint, boost your WiFi, and think about how to sell books while building a sense of community.
Making the Most of Zoom aka Zooming through the pandemic (blog post on this site).
Virtual Book Launch Events: 8 Ideas from Authors.(Diana Urban, Book Bub Partners, 4-30-2020) How authors did book events from Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, a Zoom webinar, Twitch Livestream, prerecorded videos, Twitter Chat, and Reddit AMA. With links to "how-to" pieces.
How to use Facebook Live (Sophia Bernazzani, HubSpot)
Facebook Live tutorial, streaming (YouTube video, Sean, 2-25-17)
How to go live on Facebook (YouTube)
Best Practices for Hosting a Digital Event (Kristen Klein, Zoom blog, 3-4-2020) If you expect attendees to mostly just listen, consider a Zoom Video Webinar. When you need more back and forth between the audience and the host, a Zoom Meeting might be the better option.
Zoom: Live Stream to YouTube or a Custom Streaming Service
7 Steps to a Successful Virtual Book Launch Even if You Don't Have an Audience (Yet) (Author Unlimited, 4-23-17) Prepare. Research. Schedule. Invite. Create the Event. Promote. Social Media. Thanks/acknowledge.
2020's Virtual Bookish Events (NetGalley, We Are Bookish)
BookCon's Virtual Author Tour series
How to Throw the Best Online Party. Ever. (Barnes & Noble, 4-27-15)
The Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read-Alouds & Activities (We Are Teachers)
The Quarantine Book Club

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Kinds of editors and levels of edit--what every writer and editor should know (updated)

Updated 5-17-2020. Original post 7-22-13)

If you want to hire (or be) an editor, it is important to know the difference between what different kinds of editors do. There are developmental or substantive editors, assignment editors, story editors, production editors, photo editors, line editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders, among other specialties? Read up on the different functions in these stories (linked to below), so you know what to ask for and what to expect. These articles are sorted roughly by category; Freelance editing

What editors do: levels and types of editing
Fiction editing
Newspaper editing
Technical and academic editing
Freelance editing
The editor-author relationship
Whether editors are valued and valuable
Becoming an editor
Editing a website

 Read More 

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Pat McNees, social distancing

Pat McNees, social distancing (Paulette's near the sidewalk), after swapping eggs from Paulette's chickens for carrots from Pat's fridge. Painting by Lucinda.
Pat McNees, social distancing during pandemic (talking with Paulette, not in the picture), after swapping eggs from Paulette's chickens for carrots from Pat's fridge. Painting by Paulette's daughter Lucinda Nehemias. She painted this based on a photo Paulette took when she was bringing me the eggs. Lucinda tells people (Instagram, Etsy, Facebook and Word of Mouth) that if you send her one of your photos, she will make a drawing/painting inspired by your photo, typically 4" x 6" and she will email you a photo of the painting and then the actual painting as well. She only wants people to pay if they love the piece. She did 30 such pictures for Mother's Day.
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Deciding what level of editing to assign to a piece of writing

The following email exchange started in response to an earlier blog post (Kinds of editors and levels of edit--what every writer and editor should know). It seemed worth its own blog post.

JOE CASEY WROTE: "Thanks so much, Pat. This is a great and helpful explanation of a reasonable hierarchy. It is also supported by the fact that edits get progressively easier to fix as one moves down the list. By metrics I mean this: when the editor is also managing writers (say in a content development context for instance) and has to assess their writing (track performance), how can one translate this hierarchy into something numerical? How do we "weight" a structural problem against other types of errors? Maybe this forum is not the best place for this query as it is not a purely editing question, but I'm just curious if anyone has had to defend an assessment of the relative merits of different writers. It's obviously not an exact science, but sometimes it has to be done, and can have very real consequences (on pay etc.). My question is really about quantifying quality of writing.

PAT McNEES RESPONDS: Well that's a different kettle of fish, and also closer to what a managing editor has to do -- figure out what level of editing to assign to a particular writer or piece of writing. It isn't always easy to assess ahead of time if a piece of writing is a structural mess, without reading or at least skimming it, but if you sense that it probably is, you will assign it to a good developmental editor--someone who can see the big picture as well as handle the nitpicking. And if the writer is sound but a little sloppy on the details, as we all can be when we're in a rush, you'll assign it for a light edit.

      So when you are assigning an edit, why not think in terms of heavy, medium, and light edit. And if you are evaluating their skill, evaluate the same as if you were grading a student: D for structural, B for grammar and spelling, C for style and flow (or whatever), A for typos. (Whatever you can easily measure.) I had a friend in college who wrote brilliant papers, but couldn't spell worth a darn (this was before we knew about dyslexia), and her teachers would give her a split grade: A/D , to show appreciation for the quality of her thinking and writing -- but yes, they did notice she would always need an editor. Which is why exams are worth giving because students don't have time to get a friend or parent to correct all the spelling errors so the teacher doesn't see them.
      And I agree with what you said: Sometimes it's only the typos and obvious grammatical errors that most people notice--they just wonder why a piece of writing is heavy slogging for the reader.I hope others respond with how they do a quick assessment of the writing they're about to hand off to an editor.

JOE RESPONDS: I like your idea, and I have been developing a few tracks.... Another track I have to consider is level of difficulty: some projects are relatively easy, others very difficult!

PAT ADDS: And then there is budget: If you have a small budget, you have to decide which aspects of the ms. you can afford to have edited.

---Editing for structure, organization (not every editor is good at this)
---Editing for clarity
---Editing for grammar and style
---Editing (proofing?) for typos and other mechanical errors


If it's a structural mess, does it make sense to have it edited only for grammatical and spelling errors?



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Celebrating diversity in children's books

10 Websites to Help You Find the Best Diverse Books Lists (and Other Resources) (Melissa Reif, Book Source Banter blog, 10-15-15) Links to National Education Association, Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Children’s Book Council, Anti-Defamation League, Teaching Tolerance, Jane Addams Peace, Reading Is Fundamental, We Need Diverse Books, Diversity in YA, and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People).
20 Wonderful Children's Books That Celebrate Diversity (Anna Lane, The Bump, 7-18)
22 Diverse Book Choices for All Grade Levels (Edutopia, 2-15-19)
30 Children’s Books About Diversity That Celebrate Our Differences (Danika Ellis, Book Riot, 9-19-18)
The Ultimate List of Diverse Children's Books (Here Wee Read, 2018)
Diverse voices: the 50 best culturally diverse children's books (The Guardian, 10-13-14)

What children's books that celebrate diversity would you recommend?  Let me know in the comments section (and be sure to leave your name).

American Indians in Children's Literature (blog of Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo and Dr. Jean Mendoza)
An Updated Look at Diversity in Children's Books (School Library Journal, 6-19-19) H/T for many of the links in this section.
CCBlogC blog. Observations about books for children and teens from the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Statistics from April 2018.
Children’s Books as a Radical Act Excellent infographics based on the work and philosophy of Maya Gonzalez.
Diversity in Children’s Books: Check Your Blind Spot (Jennie McDonald, Center for the Collaborative Classroom, Part 1)
Diversity in Children’s Literature: Check Your Blind Spot, Part 2
Diversity Resources (Crazy Quilted)
Is Equality in the Children’s Book Industry Possible? (a post on Maya Gonzalez's blog)
The Invisible Lesbian in Young Adult Fiction and other blog posts about LGBTQ fiction by Malinda Lo. See also her book review.
Picture This: Diversity in Children's Books 2018 (Sara Park,, musings on korean diaspora, children’s literature, and adoption) A shareable infographic.
Publishing Statistics on Children's/YA Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations Authors and Illustrators Documented by the Cooperative Children's Book Center School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reading While White Workiing for racial diversity and inclusion in books for children and teens. See excellent links to other resources along right side.
Research on Diversity in Youth Literature A peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal hosted by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program and University Library. See and download Most Popular Papers.
We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Imagine a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.
Zetta Elliott's blog
Zetta Elliott Discusses the "Difficult Miracle" of Black Girl Poets (School Library Journal, 2-21-2020) and Other Zetta Elliott pieces (SLJ)

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