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

Voice in memoirs

People who talk about "voice in memoir" aren't always talking about the same thing.
Sue William Silverman writes "In short, the Voice of Innocence conveys what happened: 'I press the scarf to my face, inhaling autumn dusk.' It leads the reader through the actual surface event. The Voice of Experience, on the other hand, examines what the author, sitting at her desk, writing, understands about events now Read More 
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Ever wondered about those TED talks and conferences?

Watching a TED talk online, I noticed that most of the audience appeared to be well-groomed men, so I looked for explanations of who gets invited and how and why TED gatherings work. Liked what Jacob Ward of Popular Science had to say: I Didn't Like TED. Then I Got It (3-1-16) "It launched in 1984 as a conference around Technology, Entertainment and Design, and has grown to include not just its two annual events  Read More 
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Bill Wurtz's fabulous speedy history of Japan

The entire history of Japan (40,000 years) told quickly, visually, fabulously, and in a way you want to see again. Bill Wurtz, you are a genius.






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Preserving original documents

by Taylor Whitney

Photographs (and paper documents) suffer from inherent chemical deterioration, generally exhibited by fading (called "chemical fade"). Fluctuations in temperature and humidity accelerate that deterioration process; that's why storage is such an important conversation to have.

Most "cultural collections" (business archives, household, social clubs and institutions such as nonprofit organizations) are stored in acidic  Read More 
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Amazon vs Book Publishers (Do Writers Win or Lose?) Updated 1-24-16

Published initially 11/14/2014; updated 4-16-15, 11-17-15; 1-24-16; 2-3-16\

NEWSFLASH: Amazon To Open Hundreds Of Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores (Pavithra Mohan, Fast Company, 2-2-16) Amazon, the online retailer that killed off so many independent bookshops, is getting ready to launch its own brick-and-mortar book chain. According to the Wall Street Journal, the CEO of a major mall operator, General Growth Properties, revealed on Tuesday that Amazon intends to launch hundreds of bookstores.
Why Amazon's Rumored "Bookstores" Probably Won't Be What You Think (Rich Bellis, Fast Company, 2-3-16) If Amazon does expand its physical retail footprint, don’t expect it to focus exclusively or even primarily on books. It may see physical locations as (among other things) more akin to Apple Stores, where it can showcase the hardware it sells online.
Meet the Guy Behind Amazon’s Secret Retail Store Plans (Jason Del Rey, re/code, 2-3-16) The man behind the Kindle is leading Amazon’s project to create the retail stores of the future. And bookstores are just the beginning. These are two of the new details Re/code has uncovered about Amazon’s plans for expansion into physical retail.
Amazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores, Mall CEO Says (Greg Bensinger, WSJ, 2-2-16) mazon Plans Hundreds of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores, Mall CEO Says

In the following pieces about a dispute among them, Amazon and book publishers take turns being the bad guy. Authors, read these often excellent arguments for and against book publishers, Amazon, and others engaged in this battle for market power and tell us what you think!  Read More 
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Working with Offset Printers

This guest post is by Robin Brooks, a book designer who not only does beautiful book and website design but also explains clearly the practical aspects of working with an offset printer. She shared the following tips on the Association of Personal Historians listserv; they were so helpful I asked permission to post them here. Generally you won't use an offset printer unless you are printing at least 500 copies of a book. Then I always hire a book designer for reasons Robin's post makes clear. Read More 
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Revolution in academia: Copyright and open access

(updated 1-29-17, 3-5-16, 3-19-16)
In academia a wide-ranging discussion about open access is weakening academic journals' monopoly on profiting from publishing research findings. Different interest groups view this differently, of course. Meanwhile, as the publishing landscape changes, are academic authors, who have long abandoned claims to copyright on many of their scholarly articles (in the "public or perish" world of university faculty-making), less docile about publishing rights, with tenured faculty positions scarcer and scarcer? This round-up of relevant pieces starts with

Elsevier Mutiny: Cracks Are Widening in the Fortress of Academic Publishing (Mathew Ingram, Forbes, 11-2-15) "All six editors and the entire editorial board of the well-respected linguistics journal Lingua have resigned to protest the company’s failure to embrace open access.  Read More 
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The Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative

Updated 5-3-19. Book Authors: Study the contract alerts the Authors Guild has spelled out in its Fair Contract Initiative (Eight Principles of Fair Contracts became more than that!). The main contract issues are spelled out briefly below, with links to the full Authors Guild argument on each issue.
Advances Should Remain Advances (3-16-15)
The Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative: A Preview (AG, 6-17-15)
Authors, Keep Your Copyrights--You Earned Them (AG 8-13-15) Most trade publishers do not ask for an outright assignment of all exclusive rights under copyright; their contracts usually call for copyright to be in the author's name. It's another story in the world of university presses.
Claiming the Royalties You Deserve (AG, 2-26-18)
Delete the Non-Compete (AG 8-27-15)
End the Discount Double-Cross (AG, 11-15-16) Publishers routinely use contract provisions to slash authors’ royalties to mere pennies per copy sold. So-called “deep discount” clauses stipulate that a publisher’s sale at a discount of over 55%, for example (a number that appears to be the new standard), the author’s royalty suddenly drops from, say, 15% of list price to 15% of the far smaller amount the publisher actually receives. With a clause like this in effect, why would any rational publisher maintain a higher wholesale price when a lower one would deliver 25% more to its bottom line—entirely at the author’s expense?...The documented decline in authors’ incomes stems in part from these unconscionable reductions in royalty payments. Scroll down on Authors Guild page for what you (or your agent) should hold out for on a book contract.<
Graffiti Artists Have Moral Rights (AG, 3-2-18)
Half of Net Proceeds Is the Fair Royalty Rate for E-Books (7-9-15) See Checking In on the Digital Royalty Debate (Rachel Deahl, PW, 12-6-13) "By finding ways to keep their top authors in-house without raising the e-book royalty rate above 25%, the big houses have, in effect, killed the debate. And this comes at a time when most publishers’ profits have improved because of e-books. Richard Curtis, a literary agent and founder of the e-book publisher E-Reads, repeated an oft-said refrain when he noted that “the 25% [e-book royalty] rate has been the chief cause of publishers’ return to prosperity.” Argue for 50%, not 25%, on ebook royalties.
A Manuscript’s Acceptability Should Not Be a Matter of Whim, (2-24-16) Avoid fuzzy-wuzzy contract wording that allows easy rejection of a manuscript--certainly not if it means the author must return the advance. At the very least the author should have a chance to revise to editorial specifications. If the publisher isn't sure it will like a book once it's delivered, it should consider an option agreement.
Option Clauses Shouldn't Hold Authors Hostage (AG, 9-23-15)
• Publishers’ Payment and Accounting Practices Need to Keep Up with the Times,
A Publishing Contract Should Not Be Forever (7-8-15)
Stop Forcing Authors to Take Unlimited Financial Risks: Warranty and Indemnification Clauses (AG, 12-18-15)
Controlled Digital Lending Is Neither Controlled nor Legal. (AG 1-8-19) (Authors Guild, 6-17-15)

The Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative: A Preview  Read More 

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Net Neutrality: What is it and where do things stand?

What's Net Neutrality all about? I hope the following items make things clear. Let's start with Net neutrality is here. What it means for you ( David Goldman and Jose Pagliery, CNN Money, 6-13-15). "Net neutrality is a set of rules the FCC approved in 2010 to prevent fast lanes on the Internet.  Read More 
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The truth about book sales and authors' income

Updated 8-19-18) Warning: The news is not good but this is just a sampling.
Why Authors Are Earning Less Even As Book Sales Rise (Adam Rowe, Forbes, 8-11-18) Book publishers incomes are rising "partially due to rising digital audiobook and ebook sales," but authors' incomes are declining, says the Authors Guild, about this article: "The disparity between book sales and author salaries isn’t news. But seeing the statistics laid out simply on the page can help develop an understanding of where the money is going." Quoting the Forbest article: "Overall, revenues appear to be holding steady, as traditional publishers double down on the latest trend or format (which are political tell-alls and digital audiobooks, respectively, if anyone's wondering)....But thanks to the effects of price points set by the largest publishers in response to Amazon, industry corner-cutting, and book piracy, those authors behind the stories that power the publishing industry are earning increasingly less for their efforts."
• "Only 39% of authors supported themselves exclusively through writing-related work," according to The Wages of Writing: Key Findings from the Authors Guild 2015 member survey. Author incomes are down, hybrid authorship is up, and authors are spending more time marketing than ever before. (Hybrid authorship is the practice of self-publishing while also being traditionally published.) Authors spend more time on marketing, less on writing books. Traditional publishers’ promotional budgets have all but dried up,  Read More 
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