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Authors, Be Warned

mjpub.JPGI received this anonymous note from a reliable source about Morgan James Publishing and how their house works and thought I should share it with you if you’re considering print on demand.

For the 2nd time this summer, I’ve been contacted for consultation by an author who’s being published by Morgan James Publishing. Each author had no idea that MJP is a print-on-demand house, which I easily discerned after parsing the jargon-filled gobbledygook about Lightning Source on the MJP website. Apparently, MJP’s strategy to “revolutionize” book publishing includes 1) not paying advances, 2) not employing a sales force, and 3) requiring its authors to enroll in a big-bucks marketing seminar so they can do the work of the nonexistent sales force.

I wrote author #2: In the legitimate publishing business, money only flows from publisher to author, not vice versa.

I also referred author #2 to a publicist, who wrote me today:
I wasn’t sure if you were aware of this, but Morgan James is a collaborative publishing house (self publisher) run by none other than Rick Frishman of Planned TV Arts.

Basically, Morgan James doesn’t “charge” a fee to publish the book, but they do require that the author “enroll” in their $5,000 book publishing/marketing/pr “seminar” which is all of Rick’s info all rolled up into a webinar.

So, basically, Frishman still sells his “wares” to the author, but instead of doing a weekend, they enroll in a webinar. He publishes the books and then convinces the author to use his PR firm. Distribution: There really isn’t any.

There’s nothing about MJP at Preditors & Editors, but there’s this thread on Absolute Write Cooler.

Do any of you have personal experience with this house? Let us know in the comments section.

UPDATE: Rick Frishman and Morgan James founder David Hancock have issued statements in response to this post.

Sarah Palin, Book Banner?

Just in time for ALA’s Banned Books Week later this month, Daily Kos just gave us a tip about the TIME magazine article on Presidential VP nominee Sarah Palin and how she tried to fire librarian Mary Ellen Baker for not banning questionable books.

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

Over at, one of the commenters listed the books Palin tried to ban from the library including such literary gems as:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Anything by Stephen King
Everything by J.K. Rowling
Most of William Shakespeare’s work
and my personal favorite
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff

Maybe if she didn’t want to ban Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Collective her daughter Bristol wouldn’t be having a shotgun wedding.

Catalog Season-St Martin’s Minotaur

bruen cover.jpg Checking out the Fall 2008 St Martin’s/Minotaur catalog the stand out cover is November’s Once Were Cops in which Ken Bruen finally sets his signature hard-boiled style in NYC. Favorite title has to be Hark, The Herald Angel Screamed by Mignon F. Ballard also out in November. Favorite back story is Zoe Sharp who’s coming out with Third Strike in October. Seems back in 2006 the winner of a contest to go shooting with her at a local range after Bouchercon was actually blind (see her blog post for October 06). They way they got around this was by placing cheap Radio Shack radios behind the targets which gave the blind woman something to aim at. She did surprisingly well.

Drinking on the Job Poll- Recap

drinking poll.jpgAmazingly almost 200 of you responded to our poll about drinking at work functions and calling in sick with a hangover with 50% of responders admitting to most of the above which includes being drunk at a work function and showing up to work hungover. Surprisingly, 9% of those polled never drink and 0% didn’t admit to hooking up at a work event. I guess that might be covered in “most of the above.”

Speaking of drinking, today in the NY Post, they had a great piece by Justin Rocket Silverman on how modern lit can’t hold its liquor, citing the Bartending Guide to Great American Writers by Edward Hemmingway.

No author writing today made the book’s list of 43, simply because contemporary scribes don’t drink enough to measure up.

Silverman did manage to catch up with a few local writers and what they’re drinking these days including Gossip Girl Cecily von Ziegesar who really likes her Ginger Provincial. You can read about the other writers, their drink of choice and thoughts on drinking and writing here.

Also for those of you who wrote in to advise me on the proper use of drink, drank, and drunk… what do you honestly expect from a blog post on drinking written after attending a publishing happy hour?

Harcourt Publicity-Where Are They Now?

Back in May I reported on how Harcourt slashed their publicity department by 1/2 after their merge with Houghton. So, where are they now? Sarah Melnyk landed a gig as Senior Publicist at Minotaur Books where she was brought in to work on their huge winter list.

Erienne Rojas is now completing her BA in English, concentration in Creative Writing with a minor in Jewish Studies and is a freelance publicist for Sherri Rosen Publicity. She plans to expand as a freelance writer for several up and coming e-zines and looking forward to returning back to Book Publishing as a Publicist. (I wonder if he applied for that senior publicist gig that opened up at Houghton).

And former Harcourt Publicity Director, Michelle Blankenship beat me out for the Publicity Manager gig with Harlequin which is launching a new woman’s non-fiction imprint this fall.

Drinking on the Job

martini cat.jpg
With the success of Chelsea Handler’s Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, I got to thinking how drinking and publishing go together like lunch and three martinis. This being Friday, I know a few of you have been out for the obligatory Thursday night Happy Hour and hope you made it in to work today.

I remember back to my early days at Avon Books when we would celebrate each NYT bestseller by gathering the staff in the tiny conference room, break open a few bottles of bubbly and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. At another house there were the occasional half-day summer Friday Bloody Mary Brunch. Receptions with open bars? Forget about it, we’re there. And then the infamous holiday parties where at least a few hook-ups have happened (and more than one marriage resulted) among colleagues.

With all this drinking going on I was wondering how far it goes? Is everyone in the publishing industry a lush or are we moving more towards tea-totaling. Vote in the poll!

Do you Drink
( polls)

The Lace Reader’s Dirty Linen

lace reader.jpgThe Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry is currently number 7 on the New York Times best seller list but how did this originally self-published title that ended up selling to Morrow for 2.4 million make such a splash? Jocelyn Kelley from Kelley & Hall Book Publicity (Barry’s original publicist)has the inside scoop.

We want you to know that we are thrilled with the attention that The Lace Reader is getting. We are so happy that we were able to be a part of such an exciting and powerful discovery in the literary community. Our only regret is that we have received virtually no recognition for our significant part in these events.

We met Brunonia “Sandy” Barry and her husband, Gary Ward, one year before they self published “The Lace Reader”. We met through a mutual friend who worked at an independent bookstore. Sandy and Gary wanted help with publicity and had no real knowledge of the publishing industry. They were excited to hear that we had been in the publicity and publishing business for over five years and had much success under our belts.

They were contemplating hiring us but until that decision was made they wanted to see if we “connected with the work and had any constructive criticism regarding plot, characters, etc. We were given a manuscript and met with Gary and Sandy a number of times to discuss the story line as well as the ins and outs of publishing, publicity, etc. Gary, who expressed that he was a novice in publishing, had begun his own publishing company, Flapjacket Press, and wanted to learn as much as he could about the industry.

After eight months and numerous intense meetings, we were finally hired. We helped them get a distributor because they weren’t able to find someone who would take them on as a client with only one title. They were turned down by Midpoint and did not know who else to approach. We had a relationship with a distributor who agreed to handle the distribution for Flapjacket Press as a favor to us. Gary also asked our advice on the cover art – the initial book cover design was a teapot and closely resembled cozy paperback mysteries. We made a number of suggestions, emailed images to them and the end result was an attractive lace cover.

Continue reading about the “dirty little invisible secret” after the jump.

Read more

Obama vs McCain

72 things.jpgTwo web to book humor titles tackle the candidates in their own way: 72 Things Younger than John McCain by Joe Quint coming out from Fireside August 26 and Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle: 366 Ways He Really Cares by Mathew Honan is on sale now from Gotham Books. What’s interesting is the different ways the authors have tackled their subjects. Honan uses Obama’s simple message style to convey the candidate’s appeal with statements such as “Barack Obama Let You Win At Scrabulous.” obama bicycle.jpg
Meanwhile Quint’s approach while very funny, also is a history lesson of sorts. Did you know McCain is older than The Jefferson Memorial, Duct Tape, Nachos, Chocolate-Chip Cookies, Area Codes and Social Security?

Could a humor book’s popularity also predict a presidential candidate’s chance of winning? Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle: 366 Ways He Really Cares is currently leading in ranking against the McCain book.

Which book gets your vote?
( surveys)

Gravitas Editor-in-chief Carter Jefferson saw the Wasserman article I posted the other week and had the following insightful rebuttal to online reviewers and their “authority”:

“Gravitas” is in the eye of the beholder, and you won’t necessarily find it only in newspapers and magazines.

Bloggers come in all stripes, from semi-literate losers to highly erudite scholars. Training in journalism is not what produces good literary criticism–thoughtful reading, a good education, and skillful writing can produce critics of the greatest acumen, and you can find them on the Web. Moreover, real Websites, not bloggers, can reach the level of any print medium.

Wasserman is wrong on more than one point. Granted, we at The Internet Review of Books haven’t published anything by James Wood yet, but Sven Birkerts helped us get started with a review of the work of John Updike in our first issue. Some of our reviewers who have never been print critics are turning out reviews as good as those published anywhere.

We’re serious people–published journalists, essayists, novelists, what have you. Our editor-in-chief has been both a journalist and a scholar; our associate editors have published books or are building reputations as outstanding writers in both print and electronic media.

I feel for Wasserman. It’s tough to lose a job you love. But the disappearance of the print book section is not the end of the literary world–it’s the beginning of a new one. We can’t say we match the New York Times yet, but give us a little time.

Get Your Geek On

20 sided die.jpg Ummmm, okay, I hate to admit this but I’m sure some of you who know me suspected as much. No I’m not gay (contrary to popular belief and my affinity for wearing vests). I am in fact a geek (see also: Dork and Nerd). I passed my pubescent years retarding my social skills spending many long days and nights in the basement of my friend’s house, listening to the soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Arc and playing D&D.

Why is this relevant? Because I just spent the past 30 minutes creating and outfitting my character, Caterwaul (a Chaotic Good Half-Elf Rogue with good intelligence but not much strength), on the Elfish Gene website. elfish gene cover.jpgThe site, created by created by Soho Press to promote the book by Mark Barrowcliffe, is a great web tool that speaks directly to his target audience… the D&D Geek he hopes will relate to his memoir about Dungeons, Dragons and growing-up strange. He also has a contest to win a 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set. How awesome is that!

Since the D&D doesn’t appeal as much to the ladies, you might be interested in checking out Angie Fox’s site for The Accidental Demon Slayer to discover your Biker Witch name. I’m Roadkill Ronnie Pothole Jumper. The name generator is just one part of the viral marketing campaign that Dorchester Publishing has put together to help make Fox hit the extended NYT bestseller list.