About the ‘Cat
“If you are going to invite users to look at a video produced by Mediabistro you should say that they only get to see 5 minutes of it,” writes an anonymous complainant this morning, referring to the ads currently appearing on the site for the video from mediabistro.com’s recent publishing seminar. “Not to mention that it costs money to look at the entire video is shameful. It makes you look like a shill, an employee doing the Devil’s work—not an indepedent blogger.”
Personally, I would’ve thought that the little box outline around the ad in question would have suggested that it was, in fact, an ad rather than something I’d written, especially since it doesn’t say “posted by Ron” at the bottom, but I can see how a bleary-eyed reader on a Monday morning might make the mistake. And, actually, I suggested a while back to mediabistro.com, which owns this site, that it would be a good design move to further distinguish that adspace with a different background color, to prevent just this sort of confusion.
But, yes, when I tell you that mediabistro.com is offering the video from its “The Secrets of Book Publishing” panel discussion—nearly two hours of footage featuring Deborah Garrison, Daniel Menaker, and Sam Tanenhaus—I’ll mention before you click through that watching the entire video will cost you $20 (or just $15 if you’re an AvantGuild member), although there is a free five-minute preview. Like so.
Sorry for the relative silence today, and apologies in advance for tomorrow as well—I am in Reykjavik with several other media types, being shown the local sights by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the author of the international bestseller Last Rituals. Unfortunately, I have not gotten my power adaptor to work on my laptop yet, and even if I did WiFi access is something like $30 a day (cursed weak dollar), so chances are I won’t have any pictures to show you until Monday morning. But I will try.
I’ve received a couple emails this morning—sent anonymously, so I can’t reply directly—about technical problems with the RSS feed for GalleyCat, including broken links. Your concerns have been passed along to mediabistro.com, where I’m sure the problem will be analyzed and corrected swiftly.
Actually, the literati won’t be literally knocking me around—I do have a pretty good height and weight advantage, after all—but chances are that when I take part in the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses annual spelling bee next Monday night at the Riverhouse Discovery Center, anybody from Jonathan Burnham to Sara Nelson, or Michael Cunningham or Thisbe Nissen, not to mentioning returning champ Robert Sietsema, might be able to outmaneuver me at the microphone.
This is an expensive ticket ($75) but it benefits the CLMP’s work supporting literary magazines and independent publishers, and it should be a good time, so please do consider coming.
It looks like last Thursday’s item about the arrival of Valerie Plame‘s memoir in bookstores struck a nerve with the anonymous tipster whose self-styled expertise was, as I pointed out, undermined by the book’s existence, because he wrote back to complain. “I always email anonymously,” he says of his equally lame follow-ups, “so I am puzzled how you found out it was me.” It’s really not that hard: When all you ever do is send links to wire stories, suggest that somebody’s going to get fired if a book doesn’t sell a million copies, or make the incredibly obvious suggestion that somebody might not make back all their money on a book that got a ridiculously high advance, you pretty much give yourself away—just like when you use a statistically anomalous turn of phrase that almost certainly emerged from your non-anonymous correspondence with me. (Also, if you’re going to criticize me for not talking about something in this blog, you might want to double-check, because it usually turns out that I did.)
On the other hand, a story like the misplaced cadaver in the NYTBR is a great example of a story that was submitted to this blog anonymously. It’s an item that came from a genuine insider who was privy to information that hadn’t already appeared in some other media outlet, and offered a credible perspective on that information. Also, a good chunk of the story checked out when I looked into it myself, which is always nice.
Anyway, that’s all a roundabout way of saying that if you’ve got a genuine news tip for GalleyCat, but you need to keep your name out of it, I can accomodate you. (And, of course, you can rely on as much confidentiality as you feel the situation requires if you send me a regular email, too.) There’s a submission box to the right, or you can just use this one here:
If all you’ve got is unsubstantiated slagging, though, there are plenty of other blogs I’m sure would be happy to hear from you.
Please excuse the light posting today—as you read this, I’ll actually be en route to the Adirondacks for the weekend, where I’ll be participating in the Facing Pages 2007 conference, sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts “to explore present and future challenges and new opportunities” for small publishers, and other “literary presenters.” You won’t be too surprised to hear that I’m on the technology panel, where I’ll inevitably talk about blogs… both as a tool publishers can use themselves, and a medium to which they can reach out.
As you may have read yesterday, Sarah Weinman has punched out her timecard; I’m grateful for her collaboration and support over the last two years. I will be assuming full responsibilities for the writing on GalleyCat effectively immediately, and hope to be up-to-speed over the next few days. Not that there’ll be any shortage of news between now and then; just that there’ll be more of it once I’m fully acclimated to the doubled workload. Also, look for more pictures of adorable cats, because I can.
Routine is a funny thing, especially on a professional level. It forces you to get up early every morning, perform a specific set of work-related tricks until the day is done, and then it’s time to get up early the next day and repeat the same process. For two years, routine has been my fall-back as I scoured for the best, relevant and occasionally bizarre bits of publishing-related news and commentary to share with GalleyCat readers.
After today, that routine will no longer exist. This is my last day here, after which Ron will take the site over as a solo act for the foreseeable future. Instead I’m creating a new routine, or perhaps an anti-routine: one with more freelance opportunities and larger projects to work on. One where I can spend more time on neglected matters: fiction-writing, my own crime fiction-centric site, or making some use of that forensic science degree after all. One with equal parts possibility and uncertainty. As to why now, the Jewish New Year – which begins tonight – probably has a lot to do with it. New Year, new beginnings, that sort of thing.
In other words: after two years, thousands of posts, scores of parties and readership that’s more than quadrupled since Ron and I took over GalleyCat in October 2005, it’s time to see what’s out there beyond the publishing industry’s idiosyncratic, mercurial and fascinating borders. I’m thrilled and scared, but risk has that effect on a person. And sad, too, because I’m going to miss so much here. When I first started, I had an amateur’s fascination with publishing. Now there’s more, but also so much I’ve still yet to learn. So most of all, thank you for being here as I tried to understand the way things work, from mergers & acquisitions (HM/Harcourt, Wottakar’s and Hachette/Time Warner Books, here’s looking at you) and bankruptcies (AMS/PGW) to more scandal-ridden fare (really, if not for James Frey, J.T. Leroy, Kaavya Viswanathan, and especially OJ and Judith Regan, there would be no GalleyCat in its current format.)
Thanks also to Elizabeth Spiers for the initial chance; Aileen Gallagher, Dorian Benkoil and Dylan Stableford for editorial support in the early innings and Rebecca Fox, Noah Davis and Chris Ariens for the same, late-in-the-game; Laurel Touby for continuing to push for breaking news and original content; my fellow bloggers-in-arms, departed and still current; and Ron, for being Adolph Green to my Betty Comden (even if I’m breaking up the act a lot sooner than they did.)
And while we’re on the team theme, had I been more tech-savvy there would have been a YouTube clip of my favorite childhood comedy duo delivering the goodbye song I reference in the subject header to open this post. But I’m not, so instead I’ll quote from the last lines:
Adieu, mon vieux, a la prochaine, goodbye till when we meet again!
Some sunny day, I suspect.
The BBC just put the latest episode of The Word, their weekly program about news from the world of literature, online, and the lead story has interviews with Laura Albert and Jeffrey Levy-Hinte about the JT Leroy lawsuit, along with color commentary by Daniel Handler, who says he was pretty sure somebody was playing some sort of literary game from the moment he opened the book, and a co-editor from what the Beeb calls “the most influential publishing blog in New York,” lumbering through an explanation of why the artfulness of Sarah still holds up even if a twenty-year old transgendered male turns out to be a fortysomething housewife.