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Rube Tube

Author William Gibson has an essay on his web site in which he contemplates becoming “exactly the sort of introverted, hyper-bookish boy you’ll find in the biographies of most American science fiction writers … dreaming of one day becoming a writer myself.” It’s all interesting, even if you’re not familiar with his work, and he concludes with this compelling insight: “I...

Killing clichés

One rule writers learn early is to kill clichés. To prove the point, I will define my terms with a tired trope of the copywriter: cli·ché  /klēˈSHā/ Noun: A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. A very predictable or unoriginal thing or person. If anyone asks why writers should eliminate clichés from their work, the answer is usually brief, to the point, and wrong:...

Words Not Pages

I frequently hear from writers who are interested in a manuscript review or editing services, or who want to pitch an agent or publisher, and they tell me their book is 200 or 425 or howevermany pages long. When I’m feeling indulgent and patient, I’ll spend some time explaining why I don’t care how many pages their manuscript is – and why they shouldn’t, either. What counts is the number of words in the manuscript,...

Interesting Times and Heavy Lifting

A college friend who is an avid reader and married to another college friend and avid writer sent this story to me with this note: “Interesting times ahead.” Big Six publishers decline to renew contract with Amazon over unfavorable terms He, several friends, and I engaged in some commentary on the article. Here’s an edited/condensed version of my thoughts: Isn’t that an old Chinese curse – interesting times?...

News flash: Economics applies to publishing, too!

Virginia Postrel has a great article on publishing and Amazon’s new lending library (which works sort of like Netflix for e-books) that’s worth reading in its entirety: click here to read it. Here’s the most important takeaway: A former publishing executive recently told me he simply didn’t believe that “if I really want a book for $9.95 I don’t also want it for $10.95 or $12.95.” People in...

The 99/1 Rule, WOM, and Your Best Effort

One of my Facebook groups is discussing The Red Pen of Doom’s article “The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books.” The author, @speechwriterguy, posits an important point: “Twitter isn’t built to sell books. Or anything else.” I agree. His post, which is long, analyzes a range of variables in terms of mass media, name recognition, numbers of followers, etc., and arrives at a very challenging conclusion: “The new...

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