Online Fiction Format

Two well-thought-out posts from Eli James at Novelr on the formatting of online fiction. Part 1 here, from August; Part 2 here, two days ago.

As noted previously, character blogs in particular and online fiction in general haven’t taken off as I would have thought they might, given that the internet is itself seems a viable new medium. The points Eli raises clearly speak to part of the problem, and I hope to contribute to this issue as well in the near future.

— Mark Barrett

Giving Up the Ghost

Ten days ago, in a post titled Why I’m Opting Out, I wrote this:

Today when I hear a publisher complaining about how books are sacred and how we need to protect the publishing industry, I’m reminded of the same talk from news executives about how critical hard news and investigative journalism are to the health of our democracy. Yet in both instances these are often the same people who are putting crap on the front page or front shelf, making crap physical products, and marketing the most sensationalistic crap they can get their hands on in the desperate hope that it can compete favorably with the crap on TV and the crap on the internet.

In the middle of writing that rant, however, I had a nagging feeling there was something else I didn’t respect about publishing. Yesterday, after running across this story, I remembered what it was:

Less than three months after resigning as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, the onetime vice presidential candidate, has completed her memoir.

HarperCollins Publishers, which signed a multi-million dollar deal with Ms. Palin in May, said in a statement on Tuesday that it had moved up the publication date from the spring of 2010 to Nov. 17 of this year.

The book will be titled “Going Rogue: An American Life”; the publisher has announced a first-print run of 1.5 million copies. Ms. Palin worked with a collaborator, Lynn Vincent, the editor of World, an evangelical magazine.

To the publishing industry’s determined self-abuses please add: lying about authorship, devaluing authorship and generally treating authorship like a rented mule. Because I can think of no other industry where the practice of lying about authorship is so completely codified and accepted as it is in the publishing world — which, you might think, would be the last place that would tolerate such a thing.  Read more ]