Showing posts from July, 2009

an Inspirational Journal is born

You know those journals, those journals with quotes in them, those journals with prompts and affirmations and sparkly flowery hard covers, spiral or perfect-bound, that clutter up the racks of stationary sections at B&N, those journals your mom keeps giving you for Christmas that encourage you with psychopathic insistence to Dream, Create, and Imagine? Those journals "created" by authors who've had an inspirational gift book or two do well in those stores?

Those journals are actually vomited up in the dead of 1-in-the-afternoon from the bellies of those authors' editors, and when that fails, those authors' editors' interns. Here is how a mass-market B & N Inspirational Journal comes into the world:

Step 1: Author writes quote-heavy inspirational/self-helpy book. It generally has pictures of sunsets and women-tribes dancing on beaches, and lots of soul-massaging bits about love and abundance.

Step 2: Book does OK at sinister big box stores.

Step 3: P…

small press roundup, part 1

INTERN is back at it today, and was relieved to see that the eds hadn't found a perkier, more mentally stable intern in INTERN's absence (the old intern switcheroo apparently happens sometimes: on the train this morning, paranoid fantasies that Nemesis Intern had taken over and would be sitting there licking INTERN's rightful decline envelopes when she got in). All is well.

INTERN has been meaning to make a list of her favorite small presses, and for this particular batch she has whittled it down to:

a) presses whose books were so good and smart and bizarre they reading them was akin to taking a psychoactive substance.


b) presses based in Vancouver, BC (INTERN had a Can-lit fetish for a solid 8 years).


c) presses whose editor or author at some point bought INTERN a misguided beer.

Tsunami Editions: Daring, almost psychotically experimental poetry press associated with Vancouver's Kootenay School of Writing, actively publishing between 1984 and 2001. If you can…

den of frivolity

Last night while listening to the radio and drinking some sedative tea, INTERN had some deep psychic communication with Beyonce of Destiny's Child, who shared the following publishing insights with INTERN:

"If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it."

She's clearly talking to publishers who rejected a manuscript, only to kick themselves when said manuscript is picked up by a publisher with better abs.

"Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills? Can you pay my auto-mo-bills? If you did then maybe we could chill."

INTERN already covered this one a zillion posts ago, but it bears repeating: Beyonce is now speaking as a publisher, letting writers know she wants manuscripts that bring home the bacon. Or is she speaking as a writer demanding a substantial advance? Can she chill with Harper-Collins, but not a small indie house? How big are her auto-mo-bills anyway?

"I don't want no scrubs. A scrub is a guy that can't get no love fr…

today INTERN is sleep-deprived

Sleep-deprived, and practically hallucinating. INTERN was mailing out galleys this morning, and inadvertently put $46.50 worth of postage on a small flat parcel destined for New Jersey. Caught it just in time. Yesterday evening when INTERN went outside to check on her basil, she thought to herself "the basil needs editing". Not thinning. Editing. And just now INTERN's task has been to track down contact information for famous authors to endorse less-famous authors' books, and has found herself gleefully composing improbable letters to the likes of Dr. Oz.

Luckily there are official tasks available to a frazzled INTERN on a day like this. Namely, taking all the file folders in the giant metal file-thing and flipping them around to face the other direction. Really. This task is not as boring as it sounds, because each flip of a folder grants INTERN a glimpse of what meaty or interesting document said folder contains, often book contracts and agent/editor/auth…

today INTERN is editing chicklit

...or rather, a chick's-guide-to-life-after-college: first apartment, first office job, etc. It is something like 50,000 words long. Since INTERN herself is female and in the midst of her own first job-like endeavour, the eds figured INTERN was obviously qualified.

Word has searched the document and found 1293 occurrences of the word "latte".

Word has searched the document and found 981 occurrences of the word "shoe".

Word has searched the document and found 602 occurrences of the word "cocktail".

INTERN is thinking back to her roommate in freshman year of college, ostensibly the prototypical chick, who indeed drank a lot of lattes, went on dates, and owned many a pair of shoes, but was also an accomplished french-horn player, a savvy businesswoman, and deeply spiritual to boot. Don't get INTERN wrong, the chick-lit thing can be fun and intelligent and authentic, but just plugging in a lot of chick-related keywords doesn't make the book suit…

mysteries of the cheekbone

INTERN has finally figured out why there is always a handful of tall, unemotive, strangely intimidating young women standing by the bathroom mirror doing their makeup. It took some teen-detective-style snooping (following one of these women down the hall after her impeccably timed yet tiger-like exodus from the bathroom) but INTERN can now report with 100% confidence that there is some kind of obscure modeling agency at the back of the building, staffed by two male director-like people who were speaking to each other in Swedish.

INTERN wonders what it would be like if the modeling agency and Wusiness Beek did a swap for a day, the Wusiness Beekers hanging around bathrooms looking leonine and the models snickering over their stocks as they rode the elevator down at lunchtime to get some very large falafel from the place next door.

While she was at it, INTERN also (somehow) managed to snoop her way into an aged architect's office and was duly directed to the appropriate exit door—but…

hell is finding a good title

E-mail from INTERN's book's editor this morning:

"I ran the [last 99,000 prospective] titles you came up with by our marketing people and sadly they can't work with any of them. We want something gritty and 'from the street'. Can you think of anything slangy that young people would pick up? If not, Stacy in marketing will come up with a title and you're going to hate it."

INTERN, for purposes of anonymity, probably shouldn't disclose what her book is about, but suffice to say INTERN is not, herself, particularly gritty or from the street (if you discount that anarchist hitchhiking phase a few years back). But let's just say the book is a guide to urban gardening (which it's not). Are the marketing people seriously wanting something like:

1. Yo Peeps, Let's Plant Some Shit: A Guide to Urban Gardening
2. The Smack-Down on Nasturtiums: Freaky Ho's Guide to Gardening
3. Pimp My Planter/Rock My (Window)Box: Gardening for the MTV G…

Publishing Process Part 1.75

So your manuscript has arrived in the mail, been logged and funneled to the appropriate editor, and maybe even sat through its first editorial meeting. What happens next?

In all likelyhood, it sits around through another editorial meeting or two while said editor hems and haws and checks the sales figures on your last book, and checks out similar books on the market and whether they're any good. There might be some chat as to whether or not there's room for your book on the already-tight publication schedule ("should we push back 'Feline Spies of the Dark Ages' to 11B and push this one through early?") and whether there are already too many books like yours in existence.

There will be phone calls. Sometimes, lots of phone calls. Editor A will call Marketing Person B over at the west coast office and ask if she thinks a book like this would sell. Marketing Person B will leave a message for The Guy at Borders and ask if he thinks he'd buy it for the stor…

notes on spiritual memoirs

INTERN has been plowing through the stack of submissions accrued over her mental health days, and has noticed a lot of memoirs coming in, particularly spiritual memoirs along the lines of "how I found Jesus/Kabbalah/meditation/Scientology and had a deep revelation that changed my life".

Some of these are clearly written by people who experienced or are currently experiencing psychosis or Messianic delusions (and my heart goes out to them), but most of them are written by people who have what psychiatrists call insight (self-awareness, consensus reality...). And to the latter group, INTERN has a few suggestions.

Memoirs are tricky, because they are ostensibly a genre in which you have full license to write about yourself—but if you actually just write about yourself (I I I I I)and presume people will be naturally interested in your doings, you have a really boring memoir.

Spiritual memoirs are even trickier, because you make the bold presumption that people will be interest…

60-hippie monsoon

This morning INTERN is bleary of eye and shaky of hand, and intensely relieved to be back at her little nook at the office after a lengthy 4th of July weekend-turned-surrealist movie.

It went like this:

Saturday, 7:03 PM: Roommate: "Hey, I met some cool people who live on a circus bus and I invited them over for a potluck."

8:12 PM: Bus-dwelling circus people arrive, wearing (most fittingly) an assortment of tutus, fur coats, colorful capes, and giant shoes. They bring lots of extra friends but no food, so INTERN's boyfriend starts making a vat of chili to feed the hordes.

9:00 PM: Off-the-wall hilarity when a young gentleman on LSD starts making amorous advances on the unsuspecting living room carpet. His girlfriend, also on LSD, pouts in a corner, her fairy wings folded up behind her back. Kids, this is why INTERN stays away from drugs.

10:10 PM: INTERN ducks into her bedroom to get something to find that four slightly out-of-place hipsters have pushed her bed again…


INTERN back from extended July 4th weekend hiatus! Back to regular scheduled INTERNING tomorrow.


hives of apocalypse

Every now and then, an INTERN just needs to have fun. Last night, INTERN had fun by going to one of those eclectic, hipsterish street festival art-music-event things that happen in the city in the summer. INTERN's boyfriend came along, and it was indeed entertaining: we looked at sculptures made of safety pins and listened to hobo bands with their half-dozen accordions.

The night was going well. Someone in a purple VW bus had given us free cupcakes, and we were dancing to the music of the aforementioned hobo accordion band. Then INTERN heard someone say her name, and turned around to see the polished, eternally well-dressed Assistant Editor standing behind her, wearing his signature fedora.

This would have been all well and good were it not made awkward by the fact that INTERN had elected to wear a neon green, sequined flight suit and goggles that night, and her boyfriend was wearing a bear costume.

INTERN: Oh, hello Assistant Editor! Fancy seeing you here. Allow me to in…

hot publishing trendz part 2 (and poetry)

More things that are apparently hot right now:

HOT: Repentance. e.g. "You've been very, very bad! Here's how to be good!" This trend started with diet books, spread to financial books about "repenting" from your naughty subprime mortgage-taking ways, and is now manifesting itself in a "green" light: "you've been very, very bad to the earth"...

HOT: Abundance: "Wait, don't get rich—appreciate what you already have!" Weirdly, INTERN has been noticing that books about abundance tend to be in hard-cover with thick paper stock, to make them seem weighty and, you know, abundant...with pages...

HOT: Teenage detectives. Do they ever get old?

And now for something completely unrelated. What follows is a short (long?) discourse on poetry. You've been warned.

A while ago someone commented asking THE INTERN to talk about poetry and its market (or lack thereof). Like most writerly young things, INTERN too has had her fling …