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Showing posts from December, 2009

today, INTERN is declaring pub amnesty

This morning, INTERN woke up and realized that lately she has been thinking about writing and publishing and books pretty much constantly. And she realized that maybe all these book-thoughts have been crowding out other potentially luminous and joyful thoughts. So today, she is declaring Pub Amnesty: a break from thinking about writing, revising, editing, contracts, advances, trim sizes, bookstore demises, e-books, who's publishing who, and (Zeus help us all!) book promotion.

Instead, INTERN is celebrating the following inherently joyful and luminous subjects today:

1. Funiculars.

2. A spoon from Medieval times.

3. Time-lapse videos of mushrooms growing.

4. Mason jars filled with pickled hard-boiled eggs at a gas station.

5. A spoon from the Renaissance (which spoon is happier?)

6. Celestial navigation.

7. Mashups.

8. Fruit that comes in the mail.

9. Druids.

10. Rastafarians (why aren't there more books with Rastafarian narrators? INTERN can't think of a single one. No…

"that book looks good enough to steal!"

INTERN was interested (and dismayed) to read that festive holiday book theft is up this year. Favorite steals? The bible, anything that says "staff pick," and books by Martin Amis. Read all about it here.

And for you readers over the pond, consider this list of top ten stolen books in the UK (from Times Online)

Ten most stolen from UK shops

1. London A-Zs:

London Street Atlas

by Geographers' A-Z Map Co. Paperback, £4.35

2. Ordnance Survey maps:

Exmoor Explorer Map

by Ordnance Survey. Paperback, £5.99

3. Terry Pratchett novels:

The Colour of Magic

by Terry Pratchett. Paperback. £5.44

4. Harry Potter books: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling.

Hardback children's edition, £10.43

5. Lonely Planet travel guides:

Great Britain - a Lonely Planet Country Guide by David Else. Paperback, £11.49

6. The Lord of the Rings trilogy:

Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary Edition by J.R.R. Tolkien. Hardback, £24.50

7. Martina Cole novels:

Faces by Martina Cole. Paperback, £7.59

8. Jacq…

the (book promotion) gods must be crazy

A few days ago, INTERN had the distinct pleasure/terror of conversing for the first time with one of the book-promotion people her publisher has hired to handle her book. It felt rather like the initial "try-out" montage in a kids' sports movie: clumsy INTERN with bottle-thick glasses and a mouthguard fumbling passes from the hot-shot coach who (for baroque reasons of her own) has been sent to train the junior league. Here is what INTERN learned about book promotion during that very intense hour:

1. "Every day you're not on Facebook, I die a little inside."

Not a direct quote from the Book Promoter, but close enough. Everyone knows Facebook is essential for establishing an online presence...but did you know that not using Facebook causes physical pain to your book publicist? Every day?

2. "If you don't add 20-30 friends a day on Facebook, this puppy will die."

Direct quote, accompanied by telepathic burst of ailing-puppy images.

3. "St…

thoughts on contests

INTERN got a very thoughtful and pleasant e-mail from a reader yesterday, asking INTERN's opinion of writing contests. It boiled down to this: "are there any contests within the reach of a novice writer that are also impressive enough to catch an agent's attention?"

INTERN's answer was pretty much "no, unless you're a novice writer who wins the O. Henry prize."

In INTERN's (limited and certainly not authoritative) experience, most of the writing contests writers cite on their query letters are not impressive and, at worst, make the writer in question look like a small fish. If Jack Kerouac was writing a query letter, would he list "2nd place Boonsville Writer's Association Flash Fiction Contest 1951" as a credit? Would Harper Lee have been better off if a promising but incomplete first draft of "To Kill a Mockingbird" had won a prize at a writing conference?

Maybe it's an outdated and romantic notion, but INTERN beli…

a modest proposal

So the Kirkus Review is shutting down and everyone is, once again, hailing the death of print. In this time of great belt-tightening, INTERN has been brainstorming ways print publishers can save precious $ and stay in business through the recession and beyond.

Not so many years ago, New Zealand was debating the best way to standardize the spelling of Te Reo, the Māori language. One of the issues discussed was whether to use a macron (Māori) or double vowel (Maaori) to indicate a long vowel. They chose the macron and, INTERN has been told by her New Zealand friends, have since saved millions of dollars in printing costs for documents in that official language.

This morning, INTERN was working on a manuscript critique. The manuscript in question is 408 pages long. Quite a whack of ink and paper! Closing her eyes and thinking of New Zealand, INTERN opened the find/replace tool and replaced all instances of the word "the" with an asterisk: *. Bam! 7,895 replacements. No…

Borders special report

Last night, INTERN ran into her friend who works at Borders. He was looking uncharacteristically grim. Even his nose ring had lost its gleam.

"What are they buying?" asked INTERN, putting her arm around his shoulder and shepherding him to a quiet booth.

He rolled his eyes and said bitterly, "Sarah Palin Going Rogue."

He has since taken mental health leave...

today, INTERN's heart is fluttering with suspense

News, news!

INTERN might (fingers crossed) be doing ANOTHER INTERNSHIP starting in February! YAAAAAAAAAAAAY! This time, instead of the sleek modern confines of Big Fancy Publishing House, she would/will be gleefully toiling in the more sedate, polished headquarters of a distinguished old publisher to be referred to henceforth by the code name Venerable McPulitzer.

All has not gone smoothly on INTERN's road to renewed interning. There have been snags. Very telling snags:

After a delightful e-mail repartee with one of the editors at V. McP, a phone interview was arranged for last Friday. INTERN rang up said editor at the appointed time and her extension was answered by a very professional-sounding intern who informed INTERN that the editor (who has this frightening name—something along the lines of "Isadora Sharkskin" but more intimidating) was still in a meeting and would call INTERN back in half an hour.

INTERN waited next to her phone for the next hour, jotting down in…

hail to the copy editor

Yesterday, INTERN's book's editor forwarded her the copy edited version of INTERN's forthcoming book—huzzah! It feels like months since there's been any blips on the editorial radar, so seeing the copy edited manuscript in her inbox made INTERN's brain tingle with something like terror and relief rolled into one. Despite having seen and handled copy edited manuscripts as an intern and knowing what they look like, it was still uncanny to see INTERN's own sentences and paragraphs littered with yellow highlighting and lots of [comments and questions and tearings of new grammatical assholes in brackets in bold].

As she read through the manuscript, INTERN started to feel more and more mortified. The copy editor had caught so many silly mistakes, pointed out places where a topic mentioned in an introduction was never addressed in the chapter, and even raised questions about the political correctness of some of INTERN's word choices. "Oh man!" thoug…