Thursday, April 26, 2012

Deadline for Unsolicited Sample Chapter Charity Offer

Someone asked me about my unsolicited sample chapter offer that I offered up in a blog a while back.  They wanted to know what the deadline was.  The answer is June 3, 2012.  So what am I talking about?

My lovely wife, Nadene, has started training for a 1/2 marathon with Team in Training.  As a part of her commitment, she is raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Those of you who read this blog regularly may be aware that I've done five century or century+ bike rides with TNT and that Nadene has done a couple also.  In fact, we got engaged at the end of the first one we did together!

So here's the deal:  I hereby give you permission to submit an unsolicited sample chapter (not to exceed 25 pages and make it the first chapter in your book), along with a synopsis (not to exceed 5 pages, double-spaced).  It must follow our formatting guidelines, found here:  You must include a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope for a response.  I will read your sample chapter and I will give you my feedback on what works and doesn't work.  If I love it, I'll ask for more. If I don't, you'll know why.  There will be no form rejects!

But here's the catch:  You must contribute $100 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in support of my wife's efforts.  You must do it by credit card at their site.  And you must include a copy of the receipt they send you so we know you made the contribution.  All contributions go straight to LLS.  They are 100% tax deductible.  Neither TZC nor me benefits in any way.  My wife benefits only because you help her reach her fundraising goal.  (Okay, I benefit if my wife isn't freaking out about reaching her fundraising goal, you got me there.)

Last but not least, please write "LLS offer" on the envelope when you submit.

Here's the link to donate:



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Help Us Pick the New Cover for SHADOW FLIGHT!

We're going to be releasing an eBook of Joe Weber's best-selling novel, Shadow Flight, and would love to have your vote on the best cover!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Which Title is Better?

So, we're trying to come up with a new title for a book before we bring it out as an eBook.  Originally called Up and Running, the book told the story of Andrew Bateson, who lost two legs to bacterial meningitis, but overcame his loss in ways that have amazed and inspired readers.  But there original title just didn't seem to catch as many readers as we'd hoped.  Therefore, I'd love your help in coming up with a new one.

Now, I'm not going to tell you which one I like, but I do have a preference.  I think this is a book that should inspire you and amaze you.  I don't think it's a book about a boxer or a football team.  It's about a six-year-old boy who comes back from a horrible illness and double amputation.  So, given all that, what do you think is the best title?



The March Monthly Round-up

I know, I know, I know!  I am terribly late in doing these round-ups lately.  Well, for what it's worth, not a lot of reading is getting accomplished.  I've simply been swamped with deals, contracts, royalty statements, royalty payments, stabbing myself in the hand, and a cold.

Yes, I stabbed myself in the hand.  It has healed, but for a week there, typing was impossible.

Oh, and I lost another intern.  This one lasted two days.  Now, I have lost interns because they realized this internship involved real work and they didn't have the time or energy to do real work.  I have lost interns because they realized the commute from their apartment to my office was far more of a nightmare than they anticipated.  And I have lost interns because they realized that they suddenly needed this class or that class to graduate and they couldn't do the internship and the class at the same time.  However, in this case, I lost the intern because, and I quote, she felt I had a "strong condescending personality," and this would make for "an unhealthy environment for learning."

Now, my wife will read this and wonder, Why is he posting that?  Allow me to explain.

Publishing is a shitty business.  Really, it is.  You don't go into publishing to get rich.  You shouldn't go into publishing because you want to "read all the time," because you won't.  You should go into publishing because you love books and reading and get a visceral thrill from buying a new book.  But you should not expect it to be easy.

My first boss in publishing made Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada look nearly rational.  My starting salary was $15,000 a year, plus overtime.  My position was split between two women who traded me off like the "slave boy" in The Flintstones.  I regularly worked until 11 or midnight on Tuesday nights because I was not allowed to touch the first woman's out-box again until Friday.  I regularly worked at least one day every weekend.  I was sent out to buy my boss lunch and was expected to make her coffee because she needed decaf (but she drank a six-pack of Diet Coke every day!).  And she clearly felt that this was all something she had earned over the years of toiling in publishing.

My second bosses in publishing were much more sane, but still had earned their stripes only after toiling for years and years.  I used to say that they felt like they had crawled through shit and broken glass to get where they were and they clearly expected I should do the same.

My third boss was a lunatic.  He called me the fucking amateur to my face.  He called a publicity associate a fucking moron.  He called the Executive Editor a fat fuck, though I don't think he did it to her face.  He was known to use the C-word when referring to women.  A real charmer.

Do I need to go on?

Publishing is full of difficult personalities.  Maybe because the business is so hard or maybe because you do need to be creative to survive in it and creative personalities are often difficult ones.  Am I one of them?  Clearly this intern thought so.  Yet, on the other hand, is it condescending if you are lecturing a student on a subject about which she knows nothing?

Rent The Paper Chase or The Devil Wears Prada or, hell, The Empire Strikes Back.  Was Charles Kingsfield too hard on his students?  Was Meryl Streep really too hard on Anne Hathaway?  Was Yoda too hard on Luke Skywalker? (I'm such a geek; I misspelled Yoda and there was actually a correction in the dictionary software and this made me happy!)  No, I am not Yoda.  I'm taller.  But you get the point.  If you are that thin-skinned that you are insulted by someone actually trying to teach you something, then publishing is unlikely to be the business for you.


Okay, so I promised the monthly round-up.

For the month of March 2012:

  • 67 queries received; 8 declined;
  • 3 sample chapters received; 10 declined;
  • 0 proposals received; 2 declined;
  • 2 manuscripts received; 0 declined;

I currently have 94 eQueries™ to read, as well as one proposal and one sample chapter (actually, he sent the whole book, but I only requested a chapter, but it's a bound book, so I guess I understand).  And I have more than a dozen full manuscripts from clients and potential clients to read.

Rebecca, my trusty intern from last year (who reassures me that I have a strong personality, but not a condescending personality) is still knocking out a reader's report every month or so.  But until we have a new intern or two starting next month, things will continue to be slow in the reading department.

Thanks, as always, for your patience.



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thanks, CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, for that Big Helping of Crow!

As a publishing person, I treat the Chicago Manual of Style a bit like my bible.  If it says jump in a manuscript, I check CMS to see if it has to say how high?  Alas, I can't say I ever expect it to change anything, as much as expand on things.  But apparently it changed something big and I had no idea.  As in, for years I have had no idea.  So I hang my head here in shame.

That said, I completely disagree with CMS on this one.

So, what are we talking about?  6.2  Punctuation and italics.  Previously, if you ended a sentence with a word that was in italics, e.g., "I just finished reading Moby Dick," the comma following would be set in italics also.  Apparently, in the 15th edition, they changed that and I missed it completely.  So, to all those authors I've chastised for this, I apologize.

That said, one of the arguments in favor of setting the punctuation following a word in italics in italics also was that in some cases two characters would physically touch, e.g., "Get the damn ball!"  See how close that lowercase L and the exclamation point are?  Well, in some typefaces, they would touch.

Now, Chicago goes on to say in 6.4 that the old way is okay, but only for print publications.  Could that get any more confusing!  Especially since there are now electronic versions of most of what is in print!  Does Chicago want us to create two different versions of each document?  Oy!