Links of ire, links of joy, Fresh links, Stale links, Links Ahoy

At the Millions, Reasons Not to Self-Publish in 2011-12

I was surprised to see what ire the post generated. Sample comment:

I really hate “articles” like this. Sorry, Edan. There is whiff of anti-technology and that old MFA brainwashing of “if you don’t publish with a real press then you aren’t a REAL writer” mentality going on here.

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In case you aren’t finished making fun of Twilight, Reasoning With Vampires (via @deadwhiteguys)

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A really nice list of Twenty-one Midwinter reads from Nath at Things Mean a Lot, including Max Jones, Connie Willis, and Susanna Clarke.

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William Morrow sent a letter to bloggers that has given a lot of bloggers, including Katiebabs of Babbling About Books, serious pause. For example, review within a month of release or no more ARCs for you!

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I’ve been enjoying reading Fangs for The Fantasy. Today they have a post on The Difference Between a Negative and a Bad Review which addresses the Anne R. Allen Amazon Reader Reviews: 12 Things Everybody and His Grandmother Needs to Know kerfuffle.

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Angela Toscano posted her McDaniel Popular Romance Conference Paper, The Liturgy of the Cliche:

Romance is a genre that deals in the ineffable—the ineffable nature of love, the ineffable nature of sex, of identity, of God, of beauty. Yet, how does one tell a story about something that cannot be uttered? How does one narrate the experience of, the encounter with the ineffable?

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As did Amy Burge, on her Hands on Harlequin Workshop.

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And Jonathan A. Allen at Teach Me Tonight on his paper Romance, Readers, Affect:

What romance does differently than lived romances is that it guarantees a happily ever after, but that happily ever after is only possible because the relation is itself a journey in which the reader and the heroine encounter barriers to the relationship, conflicts intrinsic to the relationship (which often enough reflect very real conflicts that can translate to the reader’s own life), and points of ritual death. The point of romance fiction, I argued, is less the happily ever after (though we demand this) and more the journey towards the happily ever after.

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And the world’s TOP NORA ROBERTS SCHOLAR, An Goris, another conference participant, is now Dr. An Goris:

Congrats!

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Why Heroines Die in Classic Fiction, from BBC NEWS, about Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility and others.

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From Big Think, Top Ten Relationship Words that aren’t translatable to English, like this one:

Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.

I have no idea how accurate it is, but I loved reading through the words.

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Bethanne “oops, it became a business when I wasn’t looking!” Patrick addresses the #Fridayreads fritatta here. (seriously, though, I think she handled it as well as anyone could, once she realized there was something that had to be handled.)

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I linked to Wendy (Caribousmom) in my last links post, but her comment on the Patrick post was so thought-provoking, I’m giving it its own link.

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Jennifer “dog with a bone that says #Fridayreads” Weiner, here (and kudos to her for admitting why this particular bone is so personally tasty)

I do have one question. Some folks I follow on Twitter said that just as the displays in bookstores do not have a disclosure that placement is paid for by publishers, so #Fridaysreads did not need disclosure. Maybe I am thick, but when I walk into a bookstore, I  know every single aspect of that place, including the locations of the bathrooms and colors on the walls, is designed to get me to buy product. Entering Twitter is not exactly the same as entering a retail space. Is it?

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At the Guardian, Fan Fiction Can Be an Eloquent Tribute — It Deserves More Respect (via @victoriajanssen)

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This one is more for my memory than for you guys, but here’s a link to Michael Zimmer’s presentaton Advancing Ethical Research from the conference held by Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R).

I’m actually quite interested in this. I was chatting with a fellow bioethicist last year, and she casually said she planned to use posts from an infertility discussion board in which she participated for a paper, without explicit consent. That struck me as a potentially problematic thing to do. I am glad folks are working on this.

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And finally, a picture of my new office chairs. I’ve been sitting on these babies since I was about 7 years old (thanks Mom!). Yes that’s my office. Can you see Krusty the Clown?

21 responses

  1. Maybe I am thick, but when I walk into a bookstore, I know every single aspect of that place, including the locations of the bathrooms and colors on the walls, is designed to get me to buy product. Entering Twitter is not exactly the same as entering a retail space. Is it?

    Dang. That’s a lot more concise and effective than my long-winded response making a similar point at DA.

    Top Ten Relationship Words that aren’t translatable to English

    I agree with a respondent that there is no such thing as ‘untranslatable’ words, but I think it’s more realistic to say that there are times when no single English word can replace a single word, and times when the relationship/meaning/vibe of a word can’t be translated without an explanation.

    There are so many words in Gaelic that need an explanation to convey the purpose of its existence. The most famous example would be dùthchas, which is almost impossible to translate. It can be translated as “birthright” or “legacy”, but either equivalent doesn’t carry a collective of the actual meanings.

    Like, “no matter where you are, you have your birthright” (as in “remember where you came from”), “the responsibilities and obligations of your birthright”, “it’s the past/land that defines you”, “the land you were born on is yours for life” (as in “you’ll always be welcomed home”), “the community of your birthplace is your family and your responsibility for life and/or is the definition of you”, “a sense of belonging” and “you’re the representative of your land/home”. All those are what dùthchas is. So, how can one translate it as a simple one word? I don’t think it’s possible to try without a footnote or like so.

    So yeah, no word is untranslatable, but an actual meaning can be lost in a translation. To a Gaelic native, dùthchas is a loaded word (the kind that would make one run away screaming), but to an English reader, ‘birthright’ or ‘legacy’ is not a loaded word.

    As a whole, I think that the English language, except for insults and swear words, is a collective of impersonal words. It’s when a string of those words becomes a phrase that English is personal or poignant. Like, “wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home” or Woody Guthrie’s song title, “this land is your land”.

    Of course, there are also sounds in Gaelic that just don’t exist in English. I want to cry every time I’m asked to write out a Gaelic word phonetically to someone online. When I try, I’m laughed out of the room, which happened too many times. :D

    Sorry for waffling. It was timely because I recently had been in a heated conversation with an elder about (my opinion) the uselessness of Gaelic in today’s world and (his opinion) the usefulness and (vomit) the beauty of Gaelic in yesterday’s world. Uncle was right to point out that a single word in Gaelic would be a thousand words in English. That’s one advantage Gaelic has over English. Fair point.

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  2. I can definitely confirm that there are NO English words that could grasp either Cafuné or Saudade. They are wonderful Portuguese words and sometimes I get stuck when I want to say something in English about feeling “saudade” for example.

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  3. Pingback: Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity of the Doomed

  4. @azteclady: Sorry, posted too soon.

    I don’t much understand the surprise about the William Morrow notice. Given how things are going for traditional publishers, it makes perfect sense that they look for ways to maximize their investment and minimize their losses. To continue sending physical books to people that aren’t reading them/talking about them, when they were sent the books with that purpose exclusively…is it a waste of resources, IMNSHO.

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  5. There are moments when I am sorry I am not as well entrenched in the book blog world as I could be, but brouhahas like like the #fridayreads thing make me glad I am not. (To wit: I was only vaguely aware of #fridayreads till this week.)

    Also, thanks for the BBC link on the heroines wasting away – made for a good Friday afternoon read. I too have often wondered why the heck Marianne seems to get so sick every time her slippers get wet. Pour some whiskey down her throat stat, for god’s sake!

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  6. @azteclady: Agree with atzeclady here. I try to be prompt with my netGalley reviews; I figure it’s my half of the deal. As long as no one expects me to lie or make nice.

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  7. One thing has been puzzling me and that’s the toxic after-life of a kerfuffle. Like what’s-her-name who inappropriately appropriated some ferret lore she didn’t write — that never goes away, does it?

    I would have thought the Smart Bitches Simple Progress story would lead to more repetitions of disclose early and disclose often but it hasn’t. What gives the #fridayreads story so much more staying power? Is it the Yertle the Turtle syndrome: that is, what may look larger than life in romlandia doesn’t hold much sway outside our boundaries?

    #fridayreads draws in men and women, celebs and not, in a very share-my-life way and the discussion has stuck mostly to a principles over personalities script. Also, numbers tell a story: all the major participants in the #fridayreads story are followed by thousands and thousands of people.

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  8. Pretty much Azteclady and Willaful said about William Morrow. I know this is America and we all want something for nothing – but dude, the economy sucks eggs right now. Not shocking to me at all that publishers want to maximize what few promo dollars they have and get the most bang for their buck. ARCs cost money to produce. In the end? As long as I’m not given the “if you have nothing nice to say….” clap-trap this is much ado about nothing IMHO.

    I found myself doing a lot of eye-rolling over the #fridayreads thing. Last time I looked in the mirror, I’m a grown-up. A grown-up with a BS meter. Just because someone spouts off about some product being OMG The Bestest Thing EVER! doesn’t mean I’m going to drop my entire life, run out and buy it (says the girl who doesn’t own a single iThing). I read, I evaluate, I make my own dang decision. Somehow I doubt I’m alone here. How many of us have read squee-worthy book reviews and then NOT purchased the book? Oh, like me – with 99.99999% of paranormal romances and urban fantasy.

    Burnt out.

    Seriously.

    Just sayin’.

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  9. Thanks for the mention of the review kerfluffle. I sure stirred up a poopstorm. Still trying to make sense of it. I mean: death threats? For saying old ladies can do something to support their favorite authors? I left this comment on the Fangs review site. I hope people will see it maybe ease up on the personal attacks. (I can dream.)

    I agree with everything you say. Every word. Seriously. Without unbiased reviewers, no reviews would have meaning. Everything would simply be a press release. Honest reviewers are more important than they’ve ever been, so thanks for all you do.

    My post was not aimed at reviewers. It was aimed at older persons like myself who 1) have NEVER LEFT AN AMAZON REVIEW BEFORE and 2) ALREADY LOVE A BOOK.

    We over 50-readers are a demographic that tends to get ignored by the Big 6, so writing reviews of our favorite authors is a way to let New York know there are still buyers of stuff like sweet romance and family sagas. I was writing to empower those readers.

    I told them Amazon algorithms don’t pick up three-stars for “also bought” recommendations. I didn’t write the algorithms. Heck, I’m a geezerette. I wouldn’t know an algorithm if it bit me on the hiney.

    I very specifically told my audience that regular reviewers (like Fangs) are a great resource and we should ” be giving props to the reviewers who were kind enough to post a thoughtful review. There are regular Amazon reviewers who write dozens of reviews per month. (We LOVE these people.) You can check their tastes and ratings by clicking on the “see my other reviews” button after the review.”

    I talked about how a synopsising review can be of special help when the publisher doesn’t give good blurbitude (like the Penguins who haven’t done well by Nathan Bransford.)

    That’s from the original post. I didn’t “water it down” with the edits as much as try to help people who had read the crazy angry stuff about it understand what was actually in the post.

    It doesn’t seem to have helped much. I’m still getting death threats. Seriously. I’m so naive I didn’t even know there was an Amazon Taliban.

    But the whole thing has taught me a lot about the subject of “framing.” When somebody “frames” a piece with a diatribe like–

    “This be-atch is a fascist/Bolshevik bully who is telling reviewers we all have to wear evening gowns!!!!” (Yeah. Somebody actually accused me of telling her how to dress.)

    –Then readers can’t seem to comprehend what’s actually on the page.

    Tells me a lot about why our current political climate is the way it is.

    And that little old ladies like me are not welcome in the Amazon jungle. Which is too bad. Let’s hope the Japanese write better algorithms for Kobo.

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  10. @azteclady: I think the issue is the tone and the assumption that blogging is a job on behalf of the publishers. This letter constructs blogging and blog reviews as marketing tools for authors and publishers not as book finding tools for readers or community building/sharing activities. It is a diminishment. The letter for me raised the question of the place of DNF and negative reviews under this regime – you only get books for positive reviews seems to me to be part of the implied expectations even if not specifically stated.

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  11. @Anne R. Allen:

    I am over 50 and find your whole tone and message a put down and wish you would stop it.

    I also think your example of the evening gown above, is a funny misconstruing of snark.

    I read your original blog post and the then 80 comments that followed. I came away thinking that you were asking people to game the Amazon reviews for you and that you would not accept an honest review. You were framing the job of reviews as helping to sell books. My view is that reviews are to help readers find books that work for them – a different frame. You clearly have your agenda so it seems strange to take exception to the reaction you have received as if they are the only one’s with an axe to grind. As we say in Australia, your petticoat is showing.

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  12. Merrian, I kinda, sorta, if I squint a bit, see why the phrase “your job is simply to review the books” can irk some bloggers–but in the larger context of “you get free books that you choose out of a list, before most everyone else, we pay the shipping, and if you like the book and want to host a giveaway we’ll also provide copies for that”? Well, really, seems like a fair exchange, doesn’t it?

    Honestly, I didn’t find the tone to imply that only squeeeing fests or positive reviews would count–but then the entire tone of the letter seemed okay to me. Would people like it better if it said, “all you have to do is review the books and send the links to us”?

    As for the DNF/didn’t like a book? I see two obvious choices: publish DNF reviews–why didn’t you finish it? and send your link dutifully to the publisher. Alternatively, write to the publisher and ask whether they would rather you published DNF reviews or simply send them a note whenever a review book ended up DNF.

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  13. @azteclady:

    I think you have identifed what would have worked better in their approach to bloggers:

    Would people like it better if it said, “all you have to do is review the books and send the links to us”?

    I agree that it is a fair expectation that a book sent will be reviewed

    Alternatively, write to the publisher and ask whether they would rather you published DNF reviews

    However I fear that this proposal could come to close to censorship whether self or pushed by the publisher. It would be giving control over reviews to the publisher.

    Book review blogs are about sharing the reader’s experience of a book with other readers. I see the experience of reading a book as always subjective. For me the reviewers range of responses to books, from 5 stars to DNF, is part of building my confidence in the reviewer. Seeing the process they have gone through helps me take away recommendations for what would work for me or not. Too close a relationship between bloggers and publishers and always positive reviews means book reviews = book blurbs and I am disengaged from the excitement and interest in talking about books that mean something to me. It is a commodification of the online community of book bloggers and readers.

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  14. @Merrian: “This letter constructs blogging and blog reviews as marketing tools for authors and publishers not as book finding tools for readers or community building/sharing activities. ”

    Well… if you’re accepting free books for review or to give away, then you are a marketing tool. Not to imply that anyone is a tool. ;-) But that’s the publishers motivation for sending the books, and as long as they’re not pushing for anything other than honest opinions, I don’t see a problem with it.

    I agree that the wording of that one section didn’t come off well, but I doubt it was intentional.

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  15. @Merrian: “Too close a relationship between bloggers and publishers and always positive reviews means book reviews = book blurbs and I am disengaged from the excitement and interest in talking about books that mean something to me. It is a commodification of the online community of book bloggers and readers. ”

    I completely agree with this. I think it’s (perhaps unfairly) inherent in the situation that the bloggers are the ones who have to maintain the distance.

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  16. Merriam, I understand that many bloggers feel that publishers requesting reviews in exchange for review copies equals a pressure to publish a positive review–or else no longer receive those review copies.

    However, why was the bloggers’ expectation different before these letters started coming out from publishers? Those were, after all, review copies. Further bloggers have never been obligated to receive those review copies, even less to solicit review copies from publishers–which I understand a number of bloggers do, in fact.

    Up to fairly recently, publishers sent review copies pretty much to anyone who asked and didn’t bother much keeping track of reviews as a direct result of those copies. From where I stand, the expectation that such copies would result in actual reviews was there, only there was no policing.

    What I see here is that, now that publishers are tightening their belts and expecting quid pro quo (i.e., blogger gets review copies in advance of release date, publisher gets review links around time of release), bloggers who have become used to having many review copies come their way–whether they publish reviews of some of those books or not–are resenting being reminded that this is actually not a gift but an equal value exchange.

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  17. @Maili:

    So yeah, no word is untranslatable, but an actual meaning can be lost in a translation.

    I agree with this. there is so much cultural and historical and social context. It would be hard to convey that in a word to word swap. And thanks fro the great examples. When we were in Ireland last summer, we sailed to an island which hosts “Irish School” every summer. All the Irish adults in our party groaned at the memory of their parents forcing them to summer camp to learn Irish. Me, I would have loved to learn another language as a child.

    @Ana: LOL. thank you for weighing in.

    @Victoria Janssen: Have never read Willis. Must remedy.

    @azteclady:

    I don’t much understand the surprise about the William Morrow notice. Given how things are going for traditional publishers, it makes perfect sense that they look for ways to maximize their investment and minimize their losses. To continue sending physical books to people that aren’t reading them/talking about them, when they were sent the books with that purpose exclusively…is it a waste of resources, IMNSHO.

    this is how I see it too (although I don;t have good information about the cost of sending ARCS in the scheme of a promotional budget and the company’s bottom line). Although, the tone and the way some things were worded showed a unnuanced understanding of the complex blogger-publisher relationship.

    @Kate:

    Pour some whiskey down her throat stat, for god’s sake!

    LOL. Glad you found it worthwhile!

    @KB/KT Grant: Really? Thanks for posting the letter. I did not get one.

    @willaful:

    @azteclady: Agree with atzeclady here. I try to be prompt with my netGalley reviews; I figure it’s my half of the deal. As long as no one expects me to lie or make nice.

    Yes, that is my view as well.

    @Anne R. Allen:

    Then readers can’t seem to comprehend what’s actually on the page.

    Yes, I am sure that is it.

    @Merrian:

    @azteclady: I think the issue is the tone and the assumption that blogging is a job on behalf of the publishers. This letter constructs blogging and blog reviews as marketing tools for authors and publishers not as book finding tools for readers or community building/sharing activities. It is a diminishment. The letter for me raised the question of the place of DNF and negative reviews under this regime – you only get books for positive reviews seems to me to be part of the implied expectations even if not specifically stated.

    I agree with you, completely, about the many vital roles of web reviewers that the WM letter did not acknowledge. However, I am not sure the letter writer cares too much about those, except as they translate to eyeballs, and then sales. I am sorry to be so cynical, but I am feeling that way a bit right now: it doesn’t matter what the product is, whether it is a book, a medicine, a home, it serves merely as a vehicle for money exchanging hands.

    As for the DNF review, I am not sure what the letter means for that. I agree with your reading of the potential implications. I do know, that on NetGalley, I “decline” to review a DNF’d book most of the time. It hasn’t seemed to be a problem so far.

    @azteclady:

    What I see here is that, now that publishers are tightening their belts and expecting quid pro quo (i.e., blogger gets review copies in advance of release date, publisher gets review links around time of release), bloggers who have become used to having many review copies come their way–whether they publish reviews of some of those books or not–are resenting being reminded that this is actually not a gift but an equal value exchange.

    I agree with this. I don’t understand why people are so mad about being reminded of this. After all, random people can’t write WM and ask for a book. And even bloggers can’t ask for a backlisted book. No, the point of the whole exercise if to promote the book (even if that is with a negative review).

    But maybe WM should have tried a focus group, or done something a little more cooperatively, so that they may have heard bloggers’ legitimate questions (like the ones about a DNF, etc.) rather than just seeming to “lay down the law” as it were.

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  18. @Janet W: Sorry Janet, I’ve deleted my previous comment and am happy to continue the discussion via email.

    I’ve got six friends over tonight and am having a wonderful weekend. I’ve just deleted my comment b/c I remembered — too late — that I do not want to invite stress into my real life over this silly little blog. I’m closing comments on this post and moving on to another review tomorrow. Much more comfortable for me! Thanks for understanding.

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