Friday, February 15, 2013

It hardly gets any better

It hardly gets any better than publishing debut novels. If I may be utterly self-indulgent for a bit, there is a pleasure special to editors in looking back at an author’s first book in light of all their subsequent work. And I've been very blessed in this regard over the past seven years or so. And it’s frankly heartwarming to witness the support established authors give to newcomers here in the kidlitosphere. The generosity never ceases to amaze me.

So allow me to introduce the two debutante Lab Rats for fall 2013, including their jackets and some advance accolades from fellow authors. Click the caption below the jacket to see everything.

A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison

Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
So many people help get a debut book to an audience, but Tess Gratton, Victoria Schwab, Andrew Smith, Geoff Herbach, Patrick Jones, and Trish Doller all deserve special thanks for helping launch Carrie and Dot. My eternal gratitude to you all.

But wait, there's more!

Would you like to win an ARC of these two debuts? Would you like to win an ARC packed in a box with a copy of every debut novel Lab has ever published? There are two ways to accomplish this:

1. Send me a video of you reciting a few lines from Hamlet. No costumes or staging necessary. No, I'm not kidding.

Here's mine:

And here's how a pro does it:

2. Send me a video of you reciting the Official Carolrhoda Lab poem, which is equally applicable to either of these novels.

Stick a link in the comments or email

On March 1, I'll pick three winners.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A tiny request

I hold these truths to be self-evident. Self-publishing is a good thing for authors, readers, and traditional publishers. Its proliferation and diversification are objectively good. The media should cover self-publishing, including interviews with its success stories—people like Smashwords CEO, Mark Coker.

I also hold this truth to be self-evident. The media should not be incredibly lazy in allowing the owners of those success stories to, if you will, self-publish their narratives unchallenged and unquestioned.

Exhibit A.

Please, for the love of of Gutenberg, the next time a self-publishing advocate says “self-published authors keep [some very high number] percent of the profits, whereas a traditional publisher only lets you keep [some conspicuously lower number] percent” can just one host say, “I’m going to stop you for a second. I hear this comparison all the time, but isn’t it more complicated than that? Let’s talk about actual dollars. A traditionally published author gets an advance. How does even a very modest advance of say $10,000 compare to the average earnings of a Smashwords title?” Etc.

(I don’t see this as a devastating “gotcha” question. I don’t know the answer, but I’m pretty confident it’s not a knockout argument either way, and I do know it’s much more interesting follow-up than “What about Random House’s 50-Shades bonuses?”)

The choice of a publishing path—self- or traditional or whatever else—inevitably involves compromise. One defers payment and leverages uncompensated DIY labor with an eye on a greater long-term payoff. Another shares risk and labor with a partner in exchange for upfront investment and a lower share of the long-term profits. The story is not that one option must crowd the other out any more than the story of Home Depot is a tale of the end of contracted remodeling.

I don’t expect the CEO of a for-profit self-publishing platform to say this without some questioning. I do expect a journalist to do some questioning. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

I think it’s time for Carolrhoda Lab to have an official poem

Maybe I’m still giddy from last week’s news. Maybe I’m just pleased that even when I don’t bring up this poem with an author, it still manages to make an appearance. Either way, Lab Rats, from now on, This Be the Verse:

“This Be the Verse” by Philip Larkin (Bonus points that Larkin was personally not remotely likeable.)