Some Thoughts for Authors

I have a lot of catch-up to do after two days away, but I’d like to start with a couple of thoughts for authors.

The first was prompted by meeting up with my friend Jon Turney in London. Jon, as you may remember, recently wrote a book called The Rough Guide to the Future, which was a finalist for the 2011 Winton Prize, given by the Royal Society. As Jon explains on his blog, the paper edition has just gone out of print, but he’s not sure what is happening with ebook rights.

Jon’s book is a special case, as it is much more than just the text. However, having been following the big fuss that John Scalzi & friends have been making over author contracts recently, it occurs to me that having a contract that allows your paper book to go out of print, but leaves the publisher holding the ebook rights, is not a healthy position to be in. Jon has a good agent, who I suspect will be able to fix this. The rest of you, please take care.

By the way, I have been intending to blog about ebook contracts, given that I have an ebook publishing company. I just haven’t had time. I will note that Mr. Scalzi was one of the people I asked for advice when drawing up the WTP standard contract.

The other thing was promoted by one of the review requests I get. Simplifying massively, it seems that there are two sorts of publicists that big publishing houses employ. The first type recognizes that there are smart people who say interesting things about books online, and have an audience, and treat those people with respect. The second type sees a world full of “book bloggers” who are dumb, childish people who need to be kept in line with a combination of transparent flattery, offers of free cool stuff, and veiled threats as to what might happen if they don’t deliver the review for which they are being paid in flattery and stuff. If your publicist is of the latter type, your book probably won’t get reviewed by me. Or indeed by anyone else with an ounce of self-respect.