Archive for the 'Publishing Industry' Category

Nov 30 2012

“Learning to Write Superhero Stories” Earned Out

Published by under Publishing Industry

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

I just received a royalty payment for my book of superhero movie reviews for writers/screenwriters. I think that means it has earned out (sold enough copies to cover the advance). If you bought a copy, thanks! If you haven’t, give it a look!

6 responses so far

Jan 30 2012

U.S. and Marvel Agree: Mutants Are Not Humans (At Least For Tax Purposes)

Published by under Publishing Law

Toys classified as “dolls” face import taxes twice as high as other toys do. Dolls are toys that are (only) humans, as opposed to, say, teddy bears. In 2003, Marvel successfully convinced the U.S. Court of International Trade that mutant action figures are not actually humans, even the ones that look human (e.g. Professor X).


PS: Biologically speaking, Marvel mutants probably count as the same species as humans.  If two organisms can have fertile offspring, they are (biologically speaking) part of the same species.

5 responses so far

Nov 02 2011

Writing and Editing Skills Critical for Entry-Level Writers

Published by under Publishing Jobs

Scarily enough, I might be interviewing prospective marketing interns this year.  Here are some writing skills I’d really like to see.


1.  Basic proofreading skills.  Poor proofreading skills raise all sorts of red flags about a prospective writer (such as diligence, attention to detail and sometimes intelligence).  In contrast, good proofreading skills suggest the writer will be easier to work with, will require less hand-holding and can be trusted with proofreading assignments.  In particular, editors have more important things to do than double-checking everything written by publisher’s assistants or interns.  In an especially competitive field, like the publishing industry, a candidate with many typos in his/her resume or cover letter has virtually no chance of getting hired.


2. Conciseness.  Almost all corporate writing is shorter than 1000 words and longer writing probably isn’t entry-level (e.g. legal contracts or Gallup survey results or long-form journalism).  Besides proofreading, the ability to convey information quickly and clearly has probably been the most important writing skill in my brief professional experience.


3. The ability to vary writing style based on target audience and purpose.  For example, Notre Dame’s marketing materials will sound different and will probably focus on different themes than marketing materials for West Point or the University of Chicago.  Promotional copy for Grand Theft Auto will probably sound different than copy for Nintendogs, unless Rock Star and Nintendo are working on a very unorthodox crossover.

Grand Theft Auto Meets Nintendogs?
(Before you laugh, there actually was a Punisher/Archie crossover.  We can only pray that they aren’t already working on Grand Theft Ausky).


3.1. A basic understanding of motivations and thought processes.  For example, if you’re trying to convince teens not to smoke, I would definitely recommend NOT leading with long-term health consequences like cancer because most of your target audience isn’t thinking that far ahead.  (And any teen that is thinking 20+ years ahead almost assuredly does not smoke, regardless of your writing).  Instead, I’d recommend focusing on mundane, immediate concerns like bad breath/godawful kissing, stained teeth, a shortness of breath/athletic handicap, the financial costs, etc.  (For example, smoking one cigarette a day over the course of high school works out to something like $700, which is enough for maybe 25 high school dates or 10 pairs of Abercrombie pants or 50 meals out or 20 used copies of Grand Theft Ausky or whatever else teens like to spend money on).

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9 responses so far

Aug 16 2011

Publishing Sales Are Rebounding

The New York Times reports:

  • Revenues from adult novel sales grew 8.8% from 2008-10.
  • Juvenile fiction revenues grew 6.6%.
  • In total, book-publishing revenues are up 5.6% and total sales are up 4.1%.
  • From 2008 to 2010, e-books grew from .6% to 6.4% of the total market for books.
  • Adult hardcover and paperback books grew only 1% and mass-market paperbacks declined 16%.  (Ouch).

Hat-tip: This Week in Writing, by Mark Evans.


4 responses so far

Oct 25 2010

Pet Peeve: “This story has been copyrighted…”

I would highly recommend against including a copyright notice when you submit a story to a publisher or review group.

1.  It’s totally unnecessary. “Copyright notices have never been required on unpublished works.”  Also, stories are automatically covered by copyright as soon as they are written, so we already know it’s protected.

2. It suggests the author is somewhat paranoid. If your ideas/manuscript impressed a publisher enough that the publisher would actually want to use them, it’d be much easier and more professional to hire you than to give the ideas to someone else.

3. It indicates the author holds the reader/publisher in low regard. If you are so uneasy about the professionalism of a publisher or a review group that you feel the need to tell them it’s illegal to steal your ideas, don’t submit there!

No responses yet

Sep 05 2010

Tor Books is looking for two paid editorial interns in NYC

If you’re interested in publishing and will be in New York City this semester, check out this paid internship at Tor Books.

The job responsibilities include:

  • Proofreading
  • Evaluating manuscripts and writing reader reports
  • Various administrative tasks (such as photocopying and filing)

Hat-tip to CR.

No responses yet

Aug 19 2010

Job Advice for Publishing Applicants

1.  Proofread everything you send out for a publishing job ridiculously hard.  Almost every publishing job requires immaculate writing skills, and professionals don’t have enough time to exhaustively proofread everything written by interns.   So you need to demonstrate that you write well enough to impress a publisher that lives or dies based on the quality of its writing.  (Pretty much every company takes its writing seriously, but especially publishers).

2.  Make it clear that you can reliably complete tasks without constant oversight. For example, use your cover letter and/or resume to describe a significant professional project you completed to your supervisor’s specifications without much prompting or direct supervision.  An intern that can’t remember to complete responsibilities without constant reminders is probably a net liability.

3.  Self-starters are always more desirable. Since every internship has downtime, companies value interns that will use the downtime productively.  For example, a proactive intern might ask co-workers if they need any help with projects and/or errands or try learning new job skills, etc. (I learned search engine optimization by borrowing reference manuals from our SEO guru).

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One response so far

Aug 14 2010

What Authors Should Know About Copyright (and Defeating Plagiarists)

1.  What do I need to do to copyright my work?
Nothing, if you’re an American, Australian, BrazilianBritish, Canadian or Irish author. Your work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as you write it. You don’t need to register your work or do anything else to copyright it.


However, if you wish to sue somebody for copyright infringement, you’ll probably need to pay a small fee to register your copyright with your national copyright office first ($35 in the United States).  I’d recommend leaving that to your publisher, because suing somebody is almost always impractical before you get published.  There are more cost-effective ways of defending your work and/or dealing with plagiarism than spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer.

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5 responses so far

Aug 09 2010

Unless I’m missing something, this sounds bogus

According to the New York Times, one author got an extraordinarily fast response from agents after starting a blog.  “Within two posts on her blog, which now attracts 30,000 visitors a month, Ms. Dolgoff said, five agents got in touch, and a book idea was born.”  I find that hard to believe.  Interesting even one unsolicited agent is extraordinarily hard.  Five? With two posts?  Unless I’m missing something, that sounds wildly implausible.  For example, author Theodore Beale receives ~200,000 readers per month and has never had an agent solicitation.

I think the NYT should have dug harder here. For example…

  • Who are these agents?
  • Why were none of them interviewed in the article? If they’re real, their perspective on this apparent success story would be pretty interesting.
  • What impressed them about the first two blog posts enough to contact her?
  • Did the agents know her before she started blogging?
  • Did the agents find the website themselves?  If not, who pointed them to it?
  • I have not been able to find any indication that there was a publishers’ auction over her book, nor does the article mention an auction.  If there were five agents potentially interested in representing her after two blog posts, don’t you think it’s a bit strange that the book wouldn’t go to auction?  (Note: I’m assuming “five agents got in touch” means that there were five agents interested in representing her, although an agent could contact an author just to offer friendly advice or chat).

9 responses so far

Mar 15 2010

Interview Tips for the Publishing Industry

Agent Kristin has some suggestions for applicants to her literary agency, but I think they’re mostly applicable to prospective publishing professionals across the board.  Even for applicants looking at the comic books/graphic novels side of the publishing industry.

No responses yet