Targeted advertising–soon in your eTexts

Here’s something you probably hadn’t thought about–when the paper book falls to the e-book, advertising will be right on its tail.

Can you imagine how wild they’ll be when they realize they can embed ads and short video clips promoting their products right inside the e-book text? And it’s targeted advertising based on what you’re reading. AND you probably can’t skip it or hack into it to remove it. Not until the nerds start the chase, anyway.

Fasten your nerd belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Agent Irene Goodman’s Charity Auction of Critiques!

Agent Irene Goodman runs a charity auction on the first day of every month on eBay. She gives away critiques of novel partials to the highest bidders, and gives the money to a charity that is dear to her heart.

This is a very charitable thing to do, and I decided to take advantage of it a couple of months ago. I got my critique from her within a couple of weeks and obtained her permission to quote it here on my journal, with the caveat that I must be fair and not twist her words around.

I’ve tried to be as fair and balanced as I can be while still explaining why I don’t agree with some of her conclusions and recommendations. I had a number of insights while reading the critique, foremost among them being that the way an agent reads a work is very different from the way I read a work. Agents do not just read a work because they are charmed by it or love it. From the first letter in the first word of the beginning sentence, the agent’s brain is calculating WHAT the book is, how it should be categorized, and how it could be sold (or not.) My brain does not do this at all. There are other differences, but that alone is worth the price of the critique.

I hate to make this post even LONGER, but here’s what I’m trying to do:

* tell people that they CAN pay for a critique, in a sense, and donate to charity at the same time–and then they don’t have to do all that rejectomancy. They’ll know what one of the major problems or objections is, AT LAST.

* make it possible for writers to get a no-punches-pulled evaluation of their work. Do you always get those “your writing is charming and smooth, but ultimately I didn’t love it enough” rejections? These are not enough to tell you what to change–because typically this means you need to revise. (I know I say in this post that I chose not to try to revise the Daphne book into something it isn’t and simply can’t be without losing its essence–and this happens–but most of the time you need to change something. Usually it’s lose the first chapter or backstory, speed up the beginning, move a later scene up front so we see conflict and are intrigued, get rid of “As You Know, Bob” maid-and-butler Moliere dialogue, and that sort of thing. If they’ll just come out and TELL you, you will KNOW. And I am sure this agent will tell you the truth. –yes, MY version of the truth may not be YOURS. *Grin*)

* show off a few of the nice things she said about my actual writing, because so many beta readers conclude that if I’m not published, there must be something wrong with my WRITING itself; after all, they aren’t pointing out things in the characterization or whatever

* talk about what sells today and what probably won’t sell and why

She writes:

The inevitable happens at Dorchester Publishing

. . . well, we saw this coming.

Editorial director Leah Hultenschmidt, who is scheduled for several writers’ conferences and as a final judge for the manuscript contests there over the next few months, is no longer with the company. Editor Don D’Auria (who oversaw two other lines) is also gone, all as a part of reduction in force.

Editor Chris Keeslar is still there. I guess my general “hex”* on the company spared him because he was nice to me when he did his rejection critique. *sheepish look*

* We were kidding about this. Somebody said I must’ve put a curse on them when they rejected LR, and I joked back, “Only a LITTLE one.” I actually have no supernatural powers of that nature, at least none that I exercise.

Wasn’t there a manuscript contest going on, and the winner was to be announced Sept. 1? I wonder what’ll happen with that. It’s sad to see this happen, but I suspect it’s the first of several more dropouts in the publishing race.

Barnes and Noble is up for sale, as well, and we know Borders is not doing well.

Perhaps part of the problem here, all across publishing, is that they are still concentrating on ten or twelve BIG BLOCKBUSTERS at a time rather than trying to serve the market. Sure, you can probably sell a stack of those blockbusters to the general public. But the hardcore reading public really wants something else. There’s no diversity and the midlist is not what it used to be. I can’t find the books I would really like to read, and I’ll bet others can’t, either. If publishers had stuck to the model of “we publish good books and nurture authors along,” perhaps they’d have been better prepared for such a downturn, as the hardcore readers would have something to buy.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Things change. Tomorrow will be different.

It always is.

ETHICS: Must I “own” the culture I write about? (King’s X, RaceFail)

I sort of know I’m dipping my head into the lava pit with this, but I need to hear some opinions.

I’m doing story exchange critiques with a couple of people right now. I sent a story to one of the group who said she was pretty open to anything. Her story was about space travel, and I gave her a fairly good and positive critique. She came back to me with a few questions and raised some interesting issues (not about the style or word choices, but about the subject matter).

You see . . . this short story is one that I am working on for the Zoetrope story contest. I’m tired of the same old themes and tropes that I always write about, so I thought up something completely foreign and new that still is very revealing about my feelings of being a fake or being secretly hiding something and not really belonging and all that rot. Here’s a sort of summary.

If you care about the details-prepare for shock and outrage

You know they’re better when. . . .

Two nights in a row now, I’ve caught my mother sneaking food out of the fridge after midnight. (“I’m just so hungry!”) Her appetite actually returning is a good sign as far as I’m concerned. It may be sneaky, but it’s a good sign!

She still has the “leak,” but we’ve had a few follow-ups and she’s doing fine with the transfused blood and with the three (!) new medications. I had to pay $88 co-payment for the stuff to coat her stomach because the insurance (Medicare Part B pharmacy coverage) said it was “obsolete” and not on their silly list. But it IS working and is not provoking her stomach any more, so that’s why we’re using the “obsolete” stuff–she had a bad problem with the newer things.

Pills! The fewer I have to take, the better.

It has hit 101F or better for the past twenty days. This is ridiculous!

I’m such an alarmist . . . maybe not

The city of Camden, NJ, is preparing to close the library and destroy all books and materials (claiming that it’s too much of a fire hazard to keep them in storage). I told you that I wasn’t being an alarmist by ringing the alarm with the last post I made. It isn’t only about academic libraries going away. This one is going away because of lack of public funds. You might think, “Well, they’ll just start up again when they do get some money,” or “Someone will come through with a grant to keep them open,” but this is the first place that politicians will look to close. “Useless” places like this.

This one isn’t even going electronic. There won’t be Kindles to borrow. But there won’t be any books, either.

Schools public and private don’t want those Outdated Olde Tomes, either: St. Michael’s Academy throws books out the window into 6-foot-high pile as it moves out of building that will later house the Clinton School for Writers and Artists. *heh*

Whatta way to recycle! You sure ALL the principles in that Physics text I see in the front left-hand corner of the fence have changed so much that the book couldn’t help a school in an African village or a homeschooler? Hmm, I think Newtonian mechanics is the same as ever and a good place to start. You could even learn about the Bohr model of the atom and not be that damaged (because later you could use that model as the basis for your understanding of our current model of the atom with shells of electrons.) The literature books aren’t outdated because good literature doesn’t change the way science does. I don’t understand this.

I think we’re on the down-U-lator (as proposed in “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies.”) What does a Collapsing Empire look like? in Salon magazine explores this a bit. Even roads are going to rack and ruin (or, in this case, it actually *could* be “rock and ruin,” the common mondegreen for the cliche, heh.) Long live “rack and roll!” *sigh*

This is still the greatest place to live, IMHO. But we’re sliding down the slippery slope, and I don’t know what’s going to stop us this time. They’ve already spent way more money than we HAVE trying to bail out their friends the fat cats.

Oh . . . in my previous posts, I talked about the way I used to do research at the public library when I was in high school and junior high. I wasn’t researching anything cutting-edge. We used to have frequent term papers or position papers for various classes, and I was usually indulged by getting to choose unusual topics. Some of my topics were “Benchley vs. Parker,” “Movie Comedy Teams” (I did Martin and Lewis, Crosby and Hope, and Lucy and Desi [who did two films along with all their TV work]), “Folk Remedies and Old Woman Magic in the Old South,” “True Causes of the Civil War,” and “Shakespeare Through the Ages.” In other words, I didn’t need the type of resources for these junior high school/high school papers that academics need for their work. It would have been neat to be able to surf the Web for opinions and information about these topics. But what I think has been lost is the serendipity, to some extent, at least. I read a ton of 1930s/40s New Yorker magazines (in bound volumes) for the Benchley/Parker research, and I enjoyed all those old ads–not only what they were pushing, but the way they pushed stuff. The old typefaces! The charming old “filler” anecdotes and silly cartoons. All of it was “on the side” from what I was researching, but it all gave me a great feel for the era and for attitudes of the era. (Attitudes towards diversity were completely different, for one.) I read correspondence from Civil War-era soldiers and home front people that was quite eye-opening and often stunning. I didn’t get all of that through direct searches, is all I’m saying. Now and then I would run across a clue: a yellowed note found between the pages of an older book, or a bookmark with footnotes scribbled on it. I’d have a lot of fun pursuing the clue. I was adding to my store of general knowledge (and pseudoknowledge that would later not check out, as well) and enjoying the time paging through a previous generation’s pop culture.

I wasn’t really claiming that this is better than electronic and guided research–only that I hated to see it disappear along with the stacks. On *real* topics, science and medicine and so forth, you wouldn’t want to do the haphazard research, although it did work well for researching folklore. (That “folk remedies” thing was pretty fascinating, especially since I was doing the research in the 1970s during the first rise of “New Age/ Alternative” hippie fads . . . we had many books from Llewellyn in the library back then and the Whole Earth Catalog and stuff like that, stuff that might or might not make it into an electronic archive. Though the hoodoo pages that are online now are pretty neat!) A side effect was that when I would walk around town clutching a stack of weirdo books, I would often elicit stories from people who had their own ideas for home remedies or folk magic, and that was FASCINATING. I did get somewhat of a reputation as a hippie chick.

I only grieve to see the change in priorities that our society insists upon. All books should be treated as treasures, not trash. Yes, even those self-published PODs. Maybe an electronic format is the answer to save space and save trees. But books that are already in print? Deserve better.

Various charities do collect books and distribute them to poverty-stricken areas and disadvantaged people. A four-star-rating from CharityNavigator.org has been awarded to Books for Africa, so they’re one place to send books. As one commenter said, “A lot of God’s trees have died for nothing.”

ANYway . . . I hate to see Camden’s citizens lose the library. Maybe a benefactor will come along. Other cities are bound to start going the same way, though, and there won’t be enough benefactors.

Perhaps it’s the end of the Age of Affluence and the opening of an Age of Frugality. It’s definitely an Age of Frying-Your-Skin-Off down here. We’ve had three weeks of 101+ temps and it has finally fried the earth. Birds hop around with their mouths wide open to the sky, and I can’t run the sprinkler enough to help them ALL. It’s hurting the animals, plants, birds, and environment. Other places (Iowa) are flooding. Time for the Choctaw Rain Dance. Send rain!


In better days of rain!