Robert Miller – A Publisher Who Gets It!

Publishing Savior

Publishing Savior

I’m highly overdue on a geeky publishing post.  I’m constantly tracking the industry and trying to figure out why they continually give me the finger.  It usually leads me to post something off-putting and bitter, so I’ve avoided them altogether.   But surprise, surprise, I’ve found something positive to post.  Read on!

I have been a fan of Robert Miller’s ever since he started the HarperStudios imprint.  He’s created a mainstream publisher that follows an unconventional structure to get books to market.  He avoids the huge advances, gives the author a 50% take of the profits, has convinced retailers to forgo a liberal return policy that cripples most startup publishing houses, and relies heavily on the author’s existing online platform to build a durable marketing strategy.  In short, the guy get’s it.  He’s created something that was virtually unheard of before now, a nimble company that continually experiments with publishing models in order to keep pace with technology.

Here’s an excerpt of a recent article he wrote for Publishing Perspectives:

I don’t think that this solution goes far enough. I believe that publishers and authors should be equal partners, sharing profits fifty-fifty, as we are doing in all of our deals at HarperStudio. The author brings their creative work to this partnership, and their commitment to do everything in their power to help their book succeed. The publisher brings their financial risk (under our model, the publisher puts up the publishing costs, including the advance to the author, from which the author can decide to help the marketing effort if they’d like, or not), their passion for the project, and their staff time (we don’t charge any overhead to the profit split; the authors don’t charge for their time spent marketing the book either).

This financial structure requires both parties to think responsibly about costs, since both parties will be charged for those costs at the end of the day. The result is that the relationship is much less adversarial.

The question each day is, “What should we be doing for this book?” not “What have you done for me lately?” It feels healthier to me.

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Janet Reno Shirtless!

The closest thing I could find to a shirtless Janet Reno.

The closest thing I could find to a shirtless Janet Reno.

OMG!  I can’t believe you actually clicked on a link to see Janet Reno shirtless!  Janet Reno is a brilliant public servant and legal mind.  Can’t you just love her for her mind?  I’ve been discussing this whole shirtless celebrities thing with my fellow bloggers, and we are concerned!  What is this obsession with seeing celebrities shirtless?  Okay, some of them make sense, but Alan Baxter said that he’s had people find his blog by searching for topless pictures of Stephen King (which he doesn’t have, btw)!  Stephen-friggin’-King!  I have to tell you, I’ve seen King in a sleeveless t-shirt, and I was appalled.  I don’t want to think about him shirtless.  He’s the greatest horror novelist of my time, but I’m willing to bet that one good look at his pecs may send you really screaming into the night.  All due respect to Mr. King, but he’s not exactly known for his physique.

So what is it? Why do you want to see people like Janet Reno, Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Ed Asner, Jack Nicholson, etc. shirtless?  Why the curiosity to see people not known for their rock hard abs bare chested?  What gives?  The answer better be good because I am quickly losing faith in my fellow man.

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Lost Days – Post 27

This is the 27th installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. It will be out in paperback soon  Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here

I don’t know how I ended up in my uncle’s FROG.  I waited until everyone had gone to sleep in the house, and I snuck down to the garage to return the clippings to the toolbox.  When I reached the door to exit the garage, Uncle Crew and J-Rob came barreling down the stairs.  They threw some things into the bed of J-Rob’s truck and then left. The temptation was too strong, I had to snoop around in Uncle Crew’s room and get more answers.

So there I was, breathing so heavily that I was almost hyperventilating, staring into the dark room.  I didn’t even know where to begin to look.  I was new at this.  Up ‘til then, taking the clippings was the worst thing I had ever done.  Now I was breaking and entering.  I tried to convince myself that it was alright because the door was unlocked.  I wasn’t breaking.  I was just entering.  That made it okay, didn’t it?

“You’re a jerk,” I whispered.  I said it out loud in an effort to admonish myself with more authority.  Maybe if I heard myself say it, I would turn around and leave.  It didn’t work. 

I spotted the boxes in the corner of the room and decided that was as good a place as any to start.  I opened the first box and found a dozen or so plaster casts of footprints wrapped in bubble wrap.  I carefully unwrapped the one on top and examined it.  It was huge, four times the size of my own foot.  I turned it over and found the measurements written in marker.  Eighteen inches long.  Eight inches wide.  At the bottom, someone had written, “Sample of a total of 1,536 tracks found near Missoula.  Average stride, 63 inches.  Estimated weight of ape, 650 pounds.  Height unknown.  Tom Slick Group.”  I carefully rewrapped it and put it back.

I went through three more boxes and found more of the same.  The fourth box contained baggies full of hair strands, bags of dried mud labeled “Scat,” and one bag that contained a tooth that was as big around as my thumb.

It was all very interesting, but did nothing but confirm that Uncle Crew was completely insane.  I stood and scanned the room for something else to investigate.  I stepped forward and accidently kicked a black thigh-high two-door metal filing cabinet.  I tugged on the handle of the top drawer. It didn’t budge.  Same with the second drawer.  I immediately assumed that since it was locked that it held some deep dark secrets that would clarify the mystery that was Uncle Crew.  I searched the immediate area for the key.  I went to the desk and opened all the drawers.  Each one was full of a hodgepodge of office supplies, candy, and folded maps, but nothing that even remotely resembled a key.  I was about to give up when I remembered once watching granddaddy reach under the kitchen table and pull out a key to his liquor cabinet.  I stooped down and looked under the desk hoping that it was one of those like-father-like-son traits that people always talk about.  The room was dim, but I could make my way around.  Under the desk, there was virtually no light.  I ran my hand across the underbelly of the desk and felt for a… key.  It was there.  I quickly pulled it free from the tape and stuck it into the keyhole in the filing cabinet.  I felt the lock tumble free and I opened the top drawer.  My eyes zeroed in on an expensive digital camera sitting in an otherwise empty drawer.  I pulled it out and fumbled for the power switch in the poor lighting.  It clicked on and I started pushing buttons until an image popped up on the small screen.  It was a shot of some trees punctuated by a beautiful sunset.  I thumped a button and jumped to the next picture.  Another outdoor landscape, cliffs this time.  I advanced to the next picture and the next, all nature shots.  I stopped on one that was of an owl in a tree.  An owl.  I swallowed.  I thought about the ceramic owl in the Starling’s kitchen.  The next image made me gasp.  It was a picture of a smiling Ginger Starling.  This was her mother’s camera.  Uncle Crew had Elizabeth Starling’s camera locked in a filing cabinet.  I could think of only one reason why.

My mind started to race.  What was I supposed to do with this information?  I had to tell someone, didn’t I?  He had a murdered woman’s camera.  A camera the police said was missing.  I took a deep breath.  “Get a hold of yourself, Hayley.  This doesn’t prove anything.”  I exhaled. 

I stared at the image of Ginger for a long time before I worked up the courage to click the advance button again.  It was another landscape.  Then another owl.  Another owl.  And then… a picture of Uncle Crew.  It was taken from a distance.  He had no idea she was taking his picture.  He was bent down looking at something on the ground.  The next image was Uncle Crew and J-Rob.  They were going through their backpacks.  I was about to click the button again when I heard someone walking up the steps.  I froze.  I stood and rocked on my toes.  I had no idea what to do.  I needed to hide, but where.  Everywhere I looked seemed like a bad idea because I would be trapped in the room until Uncle Crew left the next day.  I headed toward the bathroom, but stopped when I saw a window.  I hurried to it and looked out.  There was a tree just a few feet away with a branch that looked big enough to support my weight.  I stuck my head through the shoulder strap of the camera and opened the window.  The footsteps were louder, and I could hear voices.  I quickly crawled through the window and felt around in the darkness for a firm footing on the branch.  It was big, but still relatively narrow.  I found my footing and turned back to shut the window.  I heard the door open and pulled the window down just before the door snapped shut.  Then I heard a voice.  It was a man, but it wasn’t Uncle Crew or J-Rob.  It was a voice I had never heard before. 

I stooped down and scooted back on the branch.  Beams of light criss-crossed the FROG.  There were three men dressed in black. It was impossible to make out their faces.  They were whispering.  As I reached the trunk of the tree, I heard one of them say “Teddy was right. This nut job is into Bigfoot.”

I stayed in the tree, trying to catch a glimpse of the three men, moving as close to the window as I dared.  They were as discreet as I was.  They chatted quietly, too quietly for me to hear most of what they were saying.  Occasionally I would hear a word or two, but not enough to make sense of what they were looking for.  It was clear they didn’t know Uncle Crew, but they did know of him. 

They left after a good thirty minutes.  I crawled back, opened the window, and entered the FROG, expecting it to be ripped apart.  It was as neat and tidy as it was before they came.  Whoever they were, they didn’t want Uncle Crew to know they were there.  Judging by the frustrated tone of their whispers before they left, they didn’t find what they were looking for.  I could only assume that they would be back. 

I was faced with a real dilemma.  Did I tell Uncle Crew that I saw three strange men in his FROG and did nothing while they rummaged through all his belongings, putting myself in the position of having to explain why I was in his room myself?  Or did I keep my mouth shut about the whole thing to save my own skin? 

I absentmindedly reached up and adjusted the camera that was hanging around my neck.  That’s when I remembered that Uncle Crew had a dead woman’s camera. The camera police were looking for.  That didn’t exactly make him a boy scout.  In fact, I was pretty sure it made him the bad guy in this whole thing.  Why would I want to help him out by telling him there were men in his room going through his things?

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Red Adept’s Review of The Takers

Read Red Adepts review of The Takers

Read Red Adept's review of The Takers

Pardon this self-promotion post, but I guess that’s part of my job as an author with books on the market.  Red Adept has posted a review of The Takers on her blog, which is aptly named Red Adept’s Kindle Book Review Blog.  It’s a Kindle blog which means if you are a Kindle owner you can subscribe to her blog and get reviews of the latest and greatest titles available for the fancy-schmancy e-reading device.    I’m happy to say she gave The Takers five out of five stars.  Here’s an excerpt of her review:

It was difficult to find a stopping point in which to take a break while reading this novel. Every single bit of it is filled with tension and foreshadowing.

When I got to the very end, I thought I was going to be angry and disappointed, but the author managed to restore my faith with just one last sentence.

I am humbly gracious for the kind words.  It’s obvious Red Adept’s blog has a significant following because the Amazon ranking jumped considerably since she posted her review.  BTW – The Takers is availabe in both print and Kindle formats.

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The top ten freakiest searches of the week – unusual phrases people used to find my blog (Second Edition)

Clowns age so well.  Its really hard to tell his age!

Clowns age so well. It's really hard to tell how old he is!

It is time to get freaky.  For those of you catching up, I’m planning on making this the regular Friday post for my blog.  I’ve noticed over the past year and a half that people find my blog by using some of the most unusual search terms.  Some of them are funny, and some of them are disturbing.  The best are disturbingly funny!  I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough to choose from this week, but you freaky people never disappoint.  If you are one of the freaks, thank you.  You’ve made my Friday’s much easier.

10 – sonic crustacean – I just thought this one was a great band name.  “We are Sonic Crustacean!”

9 – picture of nazis with bear – This one falls under the category of truth is stranger than fiction.  Click here to see what I mean.

8 – letter of thanks to television – “Dear television, thanks for the great party.  I really had a blast, and I’m really sorry for throwing up on your ficus tree.  I have learned my lesson.  Cocktail weenies and 22 shots of Jagermeister definitely do not mix.  Rock on, television!”

7 – wordpress divorce – I had no idea WordPress’ marriage was in trouble.  I hope there was a prenup.  Do I have a say in who gets me in the divorce?

6- old man as a clown – “Funny how?  Like a clown?”   The sad thing is there is someone out there who is known as the old man clown to somebody else on this planet.

5 – mmmmmmmm flickr – Obviously, Homer Simpson has learned to google, and he thinks flickr is delicious.

4- jeff goldblum + shirtless – I’m starting to think that a week won’t go by without somebody out there searching for a shirtless male celebrity.  There’s got to be a way to make money from this fetish.

3- circumsized penis photos – What?  The thing that really scares me is that someone typed this into their favorite search engine and they were directed to my blog.  Let me assure you.  There has never been nor will there ever be a penis, circumcised or otherwise, on this blog.

2 – tattoo girls magazine – “I only look at it for the articles… which appear as tattoos on girls in the magazine.”

And the number 1 freakiest search term used to find my blog is:

1 – why am i obsessed with michael Jackson – Wow!   I had no idea that you could actually hook your brain up to a search engine and get answers to your most intimate pressing questions.  It’s possible your fixation stems from your inability to think for yourself.  If you’re looking to the interwebs to find the source of your obsession, you have much bigger problems!

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Having three parents apparently makes you really ugly!

Cute in a Gollum-tribble-Willem Dafoe kind of way.

Cute in a Gollum-tribble-Willem Dafoe kind of way.

The big news coming out of the scientific community today is that scientists have successfully created macaque monkeys from the DNA of three individual monkeys.  Here’s the scientific way of saying that (BTW – the story comes from The Guardian.  That’s why the spelling’s all wonky):

The team of scientists from the Oregon National Primate Research Centre in effect swapped the mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from the macaque monkey mother’s egg for the mDNA of a donor egg. Reconstructed eggs were then fertilised with the father’s sperm and the healthy offspring were born. Tests showed that no mDNA from the mother’s egg had been transferred.

This development could eradicate diseases in future generations of humans.  Those jerks get all the cool stuff.  Here’s the thing, those monkeys are ugly.  They’ve got three separate strands of DNA they’re working with.  They couldn’t find one Brad Pitt or Megan Fox gene in the entire bunch?  The hair, the eyes, the wrinkles; It looks like Gollum, a tribble, and Willem Dafoe were the three parents.

In a related story, Dafoe most likely wants to beat the crap out of me should we ever meet.  So, I’ve got that going for me.

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The worst thing we could do to memorialize Senator Ted Kennedy!

RIP Senator Kennedy

RIP Senator Kennedy

This is a rare political post on my blog, and it’s really not even that political.  It’s something that I hope will be taken as a common sense observation/plea.  There is no question that a national health care plan was  Senator Ted Kennedy’s driving issue throughout his political career.  I am for an overhaul of the public health care system.  No one should be without health insurance.  I want there to be a long hard debate before a bill is passed.  I want the people voting on the bill to actually understand the bill.  I want my representatives to understand it so thoroughly that they can explain it to me in plain, legalese- free English.

What I fear is that some will use Senator Kennedy’s passing as an opportunity to ram a health care plan through Congress in an attempt to provide him with a lasting memorial.  A bad health care plan is worse than no health care plan.   Better this thing be right than quick.  That would be a memorial worthy of Senator Kennedy’s legacy.

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Swine Flu – Color me concerned!

Oh, my God!  The Swine Flu apparently makes you breakout in denim!

Oh, my God! The Swine Flu apparently makes you breakout in denim!

Picture this – I’m going through my normal routine this morning; relaxing, drinking some coffee, getting the trash together for trash day, making sure the dog empties her bladder out in the yard and not in the kitchen.  It’s business as usual.  One of the morning shows is on, but I’m not really paying much attention.  It’s just noise.  Suddenly I hear Kathleen Sebelius’, Secretary of Health and Human Services, voice coming from the TV.  I turn and hear her say, “We are concerned that American’s aren’t taking the H1N1 Flu seriously enough.”  I swallow my coffee with a loud, almost painful gulp.  She said it in a calm, even tone that did not connote any kind emergency situation, but in my head I heard her telling me to panic, to get on my knees and pray to my God for ever-loving mercy, that the Swine Flu is going to kill us all.  She’s the person who’s been put in charge of our nation’s health, and she basically just said we need to call the priest to administer Last Rites.  I’m concerned that she is concerned that we are not concerned enough.  It’s Stephen King’s The Stand coming to life.  Things did not go well in that book, people.  I am a student of apocalyptic situations, and I have to tell you that the viral apocalypse scenario is the worst.  People turn on each other.  The military kills civilians with impunity.  The chance for a zombie uprising is at its absolute highest.  And I’m pretty sure the virus will bring Hitler, Stalin, and Carrot Top back to life…. Wait, I’ve just been informed Carrot Top is alive!  It’s begun!  This is not good.  Run, run as fast as you can!

You got what you wanted, Madam Secretary.  I’m scared out of my mind!  Thank you!

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The Suckiest Fantasy Football Team That Ever Did Suck!

Did I mention that my fantasy football team sucks!

And by "your," I mean mine!

As if I didn’t have enough distractions, I am a fantasy football freak.  But I’m totally bummed.  I forgot about auto draft for my league yesterday and got hosed on my picks because I didn’t set up my pre-draft wish list.  This is my team:

Kurt Warner – He’s 102-years-old.

Chad Ochocinco – More self-promoter than player

Hines Ward – On the decline

Steven Jackson – Was good for about 20 minutes two years ago.

Chris Johnson – Great the running back on the Titans they don’t let score

Owen Daniels – Yea, he scored two TDs last year!

DeSean Jackson – This one might be okay.  He screwed me out of fantasy points last year when he spiked the ball before he crossed the goal line.  I’m assuming he won’t make that mistake again.

Kevin Smith – What everyone wants, a Detroit Lion on their fantasy football team!

Fred Jackson – Three TDs in two years.  In other words, he’s only scored three more TDs than me in his NFL career.

Deion Branch – Has only played one full season in 7 years.

Kyle Orton – Hey, at least it’s not Rex Grossman.

At least my writing productivity shouldn’t take much of a hit because I’m going to be out of this thing early.

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