Monday, April 26, 2010

L. A. Times, IACP Book Awards

Here are the recently announced LAT award-winning books, along with the International Association of Culinary Professional (IACP) Cookbook Awards in the two prestigious annual events.

Linda Gordon, Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits (Norton)

Current Interest
Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (McSweeney's Books)

Rafael Yglesias, A Happy Marriage (Scribner)

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
Philipp Meyer, American Rust (Spiegel & Grau)

Graphic Novel
David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)

Kevin Starr, Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance 1950 - 1963 (Oxford University Press)

Mystery / Thriller
Stuart Neville, The Ghosts of Belfast (Soho Press)

Brenda Hillman, Practical Water (Wesleyan University Press)

Science & Technology
Graham Farmelo, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom (Basic Books)

Young Adult
Elizabeth Partridge, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary (Viking Children's)
- More

IACP 2010 Cookbook Award Winners

“Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion”
Author: Stephanie Alexander
Editor: Kathleen Gandy
Publisher: Penguin Group (Australia)

“My New Orleans: The Cookbook”
Author: John Besh
Editor: Dorothy Kalins and Jean Lucas
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC

Baking: Savory or Sweet
“Rose’s Heavenly Cakes”
Author: Rose Levy Beranbaum
Editor: Pamela Chirls
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Single Subject
“Go Fish”
Author: Al Brown
Publisher: Random House (New Zealand)

“Gourmet Today”
Author: Ruth Reichl
Editor: Rux Martin
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing

Children, Youth and Family
“Williams-Sonoma Family Meals”
Author: Maria Helm Sinskey
Editor: Kim Laidlaw
Publisher: Oxmoor House

Health and Special Diet
“The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery”
Authors: Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson
Editor: Melissa Moore
Publisher: Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press
- More

Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Friday, April 23, 2010

Recession? What Recession?

Online retailer Amazon reported a 68% rise in net profits for the first quarter of the year to $299m (£194.5m). Turnover was up by 9% to $2.2bn, while total sales jumped by 46% to $7.13bn - more than expected by analysts.

However its forecast for the April-June period were lower than what investors had hoped, and shares in the firm fell 6% in after-hours trading. Its Kindle electronic reader has helped sales but it faces a market share battle against Apple's new iPad.

Amazon will start selling the Kindle at some Target stores later this month. It can only currently be bought on the Amazon website.

Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oh, the (One Million) Books They Published!

Bowker, the company that keeps statistics on such things, compiled information from its Books-in-Print database and recently announced that conventional publishing produced 288,355 titles in 2009 - and print-on-demand services produced 764,448 titles. That's more than a million titles published last year. Was your book among them?

Conventional (non-POD or subsidy) publishers published 45,000 novels, 32,300 children's books, 19,300 religion titles, 15,400 science titles, and 26,000 economics titles.

Three companies--BiblioBazaar, Books LLC, and Kessinger Publishing--published nearly 700,000 titles (mostly reprints of copyright-free books).

The top POD publishers were CreateSpace (21,819 titles), (10,386 titles), Xlibris (10,161), AuthorHouse (9,445 titles), and PublishAmerica (5,689 titles). Since many of these companies are not exclusive publishers, it's possible at least some of these titles were duplicates.

The question you're left to face, then, is this: Why didn't you publish a book last year?

The answer: You're too smart (i.e., informed, educated, frightened, experienced) to publish with a user/loser such as PublishAmerica. And you simply weren't in the right place at the right time to pitch your work to a conventional publisher.

Right place? Right time? Let's take a look at what literary agent Faye Swetky has to say about that.

"Getting a book published by a conventional publisher involves several things. One is subject matter. It has to be marketable. Two is timing. The market must be anticipated for the time in which your book comes out. Three is compatibility. You have to hit the right editor at the right time in order to get that editor to commit. Three months earlier, three months later, it could be a totally different story. But right on the button? SALE!"

Is it fair? Are you kidding! Is it just? Right. So why are you still in the business of writing?

You know the answer to that better than I do.

After all, I'm just a writer.

Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Freelancer, Charge Thyself

I received a letter from a writer who is apparently new at the business of freelance writing for a living. She wanted to know what she should charge to write reports for a private investigator who inquired about her services. My response:

Reports writing is such a varied field--the reports could include audio transcription, summarizing court transcripts, condensing meeting minutes, highlighting police reports, etc.--that it's pretty tough to set a per-project price on it. For something such as this, I would decide what my time is worth per hour and go with that.

As an alternative, you could offer a hybrid approach, quoting a price per hour in a range of, say, $40 - $75, depending upon the amount of research involved or the difficulty you anticipate of preparing the report. If you estimate a project to be easy sailing, you could quote toward the lower range of $40/hour. If you anticipate a project to be really time-consuming and unpleasant, you could quote a higher price closer to $75/hour or more. In that way, both writer and client would know what the bottom line is likely to be from the start and would both feel fairly comfortable with the final figure.

You could also charge a flat per-project rate plus overages based upon anticipated hours. In condensing a transcript of a three-hour court hearing, for example, you could charge a flat rate of $150 ($50 for three hours' work) plus $50 an hour for anything over three hours' time. That would be a nice way of protecting both writer and client, as well. Some typical flat-rate projects:

Advertising Copywriting: At $50 - $100/hour; $250 and up per day; $500 and up per week; $1,000-$2,000 as a monthly retainer.

Direct-mail Advertising: This would include copywriting direct-mail letters, response cards, and other advertising and marketing materials. At $50 - $120/hour or $2,500 to $10,000/project, depending on the complexity of the project. Additional charges for production such as desktop publishing, addressing, photography, graphics production, etc., would be in order.

Press Releases: At $350-$500/release.

Marketing and Sales Letters: At $400-$2,000/project.

As you can see, flat rates vary considerably per project.

Remember that, no matter how you charge, you'll want to include out-of-pocket reimbursement for expenditures: postage, shipping, telephone calls, travel, etc. And don't forget some kind of cancellation clause, whereby you specify that, should the client cancel before the completion of a project, you will bill and be paid immediately for all work expended by you up to that point. (You'll need to keep accurate time records on an Excel spreadsheet or a timesheet recorder of some sort.)

To learn more about freelance writing rates and what the American Society of Authors and Writers advises freelancers charge, check out AmSAW at

Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Top 20 Good Reads or Good Rides?

Well, now we've gone and done it. We've made our most popular books reflections of our movie tastes, rather than our tastes for good literature.

That's nothing new for Americans, of course. That trend goes back to the days of Peyton Place and Gone with the Wind. But books that virtually owe their entire popularity to the long coattails of the films upon which they ride seem to be the rage.

So it is with USA Today's most current best-selling books list, featuring in the top two slots Nicholas Sparks' 2006 novel Dear John (the top-selling book of the quarter ending March 28) and The Last Song. Not surprisingly, they both have film tie-ins.

Also making the list: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight (film tie-in) and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson (film tie-in).

It is hardly a shock to learn that many other "best reads" with film tie-ins dominate the list, making us ask, Which comes first, the chicken or the flick?

Here's the complete list.

1. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

2. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

3. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

6. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

7. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

8. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

9. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

10. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 3: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

11. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

12. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

13. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

14. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

15. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

16. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

17. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

18. The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game by Michael Lewis

19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

20. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Monday, April 05, 2010

Harper Studio Bites the Dust

Announced at the end of the day on Good Friday (somebody has a warped sense of humor), following the departure of founding executive Bob Miller, Harper's Michael Morrison confirmed "We have decided that in the interest of what's best for our Harper Studio authors and employees, our last batch of titles to be published under the Harper Studio imprint will be on the Summer 2010 list." All titles scheduled for beyond that season will be absorbed by one of Harper's other imprints, according to Morrison, who said Harper "will be contacting agents and authors to discuss the best editors and imprints for each of these titles."

He also indicated that "all our imprints are happy to discuss profit sharing scenarios on a book-by-book basis. Debbie Stier will remain director of digital marketing for Harper, reporting to Carolyn Pittis, and will acquire books as an editor-at-large. Julia Cheiffetz will move to the Harper imprint and report to Jonathan Burnham. Assistant editor Katie Salisbury will continue to report to Julia, and Jessica Wiener will continue as director of marketing.

Copyright 2009 AmSAW