Monday, April 23, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

“Writers are essential. Readers are essential. Publishers are not.”

Matthew Ingram wrote an interesting piece on called "Memo to publishers: Remind us why you exist again?"  Ingram does a good job of summarizing some of the talk lately about whether "legacy publishers" can remain relevant in the current environment.  As publishers focus more and more on what they consider "sure things", new writers suffer, and less-than-blockbuster writers also suffer.  The big publishers only want to invest in books that they think will bring in big bucks.  They may be writing their own death warrant.  Today's blockbuster is often tomorrow's $1.99 special on the remainder table.  Chasing after "sure things" that might simply crash and burn is not a sustainable business model.  It's more like playing the lottery or slots; you might get lucky or might lose your shirt.  To make matters worse, publishers are taking resources that used to be used to cultivate mid-list and new authors, and redeploying them to online marketing of their "big" titles.  Anyone who does not already have a "platform" of some kind, or a large built-in following, gets left out of the mix -- it's just too much trouble for the publisher.  This is unfortunate for people who still think their success depends on getting published by one of the "Big Six."  They can keep knocking on the door, but no one will answer.  The truth is that publication by one of the major publishers no longer guarantees that your book will receive marketing support beyond inclusion in a catalog.  Sales departments are stretched thin, marketing departments are under pressure to maximize the dollars spent, and the result is that expected blockbusters get all the attention.  But instead of feeling locked out, writers should see this as an opportunity to opt out of a broken system that is only going to get worse.  Writer, publish yourself!  Or work with a small publisher that will give you and your book the attention it deserves.  And keep in mind that eBooks may generate more revenue for you than print books.  An eBook is just as much a book as a paperback or a hardcover, and because it should be priced less than a print book it has the ability to reach many more people.  Your job is to figure out ways to help your audience find you.  If they do not yet know you exist, your job is to put yourself out there in ways that allow them to find you.  Work every angle, and do not depend on anyone else to make it happen for you, especially some big corporation concerned with nothing more than its bottom line.  Bonne chance!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Old School Publishers Acknowledge the Impact of “Self-Publishing” on Book Publishing Industry

The “old school” publishers (i.e. HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, etc.) are finally admitting that “self-publishing” is indeed real publishing, and that is has an impact on the book publishing business as a whole.  The older companies can no longer afford to maintain the attitude that “self-publishing” is just a technologically fancy version of the “vanity” publishing that has always lingered on the edges of “real” publishing.  Instead of trying to ignore the phenomenon they are now trying to incorporate it into their businesses in whatever way seems economically expedient.  This article in Book Business Magazine likens the evolution to the five stages of grief.  And it uses a term we like:  “open publishing”.  As of today, it is our preferred term instead of “micropublishing”.  Onward and upward!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New York Times Editorial Unfairly Disparages New Thought Movement

Apparently Professor Richard Sloan of Columbia University Medical Center does not think that the mind affects the body.  He wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that starts off with a reference to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and what many consider to be her miraculous recovery.  Professor Sloan goes on to reference the New Thought movement, William James's "religion of the healthy minded", Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking, and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, lumping together all the insights in these works and dismissing them as "bad medicine".  Unfortunately, the Professor misses the point.  He seems to think that somehow these works place on individuals "the burden of guilt over a supposed failure to have the right attitude."  He says that the New Thought movement was "based on the premise that we can control our well-being" and "banish illness".  That conclusion is a very simplistic reading of the literature.  New Thought certainly claims that our mind can influence our health, for good or ill, but Professor Sloan purposefully overstates the matter because any acknowledgment of the real influence of the mind on the body would undermine his underlying assumption that allopathic medicine is the only answer to illness.  Professor Sloan's comments suggest that he has not read the New Thought literature in depth.  I am not aware of any New Thought works that ever claimed to be "good medicine" in the way that Professor Sloan understands the term "medicine", and a close reading will not find in them the kind of "blame" discussed by Professor Sloan.  The New Thought movement and its progeny have, of course, claimed that the mind can affect the body.  Such influence may not be the kind of "medicine" that appeals to Professor Sloan, but it is hard to ignore the evidence.  For just a hint of the possibilities all one has to do is look at studies showing that placebos often work as good as non-placebos.  Professor Sloan's attitude is an insult to those who know from personal experience that their thoughts have influenced their physical health.  Attitude may not be everything, but it is disingenuous to argue that it is nothing.  A quick look at Professor Sloan's research interests, caught up as they seem to be in finding mechanistic explanations solely on the physical plane for bodily ills, helps explain why he might be uncomfortable with the proven benefits of the old-fashioned mind cure.  Why not acknowledge that both have a place?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Classic Judaica from a New Thought Perspective

Two new editions of classic Judaica in the New Thought vein were just published by Hudson Mohawk Press.

Jewish Science: Divine Healing in Judaism by Alfred Geiger Moses was first published in the early 20th century in response to the growing popularity of Christian Science and other New Thought teachings among American Jews.  Jewish leaders of the time, including American Reform Rabbi Alfred Geiger Moses, were concerned and decided to do something about it.  Seeing much in New Thought teachings that could be adapted to his brand of American Reform Judaism, once stripped of its Christian elements, Rabbi Moses self-published Jewish Science.  The author spends much time showing that the precepts of Christian Science and other New Thought denominations are drawn largely from the Hebrew scriptures. This newly designed edition includes an extensive anthology of Hebrew scripture quotations from a New Thought perspective, and a new introduction by the editor.

The Divine Source and World Unity: Selected Works of Adolph Moses for the 21st Century is a new compilation of the writings of this radical anti-Zionist American Reform rabbi, and the father of Alfred Geiger Moses, who taught that the true religion of Moses is recognition of the one God for everyone everywhere, not a tribal religion forming the basis for an ethnic state in the Middle East. Moses emphasized the universal nature of Judaism and all true religion. More radical than his son, he adopted the term "Yahvism" to emphasize his conviction that Judaism was neither a national nor a tribal religion. He wanted to attract non-Jews to Judaism, and he wanted to lure back Jews who had lost affection for their religion. Most of all he wanted to show that Judaism is a religion for all those who are interested in learning about it, and not a religion exclusively or even primarily for those born as Jews. His vision was a new Church of Humanity grounded in the universal vision of the biblical prophets and based on mutual respect, union and universal love. This selection of his writings is edited into gender-neutral language, and includes the 1885 Declaration of Principles that became the foundation of what came to be known as "Classical Reform Judaism", along with a new Introduction.

Both books are available in paperback and e-book editions direct from Hudson Mohawk Press, or Barnes & Noble.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Interview with Bernard Amador

Bernard Amador, author of The Rut, To Know a Fallen Angel, and Cyber-Eugenics: The Neural Code, was interviewed as he exhibited his books at the Self Publishing Book Expo in New York City on October 2.  The Rut is published by Hudson Mohawk Press, and To Know a Fallen Angel and Cyber-Eugenics were published by Bernard independently.  Here's what Bernard had to say in response to our questions:

Give us a concise description of your new book, The Rut.
The Rut is a story about a moose on the loose and gay adoption in the North Country of New York State. A young gay couple adopts a child and has a fateful encounter on the highway with a male bull moose.
How did your book come about?
My partner and I were having brunch at the Ole Tymes Café in Rouses Point, New York. As we read the newspaper and discussed the act of creation and gay adoption, we came across a story about the growing population of moose in a local paper and how it was resulting in an increased number of car accidents. The two worlds collided and there was the inception of The Rut.
Can you tell us about the story and a bit about the main characters?
The story is set in the North Country of New York State. It explores gay adoption in an entertaining way for both gay and general audiences. Ean is a young gay man who works as a Forensic Case Manager at a social services agency, and has been married for three years to Stacey, an Assistant District Attorney. Stacey feels compelled to adopt a child who Ean names Tur ("Rut" spelled backwards), who was about to be placed in foster care. As the journey with Tur begins, the young family has a fateful encounter on the highway with a male bull moose.
What has been your experience with the subject of your book.
The subject of gay adoption has been a constant topic of discussion in my relationship. When I embarked on writing the novel I did a lot of research on moose and the rut, the time of year when the moose are looking to mate. I also had to do a little research on adoption and the raising of a child. I read many articles in the papers in the North Country, read many books, and articles on the Internet.
Does your personal experience relate to what happens in the story?
The three main characters, Ean, Stacey and Erica, whose role it is to raise the child in the novel were written from the knowledge obtained from growing up in a large family of thirteen children and many grandchildren.
What are some of the rules or prejudices you’d like to see changed about your subject?
One main prejudice is the whole issue of opposition to gay adoption. I would like to see gay adoption to become more accepted and become mainstream.
How did you do your background research?
I clipped articles out of local papers in the North Country of New York State in addition to reading books, conducting Internet searches of specific locations and visiting those locations.
Where do you research information for your books?
I read books, newspapers, conduct Internet searches, scout locations, etc.
How has the community responded to your work?
I haven’t had much community response; however, those who have read my work seem to enjoy it.  Also, people who stopped by my exhibit at the Self Publishing Book Expo seemed very intrigued by the topic and cover design.
How did your work on this get started? Where do your characters in The Rut come from?
Once I read the article on moose in the North Country and discussed adoption with my spouse I began to think of the story, do research and create the characters in my mind as I thought of the story. For example, when I read about moose and the Department of Environmental Conservation I immediately thought of the character Mark and how it would make an interesting story for him to become a love interest of the main character Ean.
You have a background in psychology. What role does your psychology background play in your writing?
I think one of the most difficult aspects of writing is developing fully round characters with a psychology. It is easy to give a character a description, what they look like, how they dress; however, finding how a specific character will emotionally react to a situation and incorporating their history as to why they reacted the way they did is part of the creative process and is a strong part of my work to help build a character that pulls the reader into their life and the overarching story.  My psychology studies helped a lot with that.
What do you find to be most exciting about writing?
The most exiting thing about the writing process is the reality of the endless possibilities and the blank sheet before me or on the blank computer screen. With the first stroke of the pen or tap on the keyboard there is discovery of the self and the world.
How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?
My writing began with my memoir To Know A Falling Angel. It was a process of catharsis. That was the spark. What continued to fuel me was the echo of two of my writing professors at SUNY Purchase
What are you currently working on?
As I am adapting The Rut into a full-length feature screenplay, I am also working on another screenplay and novel.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer?
I would have to say that sometimes my least favorite thing about being a writer is struggling with the idea that I need to find the time to start. My most favorite thing about being a writer is when I am in the heart of writing and I have those moments when the writing makes me one with my emotions and the laughter spurts out of my mouth or the tears stream down my face.
What do you do in your spare time, when you aren’t writing?
I like to travel, see the world and learn about different things because it fuels me with ideas to continue to write.
What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
The last book I read was Anna Salter’s Predators. I would recommend it with the disclaimer that it is quite disturbing.
How have the books you’ve read influenced the books you write?
Reading books fuels me with the continued intake of ideas and structure. For example, Umberto Eco’s The Role of the Reader helps with both ideas and structure.
What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?
I don’t believe in writers block. When one feels that they are unable to write it is because the mind is in a process of defragmenting so that the writer’s neurons are making the connections between the data that it has taken in and the data that has been stored up to create something new.
Have you ever had to overcome real tragedy or hardship in your life?
Yes, the loss of a full childhood.  That was the catalyst for To Know a Fallen Angel and the start of my writing career.
What makes a good book?
That is so subjective. A good drama would be one that when a reader begins reading, they have a hard time putting it down, whether its plot or character that is driving the story the reader is compelled to continue. If a comedy the dialogue or action is so humorous that the reader just can’t quite part with the story.
What do you enjoy more, writing or discovering other people’s work?
When I was younger discovering other people’s work drove me. I could not get out of the library. Now that I am writing, it is equally enjoyable because my writing does involve much research. I just hope that the works that I created will inspire others as I have been.
Thanks to Bernard for an interesting interview, and we look forward to his next interesting writing project!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Self Publishing Book Expo a Success

Hudson Mohawk Press author Bernard Amador exhibited at the second annual Self Publishing Book Expo in New York City on October 2, 2010. The event was very well attended. Quite a few authors exhibited their books and lots of people browsed before and after the many panel discussions that were held in the Sheraton Hotel conference rooms.  Many people stopped by Bernard's table to take a look at the memoir To Know a Fallen Angel, the novel Cyber-Eugenic: The Neural Code, and Bernard's new novel The Rut. The middle poster for The Rut, showing its original French title, L'Orignal, drew in many curious people. Bernard was interviewed about the process of writing The Rut and the interview will be posted here soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bernard Amador Exhibiting at the Self-Publishing Book Expo

Hudson Mohawk Press author Bernard Amador will be exhibiting at the second annual Self-Publishing Book Expo tomorrow, Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 9:30 am to 5 pm.  Mr. Amador will be available to discuss his inspiring new novel, The Rut, as well as his two previous books, the suspense novel Cyber-Eugenics: The Neural Code and the memoir To Know A Fallen Angel. Stop by to say hello, and check out Bernard's website. While we don't care for the term "self-publishing", we like very much the idea of this event that gives people the opportunity to get the word out about their books. We will post a full report about the Expo next week.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

THE RUT by Bernard Amador

Gay adoption is becoming more common every day. There is an off-Broadway musical based on a memoir, and an independent film on the subject, but until now there hasn't been a novel in which gay adoption played a major role. The Rut by Bernard Amador fills that void. The story is set in the North Country of New York State and explores gay adoption in an entertaining way for both gay and general audiences.  Ean is a young gay man who works as a Forensic Case Manager at a social services agency, and has been married for three years to Stacey, an Assistant District Attorney. Stacey feels compelled to adopt a child who Ean names Tur ("Rut" spelled backwards), who is about to be placed in foster care. As the journey with Tur begins, the young family has a fateful encounter with a male bull moose. The moose serves as metaphor for the family's touching story. Check out this entertaining read, and watch for an interview with the author coming soon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Self Publishing" Company Wants Downsized Editors

Here is a sign of where things are going in the "traditional" Big Six-type publishing business. CreateSpace, one of the major "self publishing" companies posted an employment ad on Craigslist looking to hire downsized editors with "at least five years book-editing experience" to edit its books. Presumably they'll edit the books of those who sign up for CreateSpace's premium services. I wonder how many downsized editors will take them up on the opportunity. Depending on where they've worked some folks may see working for CreateSpace as a step down. That's a good example of how a change of attitude can make a difference. No need to see it as a step down. It's interesting that editors who once could pick and choose what they wanted to see published will now be working on the books of those who decided they would get published regardless of whether they could make it past the gatekeepers at the houses where these downsized editors were previously employed. Some of these editors may have even been the gatekeepers. The world works in mysterious ways. Never underestimate the universe. It can throw you stuff you never thought possible. It seems this guy was ahead of the curve:

   Date: 2010-09-15, 2:19PM EDT

Here's the text of most of the Craigslist ad:

"CreateSpace, an online self-publishing company, is currently looking for experienced editors to join their outsourced team. Potential applicants must be detail-oriented self-starters comfortable working independently, while adhering to strict deadlines. The most qualified candidates will have at least five years book-editing experience, will be familiar with current industry standards, and have an emphasis in at least one of the following genres. Fiction: General, science fiction, historical, fantasy, chick lit., or children’s literature; Nonfiction: Business, self-help, cookbooks, social science, spirituality, or religious texts.  All applicants must be comfortable with Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed., proficient in Microsoft Word’s track changes feature, and comfortable with using the Internet. Payment is based per assignment, per word count and is processed weekly with the option for direct deposit or check. A short, non-paid sample edit is required during the hiring process and qualifying applicants will need to sign a work for hire contract."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Is New Thought Spirituality?

A recent visitor to the Hudson Mohawk Press website asked "tell me about this New Thought spirituality". This got us to thinking that there is so much to tell. This video by Brian Akers is a beautiful introduction. It distills into a few minutes what we are looking for in the books we publish at Hudson Mohawk Press, and the ideals we are trying to promote on this blog:

Spread the word.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Self Publishing" Company Starting a "Traditional" Publishing Division

You may have heard that some "traditional" publishers, like Thomas Nelson, Harlequin and Hay House started "self publishing" divisions. The book publishing industry is going through difficult times, and "self publishing" is one of the few growth areas in book publishing. However, the companies' decisions to start these divisions caused a stir among some folks (especially with the Romance Writers of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and under pressure Harlequin went so far as to delete all mention of the Harlequin name from the website of its "self publishing" division, DellArte Press. To their credit, Thomas Nelson and Hay House did not feel the need to distance themselves from their new ventures. So it is interesting to see a company go in the other direction. Vantage Press, one of the first "self publishing" companies (back when "self publishing" was called "vanity publishing") is starting an imprint called Vantage*Point that will sign up editorially vetted books and split profits with authors. Word is that Vantage*Point will also choose some of Vantage Press's "self published" titles to promote. I see this as an example of where book publishing in general is going. However, I don't think many of the bigger companies will embrace this model. Smaller is better in the case of "self publishing". It seems almost counterintuitive because we usually think of bigger companies as having more options, but when a company is small it can be flexible, try out different models, see what works, stick with what does, and move on from what doesn't. Assuming, of course, that whoever is running the company is willing to take the risk. That's difficult for traditional book publishers to do (especially very large ones) because traditional publishers depend on an economy of scale to make a profit. It becomes difficult to try new things that do not fit the mold. But we think trying new things is good, even if a profit is not guaranteed right away. So we wish all the best to the authors who sign up with Vantage*Point as they try their new model. If other "self publishers" start "traditional" publishing divisions, and other "traditional" publishers start "self publishing" divisions, it's all good. More options for everyone.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Publishers Weekly Acknowledges The Importance of "Self Published" Books

Publishers Weekly, the venerable trade publication of the book publishing industry, is trying in its own way to promote the acceptance of "self published" books.  For a registration fee of $149 one gets a listing in a quarterly supplement of the magazine and a free six-month subscription to the digital edition of the magazine. In addition, anyone who registers for a listing in the supplement and sends in a copy of their book will also be considered for a review. The catch (of course there has to be a catch, beyond the $149) is that they will only review 25 books. One can only imagine how many submissions they'll get. But in any event a listing in a supplement of PW is a valid way to get word out about the existence of a micropublished book. It's certainly cheaper than lots of other ways to promote a book, especially some of the opportunities offered by the "author services" companies out there. Bottom line: the fact that Publishers Weekly is doing this is good for micropublishers, regardless of how many people participate. We'll keep an eye on the supplement and see how it develops.

Micropublishing Is The Future of Publishing

We at Hudson Mohawk Press do not care for the term "self publishing". We will always put it in quotes. The term comes with too much baggage. It evokes the image of a bad plumbing job by Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe might know how to weld the pipes together, and the pipes probably won't leak, but he doesn't know about annoying little things like building codes and which way the elbows are supposed to go and other stuff like that, and the new pipes won't look so pretty to a building inspector who gets wind of them. So when it comes to folks who decide to take publishing into their own hands, we prefer the term "micropublishing". It evokes the image of a valuable object, small and well cared for. It evokes the idea of publishing with a purpose. People who take charge of publishing of their own books really care about their stuff. They really want to get their books out to the world. They've worked hard to conceive the book, they've worked hard to write it, and it's their baby. They deserve a lot of credit. Of course that doesn't mean all micropublished books are great literature or earth-shattering works of nonfiction. But they are worth more time than they are usually given by many literary agencies and the  "Big Six" publishers who often play the role of the dissatisfied building inspector. So it is with great interest that we look forward to the upcoming Self Publishing Book Expo (although we wish it were called something like the "Micropublishing Book Expo", or some such) taking place on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at the Sheraton Hotel at 811 Seventh Avenue in New York City from 9:30 to 5:00. It's free, so come in and browse and send some positive energy out to all the folks who put their hearts and souls into their micropublished books. Who knows what you'll find? (And while we're there maybe we can suggest a better name for this worthy event.)