Random House

Self-Publishing Isn’t My Worst Mistake

(Ed. note: I received a lot of responses about my post about self-publishing via e-mail, on other blogs, here at HTMLGIANT. A. Lot. It has been a really interesting discussion and one that will continue. One writer, Mary Maddox, wanted to share her own story of trying to break into mainstream publishing and eventually choosing to self-publish her novel.)

Roxane’s piece on the value of self-publishing upset me. Last year I started Cantraipt Press and published my novel Talion, so I took some of her comments very personally. Yet she doesn’t denounce writers who self-publish. Her tone is thoughtful, and she understands why self-publication might be the right decision for some. Now that I’ve calmed down, I understand what happened. I read her piece entirely in the context of my own experience.

While I was at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the 1970’s, a visiting writer came every year to read and conduct a guest workshop. Each faculty member chose two stories by students for this event. My first year John Hawkes came. Hawkes wrote several critically acclaimed books, but he doesn’t seem to be talked about much today. The second year it was Thomas Berger, famous for Little Big Man, a best-seller now gathering dust. Both years, one of my stories was chosen for the guest workshop. My teachers considered me to be a young writer of some promise, and I desperately wanted my fiction to be published.

An introduction from Mary Lee Settle got my first novel read by an editor at Random House, who referred me to a well-known agent with an office in Greenwich Village. I was in my twenties. Imagine my excitement. But the editor had come to Random House recently from another publisher, and he lacked the support to get my novel accepted, even after I’d rewritten it to address the concerns of his colleagues. The Greenwich Village agent represented me for a few years, but she’d taken me on thinking my novel would be accepted at once and her job would be to negotiate a contract. Suddenly it became something else she had to hustle to sell. I don’t think she tried all that hard, especially after a few rejections.


Random / 20 Comments
March 25th, 2011 / 2:56 pm

SMIZE: Tyra Banks is Going to Write The Best Book Ever

Did you hear? The news broke late last week. Tyra Banks is going to become a YA author. For those of us who (used to) watch America’s Next Top Model, this is excellent news because now she will bring her signature flair to the written word. If you go to the website of her imprint, BANKABLE BOOKS, she helpfully explains how to pronounce the title of her first novel, Modelland. If you’re curious, that is Model Land. She also says, “I think Modelland is going to really touch the dreamer in all of us, whether you’re aged anywhere from 8 to 80.” This is good news for all of us.

Since the announcement, I’ve seen a lot of snark and garment rending and the sort of reaction that arises any time a celebrity or other literary untouchable (blogger) dares to dip their unanointed toes in the holy waters of literature. How dare they sully the serious work of the serious writer! Yes, I recognize that this is a fairly ridiculous situation–Tyra Banks with a three-book deal while we toil in obscurity is certainly frustrating but do any of us write anything remotely similar to Modelland? Does her book deal mean we won’t get one? Why do we so often begrudge certain writers their book deals? Is anyone else as excited as I am?

Author News / 221 Comments
May 17th, 2010 / 6:04 pm

powerHouse Gets Random (House’d)

Here’s a piece of industry news. Brooklyn-based powerHouse Books (a publisher of visual arts books, as well as a bookstore/event space) is “going to Random House,” according to a press release I just got from them. The letter begins, “Dear powerHouse follower– You are, with any luck, a retailer, a reviewer, a promoter, or just someone vigorously involved in the visual arts…” Well, yes and no, but I am a guy with an INBOX, and apparently, plenty of free time on a Wednesday. The full announcement is copied below.


Presses / 10 Comments
March 10th, 2010 / 4:43 pm