Thursday, January 30, 2014

Today this blog links to wise words written by others

Mick Rooney is an author, blogger and publishing consultant. He's also a kindred spirit, a supporter of independent publishing and a friend I've never met in the 'real world.'

Today, Mick's Independent Publishing Magazine

targets the ignorant, stupid, short-sighted, out-of-date, self-defeating and inconsistently enforced policy of the organizers of "The People's Book Prize" to exclude SOME self-published authors. (The intention is exclude all.)

Mick says: "
The irony is that if you self-publish a book with an author service, and you are not the registered publisher of origin, then you can qualify for entry if your publishing service provider enters the book, but you're barred if you are both author and publisher and own the isbn as part of your imprint.

An author could in theory write the best book ever, contract the best editors and designers, but would not be eligible for The People's Book Prize.

There's a crazy dynamic going on here. Like much of the established industry, I suspect it's fuelled out of ignorance of self-published books, and how perceived volume and poor quality will dilute what already exists. That's simply not the case.

For a long time I've believed that the industry as a whole feared the impact of self-publishing and the way democratisation would challenge the established industry place for traditional publishing. I don't believe that now. There's simply too much evidence to suggest the industry is happy to stick it's tongue into the Self-Publishing Honeypot when it suits and play the game as long as other players adhere to its outdated rules.

The People's Book Prize has a great deal going for it, but it needs to be more open with sponsorship and just what it wants to celebrate. You simply can't celebrate new and undiscovered authors without acknowledging the empowerment self-publishing has delivered to readers.

What The People's Book Prize needs to understand is that all authors are people and that self-publishing is not some sideline, dysfunctional group."


Farhad Manjoo is a technology writer/talker and author of True Enough. Like Mick up above, he's a kindred spirit of mine, but I can't yet call him a friend. Farhad was a staff writer for Slate starting in 2008 and has been on National Public Radio since 2009. In September, 2013 he left Slate for the Wall Street Journal to be a technology columnist as Walt Mossberg left to go indie. In January, 2014 he moved again, replacing David Pogue at the New York Times as the new "State of the Art" columnist. David moved to Yahoo, and also appears on CBS's Sunday Morning. (This reminds me of the early 70s when I was h-fi columnist for both Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy, and wrote for a bunch of other mags.)

Despite Farhad's departure from Slate,
his earlier columns are still online. Today Slate featured what Farhad offered on 1/12/11, complaining about the strangely surviving system of installing two spaces after a period. I've bitched about this prehistoric practice, too.

Farhad says: "Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste. You'd expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you'd be wrong; every third e-mail I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for "Dear Farhad," my occasional tech-advice column, I've removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within.) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I've received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces. Some of my best friends are irredeemable two spacers, too, and even my wife has been known to use an unnecessary extra space every now and then (though she points out that she does so only when writing to other two-spacers, just to make them happy).

What galls me about two-spacers isn't just their numbers. It's their certainty that they're right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the "correct" number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces. Some people admitted to slipping sometimes and using a single space—but when writing something formal, they were always careful to use two. Others explained they mostly used a single space but felt guilty for violating the two-space "rule." Still others said they used two spaces all the time, and they were thrilled to be so proper. When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. "Who says two spaces is wrong?" they wanted to know.

Typographers, that's who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences. That convention was not arrived at casually."

1 comment: