Friday, November 29, 2013

Ann Abelson's Last Work Is Available

My late mother received an N.E.A. grant for a work-in-progress -- Part One of a projected "family saga" novel.  A Slow Train To Budapest is based on an actual scandal within her mother's family, albeit fictionalized.

Everyone who read Part One was excited about the work, and we looked forward to a fantastic novel.  Unfortunately, my mother's health was failing, and she simply lacked the stamina and intensity to complete the project.  She turned instead to the "young adult" market, publishing two career guidance books and a short novel (the award-winning Blimp).

A Slow Train To Budapest was actually published in hard copy by StoneGarden, a "print-on-demand" (POD) publisher.  However, the company nearly imploded shortly thereafter, and this title was precipitously dropped from the lists literally weeks after it was released.

I am delighted to report that the text has been reissued in digital format, and I was proud to append a brief Foreword to the manuscript.  It is available on Amazon: .  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Interview With Rachel Barton Pine

"An In-Depth Conversation with Rachel Barton Pine" was published by Stay Thirsty Media this past summer.  The link follows, below:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Latest Rowling debacle underscores ugly truths about publishing today!

The Cuckloo’s Calling had garnered fewer than 500 sales until it was revealed that it was not a book by first novelist Robert Galbraith, but instead yet another work by JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame.  Naturally, that news sufficed to propel the same volume from 5,076th place up to the top of the charts.

What does this tell us about the publishing world?  (1) Obviously, no one (or at least very few readers) can tell the difference!  (2) Obviously, people buy the author, not the work – or would anyone dare suggest that the same novel by Galbraith was somehow inferior to that by Rowling?  (3) This episode, sadly, provides even more justification for the “insiders rule” policies of so many publishers.  Had the editor not known this was a JK Rowling book, it might have been rejected outright!

The larger issue:  If we hear a wonderful work of art – e.g., an organ fugue that sounds as though it had been written by Bach, a concerto that sounds just like Mozart’s, or a string quartet that could have been Beethoven’s – and we then learn it was, alas, not attributable to one of those titans, does that make the composition somehow less valuable?  If someone found an Elizabethan play of uncertain authorship, would it be “inferior” until it was subsequently proven to be one of Shakespeare’s lost dramas?  This tedious analogy stumbles on.

Undoubtedly, however, JK Rowling has had her chuckle, and she is probably laughing all the way to the bank!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Four News Items on the Publishing Front

(1) It was recently announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, David Mamet, will self-publish a novella and two short stories.  His previous book, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, was a best-seller, yet Mamet has complained about poor marketing by publishers.  His agent, ICM, recently announced its new self-publishing service, following the lead of Trident Media Group, who initiated a similar program last fall.

According to Bowker, some 235,000 books are self-published each year.  Given the realities of the conventional publishing world (aka, NY Literary Mafia) these days, I suspect the figures will continue to climb.  25% of the top-selling books on Amazon last year were self-published.

Agencies aren’t the only ones encouraging authors to consider this option.  Major houses like Harlequin and Penguin now also have self-publishing divisions. 

(2) Another phenomenon is the “small” book.  Stephen King’s essay, “Guns,” is only around 25 pages or so in length.  This is too short for a printed volume, but the work is doing quite well as a Kindle Singles release.  [It should be appended that Amazon does a far better job marketing than some of the NY firms!]

(3) In a sign of a notable trend, e-books amounted to 22.55% of all sales in 2012 -- $1.54 billion of $7.1 billion. 

(4) Finally, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh is apparently writing a novella – on Twitter! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Pendulum Continues To Swing Toward Digital Books!

In “Barnes & Noble Cuts Back Simon & Schuster Titles,” a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg covered ongoing tensions between the bookstore chain and the publishing giant.  Included within the piece were some interesting statistics:

The disagreement comes as readers increasingly embrace e-books. At Simon & Schuster, for example, digital-book sales grew 24% in the fourth quarter, even as total publishing revenue fell 6%. Digital books represented 24% of total publishing revenue that quarter, up from 18% a year earlier.”

While hard copy editions will not go the way of the dinosaur, it seems increasingly obvious that the market share of digital books will continue to increase!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

HAMLET, REVISITED is now available!

I decided to upload Hamlet, Revisited:  A Familiar Tragedy, But In One Act (and in Two Versions) for Kindle Direct Publishing.  It is billed as a "closet drama," and this designation is probably reasonable.  I am not altogether certain how well it might work on stage, but it definitely "reads" well.  The plot twist and iambic pentameter seem to work well, and thus far the one act drama has been well received.

The work can be accessed through the hyperlink below (or via

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Interview with Joshua Bell

Stay Thirsty Publishing has released my interview with violinist/conductor (leader) Joshua Bell, whom I interviewed on January 31st.  It is yet another beautiful layout, with brief excerpts from the forthcoming CD's of Beethoven's 4th and 7th Symphonies and a number of fine photos.  Here's the url: