The audiobook is available April 30, but you can pre-order your copy today from Macmillan.
Today in Behind the Audio, we take an inside look at a trio of titles from Simon & Schuster Audio.
Up first is narrator Holter Graham talking about Owen King’s Double Feature:
Next, Cassandra Clare and narrator Daniel Sharman discuss Clockwork Princess:
And finally, Andrew Solomon gives us the inside scoop on the audio edition of Far from the Tree:
Every now and then, PWxyz likes to let the staff around here talk about books, because that’s all we secretly want to do. Previously, the PW staff has Fixed the Modern Library 100 Novels List, named some favorite short stories, and picked the best books read in 2011 and 2012. Here, we asked: What’s the first book you read that really made you love books? Let us know yours in the comments!
Andrew Albanese, senior writer: The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald
For me, it was The Great Brain series, by John Dennis Fitzgerald. In the mid-1970s, while I was in elementary school, my family began spending winters at my grandparents home on Oneida Lake, in upstate New York, so we could care for my great grandmother while my grandparents wintered in Florida. The move meant a special, 45-minute bus ride to school every day, with kids I didn’t know and who apparently were predisposed to not liking new kids. Or, maybe they just didn’t like me. So, there I was. 10 years old, in a rural lake house, in winter, no smartphones or Internet, of course, and only three blurry channels on TV, when the signal could penetrate the lake effect snow. But whatever, I never watched TV, I had to go to bed early every night so I could wake up at the crack of dawn to catch that snakepit of a bus to school. And then one day, our school librarian took pity on my brother and me, and sent us home with The Great Brain books. I have to admit, I can’t remember many details of the books today—but I’ll never forget my brother and I staying up late into the night reading the books together with a flashlight. Continue reading
Last week PW covered the news that Night Shade Books contracts with authors were up for sale. Skyhorse and Start Publishing offered to take over print and digital contracts, respectively. Many people were skeptical of the deal as originally offered (see Tobias Buckell’s excellent and thorough roundup of links). Skyhorse and Start revised it, and response to the revision has generally been positive, including from SFWA (which has been criticized heavily for its secrecy around Night Shade–related matters) and critics of the original deal, such as agent Joshua Bilmes. So it looks much more likely that the sale will go through, which at least broadly takes care of Night Shade’s back payments to authors.
However, authors aren’t the only people who would really like to see some of the money that Night Shade owes. In a blog post comment, artist Todd Lockwood wrote:
Not only authors were harmed by their business practices.
I love Jeremy Lassen and really wanted Nightshade to succeed. I have a soft place in my head for underdogs. I cut my rates in order to paint covers for them. It took over a year and a half to be paid for one. Another dribbled in in bits, the last check bounced, and I have never received full payment. I understand that other cover artists were never paid at all. I would be surprised if Skyhorse & al felt any need to make those repairs, but I’d love to know what, if any, plans were made in that regard…?
And editor Marty Halpern emailed me to add:
There has been absolutely no mention, nor commitment made, to all the artists, designers, editors (including myself), and others who are owed tens of thousands of dollars — and seem to have been forgotten in all this “discussion” over the authors’ deal.
…now that NS is essentially closed and in “escrow” for this potential sale, the money that is owed to me (for invoices dating back to October of last year) — and all the other production people — may never get paid.
There would be no books to speak of if there weren’t editors, artists, and designers willing to work continuously for Night Shade for just the promise of pay. We are a dedicated lot and deserve to have our story told — and responded to — as well.
I’ve reached out to Night Shade to ask whether the revised Skyhorse/Start deal going through would make it possible for Night Shade to make payment to freelancers. If they reply, I’ll revise this post to include their comment. EDIT: NSB co-owner Jeremy Lassen wrote back declining to comment on this matter.
I also called up Jarred Weisfeld at Start Publishing to ask whether Start and Skyhorse would be taking on the responsibility of paying Night Shade’s non-author creditors. He told me, “Night Shade is responsible for paying those debts, but all creditors of Night Shade will be taken care of if the sale goes through, and freelancers who are owed money would be considered creditors. Nobody’s going to be left high and dry. The deal is contingent on those individuals getting paid.” So that’s a sign of some hope for Lockwood, Halpern, and everyone else in their shoes. EDIT: Weisfeld called me back to clarify that if the deal goes through, settlements for creditors will likely be in the 30%–50% range. Not ideal, obviously, but better than zero.
Weisfeld sounded like he’s been talking for a week straight, which is probably not far from the truth. Before we got off the phone, I offered him a sincere welcome to the genre publishing community; for better or worse, he’s going to be one of us now, especially if Start and Skyhorse do end up not only taking over Night Shade’s contracts but publishing 90 new titles under the Night Shade name over the next few years. It will be very interesting to see how that changes the local landscape. In the meantime, as a frequent freelancer myself, I really hope that all of Night Shade’s creditors do get paid one way or another.
This month the open access journal PeerJ launched a new preprint server where scholars can post papers prior to submission for formal peer review and publication. Preprints are common in many disciplines, but have been unusual in the biology and biomedical areas that PeerJ focuses on. The culture of biomedicine and the academic overlap with highly competitive and potentially lucrative biotechnology and biopharm firms have retarded pre-publication release of results.
Pre-print servers are part of a growing trend. Over the last few years, the breadth of scholarly communication has begun to dramatically expand to support a life-cycle trajectory extending from the publication of small pieces of the research process in “nanopublications,” to the publication of pre-prints, and subsequently publications of record, often with post-print versions. With the launch of its preprint server, PeerJ hopes to capitalize on the growing comfort with pre-publication review and commentary that is increasingly accepted as a normal part of the publication lifecycle.
I was able to do a Q+A with the founders of PeerJ this last week, Pete Binfield and Jason Hoyt, to ask them more about their motivations.
PW: Why are you launching a pre-print server now?
PeerJ: Three reasons really:
Firstly, “Green Open Access” and the role of repositories are very important issues these days. The demand for Green OA is coming from both the top and bottom, and if you look at it, then the peer-reviewed portion of Green OA is covered by institutional repositories, but the ‘un peer-reviewed’ or draft versions of articles (i.e. the pre-prints) really have no major venues (at least not in the bio/medical sciences). So we view PeerJ PrePrints as one solution to that demand.
Secondly, academic journals themselves started out as non peer-reviewed venues for the rapid communication of results. Peer-review came about later on, evolving over centuries, to create something which has certainly introduced many positives for science. Still, ‘preprints’ also have many benefits that we no longer get to enjoy, because peer-review has come to dominate peoples attitudes towards what deserves to see the light of day. Now that more and more scientists are comfortable with the sharing attitude of the Internet (in part encouraged by the rise of Open Access), and as the costs of ‘preprinting’ are really quite low, it seemed like a good time to return to the roots of scholarly communication. Both peer-review and preprints have important roles to play in the ecosystem.
And thirdly, we believe that we are finally seeing a desire from the Bio and Medical communities for a service like this, but with no viable venue to meet that need. Just in the last year or two, we have seen biologists start to use the arXiv preprint server more (even though it really isn’t set up for their areas); we have seen services like FigShare and F1000 Research launch; and we have heard from many academics that they are eager to submit to something like this.
PW: In biomed, particularly, there has been a marked reluctance to pre-publish findings or early stages of papers because of the highly competitive nature of the domain. Do you think that is changing, or do you think you will attract a certain audience?
PeerJ: We do think that this is changing. It is common, of course, for early adopters to prove the value of a new way of doing things before the rest of a field will follow, and we believe that there is now a sufficient ‘critical mass’ of engaged academics who will use this service, to the extent that the rest of their communities will see what they are doing and give it a try as well. In this respect, we believe that earlier ‘failed experiments’ in the preprint space may have been simply (and unfortunately) too far ahead of their time to gain wide enough adoption.
In addition. although the default state for a PeerJ PrePrint will be to be ‘fully open’, future developments of the site will allow authors to apply ‘access’ and ‘privacy’ controls to create what we call ‘private preprints’. Specifically, in future authors will be able to limit the audience for a specific preprint (e.g. to just collaborators) or only make part of the preprint visible (e.g. just the abstract). In this way, we hope to make people comfortable enough to share to an extent that they might previously have been uncomfortable with.
PW: Researchers are increasingly publishing smaller bits of their research workflow, e.g., as data or even specific queries or lab runs. In some ways, a pre-pub server could be seen as a very conservative component of academic publishing. What do you regard as the “MVP” (Minimum Viable Product) for a pre-print publication?
PeerJ: We’re focusing on what we support best, long-form writing that is still a necessary step (for the time-being) on the road to a formally peer-reviewed publication. It’s a good fit for the lifecycle of a manuscript. Therefore, as a general rule, the MVP could be considered as “something which represents an early draft of a final journal submission”. On the other hand, there are no restrictions to the exact format used for these preprints, so we are actually hoping to see the use cases evolve due to an intentional lack of what is or isn’t allowed.
In terms of content, the only thing we don’t allow as a PrePrint for the moment are clinical trials or submissions which make therapeutic claims (as well as things which don’t fit within our Aims and Scope, or adhere to our Policies).
PW: How does pre-print fit into the economic model that peerj is running?
PeerJ: First it should be noted that authors who ‘preprint’ with PeerJ have no obligation to submit that item for formal peer-review – they can go to any journal that accepts preprints that have not been peer reviewed. Our membership plans allow for one public preprint per year for Free Members, and paying users can have unlimited public preprints. Paid memberships also have different levels of private preprints, but that isn’t available just yet. This is a similar model to several repository type services, such as GitHub, with a mix of public and private options. We expect private preprints to be attractive to those who want to test the waters of preprints, but restrict access to groups that they choose themselves.
PW: Are you requiring a CC-By license on pre-pub contributions? If so, do you think it discourages submissions from researchers who are sensitive to potential commercial gains from their work?
PeerJ: Any ‘public’ preprint will be published under a CC-BY license. The PeerJ Journal is also under the same license, and so if this license dissuades researchers, then they would also have been dissuaded from submitting a Journal article for the same reason.
PW: How do you imagine a work flowing within the PeerJ environment from a prepub status into an official publication?
PeerJ: The submission form that PeerJ PrePrint authors use is basically the same submission form that PeerJ Journal authors use (although there are some missing questions which are relevant to a preprint, and some fields are “Suggested” rather than “Required”). Because of this, it will be quite easy for an author to take their preprint submission and ‘convert’ it into a journal submission (they would simply have to supply a few extra bits of metadata and perhaps a fuller set of original files). Therefore, we expect a PeerJ PrePrint author to publish their preprint, get feedback, perhaps publish revisions etc, before then deciding it is ‘ready’ to be submitted to a Journal. If they choose PeerJ as their journal then it will be a simple matter to submit it to the journal for formal peer reviewed and eventual publication (assuming it passes peer review). If the preprint version had already gathered any informal comments then clearly those could also be used in the formal evaluation by the Journal’s Editors and Reviewers.
PW: How do you imagine a pre-print server generating additional traffic or “buy-in” for PeerJ? Will a pre-print server be able to increase the overall conversation that happens at peerj.com?
PeerJ: Our first focus is to make sure that we’ve built a service that researchers enjoy and engage with. We look at metrics such activity rates and engagement time as a barometer for whether what we are building is actually benefiting anyone. We are not worrying about traffic levels, but rather engagement levels. The traffic and new members will follow if we build something that researchers love.
If you read PWxyz regularly, by now you know how the House Game, Guess the Phantom Book Covers, works. We’ve done this a few times before (here, here, here, and here) but in case you’re playing for the first time, all you need to do is look at the 10 books covers below, which have had their title and author vaporized, and guess what the book is. Answers are below. How many can you get? A perfect score means a golf cart tour of PWxyz’s grounds.
Award-winning librarian, bestselling author, and host of Book Lust Nancy Pearl has recorded her first audiobook, the children’s title Isabella: Star of the Story, by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Fosberry and illustrator Mike Litwin.
“Doing the taping was great fun for me,” Pearl said in a statement. “I adore Isabella not least because she and I share a love of the same books.”
According to publisher Sourcebooks, Isabella’s latest adventure celebrates a love of books and libraries, making Pearl an ideal narrator for the audio edition
For more on Isabella, CLICK HERE — and check out the following book trailer, which features Pearl’s reading of Isabella: Star of the Story.
Happy National Poetry Month!
You may not have been expecting an exclamation like that in a blog post with the “Genreville” tag, but the truth is that there’s a lot of poetry out there that plays with genre tropes, or fits into the category of genre entirely (and I’m using genre here as an umbrella term that includes fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, or science fiction). People often still seem to have the idea that poetry is inaccessible, suited only for those in ivory towers, but poetry that includes elements of the supernatural, mythological, or romantic (just to cite a few possibilities) can give readers points of connection, of entry. I know I can’t be the only person around here who was first drawn into both poetry and horror by the darkly creepy atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”! In that spirit, then, here are a handful of recommendations for poetry that incorporate genre.
Lucille Clifton: The Book of Light
Clifton is perhaps best known for her poems that explore feminist ideas and celebrate her African-American heritage, but her work explores mythological and speculative themes as well. Perhaps most notable, at least for our purposes here, is her series of poems addressed to Superman, published in her 1993 collection The Book of Light: “if I should,” “further note to clark,” “final note to clark,” and “note, passed to superman.” If you could write a note to Superman–or another fictional or mythological character–what might you say? What Clifton chose to say might surprise you, but it makes for compelling reading.
Gary Jackson: Missing You, Metropolis
Jackson takes the idea of including comic book characters in poetry several steps further in his debut collection, Missing You, Metropolis. Poems that describe the realities of growing up African-American in Kansas rub shoulders with monologues from characters as well known as Lois Lane and Magneto, or as obscure as Dazzler. Jackson’s love for the comic genre shines through in this collection, making it a must-read for anyone who appreciates the form. Continue reading
PWxyz’s Great American Novel Poll closed yesterday, and after nearly 5,000 votes, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was the runaway winner, taking almost 20% of the vote. But what did we learn from the poll? Here are a few observations.
1. We included 60 books in the field, and the last four to tally one single vote were: Sister Carrie, The Naked and the Dead, Go Tell It on the Mountain, and The Known World.
2. At least in our prediction, The Catcher in the Rye would’ve ranked quite high, but it was only able to get 2% of the vote.
3. The most popular beat is Kerouac: On the Road outpaced his contemporary Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, and received 77 total votes. Continue reading
For the second consecutive week, Clive Cussler and Justin Scott’s The Striker: An Isaac Bell Adventure (narrated by Scott Brick for Penguin Audio) grabs the top spot on PW’s list of audio bestsellers.
In at #2 is David Baldacci’s The Innocent (Hachette Audio), which is read by long-time narrators Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy, while taking the #3 spot is The Litigators (Random House Audio), written by John Grisham and narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris.
Coming in at #4 is James Patterson’s Alex Cross, Run (narrated by Michael Boatman and Steven Boyer for Hachette Audio), and debuting on our list at #5 is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which is narrated by Elisa Donovan for Random House Audio.
And, for those of you keeping score at home, Bill O’Reilly’s mega-selling Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (Macmillan Audio) drops all the way down to #8.
For the complete list of audio bestsellers from PW, CLICK HERE.