Category: On Publishing

Up Close and Personal with the Espresso

By Midge Raymond,

As I reported in this blog a while back, Bellingham, Washington’s Village Books became the first bookstore on the West Coast to acquire an Espresso machine — not the caffeine-producing kind, however: the book-producing kind.

Many of you may already be familiar with the Espresso Book Machine, which allows bookstores to offer customers out-of-print books or self-published books on demand. While I’ve written about it before, last night I got the chance to see the Espresso — and its products — firsthand.


The EBM can print “over two million public domain and in-copyright titles,” as its web site tells us, and its main purpose is to serve “educational institutions and libraries, public libraries, bookstores, self-publishing, multi-lingual environments and in many other global point of sale or point of need locations.” What does this mean for us as writers and readers? For one, if your book is out-of-print, this machine will bring it back. If you want to self-publish, readers have (relatively) instant access to your books, without your having to go into debt and sell copies out of the trunk of your car. And for readers, the EBM means you can walk into Village Books and acquire any out-of-print or copyright-free book in about the time it takes to order and enjoy a regular espresso.

Robert, who introduced me at the reading last night and was ever so kind and patient to indulge my fascination with the book machine, showed me the machine as well as a couple of printed books. They looked and felt as good as any perfect-bound paperback original — and the whole process, he says, takes only about ten minutes.


As Village Books co-owner Chuck Robinson told the Herald back in September, “There are obviously changes rapidly taking place in our industry, and instead of standing on the sidelines and waiting to see what will happen, we’ve decided to jump right in.” The EBM, he hopes, will provide a market for readers looking for out-of-print books by local authors, as well as anyone who plans to self-publish, from novels to compilations of recipes or family histories.

If you’re in the Bellingham area, drop into Village Books to check it out (though that’s not the only reason: the store also has three floors of already-printed books, and two adjoining cafes have regular espresso). You may not find the machine as fascinating as I did (but I’m nerdy that way), but nevertheless it offers a glimpse into book publishing’s high-tech future.

E-books to the rescue?

By Midge Raymond,

Well, despite all the bad news we’re getting about publishing these days, the NY Times reported a bit of better news: Electronic reading devices are attracting more readers.

Of course, this good news comes from the makers (and marketers) of e-reading devices. Publishers are not nearly as optimistic. According to Amazon, “a reader who had previously bought eight books from Amazon would now purchase, on average, 24.8 books” on his or her Kindle. Those who use Sony Readers purchase an average of eight books a month, “far more than the approximately 6.7 books than the average American book buyer purchased for the entire year in 2008.”

And yesterday, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook.

Yet rather than being heartened by this news during a poor sales season, publishers remain wary, the article notes. And of course, there’s the pirating issue — though the pirating story in this article seems no different than what people do with traditional books: passing them around to friends and family. (“Exploiting a loophole in Amazon’s system, [Shayna Englin] has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like “The Lost Symbol” at the same time — while paying for them only once.”)

Still, it’s nice to hear that people who did not previously read much are now reading quite a lot — after all, despite the hurdles ahead, publishing is still, in the end, all about the readers.

When Will There Be Good News?

By Midge Raymond,

As I sifted through the stacks of newspapers that piled up over the week, it all added up to some pretty depressing publishing news (as for what’s going on in the rest of the world, let’s not even go there). First I read this NY Times story about price wars, which notes that Wal-Mart and Amazon will be offering new hardcover releases at $8.99 this holiday season. This is, in so many ways, a new low.

“Publishing as we know it is over,” John Grisham’s literary agent, David Gernert, told the Times, if people start getting used to $10 books. If you can buy a new hardcover from a bestselling author for under $10, Gernert notes: “why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer’s attention away from emerging writers.” Indeed.

And if that isn’t scary enough, check out this article on book piracy, and learn all about how file-sharing sites (such as RapidShare, Megaupload, Hotfile) offer easy access to pirated e-books. Because e-books are inevitable (for better or worse), piracy is becoming a huge concern — and the only good news about this is that it might create jobs in a struggling industry (because file-sharing sites don’t generally screen for content, they’ll only take down pirated material if asked, which apparently means publishers and/or authors will need full-time piracy detectives to protect their work).

The Times discovered through Attributor, a company offering antipiracy services to publishers, that 166 copies of the e-book version of Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” were available on 11 sites (RapidShare accounted for 102). Yikes. I’m all for e-books as part of the evolution of publishing and storytelling, but clearly this is going to be a significant problem, albeit more for hugely bestselling authors like Dan Brown than for the rest of us.

And yet…we can’t ignore the fact that e-books are an inevitable part of the new publishing landscape, particularly with ongoing troubling news about independent bookstores closing across the country. The latest concern is, for me, very local, with the news that Seattle’s beloved Elliott Bay Book Company faces serious financial hurdles. This Newsday article highlights other independent booksellers worried about the price wars.

However, there is — as always — some good news mixed into all of this. The Newsday piece does include booksellers’ optimism that they exist not to sell the hottest new hardcovers but to offer “all kinds of books – classics, specialty books, nonfiction, wholesale bulk sales to schools – as well as events.” And as Terry Lucas of The Open Book says: “We sell customer service, knowledge – and you can’t do that for $10.”

And don’t forget that Powell’s (Portland, Oregon’s awesome bookstore) sold books online even before Amazon did — and now carries more than 200,000 titles in four digital formats. So bookstores that change with the times will likely be here to stay.

Finally, we all have to remember that stories were being told long before books existed — before written language existed, in fact. And even when tales went to print, the idea of copyright didn’t come until later; everything was — for a while, at least — in the public domain.

And so we’ll continue to tell stories, and people will continue to want them — the big question of the future being how we tell them, and how audiences receive them.

“The Center of the Universe”

By Midge Raymond,

Whatever your view of e-books, they seem to be gaining more traction with each passing day. Among the latest: according to former HarperCollins president and chief executive Jane Friedman, electronic books are “going to be the center of the universe,” as she told the NY Times. She has recently formed a new company, with Jeffrey Sharp, that will “republish old titles by big-name authors including William Styron, Iris Murdoch and Pat Conroy in electronic form.”

The Times notes that the company, Open Road Integrated Media, “plans to push a torrent of online marketing on new readers in the hopes of reigniting the backlists of well-known authors in the digital world.” In addition to the authors above, Friedman also has the rights to publish Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and is working on obtaining rights to several of the late Michael Crichton’s books.

Despite much of the outcry against e-publishing, at least one literary agent (Pat Conroy’s agent, Marly Rusoff) pointed out that “Republishing is an art and takes a lot of energy,” and is glad to see this energy devoted to an author’s backlist, which generally doesn’t get as much attention from traditional publishers that are more focused on an author’s current book. In addition, while a simple reissue of an older book doesn’t usually get much attention,  Friedman is planning a “torrent of online marketing” as she reissues old titles in e-formats.

It’s great to see some new thinking that will keep people interested in and buying books — especially after learning that book sales are down this fall, despite the season’s big-name titles and the massive marketing campaigns. Publishers are finally noticing that it’s not such a bad thing to offer more options (particularly more cost-effective ones) in today’s economy. Hyperion publisher Ellen Archer told the Times that the season’s releases “are all great books, but they are all hardcover books…How many hardcover purchases can one person make given these difficult times?”

This article in the Pacific Northwest Inlander — which, on a sadder note, is about the closing of EWU Press — mentions a study showing that while 80 percent of Americans after high school never read a book to completion, more than 40 percent of people with college degrees never pick up another book after graduating. Will this change if the books are in more portable or interactive formats? I look forward to finding out…

Keeping the Day Jobs

By Midge Raymond,

I recently read this interesting essay (by way of Erika Dreifus’s awesome blog, Practicing Writing) about writing as a second career, by necessity. As a writer who, until recently, has always had a day job, I loved reading this — and even got a little nostalgic for my former day jobs.

The essay, by Emily St. John Mandel (a writer who’s held myriad day jobs herself) features two novelists who balance work with writing: “I wanted to know if they experienced their day jobs as an impediment, as I generally have, or if they’ve managed to find jobs that have fueled their writing.” And it’s interesting to see these writers’ preferences — either for work that, because it has nothing to do with writing (bartending, for example), provides fuel for story and character; or for work that is writing-related and therefore enhances skills that relate directly to craft. It’s also nice to see that writers appreciate their day jobs, and not only for the paycheck. As Jason Quinn Malott notes, “If you talk to full-time, un-famous writers, they’ll confirm just how unromantic writing full-time is.”

So why are we so eager to quit our day jobs?

I’ve known several writers who have quit their jobs to write, only to watch the year (or years) go by without writing much. Jason Quinn Malott is right: It’s not nearly as romantic as it sounds. My situation was a little different than simply giving up the day job: Having relocated to a new city for my partner’s new job, I had a handy excuse to take the next year to try out writing full-time. And because I’d just published my first book, I’d have more time to promote it as well as plenty of time to work on current projects. Every writer’s dream…right?

Well, sort of.

It’s fantastic to have time to do readings and other events, which would have been difficult with a day job, and to have time to devote to new work. But as many writers suddenly faced with plenty of “free” time know, given a freer schedule or none at all, time slips away far more quickly than when you have to carefully budget your writing time. And it happens to us all: As this essay notes, Franz Kafka, after switching from twelve-hour shifts at his day job to a six-hour daily schedule, “somehow managed to avoid writing till 11 p.m. — he frittered away the late afternoon and early evening hours with exercises, lunch, a nap, dinner with his parents, an hour or two or more of writing letters or writing in his diary.”

And of course there’s the money issue: like many full-time writers, I still need to earn a few bucks, which means teaching, editing, freelancing — and juggling all these different things can be far more exhausting than simply showing up at one place every day, getting one’s work done, and going home to write. Instead, I’m a slave to email, and there are no such things as weekends. But this is okay; anyone who writes around a day job knows that weekends are for writing anyway.

And of course, day jobs do take us out into the world about which we write — which, if you’re writing full-time, is something you have to consciously go after. So I volunteer in the community, which is unpaid work but is among the best things I do every week: I’m out in the world — a different world than any day job has ever given me, in fact — and it keeps me focused and grounded and forces me to be a good manager of my own time.

Emily St. John Mandel writes that “every book we write is a lottery ticket” — that is, we most likely won’t hit the right numbers, but life is capricious enough that we just never know.

Meanwhile, we can keep in mind that even the most famous and successful writers started out with day jobs, squeezing in their writing whenever and wherever they could. Stephen King taught high school and wrote in the closet of his trailer. Raymond Carver wrote stories in the back seat of his car. Anthony Trollope worked for the postal service. Toni Morrison worked nine-to-five in publishing. William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician. Scott Turow was (and still is) a lawyer.

I may eventually be back in the market for a new day job, and this helps me grasp any moments of time that may want to slip between my fingers. And, though I’m enjoying my Year of Writing immensely, I’d welcome the new adventure of another interesting day job. Unless, of course, I win the lottery.

Enter the “Vook”

By Midge Raymond,

There’s always something new in e-publishing these days … and now it’s the “vook.” As the NY Times reports, Simon & Schuster is working “with a multimedia partner to release four ‘vooks,’ which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read — and viewed — online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.” And the article poses the Big Question of whether the attraction of vooks to “modern readers” will lead to material that “ultimately degrades the act of reading.”

What a great question. E-books are simple enough — they’re still books; you just turn them on instead of opening them up. But when it comes to multimedia books, it does seem to be more about the video than the text. But the question is: are these drawing readers away from reading, or attracting video people to reading? And some of them are simply more instructional than anything: one of the Simon & Schuster vooks, for example, is a fitness title that demonstrates the exercises.

Personally, I like my reading straight (I don’t even like to watch movie versions of books, most of the time). But then, that’s pretty old-fashioned these days. And electronic devices are not only not going anywhere but are only going to become more interactive and innovative. This post on Booksquare looks at e-books in the marketplace and makes a good point about publishers not releasing e-versions of books until after the hardcover: “People, please. Get over yourselves. Yes, the ebook will drain away some hardcover sales — many of those customers are already lost to you. They choose ebooks for their own convenience, not yours. There is absolutely no evidence that withholding the ebook will encourage ebook readers to purchase the hardcover instead. None. Zilch. Nada. Not one iota. Zippo. It’s more likely that withholding the ebook version will result in a lost sale.”

And e-books might get even hotter with the upcoming holiday season … as the LA Times reports, an online survey shows that one in five shoppers plan to buy an electronic book reader this year.

I’m all for e-books and what they can offer, but it’s still a tough call for me personally, even as co-owner of a Kindle. For example, after seeing an awesome poetry lecture last weekend, I got in the mood to read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which, to my horror, I don’t own (or at least can’t find anywhere amid the ridiculous number of books around here). I can download it free on my Kindle, or buy a copy in my local bookstore. Still haven’t decided.

Today, it’s all about publishing

By Midge Raymond,

I very much enjoyed seeing in today’s NY Times that the Daily Beast is forming a new imprint (in a joint venture with Perseus Books Group), Beast Books, that will publish books (first in e form, then in paperback) by Daily Beast writers (who are mostly freelancers). The idea is to condense the period of time it takes to get a book from the author into the world (with traditional publisher, the process can be up to two years; Beast Books is going for a few months). Best of all is that “writers will receive low five-figure advances from Perseus, then split profits from the sale of both the e-books and paperbacks with Perseus and The Daily Beast.” While neither group would specify what the amount would be, it will be more than the typical 15 percent an author usually receives in royalties — and to me, lower royalties and a bigger share of the profits is a step in the right direction.

Speaking of changes in publishing, I really liked this blog post from literary agent Nathan Bransford about whether authors of the future will even need publishers — an insightful look at the challenges in the industry as we e-books become more and more popular. And speaking of, check out this story about the two latest devices.  Booksquare also posted a blog that takes a good look at digital publishing.

Yay for Short Stories!

By Midge Raymond,

As you have probably heard by now, Oprah’s newest pick is a collection of short stories — her first. As the Washington Post reports, Oprah pick number 63 is Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them, first published in 2008 and recently released in paperback. The collection has already received high praise from the Guardian and the New York Times, among others, and received the 2009 PEN/Beyond Margins Award.

It’s been a great year for short stories, with Olive Kitteridge receiving the 2009 Pulitzer in fiction, and wonderful to see stories becoming more mainstream.

But of course, don’t forget that before Oprah, there was Andrew’s Book Club, highlighting new collections each month. Pay ABC a visit if you haven’t already…and keep reading and talking up short stories.

© 2009 Remembering English

By Midge Raymond,

I recently received a reader question that was so good I had to look it up. (I used to pride myself on being able to answer esoteric editorial questions on the spot, but it’s been a while since I’ve worked full time as an editor).

The Q: I would like to know why the copyright symbol is used with the word copyright (for example: “copyright © 2009” ). Doesn’t the “©” symbol mean copyright anyway?  Why add the word “copyright” as well? To me it’s like saying “copyright copyright.”

The A: You are absolutely right. The word “copyright” is not necessary when using the © symbol. (This was actually news to me, as anyone who’s been on my web site will notice: It reads “Copyright © 2008 Midge Raymond.” Oops.)

The Chicago Manual of Style explains that copyright notice comprises three parts: the symbol, the year of publication, and the name of the copyright owner. Copyright law permits the use of the word Copyright or Copr. in lieu of the symbol, but the symbol is preferred because it “suits requirements of the Universal Copyright Convention, to which the United States, most European countries, and many Asian nations belong.” Chicago also points out: “There is no point in using both the symbol and the word, as some publishers do.”

And please also note that because your work is protected the moment you create it, technically the symbol isn’t required at all for unpublished work (see my previous post on this) – and in many cases (such as submissions to agents and editors) you won’t want to use it.

So, yes, to use both the word and symbol for a published product is redundant and unnecessary (and I’m not only emailing my web designer right now, but I will clearly need to get reacquainted with my Chicago Manual). However, it’s also not at all uncommon for both to be used, so there’s probably no need to fret about it.

And thanks to Harry for the question! Hope to hear from more inquiring minds out there.

Publishing, then and now

By Midge Raymond,

I loved seeing this piece in the NY Times, especially the photo: It reminded me of my days in publishing (albeit in the mid-nineties rather than the mid-eighties). We had computers instead of typewriters, of course, and we didn’t have those gigantic phones — but we did have cigarettes in hand and manuscripts all over the place. (It’s amazing that we all didn’t go up in flames, now that I think about it.)

And I’m sure anyone who’s worked in publishing, especially in the past decade, is amazed by how things are changing, and how quickly. As Joni Evans writes at the end of this short article, “Is the screen the new paper? Will publishing houses go the way of the old-fashioned record store? Is digital delivery the new bookstore? Is Google the new library? Is the author the new musician, playing directly to the audience? Is the audience the new author?”

Lots of good questions (none of which she chose to answer, and I can’t blame her). However, there’s evidence that people are paying attention to the change and preparing for it: as the Bellingham Herald reports, Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, has adopted the Espresso book-printing machine, as well as other e-book tools — and covers a New England prep school that is doing away with its traditional library in favor of digital information, complete with flat-screen TVs and e-readers (the headmaster says, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls”).

For someone who grew up reading traditional books (and still prefers them), the notion of a completely digital library is a bit bizarre to me (I like Village Books’ solution — offering consumers both). Yet the trend toward digital is gaining momentum, and, environmentally speaking, we do have a verdict: E-books are greener than traditional books, according to this Fast Company article.

And while there are some things electronics still can’t do (as authors we’re still figuring out how to sign a Kindle), this LA Times blog about bookish apps for the iPhone shows that digital is only getting stronger (even I have given up my 20-lb dictionary for a digital one).

These interesting times have caused angst for many writers — but to me, this is what’s changed the least in publishing: What people love is a good story, no matter how or where or why they choose to read it. (As we all know by now, ridiculously bestselling author Dan Brown’s new book will be simultaneously released in traditional and e form). So while we writers may worry about whether our books will be paper or digital or both, we might be better off staying focused on what we’re trying to say — and to realize that how people read is secondary to the stories themselves.

Writers and Social Media

By Midge Raymond,

One of my Facebook friends just posted this piece from the New York Times magazine, my paper version of which is still buried somewhere in my house under the rest of the Sunday Times. (How can there be a “Facebook exodus” if this is where I’m getting my news?)

Seriously, though, I’m not alone in logging onto Facebook a lot less frequently now that the novelty has worn off. And I’m sure we all have friends who (gasp) never even joined Facebook, and still others who got fed up and logged out for good.

But for writers, Facebook can be an excellent tool (as long as you don’t become The Self-Promoter, as defined by this list of annoying Facebookers). Doing that’s not going to sell you a lot of books; as one Facebook user told the Times, the site is “crawling with mercenaries trying to sell books and movies.”

That would be us, the writers.

But there’s a difference between relentlessly hawking your book and getting the word out about a new edition or an upcoming event. There’s even a blog, Social Media for Writers, that offers advice and updates.

A couple things to keep in mind when you use social media for plugging your book (and we prefer to call it “marketing,” thanks):

– No one wants to be inundated with updates and tweets — and if you do this and end up being de-friended or unfollowed, this isn’t going to help your book. So be discreet; choose what you really need to put out there, and update and tweet sparingly.

– Writers sell books when they connect with their audiences — and your Facebook friends and Twitter followers are a part of your audience. Rather than constantly going for the hard sell, offer some personal tidbits, an insider’s view of your writing process, a hint of your non-author personality.

– Less is more. Again, choose what you want to promote and post these events and updates when they matter. If you post so many that people start hiding your status updates or they unfollow you, you haven’t gained any readers and could even lose the opportunity to have your news passed along to others.

– Create a separate Facebook page or Twitter account for your book or your writing life. This will allow you to do book-related marketing without worrying about boring your friends half to death.

– Check out this post on social networking with agents, as well as this Publishers Weekly article on book promotion using Twitter. And keep looking out for other tips, as well as gauging the process yourself.

– Finally, and most of all, keep a sense of balance. Writers sold books before Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and all the rest — and we’ll continue to sell books even if and when these disappear, or if and when something comes along to replace them.

Writing without Regrets

By Midge Raymond,

This NY Times article about Julie Myerson’s memoir highlights the issues all memoir writers face: how to tell one’s own story without losing one’s friends and family.

The Times also takes a look at Kaylie Jones’s memoir, noting that for Jones, “it’s payback time.” The memoir “exposes her mother’s cruelty, narcissism and heavy drinking, reeling off story after story about her mother’s scorching wisecracks and bravura displays of malice.” Yet, as the article points out, both Jones’s parents are dead.

Myerson, writing about her son’s drug addiction, has to face her subject, who denounced the book when it was first published in Britain. Myerson told the times “had she known what a firestorm would break, ‘I wouldn’t have done it.'”

Interestingly, the author is less worried about the American reading public than the British one; American writers have “revealed addictions, incest, betrayal, madness, pedophilia, abuse, criminality, violence and more in the name of truth, catharsis, social responsibility and art.” Yet even when they don’t have to worry about the general audience, authors of memoir do have to worry about the lives they touch when writing their stories.

The article quotes several authors — including David Sheff (author of the memoir “Beautiful Boy”) and Susan Cheever — on writing about themselves and their families, and it’s clear that this is difficult territory. Even more challenging is that a family member can give his or her blessing to a project only to regret it later on.

Sheff says, “I don’t think we have carte blanche to tell even our own stories,” while Cheever believes “everybody has the right to their own story.” Both are right, of course. We do have the right to our own stories. It’s when the choice or opportunity to publish comes along that we need to consider whether we should exercise that right or not.

How Writers Protect Their Work

By Midge Raymond,

In nearly every class or seminar I’ve ever taught, and with many of my clients as well, the question of copyright comes up, mostly in the context of How can I be sure no one steals my work? Despite one obscure author’s recent claims that Stephenie Meyer plagiarized her novel, this does not happen very often — and when plagiarism does happen, it usually involves the lifting of entire passages. Mere ideas are generally not copyrightable — nor are titles, by the way — and, in this case, claiming that a wedding and a sex-on-the-beach scene are off limits to all other writers seems a little bit of a stretch.

But, naturally, all writers feel protective of their work. I had one client, in fact, who was so protective of his idea that he wanted to self-publish his book and distribute it discreetly in order to prevent anyone from ripping it off. This was not a great idea. Among the reasons why: first, if you want to publish a book, it’s usually because you want people to read it — hence, you want to sell it to more than a few readers you deem trustworthy. But more important than that, your best defense against plagiarism is actually wide distribution. Get it out there with your name on it, and it’s that much harder for anyone else to claim it as theirs.

When students ask if they need to register their work with U.S. Copyright Office, I assure them it’s not necessary. As the copyright office itself makes clear, “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” So while it can’t hurt to register it, that’s a lot of time and energy you might want to spend revising or submitting instead.

Another issue of concern to many writers is that their ideas will be poached by someone in their workshop or writers’ group. The writer Gina Barreca addressed this in a recent blog post, Should You Discuss Your Work in Progress?, about discovering that someone else was apparently putting together a book very much like the one she was working on.

I remember having a similar experience years ago, while leading a fiction workshop. I’d read a student short story that had a description in it that was almost exactly like one I’d recently (and independently) created in a piece of my own. My work was unpublished and hadn’t been seen by more than a couple of readers, but still, I worried that if and when it ever did make its way out into the world, there would be ten writers who’d seen this other story before mine and would think I was a plagiarist.

Then I realized that if two writers could come up with a description that was so similar, no matter how lovely the image may have been, I would need to do better. And so my solution was to rewrite the passage entirely, which did the trick. The lazy part of me hadn’t wanted to change it, but in the end it made for better writing…and avoided any possible perception of similarity.

On the same subject, I’m often asked whether magazine editors might try to steal submitters’ work; quite a few writers are worried about submitting their stories, essays, and poems because of this. As an editor myself, I tell them I couldn’t even conceive of stealing another writer’s work — not only is it morally wrong, it’s simply unimaginative. And I believe that most editors feel the same way; while I’ve seen this happen in other creative fields (such as advertising) I’ve never known this to happen at a literary magazine. And again, your best protection is to get your work out there — so submit to several publications at once, if the guidelines allow it. Knowing that yours is a simultaneous submission will likely prevent even a sneaky editor from adopting your work.

And finally: Should you include your name and copyright symbol (©) on submitted work? For an overwhelming majority of editors and agents, this is a big pet peeve (it’s considered amateurish) — so I advise writers not to do it. Remember, your work is automatically copyrighted, so to use the symbol is a bit of overkill.

I think I’ve covered most of the Big Questions I get about this sort of thing — but if you have any questions or comments, let me know. I love mail.

© 2009 Midge Raymond

(Just kidding.)

Proofreader Humor

By Midge Raymond,

This awesome cartoon by Eve Corbel brought back memories of the days when I worked in publishing and probably edited and/or proofread a thousand pages a week. I had these thoughts quite often; if only I’d known that there were official proofreaders’ marks for them…


An interesting twist on Writer-in-Residence

By Midge Raymond,

This New York Times article made me wish I were heading through Heathrow this week, not just to visit London but to check out the airport’s writer-in-residence: author Alain de Botton, (How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Art of Travel).

As the Times reports, the gig was orchestrated by Heathrow’s public relations firm (which includes the author’s expenses as well as an advance — he’s writing a book about the experience to be published this fall), but de Botton was given free rein to write about anything and everything he sees during the week: “If I find a cockroach in the restaurant, if someone drops dead at the airport, I’m going to write about it and send it to the publisher.”

Nonwriters might imagine holding out for an assignment for which an airport was a means to an end, but a Heathrow spokeswoman told the times that de Botton “bit our arms off to be involved in the project,” and I can see why. Part of the fun of traveling for a lot of us is the people-watching in airports: the leave-taking and reuniting, the restlessness and anxiety, the myriad ways people act and react to anything from delays to security lines.

But it’s nice to see a PR campaign that’s more literary than celebrity oriented. Maybe this will be the start of a new trend —  de Botton, for one, seems to be hoping so: he “is already fantasizing about more posts. “I’d like to be a writer in residence at a nuclear power station,” he said.”