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December 2, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Tidbits

Some interesting items I've picked up in my travels around the Internet.

It sucks, but we love working here...

In October, Publishing Trends published the results of its First Annual Industry Survey, in which publishing professionals were asked how they feel about the wacky world of publishing. Interesting stuff. Here's a taste:

- What respondents felt were the worst aspects of the industry: compensation (39%) and the instability of the market (38%).

- Over half of all editors responding also identified themselves as writers.

- When asked about the best and worst aspects of the industry, twice as many respondents wrote in with complaints as with praise--yet about 32% say they'd never consider leaving their jobs, and another 18.5% only rarely feel frustrated enough to consider quitting.

Writers, get moving!

Writing is a notoriously sedentary activity. Whether you're "in flow" and have lost all track of time, or are paralyzed in front of your computer screen by the fact that you have absolutely no idea what to write next, it's easy to let hours slip by without getting up from your chair. If you also have a family, a day job, a hobby, or any of the other responsibilities and duties and pleasures known as "life", finding time for exercise can seem impossible.

We all know exercise is good for us. People who exercise regularly weigh less, live longer, and have fewer chronic diseases than people who don't. Regular exercise also helps ease insomnia and depression--a pair of afflictions to which writers seem to be particularly prone.

Now there's news that exercise may actually boost your creativity. According to a recent study by scientists at Rhode Island College, exercise enhances creativity not just immediately following exercise, but for several hours afterward. According to the study abstract:

The results supported the hypotheses that creative potential will be greater on completion of moderate aerobic exercise than when not preceded by exercise (immediate effects), that creative potential will be greater following a 2-hr lag time following exercise than when not preceded by exercise (residual effects), and that creative potential will not be significantly different immediately following exercise than after a 2-hr lag time following exercise (enduring residual effects).

I'm a bit of an exercise nut, and have been for many years. I exercise for an hour a day at least five days a week, dividing it about 50/50 between moderate exercise (brisk walking) and vigorous exercise (running, stairclimbing, elliptical trainer). I've followed this routine for so long that I can't really say whether it enhances my creativity--but I do know that when I'm planning a book, working out the shape of my next chapter, trying to solve some knotty character problem, or just plain stuck, I need to be on my feet. A fast four-mile walk never fails to focus my mind, move me forward in my planning and/or problem solving, and revive my enthusiasm. For me, nothing else works as well.

(Thanks to the Guardian UK's book blog for this reference.)

No, you will not have to pay. Yes, you will have to give us money.

The rationalization of the week award goes to vanity publisher Starving Writers Publishing, for its inspired explanation of why a fee is not a fee. To writers who ask Do I have to pay a fee to get published, Starving Writers responds:

No, you will never have to pay a fee to get your book published. We are a independent traditional or trade publisher. Our service fees are simply that - fees for services such as editing, cover design, and marketing to help make your book better so it will be a book that we select for publishing. We always reserve the right to reject your work if its not something we want to publish even if you are willing to pay the service fees.

So...because you pay before publication, it's not a fee, even though if you don't pay, you won't get published. And because Starving Writers may decide to kick you to the curb even as you're pulling out your credit card, it's also not a fee, even though if they choose you, they'll be glad to take your money.



Mary B said...

So let me get this straight. Payment of all their fees is no guarantee of publication. You could -- in theory -- pay for editing, cover design, et all, and still not have your book published? Gee, that's even better than your garden variety vanity.

What a deal.

Heather Dudley said...

Oh, the Starving Writers saga GETS BETTER.

They're banning their own books.

I found someone posting on the NaNoWriMo forums complaining of having their Starving Writers published book banned by a nefarious website, who called her immoral, satanic, and worse.

She's heartbroken, and can't get them to take down their awful entry.

Seems that all she'll need to do is contact her "publisher" (who also does publishing for publication, not to be confused with traditional (trade) publishing or service publishing).

Deb said...

Now I know why these writers are Starving.

I went to the web site linked in the article. I will be happy to proof, edit and correct their web site copy for a small fee, amounting to no more than 7% of their sales for the upcoming year. Sheesh. They need it. In one line, they spelled "starving" as STAVING, which makes me want to go & hit someone with part of a barrel.

Anonymous said...

I try visiting their bookstore at and what do I see? Lots of famous authors not published by Starving Writers. Isn't a publisher's bookstore supposed to advertise their own books?

Victoria Strauss said...

Deb, I think if you got 7% of their sales for the year, you'd be starving.

Heather, this is TOO funny. Here's the link to Censor The Book. Note the little News item on the opening page: "Protesters in Dallas Texas target Marcus Blake-Author of Sex Game." Now visit Starving Writers, where one of the "newest titles" is...Sex Game, by Marcus Blake.

The whole thing (including YouTube videos) is a promotional stunt. I'll bet the NaNo poster was part of it, since the only noncommercially published book mentioned on the site is Marcus Blake's.

Check out Censor the Book's About Us page. I think Barnes & Noble, the CIA, and Andrea Dworkin might be a bit startled to find themselves listed as sponsors.

So the question is...did Starving Writers come up with this, or was it Mr. Blake?

Heather Dudley said...

Heck, I'll take a third of whatever they paid their "web designer" (who uses the same templates on every site they do) and I'll go through and run a spellcheck, make the design not suck, and have it back to them in 24 hours.

It'll even look professional! And I'll even change the title of the page from New Page 1!

Heather Dudley said...

Victoria: I'd be willing to bet that Mr. Marcus is behind it, simply because so much effort went in to "defaming" his book (I love the pictures of the "protesters" in the news items on censorthebook

Dave Kuzminski said...

I like how they're against godliness. Here's the paragraph from their About Us page: "We are an organization dedicated to the ban or censoring of books that are indecent, immoral, racist, and unfit for society. Sponsored by Christian organizations and concerned groups that promote anti-deformation in literature and entertainment we seek to stop the production of these kind of books in schools, libraries, and retail stores. These kind of books should not be allowed these places especially when they promote godliness, homosexuality, racism, indecency, and immoral behavior. Books that are share these bad qualities should not be under the mask of great works of art. We are not seeking to burn books or rid the world of books, but to censor or the ban the books that are deemed indecent. They should have their place in the world, but in decent society and they kept out of the hands of our children. We seek to let the world know of the books that are immoral and indecent while not letting them be disguised as normal or good reading material especially in our educational institutions where young minds can be morally corrupted by this kind of literature. We are for a better world where literature does not have to be indecent and immoral."

Deb said...

I for one am a Christian and I'm against deformation in all its guises. No--let everything remain the shape it's supposed to be!

The Society for Deformation Denunciation

Samuel Tinianow said...

Dave: Well, I guess it worked. Lo and behold, there is no production of books going on in schools, libraries, or retail stores.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Thank goodness for that, Samuel. Otherwise, I'd be going crazy trying to find their guidelines. You know that every retail store would put the guidelines on a different aisle.

Victoria Strauss said...

More details about the Censor the Book/Starving Writers connection at Heather's blog.

Bernita said...

If show shovelling counts, this is going to be a creative winter.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! (Although sad, too...)

Did anyone else notice that the "list of bad books" page is actually stolen lock, stock and barrel from the lists (A-I, J-Z) at this anti-book-banning site?

Deb said...

So, this outfit differs from the other scam publishers in that they're a mildly selective scam publisher. If your book doesn't meet their feeble standards, I wonder if your rejection letter comes postage-due?


none said...

That's too funny.

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

This whol Staving [sic] Writers thing is hilarious.

On a side note, I will agree that writers need to get up from the computer and exercise. I agree that it's good for stimulating creativity and combatting depression, alongside all the other health benefits. I'm partial to walking, bicycling, swimming, yoga, Pilates, and Tae-Bo myself. In addition to keeping me fit, exercise gives me the energy to write while keeping up with my infant son.

Heather Dudley said...

Looks like they got cold feet... has been taken down. ;)

Jesse Hines said...

"Writing is a notoriously sedentary activity. Whether you're "in flow" and have lost all track of time, or are paralyzed in front of your computer screen by the fact that you have absolutely no idea what to write next, it's easy to let hours slip by without getting up from your chair."

You're right, extremely right. I've been spending a lot of time writing lately, and have even more intense writing sessions just ahead in the next few days. I'll look at the clock and realize I've just spent two or three hours glued to my seat, with my legs begging for movement.

For the last two weeks, in part due to my writing, I've skipped exercising. No more. It's true that you not only improve your health through physical exercise, but also your emotional and pyschological state--exercise improves your mood.

The last thing we writers need to do is day after day just drop into our chairs and stare at the computer screen, ignoring the benefit of exercise. Make some time to do it everyday. I love the writing I've been doing but I'm also irritated that I let it interfere with my workouts. No more.

Here's to good writing and good health.


Anonymous said...

I am a starving writer. I will not use a site that tells you in advance that they will rip you off. I have been pounding away for forty years now and barely survive but love doing what I do. Everyone is after something, I am only after readers and feedback. I am a self published author and will continue to do so if Oprah likes me or not. I wont compromise anything fojust to sell my work. It stands on its own. I do have a growing cult following so my day is coming.
Thanks for this blog.
Bob D Caterino

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