Friday, October 3, 2008

New Rope (No Money Needed)

Here's my proactive suggestion to presses, reviewers, and magazines in response to NetGalley's $400 per title idea.

Let's get Devin Emke to adapt his Submissions Manager for galley submission purposes. Magazines would be able to use it for reviews, just as journals now use it for submissions. This would help everyone out (presses, reviewers, magazines) without ending up adding several thousand dollars to the operating budget of presses - money that, if it exists, could be spent on promotion and/or publishing more works.

We can and need to reduce costs and save trees by having more electronic galleys; we can also make galleys more accessible to reviewers by going to an electronic model which would allow them to access the galley anywhere, any time.

However, and it's a big however, there is simply no need for it to cost $400 a title; Rosetta, who are behind NetGalley, would be making money off presses for doing very little themselves.

It seems crucial to me that we don't as an independent publishing community divert our money into the profit margins of corporations. We can do this in better ways.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Money for Old Rope: NetGalley (ADDED TO)

It's not my fashion to give credence or space to something that I believe is bad for poetry. Why draw attention to such a thing? However, I'm breaking that guideline over NetGalley, an organization which "provides centralized galley and digital press kit services, as well as a place to connect and collaborate with others in the industry." NetGalley has just partnered with Foreword Magazine, which is meant to be in support of the "independently published."

My problem is this: NetGalley charges $400 per title to assist publishers in making their galleys/Advance Reader Copies available online, and to provide electronic notification to publishers on decisions reviewers have taken with their galleys.

As someone who has worked with small presses for several years now to help secure review attention, I have tried to encourage electronic galleys. It costs nothing for a press to prepare an electronic galley. Not $400, nothing.

At a time when review attention and space is decreasing, NetGalley preys on publisher anxiety about review coverage. Net Galley imposes (or, at best, invites) a charge of $400 dollars in order for publishers to do EXACTLY WHAT THEY DO NOW. Under the guise of helping the environment and saving trees, NetGalley takes money from underfunded independent publishers. If the big fiction houses want to do this, great, let them splurge. But when "independent" magazines like ForeWord sign up, poets and poetry presses suffers.

So here's what I propose.

Please join me in this. Please don't acquiesce. Link widely to this post. Write to ForeWord to suggest they rethink, that if they're that keen on electronic submissions, they could facilitate it without NetGalley and without making small presses pay thousands of dollars. We all would love to see less paper galleys in the world, since most of them end up in the recycling bin or, worse, the garbage. NetGalley isn't the way to do it, and encouraging it certainly isn't.

In the interests of discussion, if you're a reviewer, a publisher, a magazine, and you feel I'm missing something about NetGalley, let me know. (EDIT: See Gabe's comment for a less indy press-centric reading of this!) As a publicist, as a writer, as a reader, I feel that this is a corporate entity which doesn't care about or care for words, language, literature. Unlike such wonderful groups as Small Press Distribution, which has really embraced the web, NetGalley is an anonymous organization. I can't find any reason to support them, and I find every reason to propose alternatives that are good for publishing and for writing about books.


I want to make it clear that ForeWord and other magazines are NOT moving to a NetGalley only system. So publishers who are reading this: you won't lose out if you opt not to go with NetGalley.

That said, my aim stands: I'd love to see ForeWord and others adopt another, non-expensive electronic organizational model, as journals have with Submissions Manager. So I'll keep this issue alive in the hopes of achieving that.

ForeWord, by the way, apparently encourages (non NetGalley) electronic submissions and has been doing so for over a year. This is news to me, news I'm happy to hear, and hopeful that they'll make more prominent on their submissions guidelines in the interests of serving independent presses.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Translation, Iceland, the Sugarcubes: In Conversation with Bragi Olafsson

Here's where'll I'll be and what up to next Tuesday: can't wait! It's being organized by Bragi's publishers, Open Letter at University of Rochester. I'll report back next week - but if you're around the area, or totally in love with a) Iceland or b) the Sugarcubes or c) Translation or d) books with protagonists who spend the entire time under a bed, then come travel to it!

Author Bragi Olafsson, former bassist of the popular Icelandic rock band the Sugarcubes, will discuss literature and writing with translator Lytton Smith on Tuesday, October 7, at 6 p.m. in the Hawkins-Carlson Room. His novel, The Pets (Open Letter, 2008), which features a protagonist who hides under his bed for almost the entire book, was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize and is the first of his books to be translated into English.

Open Letter is offering $65 subscriptions for which amount you get 6, count 'em, 6 works in translation by authors from Margeurite Duras to Ruben Fonseca. $120 for 12! And looking at those beautiful, pop-art covers, I think it's worth $65 just for the covers.