A brief but comprehensive survey both of the crisis-beset book-publishing industry and of strategies for authors and publishers to get books on the market.
A rule, or so we wish, of how-to books on writing should be this: If the author has not written a prior book other than that how-to book, then it’s not to be taken seriously. So it is with publishing. The market is crowded with how-to-get-your-book-published books written by people with no discernible credentials, which is emphatically not the case with marketing guru Kampmann (late of Viking, St Martin’s, Simon & Schuster, etc.) and writer/editor/publishing insider Atwell. Their approach assumes no prior experience, for there is a fine line between professionalism and cluelessness, and it judiciously divides the landscape of publishing into the traditional and the new—and largely unexplored. They counsel that a new author might wish the shelter of a major New York trade house, with the proviso that “the biggest downside of being published by traditional publishers is that a title can easily get lost in the pack, creating the probability of very disappointing results.” True enough, as every midlist author knows. On the self-publishing front, the authors wisely advise that no book should go out the door without having been professionally edited, and they add plenty of other useful bits to the mix. A highlight, for instance, is the marketing timetable, which will be of tremendous help even to authors working with the majors and wanting to be sure things are happening when they should. The “success stories” that close the book are of a lily-gilding variety, however, and one wishes that the space had been given over to more of Kampmann and Atwell themselves.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)