Month: September 2011

A Matter of Infinite Hope

By Shawn Coyne | 11 Comments

There are four words that book agents long to hear. An editor can wax on and on about how much she adores the novel or proposal you’ve sent her and about how well she would publish the book, but until an agent hears “We’re running our numbers,” he doesn’t dare tell his client that the house has moved from “interested” to “on the brink of an offer.” “Running the Numbers” is code for, “I’ve been authorized by the editorial board to submit a request for an acquisition profit and loss report from the house’s business manager.” Because it is pure…

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Shadow Novels

By Steven Pressfield | 33 Comments

Some of the most popular posts in this space have been those in the “Artist and Addict” series. One point those posts made was that there’s not that big a difference between an artist and an addict. Many artists are addicts, and vice versa. Many are artists in one breath and addicts in another. They’re in the studio on Monday and in Betty Ford on Friday. What’s the difference? The addict is the amateur; the artist is the professional. Both addict and artist are dealing with the same material, which is the pain of being human and the struggle against…

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Tabbing, Slotting and Humping Your Bergen

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

In 1991 after Saddam Hussein had invaded and occupied Kuwait, he started raining Scud missiles on his enemies. This was serious business, as the Scuds were being fired from truck-borne launchers that could “shoot and scoot”—hard to find and even harder to knock out. Saddam’s most worrisome target was Israel. The Iraqi dictator was hoping to provoke a military response from the Jewish state, which he could then leverage into a wider war. His aim was to bring in other Arab nations on his side, thus furthering his own ambitions of becoming a second Gamal Abdel Nasser, i.e. the supreme…

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Sales Down, Profits Up

By Shawn Coyne | 2 Comments

If you are a book publishing junkie, you probably already subscribe to Michael Cader’s It’s the equivalent of The Daily Racing Form for publishing. As many in the business before and after him, Michael started his career as an editor and then left the corporate fold to branch out as a book packager. Packagers are like movie producers.  They put together book projects from soup to nuts, often from their own ideas, and deliver final printable files to a publisher for a fee. Sometime around 1996 (not positive on that date but I’m sure it was way before the…

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Jonathan Fields on Uncertainty

By Steven Pressfield | 17 Comments

If you’re an artist or entrepreneur, you should know Jonathan Fields. Next to Seth Godin (sorry, Mr. F., nobody ranks with Seth), Jonathan’s insights–creative and commercial—are in my opinion the most original and far-ranging. He has a new book called Uncertainty, which just came out a couple of days ago. Jonathan was kind enough to sit still for a quick interrogation: SP: The subject of learning to operate effectively, despite finding oneself in a position of uncertainty is a fascinating one. What I’m curious about is why you chose it? It’s actually quite esoteric (which I love) and unexpected (which I…

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The Sillidar System

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

One of the nutty joys of research is that you get to read the most obscure, nerdy books in existence. I’m talking about tomes so arcane that not even the author’s mother could get past Page Six. I love these books. When I find one on (or in the deep stacks of the research library), I whisk it home like an addict packing a gram of the latest black-tar smack. I can never in good conscience recommend these books to friends because who in their right mind, besides me, would be interested in this geeky stuff? And yet the…

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Glove Before Stick

By Shawn Coyne | 16 Comments

Fifteen years ago, I worked at St. Martin’s Press. It was (and still is) one of the big six publishing players. If ever there is a sitcom about book publishing, it should be set in the 1990s at St. Martin’s Press. What a cast of characters… Anyway, the head of the company was a man named Thomas McCormack, a real autocrat with more than a few eccentricities. Every day, Tom would order a tuna fish sandwich and a small cup of Vanilla ice cream from the ancient delicatessen across the street ( He wasn’t a publishing lunch schmoozy kind of…

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Un-Screwing the Writer

By Steven Pressfield | 23 Comments

Thanks to our dear friend Jeff Sexton, who sent in this clip of sci-fi superstar Harlan Ellison cutting loose with one of his tastiest rants. If you haven’t got three-and-a-half minutes, here are a few tidbits from Mr. E’s sulfuric screed: “I don’t take a piss without getting paid for it.” “I’m supposed to give a freebie to Warner Bros.?  What, is Warner Bros. out on the sidewalk with an eyepatch and a tin cup?” “It’s the amateurs who screw things up for the professionals by giving it away for free.” “Pay me! Cross my palm with silver!” “Are they…

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Glaukos and Sarpedon

By Steven Pressfield | 42 Comments

Was there a greater war story, ever, than Homer’s Iliad? It’s almost a crime to call the Iliad a war story, by so many magnitudes does it transcend that and every other genre. What works of literature stand beside it? The Bible. The Bhagavad-Gita. The collected works of Shakespeare. Not much else. I took a full-semester course in the Iliad in college. I got a D. I wish I could take that class over, because, after a few decades in the trenches of the storytelling craft, I’ve acquired a keen appreciation for the challenges that Homer faced in conceiving and…

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Endless Possibilities

By Callie Oettinger | 6 Comments

Whenever I tell someone about Bob Danzig, they’re inspired to learn that someone who lived in five foster homes by the time he was eleven achieved so much—and then they’re shocked to learn that he was with the same company for 40+ years. I met Bob in 1997, just as he was heading into his 1998 retirement from the The Hearst Corporation. Bob started as an office-boy, just out of high school, at the Hearst-owned Albany Times Union. Twenty years later he became the publisher of the paper, and then moved to New York City as CEO of The Hearst…

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