Month: October 2011

Bobbing for Shrapnel

By Callie Oettinger | 2 Comments

“Halloween in Korea: bobbing for shrapnel. —Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H television series There’s a scene in the novel M*A*S*H, when a Congressman’s son is wounded. The father does what it takes to find the best chest-cutter in Korea—enter Dr. John “Trapper John” F.X. McIntyre. The pilot sent to pick up the doc finds him on a makeshift golf course with his partner in crime Hawkeye. A few funny back-and-forth lines fly between the pilot and the two docs, and then the three hop in the chopper, golf clubs in tow.

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Out of the Garage

By Shawn Coyne | 6 Comments

Prior to 1952, writers were at the rock bottom of the book publishing hierarchy. A publisher acquired a book back then like this: An agent and in many cases the author himself (F. Scott Fitzgerald handled his own book deals) would submit a novel and/or proposal for a work of nonfiction to an editor at a publishing house exclusively.  As he did not have to compete with other readers at other houses for the opportunity to publish the property, the anointed editor would not have any pressure—beyond his conscience—to read or even respond to the submission with any great alacrity.

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Resistance and Addiction

By Steven Pressfield | 16 Comments

Earlier this year, the “Writing Wednesdays” name was switched to “Do the Work Wednesdays” for the release of the book Do the Work. This post went up May 11, 2011, soon after the book’s release. The comments that followed inspired other posts about addiction—and this reposting today. Have you ever noticed that addicts are often extremely interesting people? Addiction itself is excruciatingly boring, in that it’s so predictable. The lies, the evasions, the transparent self-justification and self-exoneration. But the addict is himself often a colorful and engrossing person. If he has been a substance abuser for any length of time, his story…

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Love Story of Panthea and Abradatas, Part Three

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

In Parts One and Two we have learned—from Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus, translated by Walter Miller—of Panthea, the most beautiful woman in Asia, who was captured by Cyrus the Great but treated with such exemplary honor that she volunteered to bring her husband, the chariot commander Abradatas, over to Cyrus’s cause. Indeed Abradatus, out of gratitude to Cyrus for the noble restraint he displayed toward Panthea, has joined forces with Cyrus and been granted a post of honor in the great battle with Croesus of Sardis. Fighting in the forefront, Abradatas has been slain. Cyrus, as we pick up the…

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The Fox, the Hawk, and the Keepers of the Chicken Coop

By Shawn Coyne | 13 Comments

On January 27, 2010, Macmillan CEO John Sargent schlepped to the airport and flew across the country to meet with the company responsible for an estimated 15% of Macmillan’s annual sales. He probably drew the short stick in a lottery among the CEOs of Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Penguin to see who would have to make the trip. Sargent is a deeply committed family man and arrives at his office on the 18th Floor of New York’s Flatiron building pre-dawn, so that he can do his work early and make it home at a reasonable hour. It was…

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Love Story of Panthea and Abradatas, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 3 Comments

[In Part One from last week, we learned—from Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, translated by Walter Miller—how Cyrus the Great had captured the beautiful Panthea but refused to violate her honor. Out of gratitude for Cyrus’s nobility, Panthea proposed to bring her husband Abradatas over from the enemy and enlist him and his thousand charioteers in Cyrus’s cause. Abadatas gladly acceded to this and was welcomed warmly by Cyrus. Now the day of the Great Battle has come. Abradatas has been granted a post of honor in the forefront of Cyrus’s army … ] And when Abradatas was armed in his panoply he…

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Leveling the Playing Field

By Shawn Coyne | 4 Comments

Throughout the 1990s, the American Booksellers Association—the trade organization that represents independent bookstores across the country—spent more than $18 million dollars suing publishers and big box book retailers. (read: “Booksellers Settle Lawsuit Against Chains“) The controversy concerned the third line item of my recent samples of book publishing Profit and Loss reports: TERMS OF SALE In 1994, the ABA accused Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Penguin, Houghton Mifflin, and others of giving special rebates and discounts to Borders Group and Barnes & Noble that were not offered to its membership. While publishers were extending independent stores a 40% wholesale discount off…

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My Years in the Wilderness

By Steven Pressfield | 55 Comments

When I was living out of the back of my ’65 Chevy van, there was a kind of dude I used to run into from time to time. A hard-core road character, burnt brown by the sun, unbathed in months, living on dimes a day. I probably met and spent time with a dozen guys like this in places like Texas and Louisiana, northern California, Washington state—giving them rides, working day-labor jobs, staying up all night talking. They carried guitars and no-hope dreams. I used to ask myself, listening to their tunes in a stoned haze some place that I…

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The Love Story of Panthea and Abradatas

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

The following romance (in three parts) comes from one of my all-time favorite books, Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus a.k.a. the Cyropaedia. Xenophon was an extraordinary character—an Athenian aristocrat and devotee of Socrates, who became a great friend to Sparta and died an exile from his native land. The March of the Ten Thousand, also known as The Anabasis, is probably his most famous work (see my earlier post “The Sea, The Sea!”). Xenophon’s Reflections on Socrates, while it pales alongside Plato’s dialogues, is still extremely illuminating, and his wonderful short works, On Hunting (meaning the pursuit of boars and hares, using hounds),…

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The Economics Behind a “Hail Mary,” Part One

By Shawn Coyne | 4 Comments

I’ve racked my brain to figure out how to dive into the murky P/L waters without boring the bejesus out of everyone. I was talking about it yesterday on the phone with Steve and Callie, when I realized that each line item on a P/L [Profit/Loss Statement] actually tells a little story.  So over the next couple of weeks, I’ll tell as many stories as I can while explaining the math… The very first line item on a P/L is: TITLE: The acquisition P/L from last week connoted a very high level of commitment by a publisher for a big…

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