Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Reading (and Watching)

Scott D. Parker

What is it about the sun and heat that makes us want to read and watch something different? I'll admit that I trend towards seasonal reading. When it's winter, I like British mysteries and thick, dense books that engage the brain. Dickens is among my favorites at that time of year.

But when the weather turns warm--or hot, since it's already hit 100 here in H-Town--something churns and turns in my brain. Gone is Dickens, gone is "intellectual" reading. Hello to entertainment of a different sort. Action. Adventure. Thrills. Chills.

As we are now in the first official weekend of summer, I'm looking across this wide, broad swath of three months of sunny joy and I'm loving what I see. Turner Classic Movies is running "Creature Features" AKA Drive-in Double Features every Thursday. On 9 June, on of my all-time favorites is airing: "Them!" Giant ants! Before we have Cowboys vs. Aliens, I've got the complete series of "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." cued up for the wife and I.

On the music front, I just discovered a new album by saxophonist James Carter. It's a Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra and a separate piece entitled Caribbean Rhapsody. I've heard segments on NPR Music and, boy, I have to tell you, you can feel the summer sun on your face when you hear this music.

Bookwise, I've got a few on the list. The new James Bond novel, Carte Blanche, by Jeffrey Deaver lands this month. Jeff Abbott, a fellow Texan who I discovered last year with Trust Me, is back with Adrenaline. Both Jeffs are visiting Houston's Murder by the Book this summer as is Megan Abbott and Duane Swierczynski for Noir Night 2011.

I know I'll discover more along the way. Last week, I stumbled on to my current history book, Dominic Sandbrook's Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right. And, as soon as my wife finishes it (it is her book after all), I'll read through Jeremy Wade's River Monsters book.

What are some of the books you are looking forward to this summer? Do you change your reading habits when you are more likely to visit a beach rather than the ski slopes?

Friday, June 3, 2011


By Russel D McLean

As we speak, I’m working on a collection of short stories. Yes, if you haven’t been following me on twitter or keeping your eye out for me on Facebook, I’ve been collecting old stories for an e-volume to be titled, THE DEATH OF RONNIE SWEETS (and other stories). The collection will include every Sam Bryson story I wrote for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Thrilling Detective. It won’t include the standalones (they might get an airing sometime) or the two Sam Bryson stories that appeared a long time ago in Crime Scotland Vol 1 (because they present a wildly different character to the one who would eventually appear in the pages of AHMM). But they include a lot of stories that I’m proud of.

And I can say that with conviction because, in order to put the collection together, I had to read each one of them carefully. My plan – and this was something that the editor of Thrilling Detective, Kevin Burton Smith, urged me to do when he heard about the project – was to leave each story warts and all. And for the most part I have.

Why only “for the most part”?

Because sometimes you see things that should never have sneaked through, particularly in early works. A silly typo or a horrific repetition that you can’t get out of your head. And you can’t let it go. Because you have the chance to correct it. In all, I made maybe six changes to all the stories. They were justified, and mostly confined to one story in particular.

It’s strange to look back at old work with new eyes. Particularly the first published works you wrote. These stories are still ones that I am immensely proud of and, while some may say that their early work is “juvenilia” and that they feel they have moved on, you have to think about such things from a reader’s point of view. Clearly these early stories meant enough to readers and editors who wanted to read and publish them. So why are they suddenly not good enough? Are you saying those readers and editors were in some way “juvenile” too? And if your style has changed, that’s fine. But what you have to remember is that you have lived with your work for years, but there are always going to be new readers who will see your through the same eyes that your first readers did. And why would they not have the same reactions?

Reading the stories was fascinating for me. I could track where I was at certain points in my life I could see what I had learned about storytelling. I could trace my obsessions and ideas. I could track an evolution.

But by far one of the most interesting aspects to the collection has been writing a new story about Sam Bryson. The story will be published not only in this collection, but also in a multi-author collection that will be forthcoming soon (I don’t know if I can say anything about it yet). It takes place in 2006, the year where last left Bryson. After all, if we are to believe the opening of THE GOOD SON, in 2008, Bryson has left the PI game and sold his offices on to some bloke called J McNee. Going back to Bryson’s voice after so long – the last Bryson short was written in 2007 – was a strange experience. I worried about the voice changing drastically, about my being unable to write the same character; that perhaps I had changed too much and would no longer know who he was.

But I found myself returning with ease to his fictional world. The old touchstones remained the
same. Perhaps there was something a little easier about his voice; a more confident and mature version of the same character. But it was like seeing an old friend and realising how much you still have in common. My memory hadn’t been lying to me; Sam was still as interesting to me as he had been so many years ago.

Not that I’ve allowed him to stagnate or remain in some state of suspended animation. Every short I wrote was written with the intent to advance Sam in some fashion. And this new one is no different. But if you want to know how… well, I guess you’re just going to have to wait and see.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Art of Simplicity

Eddie Vedder just came out with a new album. It's called Ukulele Songs. It's a very simple album featuring a few new songs, a scathing Pearl Jam "cover," and some older covered songs. It's incredible. At least I find it incredible. It's incredible in it's simplicity.

Just a guy and a uke and a voice.

As most of you know, I'm a big fan of craft beer too. Different kinds of beer, I'll try pretty much everything. A lot of the craft beer stuff is now going extreme: Bourbon barreled stouts, whiskey infused ales, sours. Artisan stuff. And that's all nice and good to try, but when it comes down to it, I just want a nice simple Ale (and no, no Bud Light or Coors Light)... just a well made Pale Ale or IPA (recommended SixPoint Bengali Tiger).

Give me that and I'm happy.

I feel that way about my books too. The story can be complicated. In fact, the more twisty the better... but the writing... the writing needs to be simple. I don't want to be impressed by the writing. I'm not reading a book to break down the language. I'm not reading a book to be blown away by descriptions.

That has it's place and all, it does, but rarely is it for me. (Sometimes I'll break away and usually I'm impressed and enjoy it...)

But I want to be sucked into the story. Give me good characters. Give me brief descriptions. Show me, don't tell me. And give me a story. I don't want to be distracted by all your awkward similes when I can try to figure out what the character is going to do next.

And sometimes I feel being that simple, being that effortless is an art in itself. An author has to work hard to cut out the hoopdedoole (as Elmore Leonard calls it.). If a character makes me laugh, cry, gasp, or just plain turn the page you got me.

There's a simplicity there. There's an art to it. And sometimes it's hard to come across... but when you do... man. It's a thing to see.

What do you look for when you read?

(Speaking of music: "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" just came on my iTunes. Come on, we all know the simple stuff was the Beatles best stuff. Give me that song any day over "I am the Walrus".)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Period Pieces

John McFetridge

A quick post today, just a question: Do you like historical fiction set during your own lifetime?

We were talking on Peter Rozovsky’s blog recently about Elmore Leonard’s novels set in the 30’s and 40’s, The Hot Kid and Up In Honey’s Room which were written recently but take place when the author was a kid and included events he remembered.

And I really like James Ellroy’s American Underworld Trilogy which starts before I was born but continues up into the 70’s and includes events that were in the newspapers I delivered as a kid.

These books have a different attitude than books written at the time (well, duh) beyond just the swearing and sex and a different perspective that I like.

So, if you like historical fiction from your own lifetime, can you recommend some?

I guess that was actually two questions, sorry.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ebooks, Price Points and..Oh...I Just Fell Asleep

By Jay Stringer

There's been a spate of quality posts on DSD of late. My partners in crime have been setting a really high standard in crime fiction blogging. The sponsors have had a word in my shell-like, and I'm here to lower the bar.

You guys all remember Seinfeld, right? That show about nothing? And one of my all time favourite stand-up comedians, Stewart Lee, has made a career out of nothing. And, in that rich vein, today's blog is pretty much about nothing. It's about my lack of an opinion.

It seems not a week can go by without the ebook pricing can of worms being opened. I reckon by now Dave will have added it to his list of blogging cliches (time for an updated list, I think) or for someone to declare print dead, and long live the ebook. Then the next week, the ebooks are just kinda okay and news of prints demise has been greatly exaggerated.

Then we're our own gatekeepers, and the following week we're not. To be honest, the only gatekeeper I'm interested in discussing is the herald of Gozer the Gozerian.

Do we price our books at 0.99? Do we price them at 3.99? Call me soppy, or an idealist, but I don't think we devalue our art by pricing it at 0.99, I think we devalue it by constantly talking price.

I'm not a car dealer, I'm a writer.

Two of the highest grossing films of all time are Avatar and The Dark Knight. But I don't care about money, all I care about is that one of them engaged and entertained me, and the other was poopy.

We're like the local theatres supported by arts grants who, upon threat of the grants being taken away, join the argument on financial grounds. Look at the art and the artists we've developed, they say, and look at where they've gone on to make money and help the local economy. Or, Look at all the playwrights and authors who've been supported, and look how many copies of their work have been sold. Whenever we defend the BBC from government cut backs we invariably trot out, look how much money it generates for the economy. Joining the debate on that level is an instant loss, in my eyes. I want these grant-supported theatres to say, look at that thing we did with the monkey and the balloon, it had no commercial value, but it was art. I want the BBC to say, Who cares what we put back into the economy, we make good shit that people like.

I'm not trying to drop anything on anyone here. I mean, many colleagues in this big crime writing club have given me great arguments on all the different sides of the debates. There are people out there making good livings from their chosen way of doing it, and there are others out there struggling to do so.

But the amount of time all of these issues takes up in my brain is about the same time I spend thinking about the flight velocity of a sparrow, or dwelling on the fact that we can be wiped out at any second by an asteroid.

I've had work published in three ebook anthologies so far -with a fourth on the way- and one in a print anthology. They've each been at different price points. The amount of time I've put into thinking about the prices? None.

What I will say, to touch on the edges of the pricing debate, is that so far I've earned more money -and reached more readers- through a story I initially gave away for free, than I have done from any that have been charged for at point of first publication.

Some people out there write full time for a living, so I can understand them entering the conversation on those terms. But it's not for me. I have a day job that takes up 35-50 hours a week. Aside from the powerful need to eat and have a roof over my head, the other benefit is that I can sit and write what I want to write. I honestly can't see any other point in giving so much time to writing, If i wasn't getting to write what I wanted, there wouldn't be any emotional investment.

I have an agent who can help me work on getting my writing to new readers, and in getting some financial reward that will allow me to spend more time writing. Because that's where it would be for me -not writing to make money, but making money to write.

I sent my agent an email recently on the topic of yet another website discussion about ebooks, gatekeepers and the fate of publishing. I think my exact words in my email were, "stuff will happen, or it won't, I don't know, I want to write."

Ebooks are pretty nifty, I like them, and it seems increasing amounts of people do. Let people charge whatever they want. The market has a way, ultimately, of dictating the prices on anything.

Seems to me that the publishing industry has been making things up on the fly ever since it first began. It's faced more game-changing revolutions than I've had warm dinners (and my belly is an achievement.) The one thing I'm sure of, is that as long as there is money in the world, there will be publishers figuring out how to get some of it. But that's as far as I'm going to go into having any kind of expert opinion on the matter.

You know what does take up brain space? I've had stories go out into the world in the past that I wasn't fully happy with, work that I rushed or never quite got. There has been fiction out there with my name on that was not good enough. That bugs me. That's likely to keep me awake at night, as is the development of my next project, or the fact that I haven't started a new novel in quite a while.

Price point? Not a moments thought.

It's looking like I'll have a collection of my own hitting the digital shelves soon. A collection of the 8 or so short stories that I'm most proud of. At that point I'll give price point a moments thought. The moment that it takes to speak to someone and agree a price. Then I'll be back to writing again.

I'm sure that ebooks and the fate of publishing will sort themselves out regardless of what I think or write on the subject.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Do You See What I See?

I had a dream the other night that Laura Lippman tried to kill me. That's about as noir as it gets, when someone as nice and warm as Laura could be a villain. I mean, if you can't trust Laura, you better live with your back to a wall.

At the time, it just seemed like one of those bizarre things, born out of a combination of odd thoughts that included driving through Federal Hill, talking to someone about The Wire, and the sobering reality we've had to deal with at school, with one of our students recently being shot and killed. Under normal circumstances, I'd prefer not to have my two lives collide on the blog here. But this will be relevant later, and that's why I am including the link.

Now, I wonder if the dream might have been a bit of a premonition, because days later, I find myself writing a blog post on a topic I hadn't even considered a week ago, and referencing a comment Laura made at Bouchercon Baltimore almost three years ago.

This is off of memory, from three years ago, but this is what I remember. Laura was on a panel, and someone in the audience asked why there aren't any black crime fiction authors. Laura was quick to point out that she was surprised the person hadn't seen Gary Phillips that weekend.

In no way do I intend to single Laura out or pick on her for a comment that, in the context it was made, was reasonable. The reality is, her panel wasn't on that subject in particular, nor was there time to dissect the issue in any way that would do credit to it... and unless I'm completely off my rocker, I believe Laura went on to say that. It was just one of those things that came up that someone needed to graciously sidestep, under the circumstances.

So, it is not that the issue wasn't discussed then and there that has me referencing the incident.

It's really, the fact that we never seem to go on to actually have that discussion as a community. In the context of the situation, Laura did what I do so often. She pulled out one random example to disprove an absolute.

But the reality is, attend Bouchercon, attend Harrogate, attend Bloody Words or any other mystery convention, and the overwhelming majority of those attending form a monochromatic crowd.

That being said, like Laura's panel at Bouchercon, the purpose of my post is also not to talk about where our black or Asian crime fiction authors are.

What's really on my mind is the issue of criticism and its validity within any given community, and the question of what responsibility we, as writers, have for the stories we tell.

I love it when Brian tells me he's done something on Spinetingler that's generated a huge controversy, and spawned blog posts and comments by the dozens. Specifically, I love that if there's any fall-out from the controversy, he gets to wear the egg and take the blame, and I can step in as editor-in-chief and appear reasonable and mature while I clean up his mess.

Or not. ;)

The other day when Brian told me that a post on Spinetingler had yielded dozens of comments, with no end in site, I suddenly became aware of the fact that a review of a short story was causing a huge controversy.

The review in question is Benjamin Whitmer's review of a James Reasoner story in DANGEROUS GROUND, a collection of Western Noir stories published by Cemetery Dance.

Whitmer explains, in a lengthy commentary, why he feels the story in question follows the format of an Indian-hater story, and why he takes issue with the story Reasoner wrote.

Now, many of us know James (if not in person, then online and through his writings and our interactions with him, and I'm a huge fan and have great admiration for James). And many of us also know of Ben Whitmer. He knocked my husband's socks off with Pike and won a Spinetingler Award. In fact, I do believe when Brian mentions Ben, there's a touch of reverence in his tone. At least, as much as is possible for a lapsed Catholic evolutionist to muster, but in the same way that I have a dedicated Rankin section in our library, I can imagine a future where Whitmer's works become top shelf works.

We love both authors, and I'm not interested in taking sides. Part of the reason is that I don't believe there are sides to take. Whitmer has acknowledged in the comments what Brian and I already knew - that James and Ben have been in touch. Nobody's asking for the post to be removed. The main people involved here have conducted themselves with class and everyone's fine.

While I have read Whitmer's lengthy analysis, I have not read the short story he's writing about, and that was deliberate. I did not want this blog post to be misconstrued as being about James, or his story. If it's about any part of the controversy, then it's about the comments that have appeared and the way some have reacted to Whitmer's review.

but… what? Something you like to read, or watch or play, is called racist! Or misogynistic! Or homophobic! Or all of the above! This will not do. No. Being associated, even remotely, with racism or sexism is just not on. It’s the worst insult in the world. You can’t cope. Time to get out of this bind. Do you–
a) shrug, accept that it’s possible to enjoy something while acknowledging its problematic aspects, and move on

b) enter berserk asshat mode because you are a fan of this thing and by god you will defend it, and its creator, to the VERY DEATH

c) enter berserk asshat mode because if something you enjoy is called racist/sexist/homophobic/etc then that’s just like you are being called all those nasty, horrible names personally! This must not stand, and by god you will defend yourself, and this thing you like, to the VERY DEATH

If you pick b or c, congratulations! I will hereafter refer to you as sack of shit.

I do believe that we have a responsibility, as writers, to consider what we write. We can't dismiss everything as simply art. If I were to write a story today about an African-American president being caught in some sort of political scandal, it would almost certainly be interpreted as a political commentary on President Obama, even if that wasn't my intention. (I mean, I define courage in the county where I live.)

Whatever we write, however, it can be framed by its time and every single piece of art created is interpreted through pre-existing filters that people bring with them.

I feel fairly confident that people who are gay are more likely to pick up on homophobic slurs than I am. I actually tutor students taking writing diplomas, and one of the assignments in the business writing course involves re-writing various statements, to remove bias. One of these sentences refers to a 'Jewish fire'. I had to look up what that was, and I've had other students admit they had no idea what the term meant.

Jewish students know, though.

We all bring our own filters to what we read, and that affects how we interpret things. Sometimes, it greatly discolors and distorts everything, far beyond reasonable criticism.

Other times, we're dead on the money.

That's why I included the link to the story about the student at my school that was shot and killed. It makes me sick to read the comments people have posted. The blatant racism and discrimination that's reflected by those comments is disgusting.

But this is the world we live in. We afford people anonymity on the web, so they speak without censor or concern for respect, or evidence of their assertions. And it's too easy in a city like Baltimore to dismiss this type of crime because of the reputation the city has.

What kills me is that people don't see the wonderful city that I see. Sure, Baltimore has its faults. Every single place on earth does. But I have spent the majority of the last two years working with students in Cherry Hill. And although I work with special needs students who have unique challenges, the student body at large embraces and accepts them as their own. When I walk into Southside, students hold the door for me, talk to me, and I enter a community. When a boy put his hands on me elsewhere in the city and hurt me, it was the students from Cherry Hill who stepped up to send a message, that nobody was going to hurt me again. Protected. Cared for. One of the community.

A community where I've never been met with racism or discrimination. A community where people reach into their pockets and help others out. A community where people sat silent in the halls, after we learned of the shooting, and young men had tears in their eyes and young women wept.

Marcus always said hi to us when we walked by him in the halls. 'Hi' in Cherry Hill might sound more like, "S'up," but it's a greeting all the same.

There is never any joy to be found in the tragic, violent death of a young person, ever. Unless you're a racist. And I don't even need to qualify my statement with referencing the fact that he was an athlete. Someone who was working on making a better future for himself and his family.

Marcus was a human being. And anyone who thinks a 19-year-old is beyond redemption because of where they live or the color of their skin or who they're related to is a racist, and no better than an Indian-hater.

But I must admit, perhaps today, if I read a story about some young person being killed, with any kind of inference that they deserved it because they were born of a certain ethnicity, in a certain place, and maybe even were related to people who'd made some bad choices… Maybe if I read a story like that today, I'd be pretty offended.

I have a filter. And there are raw emotions at work. And the comments left on a news story about a student prove the existence of racism in our society.

As an author, I have to acknowledge that there should be a separation between myself and the characters that I write, and that the story needs to create that separation. That's part of my job, and that's why I'm not too fond the idea of authors creating protagonists that are thinly disguised incarnations of themselves. If you admit your protagonist is based off of yourself, and then your protagonist makes racist statements, readers have a right to connect those dots.

Authors also have a responsibility to justify the content of the story and make sure it's relevant to the story being told. If offhanded, racial remarks are made throughout and have nothing to do with the story being told whatsoever, then people are going to wonder about the author and the author's views.

Same if the author has women being mutilated for no reason that's even connected to the main story.

Can I write a story about a Native American who spurns acts of kindness and slaughters countless whites in his quest for revenge without being racist, or an Indian-hater? Absolutely. The key is in justifying within the story why it is that the character refused forgiveness and was unable to make a different choice, and it needs to center on the character rather than his ethnicity.

And that's the subtlety of it all. Sometimes, as authors, we intend to convey things that we don't actually put on the page. And sometimes, as authors, we have to own some responsibility for that.

Like I said, I'm not taking sides about who's right in the Whitmer-Reasoner debate. I wanted this post to be about something bigger than that, and that is our fundamental obligation to consider the impact of our story, how it may be interpreted, and whether we've done our job to ensure the story is interpreted in the way we intended it to be.

I want people to realize that racism and bias and sexism… discrimination in all forms... exists. To deny that reality is ridiculous. As writers, if our works are grounded in the "real" world in any respect, we have some degree of responsibility to acknowledge that and be sure our stories don't perpetuate stereotypes or biases we don't intend for them to convey.

As Brian once said on Twitter, "If all the women in your novel are a) hot b) fuckable c) in to the protag d) all or some of the above. Then your book has a woman problem."

And if every male character I write thinks with his dick and spends all his time trying to get into some woman's pants, I have a problem writing men.

You can't write and only ask for people to love you. You have to acknowledge that some may love you, and others may loathe you. If I'm driving in my car and Wintersleep comes on, I have the right to turn it up. And someone else has the right to turn the radio off.

I think racist attitudes are pretty dangerous, but when we circle the wagons defensively and refuse to even have the discussion about discrimination, racism, sexism, the biases of our society and how that may shape our fiction and our community… That's even worse.

At Dachau concentration camp, there's a twisted metal memorial outside. It isn't until you get closer that you realize the metal is in the shape of bones and bodies, piled on top of each other. And in multiple languages read the words, "Never Again."

I watched the Berlin Wall come down, and nobody I knew felt it more than my German friend, Susie, because she had lived with the repercussions of WWII in a way that none of us North Americans had.

As a Canadian, I never fully comprehended the depth of the scars of slavery on the United States and how they still affect generations of people until I married an American and spent time living south of the Mason Dixon line.

It's unfair of me to completely dismiss an intelligently and respectfully offered opinion with no consideration of the potential validity of the perspective offered. I may still come away believing the person wrong, but knee-jerk defensiveness is part of what prevents us as a society from moving past our prejudices.

As writers of crime fiction, I would expect us to be more aware of how the ills of society hurt us all.

Or are those that say people read crime as safe wish-fulfillment/fantasy because we're all just one blow-out away from going postal closer to the truth than I'd like to believe?

And, in other news...

Spinetingler expands in June with the launch of a press. More information to come at

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The America Idol Publishing Effect

by: Joelle Charbonneau

American Idol is now going into its 11th season. While I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually watched an entire episode of the show, I admit that I’ve been paying attention to the impact it has had on the performing community. I’m a performer. I sing. I act. To not admit that American Idol has an impact on the music and theater industry is to bury ones head in the sand.

When American Idol launched the country went wild over the contestants. Every member of the top 10 received offers for recording contracts, Broadway gigs, movies and guest star appearances on popular TV shows. And heck, you didn’t need to be in the top 10 to get noticed. Just having AMERICAN IDOL Top 30 contestant after your name was enough to get high-powered managers and studio heads to pick up the phone. SCORE! That trend continued with season 2 and the American Idol craze kept fans glued to their television screens. More Broadway and touring contracts. More TV sitcom appearances. Season 3 and 4 the trend continued. If you had American Idol contestant after your name, you were guaranteed attention – attention theater performers and musicians that had been struggling for years couldn’t get.

So it isn’t surprising that professional musicians and music theater performers started attending Idol auditions in droves. They weren’t interested in winning the whole shebang – although they wouldn’t have turned down the adulation. They wanted the American Idol Finalist title to help get them noticed. Hell – all sorts of Idol contestants were headlining Broadway shows not because they were the most talented choice, but because they were a name that the public understood. American Idol had become the greatest platform for music and theater of all time.

There were 30 contestants on air that first season. 36 that are listed on the website from season 2. All in all there are now over 300 performers that can claim the tagline of American Idol final contestant. And most of them can no longer get anyone to answer their phone calls.

Why? Because the novelty has worn off. The platform has become commonplace and doesn’t sell tickets at the Broadway box office the way it once did. American Idol still racks in the ratings, but beyond that, the American Idol tag doesn’t open up doors the way it once did.

So why am I talking about this? More than once on this blog we’ve talked about self-publishing. We’ve talked price point, quality, the fact that it is right for some and not for others. Hey – self-publishing and more specific E-self-publishing has become a way of life for a lot of authors. Some authors have made careers in the past couple of years out of telling other authors that traditional publishing is for the weak and the stupid and that the only way to be in charge of your own career is to self-publish. They say it is the only way to really make money. Those E-self-publishing giants are the Season 1-3 American Idol contestants. They are the ones that have garnered huge notice. They are the ones beating the drums. They have blogs and speaking engagements that help other authors follow in their path. They have been yelling about revolution. They are the ones that – (drum roll please) - have in recent weeks and months bailed from self-publishing.

In the last two plus weeks, Amazon has announced they are opening their own TRADITIONAL publishing house complete with acquisition editors. They plan on offering both electronic and print versions of their books. They are paying advances and royalties. And many of the American Idol E-publishing giants of the early seasons are getting on this new ride.

Why? Well, I guess only they can answer that. But I have only to look at American Idol to see that their platform – electronic-E-self-publishing author – is one that they now share with thousands and thousands of other authors. So now they have created a new platform – traditionally published Amazon authors. Yes – self-published and traditionally published alike will still be published by Amazon, but who do you think will get more notice? Which authors do you think Amazon will be touting? Who will have doors opened to them and which authors will be stuck thinking they have broken through the barriers only to find that no one cares?

As far as I can tell – Amazon has just created a new reality show. (Kind of like the new show THE VOICE) While the old show might not lose popularity, the contestants are just a means to an end. They’ll make money off of that horse until it can’t run any more. And why not? They don’t have to lift a finger to make that money. But I’m betting they lift more than a finger for this new adventure and for the stars that made their self-publishing venture the hit of the nation.

What does that mean for publishing as a whole or for those out there who are self-publishing via Amazon now? Hell if I know. But I do know that those who have rode that now very crowded platform to great heights are getting off and climbing onto another ride. It’ll be interesting to see where it takes them.