J.M. Reep

Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

Creative Destruction

In Commentary on August 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm

(Note: This is a re-post of an essay that was originally published on another, now-defunct website last March.)

I’ve always been one part anarchist, one part egalitarian, so nothing fills me with greater glee than seeing the manifestations and symbols of corporatism and authoritarianism come crashing down. This is a exciting time for folks like me because the Internet is rewriting all of the rules of all of the games, replacing corporate and governmental control with an unrestrained democracy and freedom. As the music industry and the publishing industry stumble and come crashing down, you might imagine the anarchist in me sitting on the sidelines with a big tub of popcorn, laughing and smiling and enjoying the show, while the egalitarian in me cheers for the new opportunities everyone has to express themselves creatively. Read the rest of this entry »


Are Bookstores Doomed?

In Commentary on August 3, 2009 at 12:39 am

One of the things that people wonder about as sales of e-readers continue to increase, as new e-reader devices enter the market, and as the idea of ebooks catches on with the reading public, is whether we’ll see the same sort of collapse in retail infrastructure in the bookselling marketplace as we saw in the music marketplace earlier this decade. In other words, are bookstores, especially large chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, going to follow in the footsteps of Tower Records and other big chain record stores? Read the rest of this entry »

Judging Publishing Companies By Their Covers

In Commentary on July 25, 2009 at 12:07 am

On Thursday, author Justine Larbalestier, whose new YA novel Liar is about to be released in the United States, posted a blog entry that was critical of the book cover her publisher, Bloomsbury USA, has chosen for the US edition. The book cover features a close-up of the face of a white girl, but the problem is that the main character of Larbalestier’s novel is apparently supposed to be black.

Had it been up to Larbalestier, she writes that she would have preferred that the book did not feature a picture of any girl, white or black: Read the rest of this entry »

Turning “Free” Into Currency

In Reviews on July 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm

First of all, before I discuss the substance of Chris Anderson’s new book, Free, I’m compelled to comment on the scandal that accompanied the release of his book. Simply put, Anderson was caught plagiarizing material — mostly from Wikipedia. He copied and pasted large chunks of text without placing that text in quotation marks or acknowledging his source.

For me, this violates two of the most important rules of research writing. First, and most obviously, Anderson’s plagiarism is inexcusable. Read the rest of this entry »

Literati In Platforms

In Commentary on July 12, 2009 at 11:08 pm

The big buzzword in publishing today is “platform.” If you’re a new writer who wants a deal with a big publishing company, you have to demonstrate that you have a platform.

Platforms have always been around in one form or another, I suppose. Basically, a platform is your base — your network of readers and fans that you have developed, especially the network you’ve developed on your own. Creating a platform used to mean publishing short stories or articles or poems or whatever else you could get into print. It was the list of publication credits that one included in one’s query letters to agents and publishers.

But just because you had amassed a long list of publication credits before you wrote your first novel didn’t necessarily mean you had a fan base. This was especially true if most of one’s credits were from literary journals. Often, the only people who bother to read literary journals are other writers trying to figure out how they, too, can get published in that same journal. Read the rest of this entry »


In Commentary on June 28, 2009 at 1:04 am

Earlier this week, I was alerted to a blog post written by Susan Piver. Originally published back in February, it warns big publishers not to go down the same road, and make the same disastrous mistakes, as the music industry. Sure, blog posts that develop publishing/music analogies are a dime a dozen online (I’ve even written a couple myself), but Piver speaks from a unique perspective: she was employed in the music industry in the 1990s, but now works in publishing. Her prediction for the immediate future of publishing sounds like common sense, and is a prediction that I think most would agree with: Read the rest of this entry »

Newsflash! Fiction Writers Are Liars

In Commentary on June 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm

(This is a post originally intended for, and recently posted to, another blog of mine. I thought it was relevant to Post-Publishing, so I’ve edited it a bit and posted here.)

I read a story recently (here’s a link to it) about a blogger who has stirred up quite a bit of controversy because she lied about the events she was blogging about. Her name is Becca Beushausen and her blog documented her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, April Rose — who then died suddenly a few days after she was born. The only problem: Becca wasn’t pregnant and she didn’t have a baby. She made up the whole series of events. This might not have been a big deal if Becca’s blog had attracted only a handful of followers (like most blogs do), but apparently, Becca’s blog quickly attracted thousands of loyal followers and well-wishers. Read the rest of this entry »

Does Indie Nation Have Talent?

In Commentary on June 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm

(This is an article that I published on another site last month. It received such a surprisingly positive response that I had to repost it in this blog.)

Today, I want to revisit an objection to self-publishing that I hear quite often: that only losers and quitters (I myself have been called both those names) self-publish or start their own publishing companies. If I had any talent at all, the argument goes, I’d be able to find an agent to represent me and a real publisher to publish my work. Oh yes, it may take years to find both an agent and a publisher, but if I really think that my work is worth reading, then I should keep at it and not quit (i.e. don’t self-publish). This is an objection that has been refuted a number of times elsewhere on the web, but there’s an underlying assumption in this objection that is often overlooked, and it’s that assumption that I want to address in this post. Read the rest of this entry »

Self-Publishing and Responsibility

In Commentary on June 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm

If you’re reading this blog post, you probably already bring with you a set of assumptions and opinions regarding self-publishing. Perhaps you have a positive opinion of the practice, but chances are your opinion is a negative one. If your opinion is negative, I won’t try to change your mind in this single post, but I would like to address some of the sources of those negative assumptions, and if you are a self-publisher, I’d like to suggest some practical things you can do to try to avoid encountering those negative assumptions as you promote your writing. Read the rest of this entry »