Sunday, February 26, 2012

The End of the (Publishing) World As We Know It by Darren Howard

A recent NY Times article, “The Bookstore’s Last Stand," sounded yet another alarm about the death of publishing. Apparently Barnes & Noble is the last hope of bookstores, and therefore of publishers and even of printed books. (January 29, 2012;

This is part of a larger trend I’ve seen that confuses the online
buying of books with the emergence of e-books. The one persuasive part
of the article mentions that publishers don’t need bookstores to sell
books, but rather to attract authors: “Without Barnes & Noble, the
publishers’ marketing proposition crumbles. The idea that publishers
can spot, mold and publicize new talent, then get someone to buy books
at prices that actually makes economic sense, suddenly seems a reach.
Marketing books via Twitter, and relying on reviews, advertising and
perhaps an appearance on the “Today” show doesn’t sound like a winning

But the model of Big Publishing was never really a winning plan. They
ended up primarily looking for just a few big mega-hits to promote,
and as time went on, the only authors they felt they could really rely
on were their existing authors. The only authors who could earn a
living from their work were those who had already written their best
works, regardless of the quality of their future work. Is that good
for anyone?

Clearly it’s not good for readers, and not for new writers, and at
last we are seeing why it was not even good for the publishers. Just
like the music industry, they have brought their destruction onto

The implications of this, however, are not that publishing, or books,
are dead. Only that the farce of big corporations controlling what
people read and write is coming to an end. With the rise of
high-quality, fast, and cheap printing, who needs a
publisher—especially a publisher who will take away the author’s say
in the cover, layout, and price of the book? With the co-ordination of
online-purchasing with print-on-demand distributors, who needs a
publisher—especially a publisher who inflates the price of a book to
pay for their bureacracy? With the increasing pressure on authors to
promote and market their own books, who needs a publisher?

Be your own publisher! That’s what we are doing here at Gold Man.
That’s what all these claims about the end of publishing don’t
understand. The change in publishing is not from print to electronic
media. That’s just a small, irrelevant part of it. The main change is
from corporate publishing to self-publishing.

So what does the future hold? My prediction is that for a while
longer, there will be this sense of chaos, uncertainty, wailing the
loss of the Old Way. But the next step is already beginning: the
emergence of printers, marketers, distributors, and even investors for
authors who are self-publishing. We are already seeing the rise of
printers who cater to authors, rather than corporations, like
Lightning Source. The other fields have yet to develop: Professional
marketers, distributors, and investors who cater specifically to
self-published authors. Just as with literary agents, there will
probably be different tiers available to different folks—those who are
good enough, or just connnected enough, will have access to the best
marketers and distributors.

As for the argument that publishers weeded out the bad books for us,
as a sort of filter of crappy writing, all I have to say is, look at
what the publishers have been publishing over the last ten years. How
much of it has struck you as particularly good? Sometimes
entertaining, yes, but really, deeply good? Personally, I can count
them on my fingers. How many books have you read lately that you can
read again several times, with pleasure each time, and each time
seeing something new? My guess is that most examples you can think of
were published a good long while ago.

So while yes, there are aspects of the old way that are nice
(scrolling through a book is very different from flipping through it),
but think of all the room you will have once you have gotten rid of
all those musty, dusty, heavy books (yes, Shteyngart, I know you have
already mocked this, but I know that you know that I know you were

Darren Howard is an editor for Gold Man Review. To read more about Darren go to

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

River Valley Writers Group

We all know how important a writing community is for the isolated writer and just because you don’t live in the Portland, Salem, and Eugene areas doesn’t mean there’s not a group right around the corner from you.

The River Valley Writers Group in Dayville, Oregon meets the first Friday of the month and provides that needed community of support and education to local writers. If you haven’t gotten involved in a writers group, the Gold Man Review editors can’t stress enough how important this is for the writing process. No matter how much research we do online and in reference books, there’s really nothing that replaces that sense of community, camaraderie, and support that can only be found among your fellow writers.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the River Valley Writers Group, check out their website at

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Need for Critique Groups by Marilyn Ebbs

I was twenty-something and had decided that writing needed to be more important than I was making it. I was taking some courses at Chemeketa, including Creative Writing. After class, one of my fellow classmates caught me and asked me if I would be interested in joining the critique group that she and several other writers were in.

I was honored.

All, but a total stranger tells she likes my writing and invites me to a critique group.

I accepted the offer. I had never let anyone read my writing before. A couple of family members who praised me, maybe, but not really. Not other writers. Not other people who would know whether I was wasting my time. But I was ready to take the first step in taking my own writing seriously. I went to the group. Everyone was older than I was by at least a decade, but they were nice and welcomed me. Then, I read my work, five pages, and waited for the comments.


"Great dialogue."

"I wish I could write dialogue like this."

At that time, it was exactly what I needed. Affirmation that I wasn’t spinning my wheels. I did have some measure of talent. And dialogue takes skill? Not everyone sits down at the writing desk and spews realistic dialogue? That was nice to know.

Of course, there was plenty to pick apart. My weakness? Details. The right details, enough details.

But this group was exactly what I needed to take my writing to the next level. And I needed fellow writers in my life. These women became my mentors, my friends.

Eventually, we drifted apart, went our separate ways. After my writing life had stagnated and I knew I needed something to help me start taking myself seriously again, Heather Cuthbertson and Willamette Writers came into my life. Heather and I started the Salem Chapter and a new critique group.

I took my five pages. Someone read my work. I didn’t get, “Wow.” I didn’t get, “I wish I could write great dialogue.” I got, “A lot of passive sentences.”

"I don't understand what's happening in this scene."

"Why should I care about these characters?"

Exactly what I needed to hear.

Sure, it bit. It hit a nerve. But, at this point, I already understood that I was a good writer. I didn’t need to be puffed up. I needed to know how to be a better writer. I needed to know why I was getting rejections like, “Great writing, but I just don’t have time to give it the attention it needs.”

So those writers, some younger, some older, became my mentors, my friends.

And, like with my first critique group, I became a better writer.

Marilyn Ebbs is the Executive Editor for Gold Man Review. To read more about Marilyn go to http://www.goldmanpublishing. com/nickroetto.html

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Keep It Suspended: Why Authenticity Keeps Readers With You by Heather Cuthbertson

The beauty of readers, among so many great qualities, is their ability to suspend disbelief. It’s automatic and they do it without question: “Okay, we’re in a Zombie Apocalypse, I can go with it.” In the author/reader relationship, the reader brings this to the table every time and if the author appreciates the value of his or her reader, then they will work to suspend the disbelief long after the first few pages. The longer the reader’s belief is suspended, the deeper they get into the story and the author/reader relationship blossoms from an initial courtship to a life-long marriage.

Maintaining that sense of disbelief is done through the use of authenticity, which includes using authentic details, dialogue, and characters. For instance, if you’re writing a piece about the Old West and your character says, “That was totally lame,” then you’ve just broken the spell. Do this in the first few pages and you’ve lost your reader completely. Do this after the first 100 pages and you “might” keep your reader, but you’ve made them skeptical of your authority as an author. On the flip side, if you maintain the authenticity throughout, you’ve got a believer for book after book.

Allow me to demonstrate the power of authenticity:

When I was fourteen or fifteen (not quite sure exactly when), I had this major, major crush on Eddie Furlong. I was obsessed. I would read every article that he was mentioned in, stared at the posters I had of him on my walls, and re-watched Terminator 2 and Pet Cemetery 2 over and over again (even though Pet Cemetery 2 actually was really horrible).

The only person I could fully convey my undying love for Eddie Furlong to was my friend, Sarah, who had to listen to my fanatical ramblings during countless phone calls, lunch breaks, notes passed in class, and sleepovers.

Finally, after much deliberation and consultation with Sarah, I decided to take my crush to the next level and write Eddie a letter. I fully expected a reply. I mean, why not? My letter was witty and articulate, I refrained from saying, “I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU!” and, instead, I commented on his movies, I asked what he did when he wasn’t acting, if he had any hobbies, you know, the usual.

I sent the letter and waited, and then I waited some more, and then waited even longer until life was becoming unbearable. I didn’t understand what was taking so long and I couldn’t vent to Sarah because she was visiting her grandparents in California. I was alone in my panic and doubt.

Then one day, I checked the mailbox and there it was: a letter from Eddie Furlong.

Time slowed. The world stopped spinning. My heart sped up. It was like every cliché imaginable as I stared down at the letter addressed from the love of my life. I couldn’t even read it. I just held it as I walked up my massively long, uphill driveway. I was nervous about what he had to say, but excited to know what he had to say. Would it be bad? Would it be good? Maybe he gave me his phone number? If he did, would I have the guts to call? Would it be too soon to call tonight? All these thoughts sped around my mind like a maelstrom.

About halfway up the hill, I couldn’t take it anymore, and tore into the letter. I think I read the whole first page, past the “Ha, ha, ha’s, I totally got you, I had my grandpa address the letter, and my visit is going good, I went to Sea World,” literally still believing that it was Eddie Furlong writing that. I was confused and checked the envelope. It wasn’t until I reread the letter that the realization dawned on me, slowly and painfully: Sarah had just played me.

Here’s why it worked:
1) She knew I was obsessed with Eddie Furlong,
2) She knew I had been waiting on a letter from Eddie Furlong,
3) She had her grandpa address the letter from Eddie Furlong,
4) She knew that if it looked like guy’s writing, I’d believe it,
5) And I did.

To be honest, if she wanted to take it all the way, she could have had her grandpa write the letter and I would have believed it was Eddie Furlong the whole time. If she had done that letter after letter, I would have been so hooked that even if Sarah tried explaining she was behind the gag, I wouldn’t have believed it. My suspension of disbelief at that point would have been so suspended, it would have probably taken Eddie Furlong himself to say, “Uh, listen, those weren’t my letters, like, seriously …” to finally realize. And even then who knows.

That’s how authenticity leads to the continued suspension of disbelief by the reader, which will ultimately lead to the author/reader relationship going to the next level. When you go back to edit your manuscript, carefully scrutinize those details for their level of authenticity. Would you believe it if you were reading your own work? Does it feel real to you? Luckily, readers will give us that benefit of the doubt from the start, but it is our job to keep them in the story. If we can’t hold up our end of the bargain, then our reader will move on to someone who can, as in the case with my crush on Eddie Furlong. It never was the same after that. He never did write me back and if you’re reading this Eddie Furlong, I’m so over it.

Heather Cuthbertson is the Editor-in-Chief for Gold Man Review. To read more about Heather, go to http://www.goldmanpublishing. com/heatherCuthbertson.html

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Look for me around town!

25th Annual Oregon Book Awards

25th Annual Oregon Book Awards

Monday, April 23rd at 7:30 p.m. at the Gerding Theater at the Armory in Portland (128 NW Eleventh Ave).

Join Literary Arts' annual celebration of the state's most accomplished published writers in the genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, young readers, and graphic literature.

Timothy Egan will host the ceremony. Timothy Egan is the author of several books, including "The Worst Hard Time," a history of the Dust Bowl, for which he won the National Book Award, and most recently, "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America", which details the Great Fire of 1910 that burned about 3 million acres and helped shape the U.S. Forest Service.

Egan is also an online opinion columnist for The New York Times. In 2001, he won the Pulitzer Prize as part of a team of New York Times reporters who wrote the series How Race Is Lived in America. He has done special projects on the West and the decline of rural America, and he has followed the entire length of the Lewis and Clark Trail. He lives in Seattle.

Judge:Matt Madden

Graham Annable of Portland The Book of Grickle (Dark Horse Comics)

Aidan Koch of Portland The Whale (Gaze Books)

Sarah Oleksyk of Portland Ivy (Oni Press)

Greg Rucka of Portland Stumptown (Oni Press)

Joe Sacco
of Portland Footnotes in Gaza (Metropolitan Books)

Judge: Phillip Lopate

Dan DeWeese of Portland You Don’t Love This Man (Harper Perennial)

Patrick DeWitt of Portland The Sisters Brothers (Ecco)

Brian Doyle of Portland Mink River (Oregon State University Press)

Matthew Stadler of Portland Chloe Jarren’s La Cucaracha (Publication Studio)

Vanessa Veselka of Portland Zazen (Red Lemonade)

Judge: Carl Phillips

Carl Adamshick of Portland Curses and Wishes (Louisiana State University Press)

Geri Doran of Eugene Sanderlings (Tupelo Press)

Emily Kendal Frey
of Portland The Grief Performance (Cleveland State University Press)

Daniel Skach-Mills
of Portland The Hut Beneath the Pine (Daniel Skach-Mills)

Ursula K. Le Guin
of Portland and Roger Dorband of Astoria Out Here (Raven Studio)

Judge: Jane Brox

Glenn Anthony May of Eugene Sonny Montes and Mexican American Activism in Oregon (Oregon State University Press)

Kenneth J. Ruoff of Portland Imperial Japan At Its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire’s 2600th Anniversary (Cornell University Press)

Roger J. Porter of Portland Bureau of Missing Persons: Writing the Secret Lives of Fathers (Cornell University Press)

Judge: Madeleine Blais

George Estreich of Corvallis The Shape of the Eye: Down Syndrome, Family, and the Stories We Inherit (Southern Methodist University Press)

Jennifer Lauck of Portland Found (Seal Press)

Sarahlee Lawrence of Portland River House (Tin House Books)

Marjorie Sandor of Corvallis The Late Interiors (Arcade Publishing)

Lidia Yuknavitch of Portland The Chronology of Water (Hawthorne Books)

Judge: Linda Sue Park

Nancy Coffelt of Portland Catch That Baby! (Simon & Schuster)

Judy Cox of Ontario Nora and the Texas Terror (Holiday House)

Eric A. Kimmel of Portland Medio Pollito (Marshall Cavendish)

Cynthia Rylant of Portland Brownie and Pearl Take a Dip (Simon & Schuster)

Graham Salisbury
of Lake Oswego Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii (Wendy Lamb Books)

Judge: Linda Sue Park

Heather Vogel Frederick of Portland Pies and Prejudice (Simon & Schuster)

April Henry
of Portland Girl, Stolen (Henry Holt)

Lisa Schroeder of Beaverton The Day Before(Simon Pulse)

Jen Violi of Portland Putting Makeup on Dead People (Hyperion)

Emily Whitman
of Portland Wildwing (Greenwillow Books)


Literary Arts is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 Oregon Literary Fellowships to writers and to publishers. The judges named eight writers and three publishers to receive grants of $2500.

Rodger Moody of Eugene, The C.Hamilton Bailey Fellowship

Larry Bingham of Portland, The Walt Morey Fellowship
Mark Allen Cunningham of Portland, The Leslie Bradshaw Fellowship
Zondie Zinke of Eugene

Literary Nonfiction
Apricot Irving of Portland, The Friends of the Lake Oswego Library William Stafford Fellowship

Brian Kettlerof Portland
Andrea Stolwitz of Portland, The Women Writers Fellowship

Young Readers Literature
Sabina I. Rascol of Portland, The Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature


Basalt of La Grande
Burnside Review of Portland
Silverfish Review of Eugene

Sunday, February 5, 2012

3 to 1

Those of us, who don’t live under a rock, know that the publishing industry is in a volatile state. With retail stores filing bankruptcy, decreased profits and royalties, and increased costs to consumers, one has to wonder if they will make it in the industry. To find the door, you have to have a great story, but to get in the door, you have to show professionalism and let the publisher know they can market you and your book.

Everything we say or do represents our personal brand. Your personal brand is how you differentiate and stand out from others. The cliché that first impressions are made in the first few seconds holds true, not just in the publishing industry, but everywhere. Your personal brand is synonymous with your reputation and with the explosion of the internet this is ever more important to remember. Since people respond to professionalism, attire, attitude, and facial expressions, then if you want to sale your book then you have to sell yourself.

When I was fourteen, I learned that presentation was the staple to getting treated with some type of legitimacy. Albeit young, I quickly realized that my hair was the most important aspect of my presentation. Even now, with my stained jeans and flannel, a perfectly groomed mane is at the foundation of first impressions. I sported my uncut head of hair, somewhere between Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, long enough to be cool, but short enough not to be mistaken for a female from behind. During the start of my summer break from school, my hair started to become heavy, not with voluminous body, but dense, enough to make my neck ache from the extra stress.

The change felt like it happened overnight. Friends stopped by, but left quickly, saying they had to get somewhere important. My sister made faces when I would walk into a room she was in. Subtle changes in people’s behavior were deafening at that age. I started to wear more deodorant and changed my clothes more often. No matter what I did, the reaction to me remained the same and I suddenly became an outcast. Five days into the transformation my girlfriend stopped calling and sent a letter. It said: “I am moving to Texas.” Our parents were close friends, but this was the first time I had heard of this.

By day seven, it was clear I was in exile, tossed aside like a feral alley cat. My hair felt like it doubled in weight, and had a terrible oily shimmer. My parents began to constantly question if I was taking a shower. I somehow felt close to the oil soaked pelicans in the Prince William Sound.

In two weeks, I transformed from the cool kid, to the dirty kid. The elderly lady behind the counter in my small town squinted at me and acted like I was going to steal something. Even my family abraded me like I wasn’t good enough.

“Nicklas,” my mother yelled, “what is wrong with your hair? Are you showering?”

"Of course I am showering.”

Despite the loss of my friends and first girlfriend, my mother made me point out what shampoo I was using like I was a child.

“There, that yellow one,” I said. “The new one.”

“Nicklas.” My mom snatched the bottle and held it close to my face. “This is baby oil! Your sister uses it to shave her legs.”

It took nearly four days for my hair to return to normal and gradually my friends came back and I got a new girlfriend, but the baby oil had taught me that presentation was crucial to being taken seriously, which brings me back to branding in the publishing world. If you’re trying to break in, the brand you’re selling is yourself; it’s The Professional. Publishers want to know that you take the business of writing just as seriously as they do and the best way you can do that is treat any interaction with a publisher like you’re applying for a job. When you’re writing your cover letter, don’t use informal language like the editor is an old college buddy, but treat the cover letter like it’s accompanying your resume. Also, follow submission guidelines. Not following them is the equivalent of being 20 minutes late to a job interview and expecting to still be interviewed. Speaking of job interviews, if you get the opportunity to pitch a publisher in person, dress like you’re going to one (no faded jeans, no holes in your shirt, no looking like you just rolled out of bed). These things “do” matter.

As I found out first hand, impressions are everything.

Nicklas Roetto is the Production Editor at Gold Man Review. To read more about Nick, go to