So we used to have this giant page of all the books we sell. It had pretty pictures and descriptions and reviews and links to amazon.
The thing is, this was driven by a WordPress plug-in. Their business model was that all the links to Amazon to buy the books were affiliate links, and they got a cut of each book sale. That’s fine I guess, because they wrote the plug-in, but of course it would be nice if we got a cut of that, or if we could just price the books cheaper. But that’s another story.
The problem with this plug-in is that, like many other WordPress plug-ins, it was a piece of garbage. And it was basically a vector for virus writers to hack sites, which happened multiple times. I finally had to give up and remove this plug-in, delete the list, and put at the bottom my to-do list of 768 items a note that I should someday fix this.
I have not come up with a good replacement yet. But I did just put up a list of all of our releases. It has links to the Amazon entries for each book. It doesn’t have pictures or descriptions or anything. Maybe I’ll get to that soon, but I’ve got a lot of other things brewing right now.
Here’s the list: Our Books
When I made this list the other day, what amazed me is that it’s been ten years since we officially started doing books for Paragraph Line. And if you include our next release, in that ten years, we’ve put out 23 books, which isn’t too shabby for two guys with full-time jobs.
About that 23rd release – more news soon. I’m up to my eyeballs in production work, so I should get back to it.
Sometimes, when we aren’t writing or betting on demolition derbies while eating excessive amounts of cheese, we talk to other human beings. It’s rare, but it happens.
Recently, Jon Konrath was on a podcast done with Joshua Citrak. It’s called Do Better, and he is on episode 14, which is here:
They talk for about 90 minutes about censorship, word police, getting doxxed, the stasi, the futility of publishing, AI taking over the world, living in a surveillance state, suicide, mental health, and drugs. Cheery stuff. They also talk about Konrath’s newest book.
Check it out, and check out the rest of the episodes, because there’s some great conversations with other writers and artists.
Also, it’s been a while, but The Koncast still has some great episodes for you to listen to, in case you’re sick of reading, which pretty much describes everyone these days.
Coming Soon, from Paragraph Line Books, The Dove and the Crow… a new novel by Joseph Hirsch…
Meet the Crow: He’s been around for hundreds of years. He took scalps in the time of Cortez and Columbus. He skins men and makes rugs of their hides, lassos of their intestines. Right now he’s angry, and out for blood.
Meet the Dove: Matina’s a whore at the Maison de Joie, with more mojo than you can shake a stick at. It’s been said that, with just one bat of her eyelashes, she can turn pennyroyal tea into tincture of opium.
Meet the Tracker: Dognose Jones, the adopted son of a Cherokee medicine man, has a special gift. He can smell his prey like a bloodhound scenting its chase.
Welcome to the Wild, Weird West.
Did you know we publish books? Of course not; our site sucks. Or I should say sucked, because we’ve been making a ton of changes lately.
One of our big updates is our book page. We now have a slick new set of page for our books. Check this out:
The top level page has all of our books listed, with pretty covers and buttons to buy books (which you should) and share them on social media sites. Click on a book to go to its page, and you’ll see more info, including reviews from Goodreads.
Paragraph Line Books just released our tenth book this year (Jon Konrath’s Atmospheres) and we have many more in the pipeline, so stay tuned for more updates.
Over at Vice, there’s an interview with John Martin from Black Sparrow about his long relationship, both professional and personal, with Charles Bukowski.
I mean, his public persona is very unlike the man.
Apparently, Hank was courteous, among other things. More at Vice.
Okay, here’s some bullshit for you. Some computer science gearheads have written an algorithm to determine if a novel will be successful or not. They basically took the text from a bunch of best sellers, and then did statistical analysis on the text to try and determine why a book sells.
They found that “Novelists who write more like journalists have literary success,” or using more nouns, pronouns and prepositions. Says Yejin Choi, one of the paper writers:
“It has to do with showing versus caring,” Choi said. “In order to really resonate with readers, instead of saying ‘she was really really sad,’ it might be better to describe her physical state, to give a literal description. You are speaking more like a journalist would.”
There’s all of the usual disclaimers on sample size and whatnot, and this kind of project isn’t that new. I’m too lazy to cite anything, but people have been doing this for years with music metadata. This kind of number-crunching on qualitative works with quantitative figures has been going on in the basement of computer science departments ever since computer geeks started watching Star Trek. And data mining is big business; you can make tons of money by selling the FBI or the NSA tools to mine through data in the name of security theater, for example by digging through grocery store sales of falafel to catch terrorists.
What’s more scary/disturbing to me are the implications for fiction writers. The article I linked above had a couple of chickenshit quotes from an agent and a writer, saying this would never apply to their respective lines of work. But I’m certain that once this is productized, it will result in book publishing that’s vetted by a program that spits out a score based on your work’s ability to fit within the cookie cutter. It’s like the Save the Cat crisis in Hollywood, where the catalyst has to happen at the twelve-minute mark or you’ve failed. This has created a Hollywood where every movie is the same damn thing, or at least the ones getting big funding are. Books are already heading that way, but once Microsoft Word gets a fiction profitability wizard (“It looks like you’re trying to write a YA vampire romance!”) good luck trying to sell anything that’s not written with the exact structure of every other book out there.
And before someone gives me the “but that’s the beauty of self-publishing: no gatekeepers!” – 99% of self-published books that sell are just aping the same romance and detective story structure as the best-selling Big Four authors. If something like this came out, every self-publishing hack would be telling their cultists they absolutely needed to use it to make their books a success.
Looks like it’s time for me to scrap that non-linear, emotional novel and start punching up my zombie erotica project. Big money!