Friday, May 30, 2014

Publishing Turmoil Catches Yet Another Pal

Keith Ferrell and the Indian grubb.
Just had Indian lunch downtown in Roanoke with my buddy Keith Ferrell and the talk, as it always does, turned to books quickly.

Keith, who had a bestseller this past Christmas with History Decoded (with Brad Meltzer) has just sold another excellent idea, but the book won't be here until 2016. That has nothing to do with Keith's speed as a writer, but more to do with the changing face of the industry.

Keith could knock the book out pretty quickly. He says he regularly churns out a million words in a given year (the equivalent of 10 books) with all he writes. I've seen him in a hurry and the speed and quality of his writing is often astonishing.

A couple of locals with big books either just out or coming very soon--Roland Lazenby and Beth Macy--are caught in the Jeff Bezos ego war with publishing as his tries to take over the industry. Writers are being squashed in this fierceness. Keith's challenge, I think, is based elsewhere--contracts, getting institutions to decide and the like.

But the book will be here soon enough and the premise is already being explored in depth.

Such a strange and often alarming industry and it is loved deeply by so many of us, few of whom are in positions to make decisions.

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