Kim Weiss Publishing Services

What to tell someone if they want to publish a book

March 31, 2009 at 6:29 am

I’m deliberately challenging myself and everything I work for when I pose a headline question like: What to tell someone if they want to publish a book. The thought of addressing this subject is so powerful that as I began to type, I broke into a fit of sneezing. Is it about truth? Or am I just allergic to the dust on my desk?

Probably a little of both. 

Okay, so publishing a book is on your horizon. Good for you. Really. It’s a noble ambition and as long as someone has the urge, perhaps publishing will survive.

First, before I drag you into the halls of cynicism, know that I go there for two reasons: 1) I’m from right outside of NY so it’s the law; and, 2) cynicism is one of my favorite vehicles of comic relief – nicey nice bores me after a short while. Regardless of the style, I am inherently an optimist, sometimes a venerable Pollyanna, but a sugar sweet presentation has never been my style.

In fact, I applaud your ambition. No matter what anyone tells you (including me), follow your heart. 

Now that I’ve said all that… WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS?  

My first question: are you an Astor or a Rockefeller? Maybe a Vanderbilt? If you are, then go ahead, write away, you’ll never have to account for the time spent and the few dollars returned. And, if that is your name and you don’t write, subsidize someone who does. Because, their chances of raking in a living from book writing is very tenuous.

You’ve heard me say it before, keep your day job (unless that Vanderbilt sans writing talent sent you a big check). Over a hundred thousand books are published in a year. What are the chances of them becoming bestsellers? What’s worse, what are the chances of them getting onto a bookstore shelf? And, then there’s the little detail of getting the publisher to agree to take on your project.

It sounds bleak (and it is) but writers must write, just like painters must paint (we know the odds of painters making a living, too, don’t we?). Perhaps you should consider shacking up with a painter and splitting the bills.  A low overhead makes for a less stressful living situation. Fertile for creativity. 

We have good news, however, for those who are not particularly married to following the traditional track of publishing. Since technology became king, there are a lot of ways to skin a book. The whole idea of self-publishing, on-demand publishing, e-books and God-knows-what-else-is-coming publishing is at once disconcerting and exciting. We book lovers pray for the bound book to never go away but we can allow ourselves to feel good about exploring new formats for our work. 

What we really are seeing is an expanded marketplace with representations of quality all over the map.  Voices are being heard that might never have come forward. Our very barometers of criticism are being turned on their heads.  Old values may be intact, but new sensibilities are erupting.  (Putting it that way even gives me goose bumps)

I’m picturing how it was way back in time when stone tablets gave way to paper books. I’m sure there were some people digging in their heals thinking that life would never be the same if paper took over. (Give me that rock solid rock, baby) A silly analogy, yes, but you gotta embrace change no matter how tough.

What we must fight for, among many things, is the importance of healthy attention spans and how that fits into the reading model. When that goes away, so will books. Bytes and bytes and bytes online, on phones, on palm pilots, on blackberries are ok sometimes, but only as supplemental information sources. 

It’s up to us to protect our brainpower and educate younger people of its importance. The long forms of life must stay.

She said — in 682 words.

Did I answer the question: What to tell someone if they want to publish a book? 

Good luck. And, good for you.

(Remember to give me a call, I’ll hold your hand)

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The case for belly fat from a bitter (yet bouyant) mid-life woman

March 29, 2009 at 8:48 pm

In the darkness of the movie theatre last night while suffering through the molasses pace of Last Chance Harvey (brava Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, not so much), I passed the time fumbling with my least favorite body part — my jelly belly. The bloom on the wilting flower of my midlife.

The weirdest sensation I experienced as I pinched more than the once acceptable inch on my middle is that it felt like it belonged to someone else. It’s clearly not mine and I’d be most grateful if its rightful owner would please come and collect it. The tubby tummy has been in safe keeping, but I’ve worn it long enough, thank you.

If only.

This recent addition to my otherwise acceptable and mostly intact physique has created havoc with my wardrobe as well. That can get expensive not to mention limiting in fashion choices. What used to lay smoothly across my midriff  has dramatically changed. Fabrics that once fell freely from my shoulders are now interrupted on their descent to my lower body. There are new hills and valleys, lumps and bumps, and sometimes  a cascading tube of flesh against the indentation of a leather belt. Ugh.

Love handles, my foot.

In preparation for this post I even googled for hope, looking for articles and case studies about the acceptance of women’s  fat bellies around the world. The recent media coverage of the obese women in Mauritania kept appearing online and a bit about Arctic women who still pride themselves in big bellies. If you dig back far enough you’ll find some Medieval women in China who equated expanded stomach regions with great wealth.

Mostly, I turned up articles about health hazards and a myriad of promises of flat, not fat bellies.

I want one. The flat kind, that is.

There are a few authors out there who will be tsk-tsking me upon reading this while wagging their fingers and throwing up their hands in disappointment.

Haven’t I learned anything?

Okay. I have the tools. Even more so than the average fat-around-the-middle gals. Time to start enacting the knowledge that I promote from and for some very talented doctors.

Is this a commercial? No, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the geniuses who have have been slimming female tummies for years.

From Belly Fat to Belly Flat is a current HCI favorite. Dr. Randolph and his partner/wife, Genie James present great information, most interestingly alerting women that they need to tend to the state of their hormones as early as in their thirties. Who knew?  Most of us never even uttered the word “hormone” until we hit forty. Apparently, the earlier we keep our eye on our hormonal balance (or the lack thereof), the more control we’ll have over the prospect of midriff protrusion.

It’s about guarding against or reversing estrogen dominance by eating right, taking certain daily supplements, exercise (of course), and the possibility of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Then there’s instruction on how to prevent stress from sabotaging your weight loss. The program is pretty straightforward and pretty great. Cruise around the authors’ website. You’ll learn a alot.

Then of course, there’s the diva,  Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, the mentor to Suzanne Somers and one of the pioneers in the field of progressive women’s health. There’s a series of book, The Schwarzbein Principle, that are tried and true and you might say that she actually “wrote the book” when it comes to hormonal balancing and weight loss.

Commercial or not, if you’re female, feeling a chubbiness that doesn’t feel like yours and is causing you to consider a very costly foray into the next size up and if Chico’s is becoming the only place where clothes fit your body (God bless them, I love the chain, but…) join me in the journey to reclaim the waistline.

It’s time. I’ll be right with you as soon as I finish the brick of dark chocolate in the pantry that actually sings my name.

Chocolate is magic. Chocolate is love.

Belly fat. Go away!

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I’m staying!!!

March 27, 2009 at 7:38 am floor down, but paradise just the same, donations accepted (ha!) floor down, but paradise just the same, donations accepted (ha!)

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Life is getting in the way of blogging

March 26, 2009 at 6:38 am

img_0663What to do?

Life is getting in the way of blogging.

Double the books at work. Decisions to be made about where to live (yes I’m sad to report that the penthouse may be the ex-penthouse soon). Trying to have some semblance of a social life other than on Facebook and Twitter.

And, then there’s the blog. My dear, dear blog.

In my current state of head spinning round and round it’s hard to grasp the right moments to devote to the subject of books and things beyond them. I’ve vowed to keep the personal somewhat impersonal here, but it’s hard when you’re feeling stressed.

Anyone else out there feeling it? (Silly question)  In my head I hear a stadium sized crowd roaring with me. Go ahead, let it out… and thanks for your commiseration. Each one of our individual miseries adores company. We know that.

So, how do we do it all? How do we fit all the pieces together in days that are zooming by like rockets? How does each author I represent  get their fair share?

You know how? It’s simple. One at a time. One foot in front of the other. The line is long, but 15 years in publishing plus a decade and some change  in the pr trenches arms me with just the right instincts and the appropriate tools. I’m a bad pr mammer jammer.

Have no fear.

Everyone will get their due. I will get my perfect dream abode and my real life time with other human beings in other-than-work mode will thrive.

Thrive. What a great, hopeful word, don’t you think?

There’s preparation for the BookExpo (BEA) in NY at May’s end. There’s Mary Jo Buttafuoco, Tom Wilson, Jane Velez-Mitchell and the fabulous Hannah Friedman. (Everything does suck sometimes, Hannah, doesn’t it? How did you figure that out at such a tender age?)

The books keep a coming and thankfully, they keep getting better. We’re gonna kick butt at HCI this late spring and even more so come the fall. 2010 should be ridiculous. (Isn’t it unbearable when mid-life women slang like adolescents? Just indulge me this once. I’m overtired)

Don’t think this overextended publicist is going to roll over. It’s show time in bookland and you’re going to hear from HCI.

We’re not just cooking up soup anymore. We’re way past the appetizer and doling out the meat and potatoes. Filet mignon and taters scalloped. Or, in my world, tofu and turnips. (Look out for Vegan Yum Yum)

After the crowd in my imagination, it’s my turn to make a might roar.

It’s a new moon. A time for new beginnings and wishes to be wished.

Be sure to make yours.

Good reading and good writing to you. And, God bless all the tired publicists out there. We know that rejection is just fuel for the fire that powers us forward.


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Guest post: 8 1/2 by Michael A. Carson

March 24, 2009 at 9:16 am

A treat for my blogees…especially you artsy, fartsy ones…a refreshing departure…Put your seat belts on an enjoy a unique story from screenwriter, Michael A. Carson. Enjoy!

Fellini’s screenwriter,Tullio Pinelli died last week at age one hundred. (A name that seems perfectly designed for screen credit — non e vero?) Pinelli scribbled La Strada, La Dolce Vita, and 8 1/2 while punching his Olivetti to help write another seventy or so films.  He was born in Turin, Italy, the home of one of the best mid-twentieth century Italian writers who most have never heard of — Cesare Pavase.

I discovered Pavase’s work as a young dance/theater choreographer in the early 1990’s and instantly became a devoted fan, so much so, that even today I use his name as a secret password for a few ‘special’ sites I visit.

Armed with a puny production grant from The Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and ninety minutes of shared stage time with my co-artistic director, I set out to write and choreograph a definitive, exhaustive work examinig the great man’s life.

If I were lucky, maybe a hundred people would witness this spectacle, that is, if my friends didn’t stiff me like they did last time.

I conned my co-artistic director into letting me show my piece first on our shared program, rather than risking her audience walking out during intermission before seeing my work.

The stuff you read about dancers being stupid is so not true.

At the time, I was reading a lot of artist’s biographies – I still do – and in them, there always came a time where the subject worte a naive letter to an artistic hero, or perspective mentor, or whatever, never thinking they’d get a reply back — but they always did!

It worked once for me in the past, actually. I wrote a fan letter to Honey Bruce, Lenny’s saucy ex, and she wrote back, and I swear, we sent letters back and forth for years! She even sent my son a card when he was born.

So I know this stuff works, but here’s the rub: In 1950, Pavase followed a great meal with a fine cigar and a bottle of sleeping pills – so this cat ain’t getting any mail I’m sending, right? Never married, sister dead, no family member I can find – this was way before Facebook, remember – so I’m basically screwed, but then I think: his publisher, I’ll write a letter to his publisher! Praying, of course, that he hadn’t offed himself as well.

Cesar Pavase was a top editor at Giulio Einaudi editore in Turin, one of the most prestigious and well-respected publishing houses in Italy (okay, they were a bunch of Communists — grow up). Pavase held the hands — slapped the wrists — of most of the Italian writers we’re all familiar with: Calvino, Ginzburg, Vittorini, and that lot.

One last detail: Guilio Einaudi’s father was once the president of the Italian Republic. This guy’s getting a letter months before the premiere of my opus, I dash off a letter to Guilio Einaudi in Turin – I can’t seem to find a copy of it now, but I do have his reply or rather, his secretary’s reply: Giulio Einaudi will be glad to meet you on 13 March at 7:00 pm at his flat, Piazza Paganica, 50 – Rome.

It worked again! Only this time better! I still get chills reading this thing.  Hey, I don’t know who they thought I was – I’m not even sure I knew who I was – but I had a man-date with one of the most powerful men in Italy.

This was better than the friggin piece! I’m on a roll, letter writing to Italy-wise. I write my dirt poor cousins (I spoke no Italian then) who live near the port city of Bari, saying I’ll be visiting soon, cause I’m meeting Giulio Einaudi at his apartment!

This bunch of card-carrying commies immediately shoot back a letter in obviously shaky English – the penmanship, not the grammar nervously reacting as if I’d be twirling pasta with the Pope.

After making the travel arrangements, I realized two things: One, meeting this guy would have absolutely no bearing on how good this new piece would be. I just was too young, too green as an artist for it to make the necessary impact. And, two, I don’t know what I’m even going to ask him.

I just dug Pavase. I wasn’t nervous. I’m never nervous with this kind of thing. Okay, to the chase: I pound on his sixteenth century door wearing a three-quarter length overcoat that has the flounce of a cape as I walk – in halting English, Giulio later confesses I look like a priest. The man is tall, regal even, with thick, wavy, snow white hair, and a Hamilton-grade tan.  In my memory, he’s wearing a smoking jacket — or I expected him to be wearing on – and his long spindly legs are crossed like a man sans testicles.

I always wish I could cross my legs that way, it looks so European.

He constantly apologizes for his bad English, while sporting around a sixty thousand word vocabulary. We have coffee – I’ll be up for hours now, I’m thinking – and we talk, about the writer, things I could never have read in any book – then he goes to the bookshelf. Einaudi’s bookshelf was like those you see in Woody Allen movies, floor to ceiling, covering an entire wall. He slides out a copy of Lessico Famigliare, Natalia’s best, he says (Ginzburg, I knew that) and hands it to me.  Next he goes for a copy of Severino Cesari’s Colloquio con Giulio Einaudi – didn’t sell too many of these, he jokes as he signs it: To Michael. Giulio. Roma, 13 Marzo, 1992. As he glances at his watch, discreetly, I swipe my gifts and take my cure, reentering the blustery Italian night like a papal’s assistant.

The piece? Hotel Roma premiered several months later to a packed house. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s dance critic at the time – a real bitch-on-wheels, this woman gave it a great review, using a broad headline and devoting ninety-percent of her column to the thing, which rattled my co-artistic director to no end.

Giulio Einaudi? Several years later, on April 5th, 1999, to be exact he died of natural causes.

Screenwriter Michael A. Carson is represented by Max Freedman Management in LA. His latest script, “MESSIAH SEVEN”, is currently in the hands of several Hollywood production companies. See for logline and synopsis.

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