Interview – Tracy Marchini (Part1)April 15th, 2011 by Sara
As part of her blog tour for her new book, “PubSpeak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms“, author and editor Tracy Marchini has very kindly agreed to do an interview here on Inspired Quill.
• Why a dictionary?
I chose a dictionary because it was something that I hadn’t seen for writers. There are a ton of great “How To Write” books out there, but I knew that my literary agency experience gave me a perspective that most writers aren’t lucky enough to have. I thought the dictionary would also be the best way to organize what I had learned without trying to give blanket advice about contracts or royalties, since each writer’s career is different and each publishing house and agency have different boilerplates, etc.
What were the hardest and most enjoyable parts of writing the dictionary?
The most enjoyable part was probably counting the number of terms (over 400!) and realizing how much I had really learned. I was a bit worried when I started that I’d end up with a pamphlet of 100 words, and then it would be clear that the project wasn’t viable as I had envisioned it. But remembering one phrase would remind me of another, and suddenly I was thinking about things that I hadn’t thought about as much over the past year. The hardest part though was making sure that each definition was accurate and informative without being biased. As an agent, you read a clause one way, and as a publisher you read the clause with a different set of pro’s and con’s, and as an author you may have even a third perspective on what that particular clause means for you. Again, knowing that you can’t say, “All authors should do precisely THIS,” or that, “This clause should always, 100% be deleted,” made me have to be careful about the words I chose.
How many terms are in the dictionary, and why did you decide on that number?
In the press release, you mention authors needing to be business people. Would you say this aspect has risen since the explosion of self-publishing and print on demand?
I think authors have always needed to be business people, but I think with self-publishing and POD there are now more options to consider. Both traditionally published and self-published authors need to be savvy about reaching their audience, protecting the rights to their work and expanding themselves as a brand. However, the rise of self-publishing and POD has made it more difficult for an author to get noticed. It’s more people competing for reviews and reader attention. Harder to find a book on Amazon or B&N unless you’re searching for it. Less room on the shelves (though most self-published books will not actually have a chance at that shelf space.) Personally, I think authors are beginning to look at their properties and decide to self-publish or traditionally publish on a work by work basis. Traditional publishers are fabulous for books that fit within their model, but if your book doesn’t fit, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a valueless work. That said, I don’t think a smart career move would be, “As soon as it’s rejected, I’ll put it on Amazon.” Self-publishing and POD work best as a business decision, not a last resort.
Are there any plans for a ‘A Writer’s Dictionary of MORE publishing terms’?
I think the industry is going to continue to change, and so I will certainly be updating PUB SPEAK as necessary. For example, I mentioned “The Quill Awards” in the dictionary because I thought it was an interesting (though failed) experiment that told us a lot about the culture of reading. I think we’ll see many more interesting experiments and more language specifically to digital publishing as the industry changes and I definitely would want to share that with PUB SPEAK’s readers.
[End of Part 1]
Part 2 of this interview will be posted tomorrow, so keep a look out!