TIPM has compiled a list of influential people authors should be following in the world of all things publishing. No introductions. Here we go from 12 to 1, with some commentary. This is no way comprehensive. By all means add your favourite shaker to visit for essential information as a savvy author in the comments.
Jane Friedman is the co-founder and publisher of Scratch, a magazine about writing and money, and is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest. She has more than 15 years of experience inside the book, magazine, and literary publishing industries.
Jane specializes in educating writers about the publishing industry—from all perspectives, without hype or bias—to help them make the best long-term decisions for their careers. Since 2001, she has spoken at hundreds of writing conferences around the world, and is known for thought-provoking talks on the future of authorship. She recently delivered keynotes at The Muse & The Marketplace, the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute, and PubSmart.
Friedman is sharp, smart, sassy and insightful. She can turn her laser light on anything from the business of writing to marketing and promotion, or the mechanisms of how the modern publishing industry works. Always writer centric, she blends a perfect balance between what writers needs to know and what is superfluous.
Friedman is an educator at heart and it shines through in her blog posts. Occasionally quirky, there is rarely a posting you read that doesn’t enlighten or teach you something on the path forward as a writer.
Joel Friedlander is a book designer for publishers and authors who decide to self-publish. He is an award-winning book design, and typography and photography books are his speciality. He has also self-published books as an author and design consultant. He runs free writing and self-publishing workshops and more recently has launched a dedicated website for sophisticated, templates for cover and interior designs using MS Word.
Friedlander blogs at TheBookDesigner.com, and writes articles about book design, self-publishing, the future of books, and the indie publishing life.
Friedlander has worked for a myriad of different publishers and authors throughout his career as a book designer and his website is one of the most recognised in the indie publishing world. If you are looking for edgy publishing debate, then this is probably not really where you will find that. Friedlander generally sticks closely to book and website design issues, but you will also find excellent promotional and marketing related stuff along the way.
The popularity of his website has not suffered from regular guest posts by many other experts in the publishing field, something which can often dilute the overall quality of article content for many other similar blogging and resource websites. Friedlander might not acknowledge it, but he also shows a deft hand at sifting out the very best guest post writers. You might think a website with a primary focus on design and marketing limiting, but Friedlander’s TheBookDesigner.com is anything but that, managing to encompass topics on social media, printing and his excellent practical advice for self-publishers. His weekly best of the self-publishing blogs around the world is an essential visit on your calendar.
If I have one tiny criticism, it is that I would like to read more of Joel Friedlander on his website.
Mike Shatzkin is the Founder & CEO of The Idea Logical Company and a widely-acknowledged thought leader about digital change in the book publishing industry. In his nearly 50 years in publishing, he has played almost all the roles: bookseller, author, agent, production director, sales and marketing director, and, for the past 30 years, consultant. His insights about how the industry functions and how it accommodates digital change form the basis of all of the company’s consulting efforts.
The Boy Shatzkin has that ability to stop you in your tracks and make you question every belief and opinion you ever had on a publishing issue no matter whether you are a publishing industry disciple or a staunch indie author. I lose track of the times I thought I had reached a standpoint on a publishing debate before Mike Shatzkin strategically lobs a mind-bomb into the mix I hadn’t thought of. His industry insight is one reason which makes his posts on Idea Logical essential reading. He explores ever angle and corner of what is happening in the modern world of publishing, with a dash of fatherly wisdom from Leonard Shatzkin.
If you want an insight into how the mainstream publishing industry is thinking, and someone from the established industry prepared to actually concede mistakes of the past and cut you some slack with your crazy future ideas, then Mike’s your man. You may sometimes disagree with the arguments he puts forward, but if you want to put a current or future theory on publishing to the test, Mike has the laboratory. You just might not always like the results!
Dean Wesley Smith is a science fiction author, known primarily for his Star Trek novels, film novelizations, and other novels of licensed properties such as Smallville, Spider-Man, X-Men, Aliens, Roswell, Men in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as The Tenth Planet series, on which he collaborated with his wife, author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. They have also collaborated on other novels, including some of their Star Trek books.
Smith’s film novelizations include Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The Rundown, Steel, The Core, and X-Men.
His Star Trek novels include original books in series adapted from all five of the live action television series: the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. He has also written books in the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, and has edited the contest anthology series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Smith’s stories can also be found in almost 20 different anthologies, such as Journeys to the Twilight Zone (1992), The Book of Kings (1995), and Past Lives, Present Tense. He also wrote 4 books with his wife under the name Sandy Schofield.
Rusch and Smith operated Pulphouse Publishing for many years and edited the original (hardback) incarnation of Pulphouse Magazine; they won a World Fantasy Award in 1989. In 1992, Smith was the founding publisher of Tomorrow Speculative Fiction before selling the magazine to editor Algis Budrys’s UniFont.
Wesley Smith is a successful and prolific author and writing tutor. He is just as knowledgeable about many areas of the publishing world. The driving focus of his website and workshops is guiding and encouraging writers to write well and authors to independently publish with excellence. He provides online workshops for writers starting out and more advanced workshops based in Oregon, USA.
Wesley Smith’s blogging style reminds me of folk music legend Bob Dylan, straight talkin’ and straight shootin’ with no punches held back. And yet that style of blogging softly hides a writer who cares deeply about the mechanisms and craft of writing; a writer who cares deeply about other writers being armed with the right knowledge and armoury whatever writing and publishing path is chosen.
Wesley Smith will take on and blog about just about any writing and publishing topic. But his real insights often come from his pieces on life as a full time writer. It you haven’t popped by his website, you should. Stepping inside can be a little like walking inside a saloon bar in the wild west—everything goes silent but the swish of those swinging barroom doors, but you will quickly find an available seat and be welcome.
Joe Konrath has sold more than three million books. He has written twenty-four novels and over a hundred short stories in the mystery, thriller, horror, and sci-fi genres. Konrath has received over 10,000 Amazon reviews for his work, averaging 4.2 stars out of 5. He’s been a #1 Amazon bestseller on three different occasions, and has been in the Top 100 bestseller lists over twenty times. He has twice won the Love is Murder Award for best thriller, and has also won the Derringer Award, and the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award, and has been nominated for many other awards including the Anthony, Macavity, and Gumshoe. His fiction has appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies including Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Cemetery Dance, The Strand, Thriller edited by James Patterson, and Wolfsbane & Mistletoe edited by Charlaine Harris (True Blood).
He is considered a pioneering author in the self-publishing community. His blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, gets several million hits per year, and Konrath has been featured in Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Playboy, USA Today, Time, Woman’s World, the LA Times, and the NY Times among many other periodicals. He also blogs for the Huffington Post.
Konrath has become something of an iconic and vocal figure in self-publishing circles. He is always forthright and outspoken, and a deep believer in the view that the legacy publishing industry needs to make serious changes to ensure its own survival, and more importantly, to change for the benefit of all authors.
Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing is actually packed with advice for both new and seasoned writers, particularly those moving from legacy publishing into independent self-publishing. More and more now he writes on current issues in the publishing industry and he has developed a particular blogging style of ‘fisking’ other outspoken people in the industry as a way exposing what he sees as a misrepresentation of the how the industry works and how it should work.
While Konraths blog pieces can be detailed, intense and funny, his outspoken style could be considered by some to be confrontational. In some ways, his success and support by many indie authors has led to something of a one-way street, where those who comment, predominantly agree, and those people he ‘fisks’ decline to respond or debate on his blogging platform. The full debate is one thing I feel at times is missing, almost as if the ‘fisking’ is a mechanism to make up for the absence of debate on all sides.
A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing should be essential reading for all readers, authors and publishers.
Hoffelder has been into reading e-books since forever, but he only got his first e-reader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiralled out of control from there.
Before he started the Digital Reader blog in January 2010, he covered e-books, e-book readers, and digital publishing for about two years as part of MobileRead Forums. His work at MobileRead led him to branch out and start what has now become The Digital Reader: a news, review and opinion blog.
Full of opinion and balanced perspective, Hoffelder delivers the perfect experience and review of all things digital and publishing in the world. He began with an interest in e-books and e-readers and carried out product reviews before eventually expanding it fully into a news website. His website remains a personal reflection on publishing news, digital products and innovations. For a news website not specifically aimed at authors and publishers, Hoffelder introduces a remarkable degree of commonsense and observation on a daily basis. It’s for this reason it has a unique appeal. Hoffelder has an innate ability to spot something in a news story many of us don’t always see.
Probably the best place to start with The Digital Reader is by subscribing to his daily The Morning Coffee series of posts which highlight the most significant publishing and digital news over the previous 24 hours.
David Gaughran is an Irish writer, living in Prague, who spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories.
He is the author of the South American historical adventure A Storm Hits Valparaiso and the short stories If You Go Into The Woods and Transfection as well as the popular self-publishing guide Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should.
He runs the publishing blog Let’s Get Digital and the South American history site South Americana, has a regular column at Indie Reader, and his work has been featured in the Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, the Irish Times, and the Irish Examiner.
Gaughran has established his Let’s Get Digital branded WordPress blog as one of the primary go-to places for authors of every persuasion. Indeed, Gaughran has become something of a quintessential voice of the indie author movement, writing and regularly discussing the role of Amazon in the self-publishing community and a staunch advocate in highlighting author scams and the dangers of vanity publishers.
A hugely trafficked blog and a much cited author in both indie and established publishing circles; if the shit hits the fan in indie publishing, the first question asked is usually, what does Howey, Konrath and Gaughran think?
His Let’s Get Digital brand of help guides for authors have become manuals in the indie author community. His blog posts are heavily researched and full of detail and always create a great deal of commentary.
Again, like The Passive Voice, Gaughran’s blog should be on any author’s list of sites to regularly visit, but I do worry that the heavy indie branding leads to a disciple-chorus of cheers and simply not enough critical commentary in the debate of wider publishing issues.
Following a period of travel to various parts of the world, Hugh Howey settled and began concocting adventures to fantastic places. His first stories detailed the life of a character he had been mulling over for quite some time—Molly Fyde, a character created and inspired by the ‘awesome’ women in Howey’s life.
His Wool series of books became a sudden success in 2011, originally just a novelette; the demand from Amazon reviewers made him write more tales in this subterranean world. The resulting Omnibus has spent considerable time in the Amazon top 100, has been a #1 Bestseller in Science Fiction on Amazon, and was optioned by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian for a potential feature film. The story of its success has been mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, Variety, and Deadline Hollywood among many others. Random House published the hardback version in the UK in 2013.
Howey has published with established publishing houses as well as being a self-published author.
In the past year he created AuthorEarnings.com, a project to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions about their writing careers. The secondary mission is to call for change within the publishing community for better pay and fairer terms in all contracts.
When mainstream media care to discuss or even mention self-publishing, the name Hugh Howey often takes up some column inches. He is used as an example of a successful author forging dual paths in the publishing world and demonstrating that the modern savvy author is shaping into something different to the romantic idea of the author as a tortured soul creating tales under candlelight, and only daring to peer into the dazzling light when his/her latest tome is published.
Where Howey hits the home run (apart from just being a successful writer) is providing an open template of advice, author brand and voice as an example to many other modern authors who wish to take notice and listen. While Howey in recent months has aligned himself with other independent voices in the publishing world like Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath, he has still remained a tempered and thoughtful voice during all the discussion surrounding the Amazon and Hachette debate. It is also notable that Howey has been the author from the independent author community most mainstream newspapers and TV networks have wanted to speak to.
Unfairly called the ‘poster by’ of independent and self publishing, Howey often offers the most reasoned and calm voice in any storm.
David Vandagriff is an attorney, entrepreneur, former tech executive and writer.
Prior to reopening his law practice, his business involved high-stakes intellectual property litigation. He started The Passive Voice as an anonymous blog so his snarky remarks would not show up when opposing counsel performed a Google search.
During his legal and business career, Vandagriff has negotiated major contracts with a wide range of opposing parties.
The Passive Voice blog is a little unique in some ways. He doesn’t actually write articles for his blog but instead quotes significant sections from other news media and other author and publishing blogs on a daily basis. He often qualifies these postings with a little savoury and analytical commentary, always referring to himself as ‘PG’ and writing in the third-person.
Always insightful, Vandagriff uses his legal and business experience to cast a critical eye on current publishing debate in the industry, usually keeping in mind the perspective of a writer/author. His blog posts can sometimes be as little as a quote from a famous writer of the past, or as substantial as lengthy critique of a current publishing issue. He has essentially created a micro community and forum for authors and industry professionals to engage in intense debate.
He has become something of a darling to the indie author community; expect strong opinions and lots of self-publishing input from authors. If I have one concern, it is that at times the conversation can be a little too self-affirming, righteous and let’s point a finger and laugh at ‘them.’
Porter Anderson is a career journalist whose venues have included three of Time Warner’s CNN networks, the Village Voice, Thought Catalog, the Bookseller, Publishing Perspectives, the Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Observer, D Magazine, the Tampa Tribune, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and other media.
You can also follow his latest writings most easily using this feed in your reader.
As Associate Editor curating TheFutureBook.net—the world community for digital development in publishing—Anderson works closely with his London-based colleagues at Nigel Roby’s The Bookseller to bring together myriad voices of the industry in #FutureChat live discussions on Twitter and to present a steady sequence of voices from the many parts of publishing’s workforce. #FutureChat is open to all each Friday at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York time, 8 a.m. Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Berlin, 3 p.m. GMT.
Anderson’s Porter Anderson Meets column appears in The Bookseller magazine in London on Fridays and on TheBookseller.com. It’s based on a live Twitter newsmaker interview conducted on Mondays and readers are welcome to come along for it, using the hashtag #PorterMeets at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York, 3 p.m. GMT.
Anderson is also followed for his “Writing on the Ether” columns — which were originally created for JaneFriedman.com—at ThoughtCatalog.com in New York. Thought Catalog is consistently ranked among the biggest 60 or so Web sites in the world for unique users, and a specific feed for Anderson’s columns there is available at this link for your reader.
Porter Anderson is a seasoned journalist, formerly of CNN, with a real speciality for using social media while covering international publishing and digital media events. It’s not too often in today’s media world that you find a journalist (not an editor) with a dedicated focus on all things publishing, or as Porter appropriately now calls it; The Industry, The Industry! And what an industry it is. Dedicated, industrious, Anderson is one of the most deft publishing media journalist to thrash out every argument and viewpoint on publishing, while also throwing open the barn doors for everyone to pitch in with an opinion.
Always open to facilitate a voice no matter what the view or opinion, Anderson will carefully interject a comment—often formed in the shape of a question—to fish out further debate in an effort to hit and highlight the key points of an issue. Anderson, in any debate, in a conference hall or online, is like a harbour master, carefully tying the lines and keeping all the vessels together so they don’t drift.
Yes, it makes sense; Anderson did previously take up a role for the United Nations. I guess if he chose a different career, it might have been in mediation counselling.
My hang-up? I can’t keep up with him at times, and this may be off-putting to some readers and those who wish to follow his articles. I promise it is worth the chase, but the move from Publishing Perspectives to The Bookseller and its sister, FutureBook, together with trying to conduct interviews Twitter-style, makes my head spin. Recently he has thrown Thought Catalogue into the mix. It’s like someone phoning you late at night and saying, “it’s all happening at the bar on 5thStreet.” Great, which bar on 5th? But somehow, it’s worth the ride downtown!
Victoria Strauss is the author of eight novels for adults and young adults, including the Stone fantasy duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) and Passion Blue, a YA historical. In addition, she has written a handful of short stories, hundreds of book reviews, and a number of articles on writing and publishing that have appeared in Writer’s Digest, among others. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.
She is co-founder of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that provides information and warnings about the many scams and schemes that threaten writers. She received the Service to SFWA Award in 2009 for her work with Writer Beware.
Strauss is an author and an author advocate whatever your publishing path, and while perhaps being most associated with Writer Beware—a publishing industry watchdog of resources and warnings about the pitfalls of publishing scams and poor contracts—she brings to the table of discussion an ethic view of publishing. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Publishers and publishing services must behave ethically and fairly, and authors who choose to self-publish must be fully informed and meet similar realities and qualities of content and service.
There is a balance and natural synergy about Strauss’ posts on Writer Beware and her audience, where the importance of the craft of writing is understood, and that the natural order is to first become a reader, then a writer, and only then an author.
Writer Beware has been around many years, witnessed and highlighted all the changes in the industry. It is the origin of the species.
Paul St John Mackintosh is a British poet, writer of weird fiction, translator and journalist. He was born in 1961 and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has lived and worked in Asia and Central Europe, and currently divides his time between Hungary and other locations. His acclaimed first poetry collection, The Golden Age, was published by Bellew Publishing in 1997, and reissued on Kindle in 2013, and his second poetry collection, The Musical Box of Wonders, was published by Henrik Harksen Productions in 2011. His Lovecraftian and dark fiction has appeared in several formats and journals worldwide. His co-translations from the Japanese, done with Maki Sugiyama, include The Poems of Nakahara Chuya (1993) and Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (1995) by the 1994 Nobel Prize-winner Kenzaburo Oe, which won a Japan Festival Award. He translated the poems for the Japanese photo-travelogue and exhibition catalogue Utamakura (Asuka Historical Museum, 1998). He also co-translated Superstrings (2007) by Dinu Flamand from Romanian with Olga Dunca. He has co-produced award-winning short films with his ex-wife, the Hungarian filmmaker Lilla Bán. He has two half-Scottish half-Hungarian daughters, Diana and Esther. He is also official clan poet of Clan Mackintosh.
Mackintosh is insightful and cuts to the chase when writing his articles on Teleread. It might be an article on literature or an article on digital publishing, but he delivers often in short bursts and pulls together links and commentary on issues with the one thing all journalists hate to do nowadays—add balanced opinion and substance without the waffles or syrup, and never allow skewed news on publishing to escape without some kind of a critical eye.
Maybe it’s because he is based in Budapest, Hungary—outside of the hub of the publishing and digital matrix—it allows him hone that critical eye when he writes his pieces for Teleread. I often find—whether I’m writing for an article on TIPM or for another outlet on whatever subject matter and through whatever medium (online, print or social media)—not being situated within the Los Angelis, New York, Dublin, London, Paris, Moscow and Hong Kong matrix gives me a far greater perspective on what is locally relevant to a region and what applies internationally.
Mackintosh is well worth checking out and much of the news items on Teleread are related to e-books, e-reading, libraries, copyright, and the changes taking place in print and digital publishing. It would also be unfair not to mention another excellent contributing Teleread writer, Chris Meadows.
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
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Shatzkin? Drop him and this is a much better list.
The Boy Shatzkin seems to be something of a love-to-hate. The list is not aimed at indie authors, but all authors. For the future of publishing, we need to be listening to many voices wherever they come from the whole industry, not just those who say what we want to hear.
Well said sir. Book people are the best people, we need to be coming together, not tearing each other down.
Have to agree with this. It’s not Shatzkin’s bias that’s the issue, so much, but his continued lack of accepting facts counter to that bias. Why “listen to a voice” that refuses to listen to anything but what he prefers to hear? He is notorious for ignoring or outright deleting comments on his blog that are not at all contentious–he just can’t be bothered with reasoned arguments.
and add The Passive Voice
No. 4 Yogi. The Passive Voice is David Vandagriff. The list is about voices in publishing, not websites.
Thanks much for the mention Mick, great company to be in. This is a superior resource for readers because of the informed commentary you’ve added, and not just a “list of links.” This fall I’ll be back to writing for the blog more regularly.
Thanks, Joel. Much appreciated. We miss that weekly voice. Again, the comment was an observation, not in any way a criticism. You host some of the best guest posts for authors in the hood. Long may it continue.
The key to the list is the TIPM Commentary in italics. The bios are the voices of those I have featured. 😉
I’m extremely flattered that you saw fit to mention me in the same place as Vandagriff, Gaughran, Howey, Smith, et al.
I’ll suggest that one name that’s not on such a list but ought to be is another Meadows (though not closely related to me as far as I know)—Dan Meadows of Watershed Publications. He’s often got some great and insightful things to say, too.
Chris, I had to mention you. I think even Paul would have blushed if I didn’t. Both of you do a terrific job at Teleread. It pisses me off that not always the right people appreciate the daily coverage you all put out. I needed to focus on singular voices in publishing, and I did consider listing both of you as one, but I didn’t want it to sound like you were a double act because both of you have your own jounalistic style. Jaysus, now I should mention Juli!! 😉
Spot on. Dan writes some great stuff. There are so many more, like Kristine K. Rusch.
I suppose the real point is that there are so many valued voices out there, making perfectly valid points and commentary about what is happening in the publishing world, that we must never confine ourselves to only being open to what we want to hear.
Like I say, I could have highlighted many more. The list originally started at six, then I decided 12. Late yesterday, I considered 15. I’m sure had I went that way, it would have come twenty!
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