Yeah I Did It. So What.


/Beth Wareham

My colleague was a guy named Eric. I was on the phone accusing him of having no balls when my phone went PING! In a second there were the two little guys, nestled in Eric’s Aero chair and now lighting up my iPhone. I had to change my tune and say, “you do have balls, Eric.”

Eric, you see, is one of my authors. He knows what it’s like to hand me a sentence. First, I pick up my mechanical pencil, then I give him the wolf stare. He says, in a squeaky unmanly voice, “I’m going to the boy’s room.” I know he won’t return until the “polishing phase,” editing he dreads even more than this round.

When he returns for the polish, he brings me a gift: a giant black dildo. He says he knows the final edit is going to feel like this, in his rear end. I laugh and let the marketing department have the dildo for a few months just for fun.

“Eric,” I say. “Your book is about wine-making but I’ve learned more about blow jobs reading it.”

“Is that a bad thing?” Eric asks.

“No,” I say. “And I never thought about that last little flick of the tongue.”

“Yeah, she had it going on,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “We’re going into copyediting.”

“You’re going to leave the blow job part in there?”

“Yes,” I said. “No one in copyediting knows what they are. It’s educational.”

“That’s true. So my book has two markets: wine and sex.”

“Yes, Eric, it does.”

A year later, I left that black dildo erect on a pile of belongings after I was laid off. I will never know if the marketing department snuck back and claimed it, but I’d rather think of my bosses, all on the down-low, taking it out for a ride around Times Square.

It’s doubtful, though. That would have taken courage.

To this day, there’s no word on the whereabouts of that magnificent editorial motivator,the giant black dildo, but someday I will find another one, and it will be wonderful.

Follow us on twitter at @shadowteams
Talk on Facebook at shadowteamsnyc

THE NEW TOOLS: Book-making’s Newest, Most Useful Widget…or Something

/Beth Warehamimages-1

I’m a black ops publisher. I named the company Shadow Teams so that authors would understand that we come in, camouflaged faces and knives between our teeth, find that manuscript and WiFi connection and make a book. Then, we float off in search of more writers in distress. Our website gets a lot of hits from Afghanistan.

Being a black ops publisher means you need the latest tools before they hit the streets. You need to be on them, assessing their use for your client, and tossing it in the “stupid” or “useful” bin, depending. A Shadow Team is always learning the secrets of the competition – except if it’s Sony Pictures. Then we run away, vowing to never do what they did.

That is one definition of “shadow team.” Another definition of “shadow team” has to do with Silicon Valley: You hire the entire team away from a competitor and get a huge chunk of corporate knowledge. We did that too.

The most difficult aspect of this black ops publishing company is selling books. Since the highly structured, hugely anachronistic publishing industry began to fall in 2007, retail possibilities for books have all but dried up. You either place your book in that cyberspace landfill known as “amazon” or you email it to your friends so many times, they buy it and never invite you over again.

Try Consider it our Holiday Gift to you. Pull your book out of the amazon ghetto. Add bonus value to your core readers. Bundle books. Change your content or advertising copy. Get paid directly.

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams   @giantsweettart   @skinnysmoothies

It’s Not ISIS: It’s the Golden Age of Books

Uber-Agent Andrew Wylie sees amazon employees going to work.

by Beth Wareham

When Andrew Wylie, literary agent to the stars, declared amazon an “ISIS-LIKE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM” at the Toronto Book Fair, it was the metaphorical gunshot that alerted the world that publishing had indeed gone around the bend, was no longer the sharpest knife in the drawer, or even had all its lightbulbs in the chandelier. And just months before, Mr. Wylie wanted amazon to be his buddy, selling all the ebooks that unfortunately, Random House owned. A judge – more and more an important person in publishing – said The Jackal couldn’t do that. He’s called “The Jackal” in the industry for just such moves. After the ISIS-LIKE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM comment, though, I call him The Loon.

This one man has so bullied the publishing elite it is laughable. Whole careers have been built and destroyed based on whether or not Andrew Wylie will sell you a book. But “The Jackal,” as he was known to those shy folk in sensible shoes, was always wily in the right way: he hired the best editors on Earth to work his clients books BEFORE he let a publishing company touch them. Smart man. He knows quality and he knows it sells. Watching arrogant publishers bend to his will was fine sport.

So, as I work with amazon, I dress more and more like ISIS. It just seems to happen. A headscarf to keep out dust as I post a blog. An ammo belt to wear as I upload a book on Kindle Direct Publishing.  Dirty boots to run to the photocopy shop.

What a stupid metaphor, Andrew. As if your life and your problems and your slow down of massive income had a thing to do with a terrible war on the other side of the world.

Come on, fancy commercial publishing, get your metaphors right. The world of books has blown open. The 60 (80?) million bucks you spent on lawyers and price-fixing is gone, pissed away on anything but the art of writing.  Hundreds of books did not get published: You built an empty library and to your surprise big publishing, the world went right on writing and reading.

We found a way.

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams   @giantsweettart