Where the magic happens: on an 11-year-old, pre-Intel PowerBook G4 with no distracting Internet connection.

Broos's books


4 of 5 stars

So moving and insightful that I had to remind myself it wasn't autobiographical. The clinical bits get so personal, though, that reading the book aloud can get kind of disconcerting.

A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire

4 of 5 stars

A beautifully written, quietly humorous tale of an Austro-Hungarian U-boat commander during World War I. I was sorry to finish it. But then I remembered I've got three more of them to read.

Red Seas Under Red Skies

4 of 5 stars

Starts out with a bang--which leads to another bang, which leads to another ... Lightweight, but funny and inventive.


Selected Works

The Matty Graves novels
Midshipman Matty Graves must choose between family and duty.

“Refreshingly cynical.”
—Jonathan Lunn

Acting-Lieutenant Matty Graves gets caught up in the Haitian Revolution in 1800. Mayhem ensues!

"[N]ever dull . . ."
—Madison Smartt Bell

Matty seizes the opportunity to make a name and fortune for himself—even if it means destroying those closest to him.

"[U]nusual, if somewhat jaundiced . . ."
Library Journal

Errors after the fact
Seamen's terms in landsmen's language
Haitian Timeline
Nautical info bits
How far it is from here to there, by sea, in English statute miles.
Public domain stuff—I didn't write this.
Yep, still maps

Beyond the Graves

What does a publisher do?

January 3, 2010

Tags: publishing, galassi, farrar, straus, t. s. eliot, cortney love

Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, writes in the January 3 edition of the New York Times about what exactly it is that a publisher does for an author. He makes a number of interesting points, chief among them being that a publisher can have a great deal of time and expertise invested in a text, once you consider all the editing and production and publicity.

Which is an entirely legitimate point when it comes to those texts in which a publisher actually has invested a great deal of time and money.

Now, the ponies in Farrar, Straus and Giroux's stable range from Flannery O'Connor to J. G. Ballard, and it's true that a publisher brings a lot more to the table than is readily apparent. But—and this is the concern that arguably has more authors pissed off at publishers than just about any other—is the perception that, except in the case of big names, publishers are putting a lot less time and money into editing and publicity than they used to, yet they expect the same share of the rewards as before.

Publishers say right up front that they really are only interested in authors who have a demonstrated ability to sell books without any help from the publisher, and it seems that more and more books are being pushed through the pipeline without much more than a spellcheck.

So, what does a publisher offer an author? For one thing, a sense that a book is worth reading because it has been worked on and hashed over and put together by people with a deep love and knowledge of the publishing business. In a word: legitimacy.

There's a reason why ebooks that aren't electronic versions of works that have previously been issued in print have a stigma attached to them. Anyone with an Internet connection can now be an "author," however unadvisedly. But until publishers start offering authors a larger royalty on formats that cost the least, they're going to have a hard time hanging onto authors who actually do make money. And as long as they claim the right to issue old works in new formats, invented yet or not, and especially if they get to decide how much if anything they're going to pay in royalties, we've got a problem.

I don't mind swinging a hammer, but there's no point in paying someone to build you a house if you have to do all the work yourself.