All these things happened in the space of a week or so:

1. My friend Pat reported that the POD paperback of the book he'd co-authored with my friend Dick had gone on sale quietly at Amazon, with a score of copies sold in the first several days. (The eBook has already been selling for a month or so.)

The book is Bitter Medicine: What I've Learned and Teach about Malpractice Lawsuits (And How to Avoid Them), and I've been peripherally involved with it since Dick showed me some chapters he'd written several years ago. Dick is Richard Kessler, a retired surgeon and professor of medicine, with extensive service as an expert witness in malpractice lawsuits. Pat is Patrick Trese, also retired after a distinguished career as an Emmy-winning writer and producer at NBC News; in the course of it he'd also written and published a couple of books. I've known them both for thirty years or so, and they've known each other for about as long, and the partnership turned out to be a good fit. They put in a lot of hours over a couple of years, and wound up with a solid professional manuscript that told important stories in an accessible manner.

But nobody was interested. A couple of agents agreed to look at the manuscript, kept it forever, and then returned it. A publisher, in an uncharacteristic moment of candor, said essentially that every retired doctor wants to write a book, and many of them do, and nobody cares.

And then Pat had a revelation. Neither of the book's authors was in it for wealth or glory. Dick had had a very important and useful tale to tell, and Pat had found a way to tell it clearly and forcefully, and what they both wanted was for it to be read. And Pat knew a couple of people who'd embraced the revolution of eBooks and self-publishing, and figured why not?

Pat's work on Bitter Medicine is done, but he's keeping busy. His first book, Penguins Have Square Eyes, grew out of his experiences as a TV reporter in Antarctica; it came out in 1962, and now fifty years later he's tweaking it for self-publication. And he's hard at work on the revision of a big thriller he's had in the works for as long as I've known him. Some agents have seen versions of it over the years, and encouraged him, but this this time he plans to publish it himself.

2. My agent told me about a new client he'd just signed, a romance writer. She'd published several books with a commercial publisher, and then they dropped her. So she started publishing herself in eBooks, and in a little over a year she was making eight or ten times what she'd been earning in the past. She'd tried handling her own foreign rights, but it took too much time and she didn't really know what she was doing, so she needed someone to represent her overseas, and negotiate other sub rights.

Now that she was doing so well, she said, publishers had come around, telling her how much they could do for her. "I tell them I already know what they can do for me," she said. "They already did it."

3. A few years ago I led a seminar at Listowel Writers Week, in Ireland's County Kerry. There were ten or a dozen participants, but I've forgotten everything about all but one of them. She was a young Englishwoman whose stories just sprang off the page at you. And she was a demon for work, too, with a trunk full of unsold novels.


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Published on April 22, 2012 10:27 • 518 views
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message 1: by Glen (new)

Glen Krisch I read this on your Wordpress blog. Great stuff, sir! It's amazing the amount of change I've seen since I started writing seriously, and that was about fifteen years ago. I'm glad you're having fun with the new paradigm.


message 2: by Lawrence (last edited Apr 24, 2012 11:54AM) (new)

Lawrence Block Judging from the comments the blog post has been drawing, everybody's having fun.


message 3: by Glen (new)

Glen Krisch I'm a total nobody, and I'm starting to earn more with ebooks than at my dayjob. Yes, it's a lot of fun!


message 4: by Angela (new)

Angela Bertone Thanks for the words of encouragement. I am a new indie as well and it is really hard work. I do still have my day job, but I look forward to my future as a writer. Please keep sharing the good news, sometimes we need it to press on.


message 5: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Block Well, writing's been my day job for half a century, and it's never been more interesting than it is right now.


message 6: by Angela (new)

Angela Bertone I guess it truly is never to late to follow your dream. Wish me luck and if you do read my book, please let me know what you think.

My friends and family tell me it is great, but the truth will come when others give me a non-biased opinion. I hope to exceed my readers expectations. Don't we all?


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