29/05/2023 at 22:04 #186729OotKustParticipant
A Personal View
As consumers we are held captive by a small elite of capable but in my opinion inefficient forces.
Having spent two decades away from hobbies and largely ignoring, and certainly not buying any related books over that time; diligently and indignantly trying to make a living, survive and just get along with life and whatever threw up, by 2019 I needed to evaluate my options.
A previous venture collapsed somewhat and whilst I’d never lost touch with colleagues and friends in the main, I wasn’t actively gaming as much.
Then in a turn around, I looked at recently published works and a back catalogue of missed opportunities. I expanded and read more on line sourcing information. It seemed thos two decades had been a period of discovery and revelations, to some extent.
The noble books and exercises of the 60’s to 80’s seemed to have slipped somewhat with more ‘foreign’ language information and resources coming ashore. More and more they pointed to a great dearth of true research, in the opinions of opponents, rather than blindly following the rhetoric and blasé diatribes of notable individuals. We’ve discovered a new ‘fake news’ era that really began a long while ago.
Nothing is sacred and all is up for reasonable challenge, and so it should be. Einstein would be proud.
Some authors and publishers are still producing massive tomes and volumes of information. ‘Ready to Go’ gaming and amateur publishing seems to have given impetus to the hobby.
Sadly, to return to the topic, consumers are now held captive by the games people play- not with figures but economic and strategic management of books and ‘pamphleteering’.
It seems gone are the days when a ‘series’ actually appears that way. Larger hard bound copies are reducing; the soft cover soft binding versions now encroaching in greater quantities than Almark ever hoped for.
What erks me most, playing catch up, I admit my own fault, has been the stuttered publication of ‘series’. One would expect that contemporary subjects, or campaigns, would be produced efficiently and in a continuous manner, not spread over many months or even years.
Having read one part, we wait for the next. In between a completely different though allied topic appears- wait they’re interspersed so you cannot logically follow one with another. They play hopscotch with us.
Another matter are the ritualistic and completely avoidable defects currently in print. As one author recently noted- “he had neither editorial nor subject title rights” in his own publication.
Authors cop flack for the mistakes we see as blindingly obvious- wrong photos or illustrations; completely misplaced or incorrect and missing captions; repeated paragraphs and part paragraphs that make a PHd wince, as well as me. Others include poorly printed artwork, amateurish illustrations of diminutive and ‘page fillers’, and out of register copies.
The consumer suffers a great disservice at the hands of such publishers who meantime reap benefits and rewards for penny pinching and poor quality production. Has the plastic cover issue ever been addressed- I certainly never received a response nor a replacement copy. Neither from the publisher nor the bookseller who passed them on.
Adding to the ‘digital age’ of publishing, we suffer the ignoble SPAM sent by all and sundry- 99% of which gets binned- no I don’t want your cars/ trains/ planes/ womens health or flowers books, nor to read the murderous and contemptuous wars and blights on humanity that have coloured our tv screens for 50 years either.
Marketing seems the great impulse of all making money now- once upon a time publishers never dealt with ‘ordinary’ people, now they can’t wait to get your details… but that’s a different subject.
Perhaps taking time to plan and arrange authorship strategies for consecutive publications are beyond the mayhem of modern marketing, but some of us would prefer it.
-D30/05/2023 at 17:01 #186745
Can you write an Editorial if you are not an Editor?
And if we are all allowed to Edit – you spelled ‘Irks’ wrong 🙂30/05/2023 at 19:21 #186748
Can you write an Editorial if you are not an Editor? And if we are all allowed to Edit – you spelled ‘Irks’ wrong 🙂
And ‘flak’ 😉
If you want an enormous hardback book these days, properly researched and edited, be prepared to stick your hand in your wallet to the tune of three digits. If you want pretty pictures, add another 50 quid. Because they ain’t going to sell many. The one thing that keeps academic publications lowish in price is volume sales for course work.
As far as I know, Cambridge doesn’t offer degrees in the nitpicking detail of Napoleonic uniforms, and which Froggie officer was shagging whose colleague’s wife, and where, at 6:20pm on the 3rd of June 1807. Because only a tiny minority of people care, and an even tinier minority are going to be bothered to put the effort into writing such books.
The economics of academic publishing.
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.30/05/2023 at 20:55 #186751Tony HughesParticipant
“I want it ALL and I want in NOW !!!”
……. or I’ll thcream and thcream until I’m thick.30/05/2023 at 21:01 #186752
For me, most books are read once and dispose of, so paperback with it’s lower cost suits me fine.
Having just been involved in proofreading a document where four of us read the thing several times each and still missed a couple of typos I have even more sympathy for proofreaders.
As for series, volumes are available when they’re available. Writing time and finance dictate much of it. It’s not like there’s a shortage of other things to read.
As for spam, I can’t say I see much of it, nor is what little gets through difficult to ignore or automatically bin.
Clearly we have very different expectations and experiences of modern publishing.
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data30/05/2023 at 23:53 #186754
I have some sympathy with the complaint about copy editing and proof reading. Some publishers seem worse than others but many (in all genres) have cut back considerably on these expensive skills.
Was it better in the past? I remember suddenly recognising several pages of a work by Oman lifted and slotted into a wargaming book without attribution, altered slightly by the expedient of changing a few active voice passages to passive voice. Any decent editor with a knowledge of the subject should have spotted that.
As for fake news, there’s a lot of it about in most histories from Ranke onwards – before that it wasn’t even pretending to be history and you were lucky if what was written bore any resemblance to what happened.
Series? Of course they leapfrog and hopscotch – the publisher needs an income stream and if they go to the same well too often too quickly they will be left with a lot of remainders no matter how good the book.
I’m not sure how you judge the value of the information in a book like the first English language Liliane and Fred I bought in 1973 for £2-75, published by Ward Locke. I couldn’t find anything anywhere else where I lived then. It at least got me a start. Would I get a comparable volume now at the inflation adjusted price of £27-90? Doubt it. The internet has cut the ground from under a publisher of that type of work. You don’t think of the cost of the computer/tablet/phone, the broadband connection, electricity bill and damage to the environment of running the server farm when you look up the uniform for Austrian Grenzer. It’s free! Why buy a book?
Ah well, we are where we are not where we’d like to be.
Oi! Doug’s Archaeology. For $7,100 get a copy editor who’ll stick the ‘n’ into ‘a Archaeology book!’ ffs!31/05/2023 at 01:10 #186758OotKustParticipant
…Any decent editor with a knowledge of the subject should have spotted that. As for fake news, there’s a lot of it about in most histories from Ranke onwards –
Thank you Guy for a reasoned response. 25% ok I suppose, if irked… I agree on Funckens, but the value remains if not detailled. I’m not so precious that I can’t recognise usefulness in old work and what could be useful to someone on limited income- that was not the point of my missive of course.
I’ve given away material and figures to exuberant 8-10 years olds fascinated with military and Napoleonic era uniforms (to their parents dismay) some of my plain picture books and guides, rather than see them mould away on the library shelf.
Rest of this reply isn’t about your response.
When editors/ copy-editors (if exist) don’t know the subjects, I couldn’t care less what he subject- yes I understand paying someone is a major drain these days- but the erstwhile 16 year old naive government employment sponsored cadet facing a computer screen usually doesn’t have the nous, or requisite basic knowledge.
Foreigners don’t get the privilege of walking into your favourite/ local bookstore chain and picking up a copy at random when published. No- we pay, direct or via a discounting bookseller, plus near 100% cost for freight. So be it, thats what colonies are for- pillaging!
It is indeed interesting to watch the desecration and destruction of sacred cows in the UK, as ‘commerce, industry and indeed Government’ are dismantled by NIMBY, globalisation, and wanton greed by corporates both internal and international- you had Thatcher, we had the Labour Left 30 years ago… neither seems to have done much ‘good’.
I still teach English and culture part-time to remedial class refugee and emigrant children who are excited to get the personal tuition (in most cases) their parents cannot offer, but I despair for their futures regardless.
Thanks31/05/2023 at 07:40 #186765
I’m not sure how you judge the value of the information in a book like the first English language Liliane and Fred I bought in 1973 for £2-75, published by Ward Locke.
The Funckens weren’t above getting creative with uniformology either. I have both volumes of Napoleonic Uniforms, bought at a bouquiniste in Paris years ago. Either Lill and Fred were wrong then or a lot of other people were later, but they were the gold standard at the time.
And yes, proof reading and copy editing are becoming lost skills, and it boils my piss too.
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.31/05/2023 at 07:56 #186767
And to bring us back to Wargaming – at least one popular rules publisher believes that the ability to write a coherent sentence, or to form those sentences into readable paragraphs, or to check if that’s how you spell absolutely anything, or that he never learned at school when to use “its” and not “it’s” should be no obstacle to publishing Perfect-Bound rules sets like the big boys.
When he hears the word ‘Proofreader’ he reaches for his gnu.31/05/2023 at 08:01 #186768
And to bring us back to Wargaming – at least one popular rules publisher believes that the ability to write a coherent sentence, or to form those sentences into readable paragraphs, or to check if that’s how you spell absolutely anything, or that he never learned at school when to use “its” and not “it’s” should be no obstacle to publishing Perfect-Bound rules sets like the big boys. When he hears the word ‘Proofreader’ he reaches for his gnu.
We all know who you mean. His rules give me a headache.
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.31/05/2023 at 08:31 #186770KitfoxParticipant
TLDR…sometimes specialist books are pricey and not proofread very well?
Death to all fanatics!31/05/2023 at 09:30 #186772MikeKeymaster
And to bring us back to Wargaming
Yes please, current affairs and politics are not for here.31/05/2023 at 09:43 #186775
Basically the economics no longer really stack up. I have worked with publishers whose proof-reading was done by interns who had just got an English degree.
I had to explain to one that dialogue doesn’t necessarily follow the rules of grammar.
There are various costs, I did a blog post on the topic, damned near ten years ago now so the numbers aren’t current. https://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/so-how-much-money-is-there-is-this-book-writing-job-anyway/
The problem is the sheer cost of editing and copy editing (especially copy editing) which is why books contain so many typos nowadays
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/31/05/2023 at 10:17 #186784WhirlwindParticipant
That’s a really good article Jim, thanks very much. One thing on the pricing – how much of it is an inflation mirage and how much is it a real value change (if you know)?31/05/2023 at 11:22 #186785
That’s a really good article Jim, thanks very much. One thing on the pricing – how much of it is an inflation mirage and how much is it a real value change (if you know)?
With pricing it is very difficult to know. The problem is that the model is broken. A lot of people who used to buy books are sitting with kindle’s stuffed with free downloads.
At the bottom end there are people who are just desperate to be read. They’re writing to give it away in the hope it will build them a following who might one day pay (but frankly I don’t think that model works)
If you get your pricing ‘right’ with Amazon you can perhaps make £2 on a Kindle novel. So if you want to earn £1000 for 70,000 words (which might comfortably represent a hundred hours work, with rewriting and editing) then you have to sell 500 copies which is a level of sales I doubt I’ve ever achieved, and you’re earning less than the minimum wage. The author has to ask what their partner and children might prefer them to spent the time with family because the money is nugatory 🙁
My guess is that perhaps 5% of writers actually manage to make a living from writing. Most have day jobs
With wargaming it’s even worse. We don’t really know the sales figures for various books, but we can get a hint from Amazon.
Take Tony Bath, Ancient Wargaming: Including Setting up a Wargames Campaign and the Hyborian Campaign
If you look down ‘Product Details,’ you’ll see it has a Best Sellers Rank: 498,791 in Books
That sort of figure on Amazon.co.uk probably means it might have sold a couple of paperbacks on Amazon.co.uk this month.
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/31/05/2023 at 12:11 #186788willzParticipant
When all is said and done this is a hobby about pushing our toys across a table ( or floor if your knees or back can handle it). For 50+ years I have been buying wargaming, historical and uniform books overall I have been very happy with the contents and data they provide. Most books I have bought I consider have been worth the money and yes the rare spelling mistake but you get the same in non fiction books these days. As for prices generally these days I try to buy my books 2nd hand if I can, however I do buy new and lots of book sellers online do special deals. Today we have a wider choice of wargaming, historical and uniform books, mainly due to the internet.31/05/2023 at 12:39 #186790Stephen HolmesParticipant
Read the original twice.
The lack of specifics left be lost for the authors intent.31/05/2023 at 13:28 #186792
The lack of specifics left be lost for the authors intent.
Is this a test?31/05/2023 at 13:33 #18679331/05/2023 at 15:30 #186797
I’m reminded of a story my Philosophy tutor liked to tell of a fellow student when he was studying Philosophy at university.
This fellow was brilliant, miles ahead of the rest of the class but in the final exam gave such detailed answers that he almost ran out of time. Just in time he realised there was an unnumbered item in the list of questions which read
is this a question
No punctuation or capitals but indented like the other questions.
The answer that clinched his 1st class degree?
if that is a question then this is an answer
Language is a very versatile and malleable thing which is constantly evolving. Provided the target audience understands what you are saying much of the detail is functionally irrelevant.
I think the plusses of modern publishing outweighs any downsides.
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data31/05/2023 at 15:35 #186798
If you’d like a general update on why you shouldn’t be a writer (general, any type) see
Admittedly US data but optimistic compared with some estimates that in the UK average book sales are <250. That is the mean, so if we include Booker Prize Winners and Richard Osman’s 3.1 million (God Help us) in those stats some of those books are going to be lucky to sell 10, in a good year, with a following wind and their Mum being very loyal in her Christmas present buying.
There are more positive ways to look at the figures but I’d just like to share the fact that while History does pretty well as a category (not in the Amazon top 5 non-fiction categories though) most of that is taken up with WWII and things frankly I wouldn’t recognise as history per se. A lot of social, economic and gender studies get branded as ‘history’.
Military history is a niche ( a still academically suspect one at that) within a niche in a minor sales category. Be thankful anything gets published.31/05/2023 at 15:39 #186799
Your Philosophy Tutor was pulling your leg with the ‘fellow Student’ bit. That story is older than anyone here’s Grampa 🙂
when Exams come up, I always like to testify to an actual useful fact as most of us will have kids or grandkids and it should get passed on. Our teachers used to tell us ‘if you are halfway through an essay on Utilitarianism, and realise with sudden horror you cannot remember Jeremy’s surname, leave a blank space and an asterisk, and write ‘I cannot remember his name. However i do KNOW his name.’
It always struck me as very unlikely, until Lo! I was elbows deep in a spiffing Essay about the Democracy in Classical Athens, a gift from the exam gods, and discovered i couldnt remember HIS name.
I did what I had been told to do, my note at the bottom was something pitiful like ‘I cannot recall his name, but I think I have shown that i know all about the topic, please dont fail me oh god please’but left the exam with a dark icy lump in my heart, not helped by suddenly going’CLEISTHENES. It’s f&*cking Cleisthenes!!’ on the way to the bus.
It actually works! I can testify to this. pass it on.31/05/2023 at 15:42 #186800MikeKeymaster31/05/2023 at 16:10 #186807
Your Philosophy Tutor was pulling your leg with the ‘fellow Student’ bit. That story is older than anyone here’s Grampa .
Story told in 1972 by a man in his late sixties, which makes him older than one of my grandads 🙂
But even if it’s apocryphal I still like it.
Some apocryphal stories are so good they ought to be true 🙂
Unlike stories that once policemen were older, prices were lower, politicians were honest … and publishing so much better!
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data31/05/2023 at 20:05 #186811
So I can span both extremes. My wife’s school friend, now 61, has been writing for 30 years, her books frequently top their genre (crime thriller) listings on Amazon and she has made a pretty good living – but that represents literally millions of books sold. My wife is a journalist and editor with 30+ years of experience, and the market these days for a proper editor, not just a spell checker, is virtually non-existent. The last ‘proper’ editing job, i.e. working in collaboration with the author to change sequence, make cuts and suggest textual changes to improve the work was with a fairly wealthy self published writer who did a novel and an autobiography. That was 6 years ago. Other than very top end publishing houses, and only for their marquee writers, editing is non-existent.
I recently purchased a fairly expensive WW2 study in hardback by a well known author, and one particular page clearly had multiple paragraphs copied and out of sequence. (p301) Very disappointing.
--An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --31/05/2023 at 20:16 #186812Ian MarshParticipant
I used to copy edit and proofread books for a living. The rate of pay for the time involved was such that it was not financially worthwhile to do more than go through a book once at either the copy editing or proofreading stage. As for fact checking on top of that…
www.fighting15s.com01/06/2023 at 12:30 #186825Norm SParticipant
Surely there is an APP somewhere that can do all of this 🙂 There is one that works with a toothbrush via bluetooth to show you how to brush your teeth!01/06/2023 at 12:47 #186826
I’d like to see the app that can cut 40,000 words from a manuscript, drop particular characters, remove excessive adjectives and suggest changes to plot and storyline timing and exposition.
--An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --01/06/2023 at 13:27 #186828
I’d like to see the app that can cut 40,000 words from a manuscript, drop particular characters, remove excessive adjectives and suggest changes to plot and storyline timing and exposition.
ChatGPT suggests that may not be far off …. though whether it would improve the manuscript might be another matter!01/06/2023 at 14:47 #186829
You might be right, but who wants every novel to end up with the successful return of the Nazis?
--An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --01/06/2023 at 16:25 #186831
Forty years or so ago, when I was a librarian and had not yet morphed from a nerd into a geek working in IT, I came across a book in the library I was currently working in which was rather strange.
It was by a best selling author of very popular, if formulaic, adventure books.
This copy was issued regularly and from the patterns of wear it was obvious that most, if not all, readers read all the way through.
Several times I was manning a counter when it was returned and the readers enthused about the author.
So, I borrowed the book and read it.
The reason it was rather strange was that half way through the hero altered out of all recognition. Different height, different hair colour, from a different arm of service, different accent and background.
Most other characters vanished without explanation and new characters appeared for no obvious reason.
This was not some authorial comment of the nature of reality but the first half of one novel and the second half of another!
I checked with the other staff and all of us remembered people returning the book and enthusing about the author. Not one of us remembered a comment about the bizarre change half way through.
In such a world are proof readers really necessary? 🙂01/06/2023 at 16:53 #186832
ChatGPT suggests that may not be far off …. though whether it would improve the manuscript might be another matter!
I am convinced that some of the authors on Amazon are an AI program. Or multiple people writing novels under a single name.01/06/2023 at 16:56 #186833Olaf MeysParticipant
Oooh- do tell, who was the author and what was the book?
wargames review site...01/06/2023 at 18:31 #186834
I have heard of people who copy/pasted Wiki articles into a word document, and then published it on Kindle.
I’ve not come across two half novels, but again I have no doubt that it happened. As a result of my investigations into the world of publishing (asking for a friend don’t you know) I had Port Naain’s finest living poet write a blog which uses stuff which cropped up in my researches
https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/01/06/2023 at 18:47 #186835
Books with the wrong centre pages are not as uncommon as they should be but that half and half is a one and only in my experience. I’ve always presumed it was a stray that somehow escaped pulping.02/06/2023 at 01:58 #186842vtsaogamesParticipant
Proof reading? Spell check, more often.
It's never too late to have a happy childhood02/06/2023 at 08:40 #186848
I’m probably running a very old spell checker but it picked up
‘Proof reading? Spell check, moor often.’
‘Proof reading? Spell cheque, more often.’
It flagged ‘Proof reading’ as a fragment which I should consider revising. So not necessarily the answer to all our prayers.
If anyone is a collector of book publishing errors (there generally aren’t any apart from things like the Sinner’s Bible – ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’ 1631) I have an Osprey Elite Series 28 Medieval Siege Warfare by Gravett and Hook 1994 printing, bound in an Elite Series 21 The Zulus by Knight and McBride cover I can let you have for a very reasonable price.02/06/2023 at 12:01 #186851John TreadawayParticipant
Wargaming’s great… 🙂
www.hammers-slammers.com"They don't have to like us, snake, they just have t' make the payment schedule" Lt Cooter - Hammer's Slammers
http://www.hammers-slammers.com02/06/2023 at 14:04 #186853
Any insights, as an editor, on the OP – the state of military history and wargames publishing?02/06/2023 at 20:15 #186859John D SaltParticipant
I get annoyed by a lack of proofreading and copy-editing as much as the next old man who shouts at clouds.
I get more annoyed by people who don’t pay my bill (at 75% discount) for an agreed copy-editing job, and don’t even give an acknowledgement in the final printed book.
What annoys me still more, though, is having copy-editors who “correct” things to be wrong. No doubt this is partly my own fault for using difficult words that have fallen into desuetude, such as “immanent”, “sparsity”, and “desuetude”. It is also certain that my expectation that a copy-editor meeting an unfamiliar word might look it up in a dictionary is a sign of my quaint and outmoded old fogitude. Even so, I cannot remain with my piss unboiled when the editing team, presumably being paid for their work, are adding errors into the manuscript faster than I, working unpaid, can take them out.
Long-standing readers will be familiar with my fascination for the battle of Port-en-Bessin, perhaps the least-known but most extraordinary action of the Normandy landings. A couple of years ago I published a chapter in the collection “On Contested Shores”, a bunch of contributed pieces on the theme of amphibious warfare published by the US Marine Corps University Press. The electric text of this book is distributed Harry Freeman’s, so people who have not yet read my account of the battle can download a .pdf of chapter 15 from
The US Marine Corps University Press were at least professional enough to run suggested edits past the original writer, and managed not to lose their temper over the recalcitrant Brit who stubbornly refused to accept most of them. And I did discover something new to me about the battle from the reviewer who asked why I had not mentioned the B-24 strike that killed 24 Portais (difficult word, means “inhabitant of Port-en-Bessin”) on D-Day morning. The reason I had not mentioned it, which I think is quite a good one, is that no such thing ever happened. It turns out that such a strike was scheduled, and this was news to me, but, whatever it hit, it didn’t hit Port-en-Bessin. The figure of 24 killed is pure tosh, produced by an over-hasty reading of the roll of civil victims held at the University of Caen; I sent the reviewer my spreadsheet containing the names, dates, and cause of death of all Port-en-Bessin’s WW2 dead.
Worse yet was the way editors cheerfully added wildly misleading footnotes about some of the locations mentioned in the narrative. 47(RM) Commando landed near Le Hamel, conducted a battle march which included a brisk action at La Rosière, and established themselves ready to assault the final objective from Escures. Marine Commandos are fit lads, and famous for it, and the battle march was some 15 km. However the footnotes on these places, which seemed to have been produced from the first google hit for the place name, confused these places as follows:
le Hamel …on the Somme
La Rosière …in the French Alps
Escures, not to be confused with Escurès, in the Atlantic Pyrenees
That would have been a formidable approach march indeed: “Once round France touching all four corners, GO!”
I would have thought it should have been tolerably obvious that the places in question were the ones with those names in Calvados. But that’s just more of my quaint and outmoded old fogitude.
All the best,
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