Insights on business -- and life.
Industry Veterans Keep Writing
Short stores, romance and mystery novels, and
Staff Report (May 18, 2009)
Three industry pros have kept creating long after they left our
Jerry began his publishing career as a college student at Bradley
University in Peoria, doing janitorial work at PJS Publications,
which published two magazines and was on the verge of bankruptcy.
After graduation the owner made Jerry publisher and gave him one
year to turn around the company. Jerry did just that, and then
bought Profitable Craft Merchandising, a trade magazine that
was Jerry's first foray into our industry. Later he founded Crafts
magazine, and acquired Sew News and other industry-related
periodicals. PJS Publications was eventually sold and Jerry retired.
"I just decided about six months ago that damnit, I want to
write fiction," Jerry said. After a lifetime of non-fiction,
fiction is a fun, new challenge and I am enjoying it very much.
I"ve got a several dozen stories I will admit to. Short stories
– and dialog – are tough but fun.
"I've got one short story – 15 pages – that I really
like and am going to try to turn it into a book, for me if for no
one else. And I'm knee-deep in a series of stories for my grand
kids. They are a most appreciative audience."
Jerry's most recent short store is available at www.everydayfiction.com/23-down-by-jerry-constantino;
Jerry also writes a blog at http://itsnutsoutthere.blogspot.com.
Lois has probably had more counted cross stitch projects
published in our industry's magazines than any other designer –
but that is only part of her creative abilities. She has written a
number of works – often with a craft or needlework element. (She
dedicated her first novel to Priscilla Hauser, the well known
decorative painter/teacher and the founder of the Society of
Decorative Painters.) Her first two novels Talk Gertie To Me and
Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, were published by
Dorchester Publishing. Lois brings us up to date:
A year and a half ago I was "this close" to selling my
mystery series, the first book being Assault with a Deadly Glue
Gun. The heroine is the crafts editor for a woman's magazine.
Warner Books was about to make an offer. They were being sold to the
Hatchette Group, though, and they were waiting for the sale to go
through. So the sale goes through, Warner Books becomes Grand
Central Publishing, and the first thing they do is fold their
traditional mystery line. No line, no sale.
"At about the same time Avon decided to fold their
traditional mystery line. All of a sudden there were all these
established mystery writers who were orphaned and vying for whatever
publishing slots were left. I'm still trying to find a home for that
series. Everyone who reads it, loves it, but no one wants to buy it.
"I'm sure you've heard what's going on in the publishing
industry. The recession really hit publishing hard. There have been
massive layoffs at all the major publishing houses. On top of that,
of the four book distributors, one went bankrupt recently, and one
is having major financial problems.
"In a way, I was glad I hadn't sold another book because
anyone who's had a release date the last few months has really
gotten screwed by this. Anderson, the company that went bankrupt,
was the main distributor of mass market paperbacks for supermarkets,
drug stores, and Wal-Mart. And if you don't get your book into
Wal-Mart, you can pretty much kiss any royalties good-bye. On top of
that, Borders has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. A few
weeks ago their stock was down to 64 cents a share.
"Oddly enough, even with all the financial chaos going on,
the sales of romance fiction is way up. I guess everyone is looking
for a happy ending, and romance fiction is one of the only places
where that's guaranteed.
"On the up side, though, there are two producers who have
shown interest in optioning Talk Gertie To Me for the movies.
We'll see if anything comes of it. Often producers want options
without offering any money or very little, but one of them even has
her dream cast already figured out – Anne Hathaway for Nori and
Meryl Streep for Connie! Wouldn't that be nice?
"I've also been asked to participate in a mystery anthology.
There will be three or four authors. I'm working on a novella, using
the character from Talk Gertie To Me. It will be published by
Highland Press as both an e-book and a trade paperback. No release
date yet. This all came together only a couple of weeks ago, so the
book probably won't come out until sometime in 2010.
"Meanwhile, I've written the first book in a proposed kids'
series for middle-grade-age kids. It's about a sister and brother
who have a grandmother who's a children's book illustrator. Whenever
Grandpa is away on business (he does something for the government
that's top secret), grandma comes to stay with her grandchildren.
Grandma is a bit magical. She has a magic paintbrush that's very
much like a magic wand. She can transport the kids into her
paintings where they go on various adventures, but no one else is
aware of grandma's special talent.
"My agent will be starting submissions on that soon, and I
have a few other submissions that we're waiting to hear about. It
would be nice if something happened soon. It's been a long dry spell
To learn more, visit www.loiswinston.com.
An excerpt from her first novel, Talk Gertie To Me, is
available by scrolling down the right-hand column here at Kate's
Collage and click on "Excerpts from Talk Gertie to Me."
Geoff was editor of Profitable Craft Merchandising, Creative
Product News, and other industry publications, and served as
Chair of the Craft Division of the old Hobby Industry Association. A
life-long jazz fan, he turned his investigative talents toward the
history of jazz recordings. Geoff writes:
"After I left magazine publishing in 1995, I thought about
writing a book. From start to finish, it took 19 months to get out
an 8-1/2x11, 512-page self-published book in 1998 that was well
received and sold OK for the kind of highly specialized text it was.
Since about 2003, I have been writing numerous articles, letters,
and short pieces for three different journals (one in the U.S., one
in England, one in The Netherlands). Since roughly 2000, I have been
working at various times on four different books. I plan to get
another book out this year, and still another sometime in 2010.
"These books are all aimed at the experienced, sophisticated
collector and discographer. These books would not be of interest to
the average fan, jazz journalist, or academic. Nobody else writes
what I do the way I do, specially in the detail and depth. My
operative principal is: why use a photo when you can use 1000 words?
Thankfully, I have a large amount of recordings, research documents,
and other materials to draw from. When I want something, I check to
see what I have. I haven’t used a library or institutional archive
in years. If I need help with something, I generally contact another
collector. Collectors have the recordings and the documents.
"Virtually every institution that has a collection of jazz
records, books, magazines, etc. has acquired its inventory from
private collectors, such as me. This is true for the U.S. Library of
"Working with libraries and institutional collections is
generally a pain, frequently requiring an advance letter of
interest, citing research materials desired. You then need to make
an appointment. Getting the materials is very time consuming. One
can spend days at an institution, a lot of it just waiting for
materials to be brought to you. There are also stringent security
procedures to follow. Sometimes the only things one can bring into a
library is a standard yellow pad and a writing instrument. Because
of this, I would never give or sell any part of my collection to a
library or archive. The best stewards of such materials are other
collectors. They live with them, know and understand them, and know
how to respect them."
Geoff's first two books are Jazz By Mail Record Clubs and
Record Labels 1936-1958 and Columbia Phonograph: Pioneer in
Recorded Sound and America’s Oldest Record Company, 1886 to the
Present. (The company now operates under the name Sony Music
Entertainment and Columbia is an imprint.)
Here is the Forward to Geoff's latest work, Collectors Guide
to Jazz on Bootleg & Reissue 78 R.P.M. Records 1932 to 1952:
For many record collectors and listeners, reissues of vintage and
rare recordings have been an essential and formative part of the
jazz experience. Without reissues, we wouldn’t have the
opportunity to discover and learn from out-of-print recordings by
the early innovators, and to explore recordings by unfamiliar
artists playing unfamiliar tunes. Where jazz records are concerned,
every day is an opportunity to hear and learn something new.
The Great Depression spurred the first generation of reissues.
Many records that didn’t sell at their original retail prices of
60- or 75 cents during the first years of the Depression might sell
if reissued on lower-priced labels without compromising the
price-integrity of the higher-priced flagship labels. Victor was the
first major company to make reissues a core part of its marketing
program when launching its Sunrise and Bluebird budget labels in
1933. Reissues, in fact, provided an instant catalog to which could
be added new recordings. Such was the case with Victor’s Bluebird
label with its vast catalog ranging from no. 5000 in 1933 to no.
11590 when the series ended in 1942. Columbia and Decca also
reissued recordings, but it wasn’t until 1946 that collectors
interested in early recordings on Paramount, Gennett, Autograph, and
other long-gone pioneering labels of the 1920s, finally had a chance
to acquire 78 R.P.M. reissues of many of these very rare recordings.
Since these reissues weren’t licensed from the source companies,
they became known as "bootlegs," akin to bootleg liquor of
the 1920s and early ’30s. In fact, some writers on bootleg 78
recordings referred to the people who issued them as "’leggers."
Between 1946 and 1952, producing and selling bootleg 78s became a
minor industry unto itself. This book catalogs more than 40 bootleg
labels that issued nearly 700 catalog numbers representing nearly
1400 sides. Collectively, this is far more early jazz than all the
major labels combined reissued on 78. Despite what they were called,
despite the general assumption that what bootleg labels were doing
was illegal, stores stocked the records, people bought them,
magazines reviewed them and accepted paid advertising for them. The
only people unhappy with this affair were Victor and Columbia
Records because some of their rarities were being reissued on
bootlegs. With few exceptions where a recording was an original
pressing, virtually everything issued was dubbed from source
recordings, some using foreign issues where the quality of the
pressing was better than the domestic issue. The quality of the
dubbing was generally of a high order, especially because many of
the source recordings used were in near-mint or mint condition. It
would be nearly impossible today, more than 60 years after the fact,
to find such records in excellent condition. Record collectors who
have troubled to inform themselves about these 78 reissues seek them
out because they likely play better than a worn original and they
are definitely far cheaper in price. Many of the later bootleg
labels pressed their product in vinylite, so unlike shellac 78s,
they were less likely to break under normal use. In this respect,
they were ahead of most major labels, which still issued 78s on the
ersatz post-war equivalent of "shellac."
Not only is this book the first to list and discuss bootleg 78s
and legitimate reissues in depth, it is also the first general
discography organized alphabetically by label. It is thus radically
different from Hot Discography, Rust, and every other discography
organized by artist or recording date. Even experienced collectors
are likely to find many surprises in this book. It is hoped that
through reading this, collectors and discographers will give greater
credence to 78 bootlegs and reissues, and respect them for the
contribution they have made to the study and knowledge of jazz
history. This book is also intended to assist record researchers who
do not have access to rare originals and reissues, and to save time
and effort in searching for information that can be found right
here. – Geoffrey Wheeler, January 2009
The book is 424 pages, 8-1/2x11, nearly 300,000 words, comb-bound
so the book lays flat for easy reading and reference. The cost is
$55.00, plus $4.50 for postage and Delivery Confirmation anywhere in
the Continental U.S. Total cost: $59.50. To order, email Geoff at email@example.com.
Geoff's fourth book, Dial Records: West Coast Jazz and the
Be-Bop Era, will be published this summer.