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Monday, July 31, 2017

No substitute for effort

Peter King relates an interesting story that explains Bruce Springsteen's unusual work ethic:
“Have you read the Springsteen book?” Garrett said the other day in a lengthy conversation before practice. (“Born To Run,” an autobiography, 2016, Simon & Schuster.) “He’s 20 years old, everybody at the Jersey Shore loves him, but he’s unknown nationally, and a good friend and adviser tells him, ‘If you really want to be great, you’ve got to get off the Jersey Shore.’ And so they pile everything in a couple vehicles and head west to this sort of open mike night in San Francisco.

As Springsteen wrote, the band was part of a four-band showcase; one band would get the chance to move on and perhaps get a recording contract. The Jersey guys went third and thought they killed it. The fourth band, though not as energetic, was very good. Via “Born To Run:”

“They got the gig. We lost out. After the word came down, all the other guys were complaining we’d gotten ripped off. The guy running the joint didn’t know what he was doing, blah, blah, blah.”

That night, Springsteen reflected, sleeping on a couch in his transplanted parents’ home in the Bay Area. “My confidence was mildly shaken, and I had to make room for a rather unpleasant thought. We were not going to be the big dogs we were back in our little hometown. We were going to be one of the many very competent, very creative musical groups fighting over a very small bone. Reality check. I was good, very good, but maybe not quite as good or exceptional as I’d gotten used to people telling me, or as I thought … I was fast, but like the old gunslingers knew, there’s always somebody faster, and if you can do it better than me, you earn my respect and admiration, and you inspire me to work harder. I was not a natural genius. I would have to use every ounce of what was in me—my cunning, my musical skills, my showmanship, my intellect, my heart, my willingness—night after night, to push myself harder, to work with more intensity than the next guy just to survive untended in the world I lived in.”
That's how we approach publishing at Castalia. Yes, we may be smart. Yes, we've got some advantages, and, of course, some disadvantages as well. But the one thing we absolutely know is that no one in the publishing industry is going to outwork us.

I was particularly satisfied this weekend, although I was turning in even later than I normally do - I'm usually irritated with myself when that first glow of sunrise is beginning to appear and I realize that I've stayed up too late again - because I managed to complete the edits on two books that night, both of which will be published this month.

I very much appreciate the near-fanatic levels of support we receive from you guys. It is an integral part of Castalia's success. And you can rest assured that we will never take it for granted or coast on our past accomplishments.

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47 Comments:

Anonymous CarpeOro July 31, 2017 7:34 AM  

I can appreciate the work ethic comparison, but I seem to recall that Springsteen got some of the tribal marketing support that got him into the big time (his singing was so bad that even fans couldn't understand his mumbling on-stage for his first decade). I don't see that happening with CH or even likely. I see your rise more merit based and on the failings of the POB in the publishing industry. The reason many of us support you is the material is just so darn good.

Blogger VD July 31, 2017 7:38 AM  

Well, we know we're not going to catch any breaks from the mainstream media. The New York Times is never going to write credulous puff pieces on our authors about how successful and affable they are, and the review sites - to the extent they even exist - aren't going to review them.

But that doesn't matter. Because we're working on multiple ways of creating new marketing and distribution channels that we are only beginning to utilize. In five years, we will be a major publishing house and we will not have changed at all.

Anonymous Committed July 31, 2017 8:20 AM  

Great post. In my business (tech) there is a strong movement against the work ethic. It coincides with the anti-white/anti-male crusades that have arisen - a general war on competence. I laugh at this mindset: it's plain to see that execution is king. To be in a position where you pour everything into an important mission is to be a lucky man. Work can indeed set you free.

Blogger Durandel Almiras July 31, 2017 8:22 AM  

Thank you for doing Castalia, and the other efforts that contribute to the culture war, Vox.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 31, 2017 8:26 AM  

Hey, the selection of books you offer makes it real easy to be a loyal customer.

Blogger Dexter July 31, 2017 8:29 AM  

I detest Springsteen's music and his politics. Anecdote valuable nonetheless.

Blogger VD July 31, 2017 8:30 AM  

You're quite welcome. I have the good fortune to enjoy what I do, at least most of the time.

Blogger Zoot Fenster July 31, 2017 8:34 AM  

Rule #7 in our little manufacturing company
"We are not as smart as we think we are."
has prevented many a bad decision that looked good at the time.
And, yes, execution is key.

Anonymous Andrew Anglin July 31, 2017 9:10 AM  

I'd like to support Castalia; but my tired eyes don't like "hot" e-books. How about making more of the catalog available in print?

Blogger VD July 31, 2017 9:12 AM  

How about making more of the catalog available in print?

We have literally dozens of books in print. With 3-4 coming out every month. To say nothing of 2-3 audiobooks coming out every month.

Anonymous Johnny Mayonnaise July 31, 2017 9:32 AM  

Many people think they are busting their ass when clearly they have no clue what that actually entails.

Actors will often complain about their "brutal" 16-hour-a-day filming schedules. What they don't reveal is that:

1. a healthy chunk of that time is spent off-camera, doing absolutely nothing

2. filming often lasts only a few weeks (if that), with frequent days off

3. that "brutal" 16-hour day is the exception, not the rule

4. they are protected by union work rules, and they get paid overtime

"But I have to go to acting classes and auditions!" they bleat. "And I have to hit the gym to stay in shape!"

Oh, the humanity!

“I can’t stand an actor or actress who tells me acting is hard work. It’s easy work. Anyone who says it isn’t never had to stand on his feet all day dealing blackjack.” ― Dean Martin

Anonymous Azimus July 31, 2017 9:38 AM  

1. CarpeOro July 31, 2017 7:34 AM
...but I seem to recall that Springsteen got some of the tribal marketing support that got him into the big time ... I don't see that happening with CH or even likely... I see your rise more merit based...


I was reading Billy Graham's "Just as I Am" biography earlier this year, and even he knew that it was a two word cable from William Randolph Hearst, "Puff Graham", that made him a household name. Considering Current Year and the power of the internet, I wonder if the king makers really have anywhere near the power to do that anymore.

What I mean to say is, somebody (De Tocqueville?) said the American Revolution was successful because the weapons of the common man and the weapons of the king were the same... which of course today is FAR from the truth. But on the internet, the tools of the common man and the tools of the kingmakers are the same... it is an opportunity like few others, and the window won't be open forever. I'm glad to see CH taking full advantage making hay while the sun shines.

Blogger Matthew July 31, 2017 9:41 AM  

Currently in print:

- Awake in the Night Land
- Victoria
- A History of Strategy
- Compost Everything
- SJWs Always Lie
- There Will Be War, volumes I and II
- Grow or Die
- Equality: The Impossible Quest
- 4th Generation Warfare Handbook
- Cuckservative
- Brings the Lightning
- CTRL ALT Revolt!
- Iron Chamber of Memory
- MAGA Mindset
- The End of the World as We Knew It
- The Missionaries
- Back From the Dead
- The Nine Laws
- The Eden Plague
- Reaper's Run
- Skull's Shadows
- A Throne of Bones
- Summa Elvetica
- Starship Liberator
- Vox Collected Columns I
- Clio & Me
- City Beyond Time
- Battleship Indomitable
- Rocky Mountain Retribution
- The Green Knight's Squire
- Push the Zone
- Appendix N
- The LawDog Files

Blogger Jew613 July 31, 2017 9:47 AM  

Vox, the reason Castalia House receives almost fanatical support is you consistently put out works of excellent quality. With most publishers books might be good or they might be were-seal level of bad.

Blogger Heian-kyo Dreams July 31, 2017 9:52 AM  

@Andrew Anglin

Try a Kindle Paperwhite (which is different than a Kindle). It's very easy on the eyes, as easy as a book. Plus since it's back lit, you can read it in bright sunlight while wearing polarized sunglasses or in a dark room.

Blogger James Jones July 31, 2017 9:58 AM  

Vox, do you publish biographies? Is it Castalia that published Law Dog Files?

Blogger Heian-kyo Dreams July 31, 2017 10:01 AM  

All the CH fiction I've read features active protagonists. They drive they story in some way. Many other books out there feature passive main characters that the story happens around.

The stories are interesting and well written to boot. Plus CH has never announced from its high horse, "you aren't important/PC enough to give us money, begone!"

Blogger Matthew July 31, 2017 10:23 AM  

James Jones wrote:Vox, do you publish biographies? Is it Castalia that published Law Dog Files?

We have published Martin van Creveld's memoir, Clio & Me. Yes, we published The LawDog Files, with a second volume coming soon.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 31, 2017 10:26 AM  

I respect those who reach Mt. Olympus levels of productivity. I'm happy to not be one of them, however.

For most (perhaps not VD, but most), getting to that highest level requires near super-human effort, week after week, decade after decade. Most people who reach such superstardom sacrifice family and all else in their quest.

But it is the thinnest, highest stratum that makes up half of what moves the world. The other half is the masses of cogs in the machine, the group to which most of us belong.

Long live such symbiosis.

Blogger cheddarman July 31, 2017 10:35 AM  

LOve (phileo) you man!

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 31, 2017 10:49 AM  

I'm usually irritated with myself when that first glow of sunrise is beginning to appear and I realize that I've stayed up too late again

Dark Lord, that's just the preliminary rash, a harbinger of disintigration. I pray you are blogging from a buried coffin?

Blogger Starboard July 31, 2017 10:51 AM  

I agree with Dexter. Never liked Springsteen, but it's a valuable lesson nonetheless. The transition from high achieving high schooler to mid-pack college freshman was a slap in the face. Working hard to stay afloat after cruising through high school felt like failure but was one of the best things for me. That struggle set me up for later success, and figuring out what I was not cut out for lead me to my strengths. To quote Cernovich/Taleb/Day(?) Fail Faster.

Castalia House rocks because of the people who work it, the authors who publish through it, and the books they write. Keep up the excellent work. My reading list continues to overfloweth.

Blogger James Jones July 31, 2017 10:56 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger James Jones July 31, 2017 10:58 AM  

Thank you. How do I submit? Second novel. First novel here...

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.amazon.co.uk/Recollections-Half-Wit-Barry-James-Stephenson-ebook/dp/B00OPK8P3U&ved=0ahUKEwipqari47PVAhVhBsAKHeOsDicQFggdMAA&usg=AFQjCNHRTa6a3REmuS_fSfjkdJETkYwbyw

Anonymous Longtime Lurker July 31, 2017 11:03 AM  

Kick Ass. Take Names. Always. (Looking forward to the 3rd installment of the Galactic Liberation series and the upcoming book on California succession.)

Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents July 31, 2017 11:18 AM  

@2 VD
The New York Times is never going to write credulous puff pieces on our authors about how successful and affable they are, and the review sites - to the extent they even exist - aren't going to review them.

The Carlos Slim blog and the New York Review of Us are selling to a steadily shrinking audience, so lack of reviews from those shillsites won't affect sales by CH. The based reader won't care, or will regard shunning by the Temple as a good sign.

Publishing houses run by fat, inert, lazy SJW's are dinosaurs. They can't respond to the changing market fast enough.

Blogger flyingtiger July 31, 2017 11:27 AM  

Now I understand why Springsteen never had a support band. They did not want to be blown away by hot newcomers.
Springsteen never had a real job. He was always in music. This is why his songs sound so lame. Motorhead"s "We are the road crew" is better than anything the boss has put out.

Blogger Dire Badger July 31, 2017 11:29 AM  

Writers and readers should take it for granted that they won't be taken for granted? hehe.

Blogger Jeff Wood July 31, 2017 11:51 AM  

@24

James, there is guidance on the Castalia site on how to submit a manuscript. Good luck.

Blogger Matthew July 31, 2017 12:13 PM  

http://www.castaliahouse.com/ch-page/submissions/

But sadly:

> Due to our limited production bandwidth, Castalia House is currently closed to uninvited submissions.

Can confirm. The schedule for August includes up to 7 ebooks and nearly that many print editions.

Blogger newbietrader July 31, 2017 12:23 PM  

so Bruce Springsteen can over come one in a miilion odds for success in the music industry through hard work, but the two females only over came 1:50K odds because they are female and jewish? love the lack of continuity of logic between articles. Oh right, we are the alt right and have to blame everything n the JOOOOOOOOOOSSSSS when we aren't blaming welfare receiving blacks

Blogger James Dixon July 31, 2017 12:28 PM  

> I detest Springsteen's music and his politics.

I like his music, but detest his politics. He's made it clear which he considers more important, so no more money to him.

> Vox, the reason Castalia House receives almost fanatical support is you consistently put out works of excellent quality.

I have to agree, and only wish I had enough free money and time to spend on a number of the books. :(

> Try a Kindle Paperwhite

Seconded. Pretty much everyone I know who has tried the Paperwhite loves it. I have a softness for my Nook Simpletouch, but it's not backlit.

> I respect those who reach Mt. Olympus levels of productivity. I'm happy to not be one of them, however.

I have to agree. For starters, one thing most of the extremely successful people I've encountered or read about have in common is that they get by on comparatively little sleep (3-5 hours per night seems to be common amongst them). That's not me. I need more sleep than most people, not less.

Blogger Last Redoubt July 31, 2017 12:29 PM  

You can knock Springsteen for a lot of things - I for one hate how depressing most of his songs are, but marrying them to upbeat-sounding refrains and music (take "Born in the USA" - the refrain is an ironic putdown of you listen to the whole song) was a factor in his popularity. Also, yes, a bit of a push due to correct politics. But his work ethic was a factor as well. Without it, and demanding it of his band, the rest wouldn't have mattered, or he'd have burned bright and then imploded.

I think Guy Kawasaki once noted the genius in Avis marketing "they try harder" - implying they are more commited and dedicated.

Blogger Matthew July 31, 2017 12:48 PM  

Spooner, take your meds.

Anonymous Realist July 31, 2017 12:48 PM  

I used to be a Springsteen fan before his politics became really annoying to me. I do have to give him some credit though. My late sister was a huge Springsteen fan. Years ago we went to a concert of his in Cincinnati and due to my sister's Multiple Sclerosis were allowed to get in early so we could use the elevator to get to our seats. Springsteen was in the middle of his soundcheck and called the 50 or so people on the floor to come up to the stage. He started taking requests and was working as hard playing for that handful of people as he did later that night to a packed house. He was bringing it and the band was feeding off of his energy.

I'm a musician myself and I always remembered that lesson. He put everything he had into it, regardless of whether it was a handful of people or a packed stadium. I also remember the smile on my sister's face as she listened to him put everything he had into some great bar band classics that were requested during the sound check.

Blogger Gordon July 31, 2017 1:00 PM  

As I recall, there was a certain October 1975 cover story in Time about Springsteen declaring him "Rock's Newest Superstar." I had never heard of him at the time. A friend whose job included looking after a doctor's waiting room told me that issue just stayed there, when any other magazine that would appeal to "youth" would disappear.

On the other hand, having the approval of the kingmakers may not be enough to keep you there, as Christopher Cross can tell you.

The foreshortening of production time is fascinating to me. I know of a case where an author had a timely topical book. He consulted with a major house and was told the production time involved was 14 months, and that couldn't be reduced because they had a schedule. A friend suggested he self-publish as an e-book. He contacted a company that does the formatting for you, and they quoted him 48 hours, with apologies. They knew they could get that time down to 24 hours, but they were still ramping up.

That's why I was surprised, but only a little, when you announced Law Dog II almost on the heels of Law Dog.

Blogger Resident Moron™ July 31, 2017 1:16 PM  

Your effort shows in your products, and that kind of dedication deserves reciprocation

Blogger Matthew July 31, 2017 2:08 PM  

Gordon wrote:The foreshortening of production time is fascinating to me. I know of a case where an author had a timely topical book. He consulted with a major house and was told the production time involved was 14 months, and that couldn't be reduced because they had a schedule. A friend suggested he self-publish as an e-book. He contacted a company that does the formatting for you, and they quoted him 48 hours, with apologies. They knew they could get that time down to 24 hours, but they were still ramping up.


A company that does the ebook formatting for you within a couple of days is likely using tools that are also available to you, like Calibre and Sigil. Perhaps they're clever enough to use Pandoc. Perhaps they also have some humans fluent in English who will review the computer-generated output. Whatever. They provide you with a service that you're willing to pay for, because for you to do it would require time that you could better spend on writing. It may not be the highest quality (it won't be), but it's acceptable.

So now you have an ebook that is very probably going to work on all modern e-readers. You're going to self-publish it on Amazon, or Smashwords, or wherever. This is great, a wonderful advance in technology and sociology. Authors like Peter Grant, David VanDyke, Nick Cole, and B. V. Larson have had a lot of success self-publishing. But they didn't start out just throwing a book up on Amazon and people just magically discovered it. Marketing in both the push and pull senses is key. Push: get the word out. Pull: discover what people are buying.

There's also the little matter of covers.

What a publisher does for you is ALL OF THE ABOVE. We have editors, typesetters, cover artists, a brand, and marketing. Why do publishers have a schedule? Because art doesn't suddenly spring fully formed from the head of Zeus. Because editing a book takes a significant fraction of the time it took to write the book. Because typesetting a book, even if your typesetter is only half as awesome as I am, takes a good amount of time.

All that said, Castalia House is a lot faster than the big old slow guys. We're taking advantage of advances in technology, super-intelligences, and as the OP says, dedicated effort.

Technology: Print On Demand has matured into high quality supply and distribution channels

Super Intelligences: duh

Effort: We're all doing this in addition to our regular daily responsibilities (cough A Sea of Skulls cough cough).

I don't say this to discourage anyone from self-publishing. By no means! It's a wonderful new development. One of the most exciting books I have read recently is Eta Cancri by Russell May. I found it because he's Ilk and one of my internet friends. SF horror from a religious perspective, you should buy it. But (and Russell won't mind me saying so), it sorely needs the attention of an editor. Perhaps CH might have published it, but it would have taken months to get it through the pipeline.

OpenID doktorjeep July 31, 2017 2:52 PM  

Years ago I used to be in these "book clubs". For example, I was in the Electronics Book Club and the Science Book Club and used to get books mailed once a month. I was eventually able to go online and see what was going to be mailed and reject them.

Imagine that tech with the eBook.

Does Castalia have such a thing?

Blogger Matthew July 31, 2017 2:58 PM  

No, but we have a mailing list for new releases. Buyers of a new usually get a copy of another book, sometimes ours, sometimes from an associated author.

Blogger Basil Makedon July 31, 2017 3:47 PM  

VD the books are good; therefore, I buy the next one that interests me.

While that seems like a very simple bargain: quality entertainment or enlightenment (or both) in exchange for money, it is disturbing how many businesses forget how that works.

Cheers and carry on!

Anonymous Killua July 31, 2017 3:51 PM  

I want to thank you for your efforts as well. I read Riding the Red horse and it was fantastic. What you have writen about fourth generation warfare is also amazing. I am looking forward for the upcoming books, and specially the Alt comics.

Blogger Roger G2 July 31, 2017 4:27 PM  

Say what they will, they can never accuse VD of being a slouch.

Blogger The Morrigan July 31, 2017 6:04 PM  

You've got me writing volume for the first time in years, so the effect Is contagious.

Anonymous Publishing is marketing and it is nothing else. August 01, 2017 2:42 AM  

Matthew wrote:Gordon wrote:The foreshortening of production time is fascinating to me. I know of a case where an author had a timely topical book. He consulted with a major house and was told the production time involved was 14 months, and that couldn't be reduced because they had a schedule. A friend suggested he self-publish as an e-book. He contacted a company that does the formatting for you, and they quoted him 48 hours, with apologies. They knew they could get that time down to 24 hours, but they were still ramping up.

A company that does the ebook formatting for you within a couple of days is likely using tools that are also available to you, like Calibre and Sigil. Perhaps they're clever enough to use Pandoc. Perhaps they also have some humans fluent in English who will review the computer-generated output. Whatever. They provide you with a service that you're willing to pay for, because for you to do it would require time that you could better spend on writing. It may not be the highest quality (it won't be), but it's acceptable.

So now you have an ebook that is very probably going to work on all modern e-readers. You're going to self-publish it on Amazon, or Smashwords, or wherever. This is great, a wonderful advance in technology and sociology. Authors like Peter Grant, David VanDyke, Nick Cole, and B. V. Larson have had a lot of success self-publishing. But they didn't start out just throwing a book up on Amazon and people just magically discovered it. Marketing in both the push and pull senses is key. Push: get the word out. Pull: discover what people are buying.

There's also the little matter of covers.

What a publisher does for you is ALL OF THE ABOVE. We have editors, typesetters, cover artists, a brand, and marketing. Why do publishers have a schedule? Because art doesn't suddenly spring fully formed from the head of Zeus. Because editing a book takes a significant fraction of the time it took to write the book. Because typesetting a book, even if your typesetter is only half as awesome as I am, takes a good amount of time.

All that said, Castalia House is a lot faster than the big old slow guys. We're taking advantage of advances in technology, super-intelligences, and as the OP says, dedicated effort.

Technology: Print On Demand has matured into high quality supply and distribution channels

Super Intelligences: duh

Effort: We're all doing this in addition to our regular daily responsibilities (cough A Sea of Skulls cough cough).

I don't say this to discourage anyone from self-publishing. By no means! It's a wonderful new development. One of the most exciting books I have read recently is Eta Cancri by Russell May. I found it because he's Ilk and one of my internet friends. SF horror from a religious perspective, you should buy it. But (and Russell won't mind me saying so), it sorely needs the attention of an editor. Perhaps CH might have published it, but it would have taken months to get it through the pipeline.



This is exactly how Hemingway became a famous writer.

Blogger James Jones August 01, 2017 5:15 AM  

Thank you Jeff. I will wait for Castalia to open for new submissions.

My first novel was self published and not marketed but has 69 written reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. So hopefully Castalia would be interested in my second novel.

Castalia is doing an amazing job. I'd love to be a part of it.

Blogger Shimshon August 01, 2017 9:47 AM  

This loyal customer wants to know, is SJWADD coming out before or after the final release of ASOS?

Coming soon: Tor Books (A Castalia House imprint).

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