Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, February 9, 2007

This Week in Publishing 2/9/07

Hello, thanks so much to everyone who has written comments, sent in e-mails and queries, and have otherwise made themselves known this past week. I really appreciate it, and I continue to be amazed at just how many talented people there are out there.

I'm going to begin introducing some semi-regular features to the blog soon, so keep your eye out. Not only will you have something to look forward to every week, I won't have to think of a blog topic every day!! You see, everyone wins. Especially the children.

So from now on, every Friday you can look forward to a weekly roundup that I like to call.......... This Week in Publishing. I know, I get 0 creativity points for the title.

This week's This Week in Publishing:

- As mentioned in yesterday's post, it took approximately twenty seconds for the first Crazy Astronaut Lady book proposal to sell, meaning you are about 8 months away from going into a bookstore, seeing a book about the Crazy Astronaut Lady, thinking to yourself "Oh yeah, I remember the Crazy Astronaut Lady, that was funny! Oh, we were so innocent, back then."

- In other publishing news, AMS, the parent company of distributor Publishers Group West (PGW), went bankrupt earlier this year, leaving PGW and its publishers scrambling. PGW distributes publishers like Avalon, Grove/Atlantic and others, meaning these publishers aren't entirely sure how they're going to get their books to bookstores and how they're going to get paid for the books they've already shipped.

Meanwhile, Perseus is trying to assume PGW's distribution business by offering 75 cents on the dollar for signing up with Perseus for a four year contract, and then National Book Network swept in with an offer of 85 cents on the dollar for a three year contract. But ultimately who gets what is going to be decided by a bankruptcy judge and AMS's creditors. (If this doesn't make any sense whatsoever don't worry -- I've spent the last week and all afternoon trying to figure it all out and still am kind of fuzzy. You're not alone.) Here's one of the many articles that explains the issue.

Oh, and I have to say that I feel very bad for PGW employees, who are pretty much universally beloved and whose jobs are in limbo, but who probably will be absorbed by either Perseus or NBN. They are now left wondering whether they are going to have to transfer to the Stamford Branch or the Scranton Branch.

(You probably didn't get that unless you watch The Office. Also, if you don't watch The Office shame on you.)

- In other deal news, another vampire book just sold. Oops, nope, got that wrong. Correction: it's another zombie book. Seriously, people love them some vampires and zombies these days.

- And finally, Jack Canfield, the man behind Chicken Soup for the Soul, (i.e. that book that your mom loves) has a secret. What is his secret? Well, he'll tell you. If you buy the book. Basically The Secret is based upon the idea that there is one little secret that has been around for 4,000 years that holds the key to unlocking successful health, money, love and happiness. So what is the secret?? YOU HAVE TO BUY THE BOOK. Or, of course, watch the upcoming Oprah special. (I'm guessing the secret is bourbon. Er, at least, that's my secret.)

And that....... is This Week in Publishing. Have a great weekend everybody!


Katie said...

The secret is people!

me said...

My husband says that anything can be cured with a shot of Beam. ;)

Nancy said...

Love the blog, Nathan.

-Nancy Werlin

Meiran said...

I handle special orders for my bookstore, and I have to say I love PGW. They've always come through for us, and I hate to see bad news come their way. This is going to affect a LOT of people.

Nathan Bransford said...


Thanks so much for writing!! I miss working with you/Ginger, congratulations on all of your success.

brian_ohio said...

Think you can get your Blog to play some flashy intro-music for "This Week in Publishing"?

Sad about PGW. That just stinks.

I do watch The Office.

And finally, I think 'katie' meant to say that "Soylent Green is people. It's people!" *grimacing like Charlton Heston*

green ray said...

Nathan, my man, and fellow bourbon drinker - your blog has become an enjoyable part of my day. I ususally read Miss Snark first thing in the morning, and now you at "teatime" - when you've posted, as I'm here in NY. As I said before, someone at Curtis Brown has had my ms. forever. I think I'll call him/her and tell them I want you to have it! I like your style (it's so California!). Have a good weekend.

BuffySquirrel said...

I watched an episode of The Office and was utterly baffled about what I was supposed to laugh at. Guess I shouldn't admit that!

*goes to hide behind stack of Drop the Dead Donkey DVDs*

Katie said...

Nuh-uh, brian_ohio, I was referring to my favorite musical performance, "Up With People".

I just left out the "up with" part.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'm a Bushmills girl myself, and I can't abide by vampires. But zombies? Now we're talkin...

Nathan Bransford said...

sex scenes at starbucks (or someone else who is knowledgeable about these things), perhaps you could set me straight on something. What makes one a zombie person and what makes one a vampire person? Can you be both or do you have to pick sides? Is there a rivalry? I need to know these things.

Jen said...

My secret is Crown Whiskey. *happy sigh* The elixer of happiness for mothers and authors everywhere.
I have to say (and I may get in big trouble for this) but the appeal of vampires is wearing thin for me. There's TONS of them out there. A new twist no longer makes the living dead very readable for me.
Then again, I don't watch "Office Space" the series either, so I'm a loser.
Although, the phrase "Office Space" in our house is used often. "I'm going to Office Space that @#$%$# computer."

Jen said...

Ooops. I meant "The Office". I knew something was off. Now I'm DEFINITELY a loser. The Brit version rocked.

A Paperback Writer said...

I'm definitely a vampire person. It's been a love/fear relationship thing with me ever since I was scared spitless by some cheesy 70s vampire movie (I think it starred Christopher Lee) when I was six years old.
All my fiction success of any kind (okay, that's minimal, I admit) has been about vampires: everything from a prize in a grade school competition to my first short story published to doing well on Miss Snark's crapometer. It's my vampires that excell, and everything else I write languishes in file cabinets.
I've never been fond of zombies, but that's a personal taste, I guess. Perhaps a good storyline would convert me, but I've never seen a zombie book. Any suggestions, anyone?
And as for chicken soup for the soul -- ugh! Sappiness oozes from the pages. It's a wonder readers don't get sticky hands. yuck.

SurfGrape said...

Would Stephen King's book _Cell_ be considered a zombie book?

Nathan Bransford said...

I haven't had a chance to read The Cell yet -- has anyone else?

brian_ohio said...

katie... I was kidding;). Any time I hear 'is people' I can't help but think of Phil Hartman on SNL doing his Charlton Heston impression.

Nathan, in Cell the people weren't zombies nor vampires. They weren't dead at all, they had been brainwashed by a code transmitted over cell phones. If you shot one of them... they simply died.

Anonymous said...

This is fast becoming my favorite blog.

Writerious said...

I haven't read The Secret, but the customer reviews give it all away: think about what you want real, real sincerely, and the universe will vibrate like a giant vending machine and spit out what you want, making all your dreams come true.

I gather the REAL secret is to take what all the self-help guides have been saying for decades, condense it into one pithy little mantra, call it a "secret," write a book about the "secret," produce DVDs, CDs, workshops, and other goodies to help people learn the "secret," and whistle all the way to the bank.

Damn, why don't I think of rackets like that?

Stargazer said...

Zombies are rotting shuffling corpses who stalk anything that moves. Vampires look like Spike or George Chakiris and swoop on delectable maidens pulsating in diaphanous robes ... phew, hot flush here.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

My understanding is a zombie is a re-animated dead person. They have meager intelligence, lack free will, and subsist on a limited diet of human flesh, all of which are valuable qualities for the evil doer in charge, as they traditionally wish death and destruction on the world but have limited means to feed the army that requires. Two birds with one stone, as it were. Debate centers around whether they're really dead or under a spell. Voodoo has a strong tradition of Zombiism via drugs, which might explain why they have no day/night limitations.

The vampiric undead, thought to be victims of a virus or birth defect, are the lucky ones. They traditionally maintain better hygiene and a healthier sense of self, if inflated. They live on the blood of other humans and animals, though they can't really starve to death, they just wither until they feed again. They traditionally can't abide by daylight and have no reflections. Folkloric versions have been used for psychological warfare; these days fiction seems to stick more to the Slavic traditions.

Hope this helps.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Oh, and yeah, I read Cell. I think he started out with the zombie idea, but it quickly evolved into shared intelligence and a statement on self-importance, the evils of conforming, and the fragility of society.

It's a fun read.

Christopher M. Park said...

Regarding vampires vs. zombies: I don't know much about the fan base for these in literature, but I do know a number of rabid "zombie movie" fans, and perhaps the attractors are mostly the same.

Three guys at my office are absolutely nuts about zombies. They literally make some sort of zombie joke or reference EVERY DAY, usually multiple times each day. They often make note of where would be a good place to weather a zombie attack during lunch, etc. I'm not kidding.

They really love Night of the Living Dead, and all the various sequels and remakes that George Romero did (even though they thought the last one, Land of the Dead, was objectively not good, they still expressed the opinion that "bad zombie movies are better than no zombie movies at all"). They thought that the movie Slither might be a zombie movie, but they came away sorely disappointed, saying that not only was it not a good movie at all, but that it was insufferable because "those weren't even zombies." I think that some sort of slugs were controlling people and making them vaguely zombie-like, but I don’t really know. I have no intention of seeing that movie.

These guys aren't exactly your pleasure reader types, so they may have a different take than the zombie-lover readers, but essentially what they say they love is: 1) having the menagerie of survivors--these are just random people who have very different backgrounds and are together by chance; 2) these people have to work together to try to survive the zombies; 3) the people have to have as realistic as possible reactions to the situation based on their backgrounds; 4) many of these people have to die (otherwise, this would not be realistic); 5) the zombie threat is not localized, or ended at the end of the story--if any of the people survive, they are just in a temporary reprieve; 6) the zombies have to be slow and shambling, there have to be loads and loads of them, and they have to generally have super-dull intelligence--this is a question of numbers, here; 7) they did like Day of the Dead, in which a scientist makes one zombie slightly smarter, and able to learn a few simple tasks, but they really hated it in another movie when there were these zombies that were just randomly able to learn much more complicated things; 8) they also do like seeing that some of the zombies remember basic things from their lives, such as one zombie remembering how to pump gas, and others going back to the mall and wandering where they used to shop.

Anyway, they got me to watch a couple of the older movies (the ones with less gore), and they are pretty interesting from the angles mentioned above. I don't have much interest in reading any zombie books, but if it was well written I could be intrigued.

On the other hand, vampires are a huge attractor to me. I don't go out of my way looking for stories with them, but it's a positive realization when I see a book that does have them. I generally prefer the ones when the protagonist is a vampire, or there is at least one good vampire that his helping out. And vampires are generally much smarter than zombies, in vastly fewer numbers, and are super-fast and agile.

But these aren’t a hard rule--Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend is also utterly fascinating to me, and the situation in that book is basically that zombie-like vampires are all over the place, and there is just this one guy left. But the story is brilliant.

I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but this is just what I have observed. Also, you should know that I don’t like the shows Buffy or Angel. I’m not too much of a fan of sci-fi television shows. So, in that regard, I might not be very representative of the mainstream vampire camp.


My blog on writing

Katie said...

brian_ohio, I was kidding, too. ;-)

Ooh, now somebody needs to write a glamorous zombie book, where the zombies are all sexy and the vampires are losers.

Nathan Bransford said...

ok, so let me get this straight. People who love the zombie books don't really to be zombies, they want to blow up zombies. People who love vampire books wouldn't mind being a vampire, at least one of the good ones?

Christopher M. Park said...

That's about how I see it. The zombies come in masses and are always the adversary (so far as I know). Vampires can certainly be the adversary, but often they are also seen as cool, dangerous, wild. And some vampires are in that "biker with a heart of gold" stereotype, in my mind.

At least, those are the sorts of vampire books I read most (and the Angel show is that way). There are also the stories where vampires are simply the slavering beast, but that seems to be the less popular style these days.


Susan said...

Hi Nathan. Fun blog - you just got bookmarked! Aren't you excited? :)

I thought the rivalry was between vampires and werewolves but maybe I've seen Underworld too many times. Perhaps the zombies could take on the mummies.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I like vampire civil wars, but I can't stand do-gooder bloodsuckers. I like to see their evil side. But then, I like dark characters and anti-heros, so maybe that's me.

December Quinn said...

What a coincidence, I've been drinking bourbon this evening!

Re: vampires and zombies. Yes, you have it right. We don't want to be zombies. Zombies rot and eat brains. We want to be vampires. They're pale and sexy and live forever. I've written vampires, and zombies feature in my new book.

That Chicken Soup thing sounds like those uber-irritating ads Time-Life did some years ago, anybody remember those? Where, say, the husbad and wife are in bed, and he regales her with the juicy beginnings of mysterious tales from Time-Life, and when she says, "So what happened?" he grins and replies, "Read the book!"

Like he's cute or something, and not like if he was an actual husband doing that to his actual wife she wouldn't snatch the book away and beat him with it. Because, me? Totally would kill my husband if he taunted me in such a rude fashion.

Spiders Across the Stars said...

Well, I have to say, for an agent, you have yourself a sense of humor!
Must be the climate...
I am a closet "Secret" DVD owner. It's got that feel good Under the Tuscan Sun and when I really need a laugh...Super Troopers.

Bethany said...

Paperback Writer, for a moment when your post segued from zombies to Chicken Soup for the Soul, I thought you were about to talk about "Chicken Soup for the Zombie Soul". Which really should exist.

Bernita said...

Another coincidence, I've just begun a novel with zombies - a woman gets to kill her husband twice.

JC Madden said...

Here's a real boiled down take of vampires and zombies (Your Mileage May Vary).

It's like Mars and Venus, guys.

Vampires = girl stuff. Girls want to be seduced by a sexy, immortal man dressed to kill (ha). This explains the nine bajillion romance novels out there with vampires in them.

Zombies = boy stuff. Boys want to be able to shoot stuff, hang out with buddies, and be forced to survive against the hordes of bad guys. Hence there's always a hot 'grateful' chick who shows her 'appreciation' in zombie movies/books.

Just my thoughts. :)

Christopher M. Park said...

I think you're right on with zombies being "boy stuff." I haven't ever encountered a zombie story that wasn't. For the vampires, though, I think that can be split either way. I think you're right that there are a lot of female-oriented vampire stories, but there are also some from the male point of view. But, in the main, I think you're right on.


writtenwyrdd said...

There's a website for The Secret and it gives away most of them, including that you can buy your very own copy of the DVD which is better than the book.

Great blog, Nathan. And I vote for vampires over zombies. They have a lot more small talk than simply, "Brains!" LOL.

rosemerry said...

Unless your a vegetarian zombie. Then you say grains.

Lame I know.

Nathan this is an awesome blog. I saw it on Absolutewrite and Miss Snark. I bookmarked you.

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