Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, January 11, 2008

This Week In Publishing 1/11/08

Este semana en... um.. publishing.

The Millions took a look at the fiction published by the New Yorker from 2003-2007 and found some interesting trends. 37.4% were written by women, only 52% of the writers hailed from the US, and perhaps more interestingly, a mere 14 writers have accounted for 32% of the fiction, including Tessa Hadley and Haruki Murakami clocking in with 7 stories each.

GalleyCat checks in with oft-Digged (Dugg?) author Charles Sheehan-Miles on the question-of-the-moment: whether online success will actually sell books. The verdict? We'll see. Also, the Cat in the Galley has the scoop that Oprah's next book club pick just might be a $14 Plume paperback. Let the speculation commence!

Some more huge publishing deals went down in this early year -- Tom Wolfe is moving over to Little, Brown for his next novel, and fresh off of the success of THE DIANA CHRONICLES, former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown will next tackle the Clinton dynasty. This pollster is predicting a landslide bestseller.

And finally, Sean Lidnsay from 101 Reasons to Stop Writing, who is fast becoming more famous than all of us put together, had a hilarious interview with Jossip in which he further discouraged writers, and in which he delivers this priceless gem: "The biggest problem facing the publishing industry today is that the people who should be buying books are instead trying to write them." Yowsers!

Have a great weekend!


Melanie Avila said...

We were just speculating on a Clinton dynasty after seeing a recent article about Chelsea. That would make an interesting read.

Nona said...

"The biggest problem facing the publishing industry today is that the people who should be buying books are instead trying to write them."

Ha, ha. Sounds like something Oscar Wilde would have said -- one of those "dangerous paradoxes."

Well, I agree and disagree. I read a ridiculous number of books per year -- most of them borrowed from the public library; Hey, it gets expensive -- and when I tire of listening to other people's stories, I can always turn and work on my own.

Writing is much more demanding than reading but so much more rewarding, don't you think?

Other Lisa said...

I think of writing as the book I want to read that no one else will write, so I write it.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Have I ever thanked you for this weekly post? I get PW and the deals page, among other things, but this feels newsier and more essential to me. :-D

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

"The biggest problem facing the publishing industry today is that the people who should be buying books are instead trying to write them."

Aren't writers readers anyway?? Is he saying that writers aren't buying books? OR that those who are writing for today's market should not "try to write"???

Keri Ford said...

"The biggest problem facing the publishing industry today is that the people who should be buying books are instead trying to write them."

Hmm. Interesting. My book buying more than tripled when I started writing vs. when I only read.

Nathan Bransford said...

I think Sean is saying that there are people out there who should stick to reading and buying books rather than spending time writing.

Lauren said...

Building on Sean's quote, there are a lot of writers out there who just... don't read. This baffles me, but I meet people like this all the time. They're working on their opus of a fantasy / literary / mystery novel, but they haven't *read* a fantasy / literary / mystery novel in years, nor anything else either, save for maybe The Secret and a handful of get-rich-quick books and political rant-a-thons.

Sneak Thief said...

What an intriguing proposition. Should I read today, or write today?

If those of us who write today had to do it on an Underwood or a Smith-Corona, trusty pink sandpaper-nib eraser with the white plastic brushy tip at hand...would we even write?

I still have my Smith-Corona portable. Somehow I can't bring myself to toss it or let it go for a buck at a garage sale.

I'll throw this out and you can all gnaw on me. Maybe the writing "industry" is like the music "industry".

The internet, the digital revolution, and all the rest of the progress made to make recording and sharing music easier has caused no end of headaches to the Lords and Masters of Sony and Atlantic and Warner Brothers.

The big money guys...

Still, musicians can get a gig for a weekend, even a single night, and share their talents and skills.

Yes, reading is different. Books are different.


Sure they are.

Will the electronic book make an impact? I think we should all hope it will, even though I'm as nervous about it as I am curious.

We need an 'American Idol' for writing! Carrie UNDERWOOD gets bonus points.

john c said...

Haha, he only has 16 reasons to quit writing. Maybe, try a few more.

17)Every agent in the western world rejected your query.

18)That's when you noticed a typo in the first sentence.

18)They were less fond of your second revision, even though at least a dozen remembered you.

19)You have a habit of following up rejection letters with more letters calling them liberals, and blaming them for the plight of the publishing biz.

20)You decided to become an agent.

21) You are tired of your mom's cooking.

22) All of your friends have funny screen names.

24)The employees at all three Starbucks remember which tea you drink, and ask if you will be there Christmas day.

25)You correct people's spelling online.

26) You think Mary Shelly was a terrible writer, yet are writing a book about Frankenstein.

27) You find your creative insperation from reading news paper articles.

28) You can count the word "very" 27 times on the first page.

29) You think Fox News is too liberal.

30) Your agent is wearing a bright orange Piggly Wiggly tee shirt!

Nathan Bransford said...

john c-

re: #30

Hey now!!

Mary said...

Picking up on Lauren’s comment:

I’ve heard writers say they don’t have time to read, or don’t like to read when they’re busy with a project in case it ‘throws’ their own writing. This makes no sense to me. If I don’t read, my writing definitely suffers.

Adaora A. said...

Who was it who said too many people want to write a book but not everybody can? Was that you Nathan? I'm pretty sure it was.

In other news...

I'm waiting any day now for you to come out with a book Nathan. You've already got your following to make it a best seller. I can picture the title... " Nathan Bransford: Rainbows and Pots of Coal." <- Couldn't resist a Stereophonics element

Hey I'm a woman...and I don't live in Us (Canada!)

Josephine Damian said...

Jonathan Lyons posted a link to an interview with agent Lynn Nesbit wherein she said she was afraid there were now more people writing books than reading them.

Sounded about right when I read it.

Here's the direct link:

Here's the direct quote from Lynn Nesbit:

I said this earlier as sort of a joke, but I'm beginning to think there are more writers than readers. I get these e-mails pouring in from people who want to write their life stories. It's because of the memoir. Everybody thinks they have a story. I also feel there are fewer and fewer civilians—I mean people outside of our business—who I meet who have time to read. They all say, "I'd love to read, but I'm just too busy." What worries me is that people are on blogs, Web sites—there is a lot of that going on—but they aren't reading books. That phenomenon, to me, is not a product of the industry, it's a product of how our culture is changing. People's attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. And everybody has their specialty. I don't ever look at blogs or Web sites because I would never get anything done. I'm tempted to because I hear about these great things.

Steph Leite said...

Adaora, now now, that book's gonna have to be about monkeys. Haven't you noticed a pattern with Nathan's blog entries? :)

Nathan, I'm wondering if you'd ever consider a manuscript that starred you as the MC of a monkey-veered thriller :P

- Steph

Adaora A. said...

Absolutely Steph. But hang on, don't get it twisted, it has to be DRUNK monkeys. Mix in "sweet now get out of my car," and you've got something. A national bestseller full of all sorts of win and originality. An endorcement by Ian McEwan hailing it/Nathan as next great thing in words would be the icing on the cake.

Now I've got to add my beloved Stereophonics. "Mr. Writer, why don't you tell it lik it is. Why don't you tell it like it really is, before you go on home."

LOL Steph, great minds....

Liz said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the whole plagiarism drama with Cassie Edwards. I thought that was big news this week in the publishing world.

Steph Leite said...

HAHAHAHA! ...think alike. :)

And of course, its genre would be a YA Christian erotica thriller with a commercial appeal.

"No freaking idea" is where it's AT!

Adaora A. said...

And of course, its genre would be a YA Christian erotica thriller with a commercial appeal.

Oh Yes...but it would have themes of espionage and horror with a hint of radical feminism and everything including the kitchen sink madcap humourous dark ficticious memoir.


Charles Sheehan-Miles said...


Thanks for the mention. I always enjoy reading your blog and appreciate it!


Anonymous said...

SPANISH! A hidden talent Nathan? (Although, technically, it would be "esta semana"...) ^^

It does seem that a surprising number of people are writing instead of reading. I've seen/heard of lots of books people want to write - some of them probably failed their high school english class. You need the basic grasp on the English language to write; you can't jump in and start making up words and grammar like Shakespeare did.

Nona said...

Writing your own book is like building your dream home -- the only way to get it just right. And how sweet it is when it all comes together.

Nathan, I understand that most of the unpublished work you must read is really quite "bad" but after five years of art school, I learned that when it comes to creative endeavors, everyone starts out bad and with years of work and perseverance, some of those people get really, really good. Often the ones you least expect.

So unfortunately, the only cure for bad writing is more of the same.

As for the high cost of buying books, well, downloads for the Kindle cost about ten bucks now. When they get that down to 99 cents you can expect the market for "books" to go through the roof.

Either that, or they'll have to start renting them out, like Netflix. Yes, it's just like the library but maybe they'd have newer titles and better availability. I'd be willing to pay good money for that.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Nathan --

Um... speaking of writing instead of reading, can we have another first paragraph or first line contest? I've got a new book a' cooking and I'd love to see if my first line/paragraph is lovely or nauseating...

Pretty please?


Kirby said...

Just sent you a query letter.

*shifty glance*

Ah, if only the entire feel of the story could be compressed into a single more long stories.

Polenth said...

I like Nathan's orange t-shirt. It reminds me of visiting an old palace in Austria. There were these crowds of people in orange t-shirts everywhere. Then we met another crowd with red t-shirts and one with yellow t-shirts. Eventually, all the crowds met up somewhere in the grounds. To this day, I have no idea what they were doing there (nor did the Austrians I was with). So when I see someone in a bright t-shirt, I associate it with those people.

I don't think it's a bad thing to be associated with a large crowd of mysterious people that invade palaces. But it is a bit of a subjective thing I suppose.

Demon Hunter said...

Sean is hilarious and correct! :*) I have met many people who have told me that they want to write a book someday, or they think they could. If you write every day and read books, you're well on your way! :*)

Bookrat said...

"The biggest problem facing the publishing industry today is that the people who should be buying books are instead trying to write them."

Somebody tell me Sean's joking--then he's only tiresome. Does he hate children too? And people who are learning to drive? And kittens that get milk on their whiskers? Give me a break. This guy's a respected critic? If he really feels this way he should shut down the blog and stockpile his opinions the way J. D. Salinger stockpiled manuscripts.

Nathan Bransford said...


You might want to read the whole interview.

Nona said...

I went back and read the interview. As far as writing "The Great American Novel," I gave up on that long ago. The only person I'm out to please is myself.

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