Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, February 15, 2008

This Week in Publishing 2/15/08

Busy week in publishing (at least for this publishing employee)!

Did someone say contest? Well, it wasn't me! The very good people over at BookEnds LLC are having what they promise to be a series of contests, and first up is a first-100 words of a mystery contest. Good luck! To BookEnds!

Also hosting a regular contest (of the monthly variety) is Josephine Damian, who recently wrapped up her "Magnificent 7" first page contest, in which she read and critiqued seven first pages and chose a winner. Keep checking for her next contest, which, if my math is right, should be in a month.

Publishers Lunch reports that Borders is unveiling a "concept store" in its hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, which will feature digital kiosks and digital centers and emphasizing digital options in popular categories such as travel, cooking, and children's books. Could a digital employee who smirks when you buy a romance novel be far behind?

Also via Publishers Lunch, HarperCollins is experimenting with free downloads of certain books, including Paulo Coehlo's THE WITCH OF PORTOBELLO, and Neil Gaiman is polling his readers to see which of his title should be included. The experiment is aimed at assessing the impact of the availability of free books on book sales. Care to weigh in with predictions?

And finally, if you DON'T already love San Francisco I challenge you to watch the below video and see if your cold, black heart doesn't change right back to red. Every year on Valentine's Day San Francisco has the world's largest pillow fight. I heart SF!

Have a great weekend!


ORION said...

Okay that's it! I'm going to SF next year!
I think free downloads are a terrific idea.
And I also think that having these first page contest a HUGE advantage and learning experience- I know it's helping me tons just reading the comments- Very insightful!

Precie said...

As a matter of fact, I do heart SF! Too bad I don't live anywhere near it. Sigh.

Enjoy the conference!

Redzilla said...

SF: yes. Pillow fight: no. All I have to say is, "Ow! My eye!"

Just_Me said...

I looked into the Bookends contest, no sci-fi section! I could cry. I'm wondering if I could slip something into paranormal romance, there's a werewolf and a girl but the actual physical end of the relationship is limited on-screen as it were.

The pillow fight looks like a blast! It almost makes me want to brave the bitter north, but anywhere north of Dallas/Ft. Worth is to cold!

Kylie said...

Oh. my. effing. god.

THAT IS AWESOME! Man, next year, I want to go to San Francisco just to see that! Wow! I'm...speechless.

Did you take part in that massive pillow fight, Nathan? lol

Margaret Yang said...

I am visiting the concept store in Ann Arbor this weekend since it's literally five minutes from my house. I will report back!

Margaret aka Original Bran Fan

Kathryn Harris said...

Look at that -- a way to make love AND war at the same time.

Leave it to the city of San Fran...gotta love it.

Furious D said...

1. Too bad all the entries open with: It was a dark and stormy night!

2. Only seven first pages. Come on, a real judge does over 600! Am I right?

3. Borders will be coming out with a line of robotic grad students to work behind the counter and make mock of your literary choices after you leave.

4. Baen books started free downloads of older titles years ago, and they're still doing it, so it can't be hurting their sales.

5. Can't watch the video, I need my cold flinty black heart as it is. ;)

Adaora A. said...

Must - Go - To SF - To - See- This - fantabulousness (new deserved one).

I read that via email (the Harper Collins experimentation news). I remember I was munching on a reeces pieces candy bar at the time and washing it down with sprite. The breakfast of champions, I ASSURE you.

Aimless Writer said...

Which one are you?

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Eves said...

We're way behind the times here in Britain - we still have bun fights!

I've read a 50,000-word free book online. I still bought it and read it again - but maybe that's just me...

Have a good weekend!

booklady said...

I'll be curious to see how the Borders kiosks do. I'm still not into e-books and don't know that I ever will be, but it seems like a good avenue to entice more people to read, which can't be a bad thing.

As for the pillow fight, that's hilarious! I can't believe I'd never even heard of it.

Nona said...

The experiment is aimed at assessing the impact of the availability of free books on book sales. Care to weigh in with predictions?

All I can talk about is my own experience. Every time I go to a social function with an open bar does it make me want to stop spending money on booze?

P.S. This is a rhetorical question.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ann Arbor.

Barnes and Nobles has a giant store here with, I think, a possible total of three employees (on busy days). If you call ahead, they always say they have the book in stock, but often that's just what they say. When you arrive, they offer to order it. (I'm not sure they could find it if they did have it in stock.)
I think that store already is using kiosks for personnel.

Borders has many employees (you know, the kind with useless Masters and PhD degrees in English and anthropology) who they pay a whopping $7.00 an hour, I think.
If they don't ask you if you found everything OK, or something like that, a secret person, who watches them, gives them bad grades. They are very big intellects slowly, cell by cell, deteriorating from neglect of their true potential.

I miss the little bookstore with the passionate, articulate owner and employees.

I loved the blog entry about fav bookstores across the country.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whit & Lindsay said...

I heart your blog. Really brought some cheer to an aspiring writer getting frustrated with rejections. It served as a fun reminder that agents are actually real people who do say something other than no once in awhile. :)
--Lindsay Nash (coming in a query to you very soon)

Stephe said...

Could a digital employee who smirks when you buy a romance novel be far behind?


Probably already there. Give that monitor a closer look...

aart hilal said...

I also enjoyed this book a lot!
Have you heard that Paulo is inviting readers to adapt his book to the movie screen?
It's really exiting!

Simply fantastic video about the project:

Here's the link of the contest called The Experimental Witch:

Have a great day

ChristineEldin said...

I've always wanted to go to San Fran.

Vinnie Sorce said...

I think I'm done with contests, it's much too depressing...

Adaora A. said...

I saw San Francisco on Rachel Ray's TASTY TRAVELS. Apparently there are around about 3000 eateries packed in the harbour. Wow. My twin sister and I were drooling over some of the cuisine. There was an Italian place where this girl got whipped cream licked of her neck because it was her birthday. This of course followed a salsa dance with the chef! Fun place. They mentioned the area of Richmond as having some great cuisine as well.

Josephine Damian said...

Nathan, thanks for the plug!

Hope you enjoyed the SF Con. Looking forward to hearing how it went.

Precie said...

The Wire:
I can't believe **** ***** got off!

Ulysses said...

From Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird web site: ( for Feb. 17, 2008.

"Five of the 10 best-selling novels in Japan in 2007 were originally composed, and serialized, on cell phones, thumbed out by women who had never written novels, for readers who mostly had never before read one. The genre's dominating plotlines are affairs of the heart, and its characteristics, obviously, are simplicity of plot and character and brevity of expression (lest authors' sore thumbs and readers' tired eyes bring down the industry). Said one successful cell phone writer, for a January dispatch in The New York Times, her audience doesn't read works by "professional writers" because "their sentences are too difficult to understand." [New York Times, 1-20-08]"

No one knows where technology is going to take writing and publishing, but I hope to God, Fate and Random Chance that it isn't in this direction!

Samuel Edmonson said...

Nathan, you're an upright guy. But like any career, I don't think all agents across the board are as nice as you. But I wonder, do you agree with Steve Almond when he just said that a lot of agents out there are "frustrated artists who pray on young, hopeful writers and treat them sadistically"?

Ulysses said...

I do not wish to be prayed on.
It's against my religion.

Travis Erwin said...

Worlds largest pillow fight?

Who thinks these things up?

Anonymous said...

Oh Nathan, you're just the best!!!!

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: "Txtvls" (text + novel = txtvl, at least in English)

"No one knows where technology is going to take writing and publishing, but I hope to God, Fate and Random Chance that it isn't in this direction!"

No, I hope to..fate and random chance (lowercase f and r) that this is the direction - because they'll be accustomed to getting literature (of some form) via texting, and who's to say you can't write something really exciting and provocative, poetic, even life altering in text messages? Maybe the writer of that "txtvl" (textnovel) hasn't been born yet. Don't underestimate human creativity. Things morph into something else all the time. Add in graphics possibility, as well as role-playing and meetups, video games, websites - this could all be going on, and then somebody writes the actual 300-page 'companion novel' in regular (nntxt)prose. (or poetry, hey I'm open to a "crown of sonnets," whatever the hell that is in Japanese, coming over somebody's cell phone or texter or whatever those things are!)

I even think it would be great that to launch a "nntxt nvl" (nnvl?), someone was able to condense your novel into a cell phone novel for publicity, before the novel even came out. There could even be some of those random mass meetups initiated by texting (forgot what they are called), where people could get freebies (lunch pails, cell phone covers, action figures) based on the novel. Think of the marketing possibilities!

There's a whole galaxy/constellation/universe! of possibilities! (I'm descending into the Heather!Anne! xplntn pnts styl f wrtg so I will stop now).

Stan Soper said...

Wow, this is a great blog! Glad I found it.

I thought Wanda's reaction to the posting by Ulysses about the Japanese cell phone novels was insightful. We don't know where technology will take fiction but one thing is for sure, people are and will use technology in creative ways to come up with new ways to produce and distribute fiction and I hope we can all stay open to the possibilities.

Ironically, I started a website called soon after reading about the success of Japanese cell phone novels. I hope that some of you will be inspired to try it -- it allows you to start a story or novel and then add to it by text message or email. Readers can subscribe to receive updates by text message or email as well. I'm hoping that this is a way for fiction to succeed in the U.S. also.

Let me know if you have any feedback! My blog about it is at

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