Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, April 11, 2008

This Week In Publishing 4/11/08

THIS week in publishing...

So after my snit on Tuesday during which I complained about query quality as the world's smallest violin played in the background, I would like to update you that as the cosmic fates would have it things have very much improved in both the quality of queries and my own temperament, so I hope history will judge said snit as a momentary bout of frustration in a business in which frustration is not only a stock in trade, but practically an overinflated currency. It happens. As you were.

Meanwhile, in other happy publishing news, Moonrat joyously points out the incredible significance of Jhumpa Lahiri's new book UNACCUSTOMED EARTH debuting at #1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction list. Not only is it significant that a work of serious literary fiction is debuting at #1, but this is a collection of short stories no less, puncturing several "rules" of publishing all at once. So congrats to Jhumpa Lahiri, and we'll see if this marks a trend or an outlier.

Maya Reynolds has continued her excellent series of posts on the ramifications of Amazon's move to pressure POD presses to use their BookSurge program. The latest news is that writers groups, headed by the Authors Guild, have urged the Washington State Attorney General's office to investigate whether Amazon's move represents a monopolistic practice, and apparently the Washington AG has agreed to look into it. Stay tuned.

The Pulitzers have been announced, and Junot Diaz has capped a wondrous year of praise and attention for his novel THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO with a Pulitzer for fiction. Other book winners included WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT by Daniel Walker Howe for History, EDEN'S OUTCASTS by John Matteson for Biography, TIME AND MATERIALS by Robert Hass and FAILURE by Philip Schultz for Poetry, and THE YEARS OF EXTERMINATION by Saul Friedlander for General Nonfiction. Congrats to all the winners.

HarperCollins continues to make aggressive moves to woo editorial talent, and announced this week that Hyperion Children's editors Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray are joining HarperCollins under the newly formed imprint Balzer & Bray. Hyperion also announced that they will be putting Disney in their name and will be henceforth known as "Disney-Hyperion."

And finally, Editorial Anonymous has a fabulous post on what happens to your manuscript once it lands on an editor's desk. It is a journey fraught with peril, lonesomeness and, hopefully, redemption.

Have a great weekend!


Josephine Damian said...

Am I first?

Glad to hear the queries have improved in quality.

Josephine Damian said...

And your mood as well.

It's a tough biz and I think writers lose sight that it's tough for everybody in the biz.

Anonymous said...

I said it!
Devote some time to new forms, to things out of favor returning, to the jewel of the unexpected manuscript.
Stay open to it.
And if a thing, a way out thing grabs you,
let it take you on a ride.
(They will call you crazy! They will be right! But ride it like a dream horse you cannot resist!)
Sometimes to the front of the line!

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Nathan.

Have a good weekend.

Adaora A. said...

Good to know you aren't pulling your hair out every day Nathan. I'm sure it was a little glitch in the system that is the universe.

I read about the B & B imprint at Harper Collins. I think it's great. As I said on PW, this is only encouraging because it means more books are going to be printed. The less said (in my mind) about online books the better. I like holding a book in my hand so to that I say, long may it continue.

I'm so happy for Junot Diaz. I think his book was wonderful. It's nice to see great authors getting recognition.

I hope you have a great weekend as well.

Furious D said...

1. And the lesson is, if you don't like things, have a snit, and they will get better.

2. Unaccustomed Earth is having some unexpected sales. Good for Jhumpa Lahiri.

3. This whole POD brouhaha is a blatant sign of incompetence and weakness on the part of Amazon's management. They should have known that any bullying tactics trying to "corner a market" will only succeed in getting the government involved, and then you're going to be regulated into oblivion. Congrats Amazon, you really screwed the pooch.

4. Junot Diaz, pen name for CORMAC MCCARTHY!

5. Disney-Hyperion's name will be back to Hyperion as soon as someone reads The Last Days of Dead Celebrities to their 4 year old thinking its a children's book because it has the Disney logo on it, and the kid asked why everyone dies at the end of the stories.

6. Until recently all my manuscripts did on editor's desks was gather dust. Not much mystery there.

Tom Burchfield said...

Thanks for that link to EA, Nathan. Glad to hear the queries have improved, but it's starting to get to That Point with me (a point I will discuss in my upcoming posting on Sunday, yes, my blog has returned).

As far as to what to do when there's nothing to do, my attitude is start work on some new ideas . . . but that my work better with those writers who have more than one idea.

Scott said...

Am I the only one who thinks Disney-Hyperion sounds less serious and somewhat less respectable? Nothing against Disney. They're pretty good at their core businesses. But seeing their name on a book doesn't necessarily make me think the book is going to be good, especially if it's a serious book.

Anonymous said...

What??? No references, comments, or observations about the latest episode of The Hills? What are your thoughts about Spencer who never seems to leave the comfort of a couch? Do you suppose Spencer remained on the couch as the movers moved him out of Heidi's into his sister's place? I for one appreciate The Hills snits as much as query snits.


EJRuek said...

It's good to know that agents are human, and that authors aren't the only ones who suffer frustration or bad days. :D

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about snits, though the accompanying violin music was touching...

You wouldn't like a book without conflict. In the same way, a blog without a wee bit of irritation or griping or fist-shaking at rhetorical questions would be very boring indeed.

heatheraynnebrooks said...

As someone who is still new to this world, your rant was very informative. Sometimes we need to vent. Sometimes we need a kick in the pants.

Reviewer X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What happens when an editor switches publisher? Do their authors switch as well or ... what?

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe how much WORK it takes to wrestle/rustle a manuscript into submittable form.

I think, that's part of the problem.
Who else works and worries and loves a thing into being that is so easily killed? Its very life depends of so many to bring it to life.

You may have a nice tiny violin, but I am banging on a drum and all out moaning beneath the moon when I am having a snit.

Herbert S. Crotch said...

Good Lord, my Boy! What in the world are you peddling over here with all this traffic?

But whatever the case, everyone seems so interesting!

And your posts lead me to believe that you are a writer, or a connoisseur of writing.

I know a good agent if you are interested.

Josh Everett Ryan said...


I have a question regarding film rights that I was hoping you would be able to answer. I'm an aspiring author, going to send my very first queries out sometime this year. But, if I wanted to hold onto the rights of my story rather than selling them to a publisher or film agent, is that frowned upon?

I'd actually like to try screenplays at some point in my career. I know it's difficult, and many fail, but I'd like to give a shot. Or, I'd rather sell it to someone I actually trust rather than let some third party buy the rights and make a terrible movie with my name on it just for an extra check.

It's just I'd rather retain some artistic integrity and give screenwriting, something I've always wanted to do, a shot rather than see my novel turned into some horrible studio B-movie that it was never intended to be. Would you, or other agents that you know, frown upon something like this because it means less money?

Other Lisa said...

Josh, the only way to ensure integrity of your screenplay is to raise the money and make the movie yourself. Otherwise you have to let it go.

There are rare exceptions, but you should not think about getting involved with the film business if having complete control over your story is your first priority.j

Josh Everett Ryan said...


Thanks for the response, but it's not *exactly* what I meant. Rather, I didn't want to sell my novel rights instantly to get more money at the beginning of my career... and then have my novel transformed into a seemingly different film, or just executed really poorly, based on a novel I wrote with my name in the credits of said film. What I meant is, I want to have the ability to say "yes" or "no" to anyone who wants to make a film based on my story. Not exactly "you have to do every thing I say", which I know is not possible in the movie world =D

I hope this isn't too confusing. In other words, I just want to be able to actually pick the people who work on the film (based on my novel). If the people I choose do a poor job, at least it will have been with my authority. I'm not looking to be a control freak. With that thought in mind, though, I was saying I would also like to, if no one else I liked came at me to attempt it, try my hand at writing my own screenplay and then let someone else direct it/act. Despite the outcome in either case, I'll at least not have given up my own integrity for easy money.

... If that makes any sense.

monster paperbag said...

i'd love to get hold of that junot diaz book :)..

no-bull-steve said...

From your snit: "No freaking idea: 3"

Ouch. How sad is it that over 3% of queries you read over that span didn't even give you a clue as to what the book was about.

Glad to hear the quality has improved. I love your blog. Please keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I Love "No Freaking Idea."
It's my favorite genre!

Jennifer said...

Are you interested in young adult manuscripts like THE CLIQUE, A-LIST, and PRIVATE series books? Are any agents interested at all? I have queried quite a few and got rejected. Why do most reject it? Imean, they reject my QUERY, not even reading the manuscript. Is it because they're tired of the cliquey, fast, glamorous setting books aimed at young adult girls?

Adaora A. said...

Jennifer I hope you're not taking rejection personally? Finding an agent that is a good fit for you and your book is like a shot in the dark. The best books in history have a laundry list of rejections before they hit the 'jackpot.' I hope you aren't thinking of giving up. The people you queried are probably not right for your book and I'm sure they know it.

I just had to but in and say that(As an unpublished lady).

Elyssa Papa said...

Thanks for the helpful advice, Nathan.

If you sent out fulls to a couple of agents and publishers say back in February and haven't heard back... is that a good sign or bad? (One agent said it would take a month to let me know about a response and this was back in January).

If you're truly excited about a project, don't you normally respond straightaway? I have a fear that the longer something sits that it's just going to be a rejection.

Or should I hope it's still in a pile buried away somewhere?

And when do you suggest that someone bury a book?

Elyssa Papa said...

I'm sorry that I posted the previous comment in this blog. I couldn't figure out how to delete it. Apologies!

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