Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, May 16, 2008

This Week In Publishing 5/16/08

The Publishing This Week

Almost forgot to announce: CONTEST NEXT WEEK. Stay tuned.

BookEnds hit the hot button issues this past week and I couldn't be happier. First up, the ever-popular question from those outside of publishing looking in: How Do Bad Books Get Published? Jessica Faust confesses that the question makes her mad and tires her out, and I will confess that I agree with Jessica's confession, but she nevertheless makes a stab at guessing why people feel this way (hint: it's a subjective business, people!).

Jessica also invited her readers to vent, and boy did they ever! #1 peeve expressed: agents not responding to queries.

In other agent blog news, Kristin Nelson explains why agents sometimes rely on vagueness and stock phrases when responding to partials and manuscripts. It's not because we're lazy, sometimes we really just don't know what to say.

Remember when Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize in literature and she let out an exasperated "Oh, Christ" and it was really awesome? Well, her mood hasn't improved much since then. Via Shelf Awareness, the BBC reports that Lessing has called her win "a bloody disaster" and says, "All I do is give interviews and spend time being photographed." Best Nobel Prize Winner ever??

Via Publishers Lunch, if you want to know why the publishing industry is, um, unique, look no further than this article about publishers considering doing away with printed catalogs in favor of electronic catalogs that would, you know, save money and the environment. A bookseller sums up the mood in response to this proposal: "Booksellers like to sit around the table with the catalogs. They thumb through them and make notes. It's a real interactive kind of experience, so there is an emotional attachment to the current kind of catalog." And there you have it.

And finally, let me just say that I'm really proud of my state today.

California here we come. Right back where we started from. Califorrrrrrrniiiaaaaa... Califoooooooorniaaaaa... Here we coooommmmmmmmeee..

Um. Sorry.



Have a great weekend!






60 comments:

Emily said...

A contest? Yay!

Anonymous said...

Re: California - Two steps forward, one step back . . repeat. We will make it eventually. Next battle - the ballot initiative.

Love the contests. How about a hint?

Stephen Parrish said...

I'm proud of your state too, Nathan. Damn, I'm proud. Opponents will no doubt win some local battles, but equal rights for EVERYONE is an inevitable conclusion whose time has finally come.

beth said...

...all the prairie dogs lift up their heads and sniff...

Contest?!

Ryan Field said...

You should be very proud of your state today!!

Betty Atkins Dominguez said...

As a fellow Californian, I agree. I am very proud of our State.

Interesting post.

Adaora A. said...
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Adaora A. said...

Another contest? You're a bludgen for punishment Nathan! We love it anyways.

Nathan you always end with the winning clips. On a serious note, your state is great. You should be very proud.

Thank goodness you posted early. I thought I was going to have to wait throughout an entire evening in retail to read.

Cheers!

Mickie the Trigger said...

Um. Apology accepted.p

SL said...

A contest, you say? Sounds.... ominous.

I read Jessica's post about "bad books". Now I am really thinking, "Do agents really get excited and enthusiastic about every project they take on?" I imagine that one would have to be enthusiastic, on some level, in order to make a sale. But couldn't it also be said that sometimes, an agent may not get excited about a particular work because they truly believe in it... but may instead feel like there is a ravenous market out there that will readily consume it?

I feel like it's that attitude - "Ravenous market! Must consuuuuuuuuuume!" - that lets questionable fiction slip by.

Other Lisa said...

I too am proud to be a Californian today!

Now if we could just get our high-speed train...and all the way to San Diego, please.

Ulysses said...

I want to be Doris Lessing when I grow up. Only male. And less sort-of... well, her. And more sort-of me.

California should be proud of itself. And this kind of progress under a Republican governor too. It gives me hope for all my neighbors on the south side of the Canadian border.

Elyssa Papa said...

Yay California! I was so proud of California too yesterday... hopefully it's a step forward for all other states to do the same thing. Come on, let's get on with it people...

Can't wait to see what the new contest is either.

Josephine Damian said...

Moonrat asked me to guest blog for her this summer and I'm thinking of doing a Letterman styled "Top 10 Reasons Bad Novels Get Published" post - and there won't be anything subjective about the reasons.

Doris Lessing? You think with a million dollar prize she can hire an assistant to tell the people who call: Miss Lessing is busy writing, she doesn't have time for picture taking.

She'll get no sympathy from me.

Tom Geller said...

Ms. Lessing may be a fine writer, but here she's just being a prima donna. I'm sure her substantial vocabulary includes the word "no".

Funny clip of her, though!

Richard Mabry said...

Nathan,
Congratulations on having your blog named as one of the 101 best web sites for writers by Writers Digest. Way to go. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I'm proud of my home state, too! But I'm afraid of the court of appeal. Remember when we voted in Prop 187?

writtenwyrdd

Kristin Laughtin said...

Other Lisa- oh goodness, I would love a high-speed train. The bus system is good for local trips where I live, but I'd love to be able to zip up and down the state by train rather than having to drive it.

ORION said...

Hey how did they get a photo of ORION in there...

Other Lisa said...

Kristin - and other interested Californians:

CalPirg is working on the high speed rail project.

I enjoyed the discussion on "bad books." Yes, it's an incredibly subjective business - I can't even tell if my own writing is good or bad a lot of times - but on the other hand, I loved the comment referencing "Gigli."

Anonymous said...

A court goes against the will of the people and that's something to be proud of?

Kiersten said...

They wouldn't be judges if they didn't think they already knew better than everyone around them ; )

Congrats on the WD nod, Nathan! This is a fantastic site. Wonderful resource for writers and it's intelligent and entertaining to boot.

Also, can I just thank you for how quickly you respond? Even when it's a no, it's nice to know!

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Isn't that why we have a court system in the first place?

Furious D said...

1. How do bad books get published? I could tell you the answer, but it involves a secret conspiracy that dates back to the dawn of time. You can read all about it in my new novel: The Michaelangelo Cypher! Soon to be a major motion picture!

2. I don't mind vagueness and stock phrases. At least it acknowledges the existence of my submission. It's the black hole people that get on my last nerve.

3. Every time Doris Lessing gets asked a question she should answer by screaming: "F**k this, I'm out of here!" and storming off.

4. It reminds of those people who say that we'll only be shopping for books online. But then there are luddites like me who enjoy going into bookstores and going meticulously through their stacks to see what surprises they come up with.

5. In other news, rates of commitment-phobia have skyrocketed in California. No one knows why. ;)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Bransford said...

Don't really care to have a flame war.

Anonymous said...

Proposition 22, which strengthened the state's 1978 one-man, one-woman marriage law with the words "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," passed with 61 percent of the vote.

Just sayin.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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calendula-witch said...

I want to echo my PRIDE in my state and my city! Civil rights is a slow and painful process, and we're getting there.

Other Lisa said...

Ya know, there's this funny thing about the American system called "Separation of Powers." Checks and balances. One of the reasons our founders thought this was a good idea was to prevent the tyranny of the majority.

Just sayin'.

Nathan, many congratulations on the WD award - it's well-deserved.

nancorbett said...

No matter how long I live in the Northwest, California is always home, and right now, I'm damned proud to say so.

As for Doris Lessing, hands down the best!

Cam said...

Hooray! Another contest! Just what I need -- another distraction from querying, writing and rewriting! But of course I'll participate anyway. :-)
Have a great weekend.
Cam

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Bransford said...

This didn't turn into a political blog as this is not, at least for me, a political issue. But all the same I'm deleting anonymous comments -- anything anyone wants to be say can be said without anonymity.

A Paperback Writer said...

But when was Doris Lessing ever openly pleased about anything? She should have received the Nobel Pessimist Award.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, and I'm happy for CA, too -- except that I live in Utah and will now be forced to listen to weeks and weeks of homophobic rhetoric that will make me want to scream at people. Sigh. Lucky Californians.

Phoenix said...

Yay CA! Yay WD nod! Yay contests! Yay agents who post and give us the chance to have some great industry dialog!

Jessica Burkhart said...

Woo hoo CA! I was so excited to hear this! :)

Lisa McMann said...

"Best Nobel Prize Winner ever??"

Indeed.

And yay California. :)

micheleleesbooklove said...

About eight out of the 25 agents I've queried for my latest books never responded. That drives me absolutely crazy. Just give me a no instead of ignoring me. I think it's incredibly rude.

Anonymous said...
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deborah blake said...

California rocks!
Whining is especially unattractive when done by those who are successful and unusually blessed.
And I'm with the other "no response sucks" folks. But I also understand how overwhelmed the folks in this industry are. There is no perfect answer. Unless of course you win the Nobel Prize. Oh, no, wait--apparently that's bad, too.

Nathan Bransford said...

Anon-

Like I said, I'm deleting anonymous comments and I'd appreciate it if you'd respect that. We really can all get along.

Adaora A. said...

Congrats Nathan on having your blog listed as the top 101 best writers resources by Writer's Digest. It's about time.

People can whine and moan all they want about the legal system. The fact is that it's there, and it does what it's designed to do whether we like it or not. Whether we approve of the verdicts or not.
Roe Vs. Wade anyone, Brown vs. Board of Education....

Spaming wastes internet space doesn't it?

La Gringa said...

California = AWESOME!

Best burritos in the world, best coffee, See's Candy and now this!

Yeah, I was pretty damned proud of the state Supreme Court yesterday. I just wish I'd been there instead of New York to celebrate. I remember when my good friends Karen and Kathleen got married on the steps of the San Francisco City hall...it was incredibly moving and an act of bravery that I doubt anyone who is not gay can begin to understand.

Re: anonymous posts - yeah, thats why I no longer allow them on my blog, either. I used to get a lot of gay-hate because in addition to discussing agenting, I discuss LGBT issues sometimes.

Cheers!

Colleen

Stephen Parrish said...

You've all heard the argument, "What next? Allow animals to marry?"

To the women who said it to me I answered that the same logic would deny her right to vote:

"Votes for women? What next? Votes for insects?"

The courts don't make decisions based on opinion polls.

Sorry, Nathan. Delete me if you think I'm hijacking. It's just that after abolition and suffrage I find it silly we're still having national debates about equal rights. And like the anonymous commenters on this blog, the people who are against equal rights always seem to wear hoods. Go figure.

Simon Haynes said...

Re printed catalogues: When I was in the giftware industry we used to receive both printed catalogues and those on CD. We'd thumb through the printed ones, but all the CDs went straight into the bin. Not only did many of them use custom software to display their wares (we ran Linux), it was fiddly and damn near impossible to browse easily.

I fear book catalogues will face the same problem. Sure, we all need to be environmentally responsible, but they could consider printing on matt recycled paper instead of heavier gloss. It won't look as flash, but anything's better than a CD crammed with data.

Bernita said...

I'm all for bad books being published - means there's hope for me.

Conduit said...

My views on gay marriage were cemented when I saw the Vanessa Redgrave episode of If These Walls Could Talk. It told the story of a woman whose soulmate passes away, and in the midst of grief, she finds she has no legal rights whatsoever. It showed how important an issue this is.

When gay marriage (or Civil Partnership, to give it its more romantic and fluffy name - doesn't that just bring a tear to your eye?) was first legally recognised in the UK, the first ceremony happened to be in Belfast, in my beloved Northern Ireland. It's rare that we're at the bleeding edge of liberalism and equal rights in this often narrow-minded part of the world. And surprisingly, nobody got terribly worked up about it, including the Democratic Unionist Party, who think dancing is akin to satanism.

And who'da thunk we'd be more than two years ahead of California.

melissalobianco said...

All of you cheering for the WD nod: are you out of your minds? Do you know what that means? Now, anyone who was not previously privy to the wisdom of this blog will come-a-running, and there goes our leg up, man! Boo to the WD nod! (Kudos, but...) BOO, I say again!

@ Bernita~
You're thinking there is flawed. Repeat after me: I write good. :) (*apologizing to fellow grammar snobs*)

Kristin said...

***POLITICALLY FREE COMMENT***

I refuse to send out snail mail queries anymore because I have had many instances of putting a whole packet together, with everything they requested in their submissions guidelines, plus paying the postage for a SASE, only to get NOTHING in response. At least give me my 42 cents worth and mail *something* back.

If I don't get any sort of answer from an email query, I'm only out my time in sending one in the first place. However, it would behoove agents to send an automatic 'we got your query' response, just so I know it didn't get sent to the spam folder. If you don't want to answer me after that, fine.

terryd said...

Here's to open-mindedness and Nobel-winning Nobel prize scoffers!

It's been the other way 'round for far too long.

Monica said...

Booksellers can be such cry-babies. Publishers are supposed to waste tons of paper, ink and money because booksellers like to "thumb-through." Give me a break. I can't wait until all of these crabby baby-boomers retire.

Rubesy said...

California, here we come.

Great resource, this blog. Thanks.

wickerman said...

I resent that Monica... I'm every bit as crabby as my parents and intend to take over when they retire :)

Anonymous said...

How long will I have to wait for a reply to my query?

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

If you send it on a weekday, usually not more than 24 hours.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Thanks.
But do you answer all queries, or just the ones you're interested in?

Nathan Bransford said...

I respond to every query I receive. If you have been waiting more than two weeks for a response please feel free to re-query.

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