Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, June 27, 2008

This Week in Publishing 6/27/08

Busy week in publishing!

The Wall Street Journal profiled another literary success story, this time for Andrew Davidson, who opted for an out-of-the-box query to Eric Simonoff that outlined why Eric shouldn't represent him. (Kids, don't try this at home. These stunts were performed by professionals). Doubleday snatched it up for quite the load of cash, and THE GARGOYLE comes out in August.

And in a completely opposite success story, via Publishers Lunch, the New York Times profiles THE SHACK, a book that is storming the bestseller lists based entirely on word of mouth and a blockbuster marketing budget of $300. And by storming the bestseller list, I mean STORMING -- it's #1 on the NY Times paperback list a year after it was published. THE SHACK is about a guy who meets God in the form of "a jolly African American woman."

The lesson in all of this? There is no lesson, people. This business is nuts I mean unpredictable.

That rascally Google is at it again! Now Google Book Search has put all the copyright information available anywhere into one xml document that you can download and search. Although Google notes that "there are undoubtedly errors in these records," so... uh... copyright searcher beware I guess.

In other rascally news, Dennis Cass is also at it again. This time he has penned a meta query which is quite hilarious and also meta. Now I'm going to get all meta on you and insert a joke here, maybe about a reality show ha ha Spencer's funny.

Watch out, Kindle, tech companies are gunning for you! Yes, the miBook is the latest e-reader aiming to compete with the Kindle. This one has a color screen, it retails for only $130 (Kindle: $350) and you can also can play multimedia content (such as cooking instructional videos) and music. Also it doesn't look like it was invented in the '80s, although, strangely, the miBook website does.

And finally, hope everyone had a Happy Draft Day! I went "um" along with everyone else when the Kings took Jason Thompson at #12 (I liked him... but maybe more at #25), but the last few times I was surprised by a Kings pick were when Kevin Martin and Peja Stojakovic were drafted, so.... I'm just going to go ahead and trust Geoff Petrie on this one.

Have a good weekend!


Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Hatchette has the Shaq...I mean, Shack

TWELVE is part of Hatchette Publishing also...

(from the link in original NB post):

"In May Hachette Book Group USA, a large mainstream publisher, entered into a partnership with Windblown to continue to publish the book. Hachette is now investing heavily to place advertisements on subways in Atlanta, Chicago and New York, as well as running television spots on the CNN airport network and other local stations."

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Prior post as example of more of that "national conversation" stuff.

Days to leave of absence: 9. Hopefully my blog posts don't become increasingly fragmented and tangential in the meantime (although I think they already are) (more so than usual).

Onovello said...

That meta-query was a stitch!

I couldn't help but recall the SAT proctors in high school who reminded us that we would get 200 points for filling in our names correctly.

Great piece. Thanks for the link!

Ulysses said...

I read the miBook article, and found this line: "Now that the Kindle is giving Gutenberg’s crazy invention a run for its money," pretty audacious.

I admit that the Kindle is an improvement over the printing press, but I really don't think its sales have reached the point where it justifies THAT comparison.

Er... does it?

bookboy28 said...

Damn, I missed the draft. I was too busy celebrating the Celtics'
17th championship. But growing up in Maine, I've been a fan for years. Not one of those bandwagon ones. Have a great weekend everyone!

pjd said...

Favorite part of the meta query:
Your name spelled correctly

I shouldn't admit this, but the only reason I care about any professional draft is to see how many Cal players get selected. Happy to see we had two yesterday. Draft Day was fun for me anyway because it was my birthday. (I figured I'd mention that because, of course, every single one of you cares deeply.)

Can't wait to see the miBook, though I think that cooking still on the screen in the NYT article's photo was perhaps mocked up.

bookboy28 said...

Oh yeah, I just got an ARC of Barry Lyga's third novel, HERO-TYPE, via UPS. What a great day!

David said...

The problem with clever gimmicks such as that query letter is that you have to be the first one to do it.

By the time you're slapping your forehead and saying, "Why didn't I think of that?!" it's too late.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks for the heads-up about miBook. Unfortunately, the web site is in Portuguese, and mine is a bit rusty. Guess I'll wait for the English portion to be completed--it's under construction, the site says. But muinto obrigado anyway.

wickerman said...

The advice on query letter sis always welcome, but let me play devil's advocate for a second. I search the net for agent sites fairly frequently to get an idea of what agents are looking for both in terms of what they represent and what they want out of a query letter.

Some agents are clear. Some might as well type something up in Klingon and post it on their sites.

Now Nathan is pretty clear with his areas of representation. I have only been reading his blog a few weeks, but no poetry and screenplays has been made VERY clear. And - of course - I will submit my query letter to him first when it is time... natch!! :)

However, for all of the agents who blog - often sarcastically - about all of the inappropriate submissions they get I read 2 different sites today (NO, I will not name them, I'm not a mud slinger) that offered some real gems.

One site listed several of the agents that work there and what they specifically represent. One agent was listed as working with sci-fi. On the main page of the site, however, it says the agency does not represent sci-fi.

The second site did not list ANYWHERE what kinds of books they represent. Trust me, I searched everywhere. Now assuming I am wrong and it IS listed somewhere, why, exactly, would you make it hard to find?

Would I submit to either of these places? Probably not. Did each of these sites ave a blog post about idiot authors sending them work they don't represent? You betcha!

Now agents are only human too (no really!) and frankly I like Nathan's approach of 'hey I'm not going to blacklist you for spelling my name wrong' (ok I'm done kissing butt now) but it seems like there are as many snarky agents as authors out there.

The meta-query post was very good and I find useful info on a good many agent sites I check out on a regular basis, but I just wanted to throw out a quick lifeline to some of the downtrodden rookies out there in obscuria...


Bernita said...

I have had to slap my hands to keep from humbly mentioning why an agent might not want to represent me in every query.

whatever trevor. said...

i can only be slightly offended by THE SHACK's premise, however i'll lay off my ignorance and go see if there is a more laid-out plot.

other than that, the success story about andrew davidson was pretty cool.

ChrisEldin said...

Dennis and his book were just roasted on our blog a couple of days ago.

Hope you can check it out.

Adaora A. said...

Wow, talk about out of the box! Patricia, what do you have to say about this? Weren't you all oddball for LOTTERY? The title sounds interesing. I've never heard that story. Can I assume that he's a professional then since he's allowed to use this tricky/clever scheme to snatch up who he wanted to represent him.

That pesky Google!

I can't stand e-book devices. I refuse to buy one (whatever its form may be). I will NEVER surrender. I refuse to get a Facebook account, and I refuse any e-reader.

I did have a wondeful Draft holiday! I thought it was quite strange as well, but I find it so touching when the selected young men tower over ther team owners and grin - a little too widely - wearing an UGLY suit and a bright coloured team hat. Brilliant. Yes, let's trust him.

Bryce said...

I live in Portland, so I had an EXCELLENT draft holiday. Seriously, it's almost sinful how much I enjoy watching Kevin Pritchard work his magic.


sex scenes at starbucks said...

I really hate pro basketball. But I won't hold it against you.

Dan said...

I'm always interested to see how the ACC players will fare in the NBA. The Kings ended up with an ACC stud (Singletary) too, despite what Chad Ford says!

I noticed in the comments section of the meta-query some sentiments AGAINST thanking the agent for his/her time. What is your opinion on this? Indicative of a pushover or just polite?

Anonymous said...

I just read the free D/L of The Gargoyle. Pretty intense. 21-page first chapter, first person narrative.

So is this considered a literary novel, or what?

It's currently #11,000 on Amazon even though it doesn't come out til Aug 5. Be interesting to watch that # change.

Anonymous said...

I should say free D/L of chapter 1 of the Gargoyle. Not the whole thing.

Conduit said...

My God, that MiBook website is bloody awful.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, how did this Davidson do this as everything I've read recently about Eric Simonoff is that he's not taking unsolicited queries? It's totally discouraging.

emmie52 said...

The best thing about the Kindle is the length of battery life. I never thought I'd get an e-Reader type device, but I gave in to the Kindle. I have not been disappointed. I still buy paperback books as well (hardbacks are actually my favorites), but for the multitasking times, long haul trips, and going overseas? Give me my Kindle that weighs less than a pound and holds hundreds of books over the two books that weigh 6 pounds.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:05,

I read an article on said he queried Simonoff originally with a 190K work ms or something like that, then SImonoff said he liked it, but...(reject) was way too Davidson cut it by about 50K words and resent it months later (with a fake cover jacker with quotes from Simonoff's original feedback on it)...and the rest, as they say, is history.

I haven't seen the actual query, but I'm guessing it was along the lines of, "There are many reasons why you shouldn't represent this book: it's too long, it doesn't fit conventional genres, I'm an unknown writer"...etc."

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

To Anon 4:05,

Let your intuition be your guide. I sometimes wonder about writers, compared to other artists (painters, musicians) - it seems to me that writers are more apt to claim innocence about the quality of their work, than other artists..."gosh I dunno, do you think it's any good?" Whereas painters and musicians recognize when they've done something really great or groundbreaking...

...well the point I'm getting to sounds like the out-of-the-box query writer recognized something in his own writing, that just gave him the confidence to write the query he did...the phrase "on the wings of a dove" comes to mind, and "flying high in a friendly sky" (Marvin Gaye), you know, you're so pumped up about what you've written, there's an air current there you can ride...

My apologies for the "Yoda Moment."

I wonder also, was I the only one who noticed in the news yesterday, that the North Pole might be completely ice free THIS SUMMER...for the "first time in human history." I feel stabbed in the heart...though a cosmic justice to it: "Fine, if you want to incinerate Iraq, kiss the Arctic goodbye" (so if we invade Iran, goodbye Antarctica?) Right now Yoda's up there with the polar bears, imparting wisdom: sorry bears, the force is not with you...come to think of it, Yoda kind of looks like a polar bear, or what a polar bear would look like, all shrunk and furless, with a human face...

Anonymous said...

The Shack had some great publicity in Christian circles from which along with a blog are a voice in an enormous wave of post modern Christians who call themselves Emerging/Home/Simple church and building a groundswell. What looks to be a little plan was a matter of the writer hitting his target audience perfectly.

I could be wrong.

Nancy D'Inzillo said...

Thanks for the heads up on the meta query. . . very meta indeed! Aside from the fact that I would have liked to see an actual example of what he considers a good query letter, I thought it was an excellent piece. A good mix of what to do with what NOT to do.

Jabez said...

Anybody have any reason why Vivian Jennings, a bookseller from Kansas, was quoted in both the Shack and Gargoyle articles, even though they were by different authors and in different publications? Is she someone who has connections or history such that she routinely gets called for quotes on new books?

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