Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, July 3, 2008

This Week in Publishing 7/3/08

An abbreviated week in publishi....

Everyone should know about this: a New Jersey literary agent is suing some of my favorite bloggers, and the article about the case is here. Because it's an ongoing suit I'm not going to say anything, except that I trust everyone to draw their own conclusions from the article.

Jonathan Karp's WashPo article is being discussed around the big water cooler of the internet, and Galley Cat relayed Soft Skull publisher Richard Nash's thoughts on how big publishing could adopt some of the skills and techniques of the smaller presses. Someone anonymous also chimes in that big advances will go away with digital media, but I'd have to politely disagree with anon on that one -- I think there will be an increasing premium on the authors who can deliver audiences with the splintering media environment, and those authors will continue to have sway over the terms of those deals.

Moonrat had an awesome and lesson-worthy post on an author who slighted her at a lunch with an agent because he implied that she was too junior. And once you've digested that unfortunate (and, sadly, not uncommon) tale, check out Janet Reid's utterly hilarious breakdown about what she would have done if she were the agent watching the events unfold. Let's just say Janet would have welcomed the death, the apocalypse, and/or a nice dousing in hot oil at that point.

And finally, just in case you're wondering what century we're living in, I have unassailable proof that the 21st is officially here. Thomas Nelson CEO/blogger Michael Hyatt has been Twittering as he read the manuscript for Lynne Spears' parenting memoir and notes, er, Twitters thusly: "I'm reading through the second draft of the Lynne Spears manuscript tonight. I am hoping to be able to approve it tomorrow. It's totally compelling." Gawker, naturally, was on the scene.

Have a great weekend!






31 comments:

A Paperback Writer said...

Hey, Nathan, you left off that JKR has joined up against age-banding on kids' books, which is a very hot blog topic this week.

I can't link, but here's the URL:

http://news.scotsman.com/entertainment/Rowling-blow-to-plans-to.4249548.jp

Anonymous said...

Question - and this is me being curious and trying to learn a bit more about the publishing industry so bag the flame throwers people! - suppose an agency called itself a Consulting Firm. It said right on its web-site, "We are not an agency that deals with commercial publishers. Rather, we help authors find new avenues for their works. Our agency provides editing assistance, marketing assistance and aids the author through the process of self-publishing via a vanity press. Why? Because we think words belong to those who wrote them, not cold corporations." -- from a fictional company called "Free Spirit Publishing Consulting Firm" -- would that bother people? Is this about deceiving authors or just slamming vanity press/self-publishing in general? (That's my main question, I could have gotten right to it but this way was more fun...)

Anonymous said...

Re: the "slighted" editor:

I blame the author's agent for not making it clear BEFORE lunch, that having any interest, from ANY person at the publisher was a blessing. The fact that the agent didn't kick the author's shin under the table and offer a shut-the-hell-up look speaks more about the agent (who should know better) than the grandiose author. All writers have had moments of self-importance, and its up to other writers/agents/those more experinced to poop our balloon when we are THIS green.

The editor was aghast that the writer thought he/she was too good for the editor. Um, can I call a huge time-out here?

Do you have ANY idea how often writers are looked at with disdain in this business for not being a "big" enough client? Hello? Yes, it sucks. I've had books rejected for not being "commercial enough" though the editor spent a full page praising every aspect of the book. Translation: I need a best-seller and this is "merely" brilliant, sorry! Not "big" enough!

If you can dish it out you have to be able to take it.

(By the way, I LIKE editors! I think they put in long days and have genuine enthusiasm for their jobs. We're on the same side, aren't we? Why does it always seem the opposite?)

Pema said...

Hmmm... that really makes one wonder which sites they can trust in terms of finding out which agents/publishers aren't any good.

Ryan Field said...

I read pretty much all the posts written about the New Jersey agent, and while I won't comment on them directly (which is killing me), I seriously hope this ridiculous thing is dismissed by the court, and quickly.

pjd said...

Do you have ANY idea how often writers are looked at with disdain in this business for not being a "big" enough client?

This is one of the reasons I like hanging around here. Nathan has always treated everyone, even novices and those of us who make utter fools of ourselves, with equal respect.

If you can dish it out you have to be able to take it.

This, however, is backwards thinking. Two wrongs do not make a right. I find it ironic and amusing that such a statement comes from someone choosing to remain anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting this anonymously because it won't hurt or offend anyone. But here's another take on the writer who didn't treat the junior editor with respect. I did something like this, inadvertantly, a while back. I didn't realize I was doing it when it happened, and I felt like a complete asshole when someone pointed it out to me later. I apologized to the associate editors I slighted (actually, there were two involved with me...hit me harder for that) and I hope they believed me. It's just that I was so excited to meet and work with the editor of my dreams I wasn't thinking clearly.

I know there are jerks out there who look down on people, but in my case it was just sheer, unadulterated stupidity.

Deborah Blake said...

Nathan,

Thanks for the connections to the two blogs--I thought Janet's comments were going to make me pee my pants, I laughed so hard.

Ah, the glamorous life of the lunching editor...

As for the so called agent who is suing, I googled her (aside: I can't believe that's become a verb) and found a 2005 post from Ms. Snark essentially covering these same issues. All I can say, is if people have been trashing this woman for years, what took her so long to decide this was hurting her business?

Anonymous said...

pjd --

I'm Anon 4:22. I posted as Anon because if I posted my name it would cause undo scrutiny on the editor that dissed my book for not being commercial enough. No, YOU wouldn't know me, but other writer friends of mine would, and would then start trying to guess who the editor is. Why would I bring that on the editor?

pjd said...

Point taken, Anon. I've been the recipient of uncalled-for dissing (not in writing yet), and I totally see your point.

Adaora A. said...

Wow Nathan, good luck to whoever deserves to win. I'm heading over to read now.

LOL! Lynne Spears is going through with it. I fail to be astonished.

Happy 4th of July in advance. Hurrah! I'm celebrating from here in Canada. I think my house might be the only one for miles celebrating a US holiday, but I'm breaking out my Connectict license plate, we're opening up the grill, we're going to be chilling; drinking, eating, and wearing, red, white a blue.

Jeff said...

I simply can't read anything else until Lynne Spears' book comes out. I mean, why bother?

Michelle Pendergrass said...

And Michael Hyatt also blogged about Gawker and their mistakes here.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

SO GLAD I found your blog, expect an email from me soon. I am working on a query right now in regards to a blog I wrote a few days ago that had my readers leaving me a ton of comments (107 well thought out little blurbs to be exact) and it has ignited a spark....UNTIL THEN happy 4th! Here's to hot dogs and beers. Cheers.

Annalee said...

When you posted the article about the lawsuit, I was like "Oh noes! What?" Then I clicked through and found out who's instigating the shenanigans in question, and it occurred to me that this is the first time I've seen anyone but her refer to her as a "literary agent." Making Light, AW, Predators and Editors, et al tend to have a far less charitable view of her business model and the profession to which it belongs.

I hope she gets clobbered.

Dan said...

Re: NJ Agent - I guess this disproves the old saying, 'any publicity is good publicity,' no?

Just_Me said...

Oh, golly, a Spears is publishing anything about parenting? How not to maybe?

As for the news article... I notice they don't list any of the so-called agents clients or publishing credentials. If she is, in fact, an agent she should have her clients defend her. All she needs is proof that she has the contacts and credentials she claims to have. The fact that she isn't waving her client roster in anyones face is telling.

Paperback writer: I missed the article about age-banding and I'll have to go look it up. I probably don't agree with JKR, I don't think most her books are suitable for younger children, but I'm biased because I have younger children and I like them sweet and young and not reading about dying children or parents.

Ithaca said...

Re horror lunch. Some agents have patchy memories. You have a power lunch with the agent in which the agent tells you all the amazing things s/he is going to do. "I deal with senior people, so if there's a production problem we can go straight to the top." "I can get you an advance on 6 chapters so you can concentrate on finishing the book." "We'll coordinate publicity with all your foreign publishers so you can concentrate on your next book, dealing with publishers worldwide is one of our agency's strengths." So this all sounds good, you hire the agent, and you then go into a meeting or a correspondence with a publisher on the understanding that all these lovely things that were promised have been put into place - and the reaction is, WHO do you think you ARE? Making all these INSANE demands? (And the hell of it is, saying, "Well, it wasn't my idea, that's just what my agent told me I could get" is going to make it MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH worse.)

A Paperback Writer said...

Just me,
I can see your point. Do read the article.
She is joining Phillip Pullman and a host of other authors to try to stop large publishing houses from labeling books with age-ranges. Many people think this will discourage kids from reading. (If a 13-year-old actually reads on a 3rd grade level, he's unlikely to be too excited about walking around school carrying a reading book that announces that fact to the whole world.)
But, please go read up on this and decide what YOU think. I agree with those who are against age banding, but the fact that such a famous author has put her name into the fight does make it newsworthy in the writing world, which is why I put it in the comments.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, and just me--
As a teacher, I don't think I would recommend the HP books to most kids younger than about 9 (maybe a really mature 8-year-old), either, so we're in agreement there.
There are many exciting books that don't have death in them for younger children.

Miss Mae said...

This is a nice blog. Very informative. I'm glad I found it...

Miss Mae

ORION said...

Well before I went to conferences and New York I ASKED my agent what I should say or not say- but Yanno...open mouth insert foot...

oh and the twitter thing about the Spears book?
Could it just be an angle for a little advance publicity?
See now I'LL be compelled to pick it up and see how awful it is...I'm so lame.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Furious D said...

1. Well, I'm going to draw my conclusions before reading the article. I'm sort of like Judge Judy that way.

2. I think anyone who can deliver an audience deserves to be paid accordingly. I hope it happens in Hollywood where they seem to pay people for the number of tabloid covers they land, than the tickets they sell.

3. I wouldn't badmouth any agent that could sell my work. I wouldn't care if the agent was a fetus, you make the sale, I don't care how junior they are.

4. What really would have amazed me about the CEO's blog would have been having him say: "What a piece of crap! Thank god there are peoples who will buy anything floating in the toilet bowl if it's associated with a celebrity." I would find the honesty refreshing.

LindaBudz said...

I believe the correct term is "He Tweets thusly...." Now, there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

Tor Hershman said...

We're always in the same century, the Century Of Now.....as you may view in the followin' @ YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7iQRFP_e90

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

Nancy D'Inzillo said...

So Nathan, as a literary agent where do you stand on the possible success of Lynne Spears book? On the one hand, I'm somewhat of a literary snob and I don't understand why people want to read what is likely to be tabloid material on the bestseller list, on the other hand, it seems like if the public wants it (and they probably will knowing how quickly they eat up the Spears family gossip now), why shouldn't they have it? It would be a shame to see it get more money for its budget though in the big publishing house it's bound to land in than some (probably) better written book competing with it. . .

And a side comment: if kids books are going to be given age ranges, do it on the inside so a kid who may not read well and is older can read a lower level book with some dignity. As for "reader appropriate," I think level relative to difficulty is important to gauge, but even then some kids will excel beyond their level. As for content, I read books with sex, drugs, parents dying, the works, and I don't feel it scarred me in anyway because I had a parent willing to talk to me about the issues. Knowing a kids maturity should be up to the parent, not some generic publisher decided system.

A Paperback Writer said...

Nancy, good point -- INSIDE the book would be much less of a problem, although I'm not sure it would solve the problem completely.

Bad Author said...

Further Proof of the Dumbing-down of American Culture

Southern Writer said...

Age banding? I read about forty of the Nancy Drew books before I ever read Dick & Jane. Ditto with Victoria Holt gothic romance novels. I read Portnoy's Complaint in the 6th grade. I read Guy de Maupassant in the 7th. I learned to read by reading my grandfather's Playboys. I finally read Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was in my 30's. Hmm. Wait. Maybe I'm not such a good example of why age banding is bad.

How Publishing Really Works said...

Ithaca, just a quibble: a writer doesn't "hire an agent", he contracts to work with one. There's a big difference. Hiring implies an upfront fee, which isn't how good agents work.

As I've now said on both Editorial Ass's blog, and on Janet Reid's, this writer should have listened to the editor then, once the lunch was over, asked his or her agent if it would be possible or advisable to consult with someone higher up. If the agent thought it wise, said agent could have arranged the meeting. If the agent thought it unwise, said agent could have explained why--in this case, probably using words of just one syllable.

Related Posts with Thumbnails