Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, October 10, 2008

This Week in Publishing 10/10/08

This Week in the Meltdown

Wondering how publishing company stocks are doing these days? Um..... basically as well as everyone else. Not Good.

Penguin imprint Dutton was in the news again as they won the auction for a new, Stoker-family-connected version of DRACULA. It will be the Stoker-family endorsed Dracula project since the 1931 film version.

Before you tell your kids to put down the Wiimote and go read some books, you may be curious to know that efforts are afoot to use video games to promote reading. Whatever works! Says the 28-year-old formerly addicted to Guitar Hero. Also the article has a new phrase I haven't seen before: digital literary. Which is important.

Everyone's favorite shy-author-publicity blog Shrinking Violet Promotions is compiling An Introvert's Bill of Rights. My favorite so far: "Introverts have the right to leave social events "early" as needed."

Editorial Anonymous reinforces perhaps the single best publishing advice that needs to be repeated again and again: don't follow trends.

As I'm sure you have seen, as expected, the Nobel Prize for Literature was not won by an American, but rather Frenchman Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, who the committee cited for being an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." But in the spirit of the current political season, I have a question for the mainstream media: How do we know that Le Clezio is not, and never has been, Cormac McCarthy? I call upon Le Clezi to prove that he is who he says he is and not the author whose terse prose and lack of quotation marks have demonstrated his fitness for the highest award granted in the name of inventors of dynamite.

And finally, in an article that is so quaint it kills, the Nobel Prize committee is gravely concerned that news of their selection of Le Clezio may have leaked early...... as reflected by the betting in the Nobel Prize futures market. I too lost sleep last night about upsetting the all-important "people who bet on the Nobel Prize in Literature" constituency.

Have a great weekend!






49 comments:

Anonymous said...

video games promote video game playing. books promote reading. how bout instead of holding video game tournaments in libraries they hold writing contests, or poetry slams, or spoken word contests....oh wait then the kids would be actually using their minds, i forgot.

Anonymous said...

Question: How will this economic situation affect publishing houses acquiring new books? Specifically, how will it affect unpublished authors' chances of getting published for the first time?

Signed,

Someone with an agented book out with editors
(but you can call me Bob)

Erik said...

Perhaps the Nobel betting is all mobbed up like so much other betting and they're afraid of a kneecapping.

This could be the premise for a novel! Or maybe a short story. Or just a post. :-)

Nathan Bransford said...

Bob-

If anyone says they know the answer to that question they're either psychic or lying.

But my best stab at answering is that every book is individual. There will be books that sell and books that don't in the coming months. As a whole the industry will probably see a downturn, but within the industry there will be successes.

Ulysses said...

I was going to suggest a new right for the Introverts list, but...

Well, I just couldn't bring myself to speak up.

(What? You thought an anonymous blogger was an extrovert?)

Elyssa Papa said...

Love the links this week. The new Dracula book sounds intriguing. I'll be reading it.

Shrinking Violets Bill of Rights is fabulous.

gwen said...

LOL, introvert's bill of rights. I like it. Leaving social events early...... or not attending them at all. ;)

melissablue13 said...

"Don't Follow Trends" The divas were just discussing this. They basically said the same thing.

Gwen (again!) said...

OH OH OH -

And DRACULA! Now, this is exciting for me. I am not fond of the modern vampires-are-sexy trend, or any of the vampire stories that have surfaced in the last century, really. But I ADORE the original, and I am so excited to see what these new books bring!! I wonder, though, who it is that will be stalking the original vampire-hunting crew... Dracula was already killed trying to return to Castle Dracula...

Oh gosh, I think Bram Stoker's DRACULA is just great. Can`t wait to read what his family has in store.

Erik said...

On Dracula - there's an episode of "Rocko's Modern Life" where they see a preview for the new Dracula movie:

Dracula - Done to Death!

Funny stuff (as is most of Rocko). In cartoons there is truth, too.

Bob Day said...

Hey Nathan, long time reader, first time question-asker. Feel free to take a stab at it if you want:

How does the idea of a soundtrack to a novel sound? I had an idea to compile songs that follow the theme/tone of a story, or perhaps are relavent to the story in more subtle ways.

Then say you buy the book with a code reedemable on itunes for 50% off the soundtrack, or something like that. Maybe too you could get recording artists to write their own original songs for the soundtrack, just like they do for movies.

I was just wondering because it seems like a win win for publishing and the music industry. Then it would give Steve Jobs (aka God), and Apple a stake in the publishing industry--which could only be a good thing, right?

I was just wondering your thoughts because, after all, I'm just an outsider looking in. You're the real deal.

Margaret Yang said...

"Introverts have the right to leave social events 'early' as needed."

This is my parents! Both introverts. They are fabulous people so they get invited to parties, but they agree ahead of time that they are leaving at 10:00. They tell the host that they have to leave "early" and by 10:15, they are home and tucked in their bed, reading books.

I adore my parents. Wonderful role models.

Nathan Bransford said...

bob-

Book soundtracks have definitely been done (see here for just one). I'm not sure about how they've fared and how/whether they contributed to the book or soundtrack's success, but maybe someone else can chime in on that.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Every since I started writing again, people have asked me "Don't you wish your books could be made into movies?"

"Uh no," I always say, "But I'd kill to have one made into a video game!"

They always think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Marilyn Peake said...

Nathan,

Thank you for such an informative blog today! I figured things had to be difficult for publishing houses right now. I’ve been glued to the T.V. much of today, even watching the business/financial channel, and it’s been a wild ride. The most amazing moments for me on T.V. today were when a stock market screen lit up all over the place like a Christmas tree with red arrows blinking down, followed by a roar from the traders on the floor, followed by a screen lighting up with green arrows pointing up all over the place, another roar, and then the stock market going back down, shortly before it was announced that there will be a G-7 meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss international finances. Wow.

I’m delighted to hear about video games as a way to expand the ability to experience a book. I found this part of the New York Times article really interesting: "Researchers, who are just beginning to explore the cognitive effects of video games, have found that in laboratory settings, action gamers are better than nonplayers at focusing on tasks and ignoring irrelevant distractions." I read in another article some similar results of research: 1.) the major difference between college students who play computer games and those who don’t is that those who play computer games are better at multi-tasking, and 2.) many of the best neurosurgeons play video games, which may account for improved eye-hand coordination.

I love the advice: "don’t follow trends". Better to have the next best thing.

nona said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cari said...

Here at my library, we host poetry slams and talent shows and writing contests and getting ready for college seminars... *and* video game tournaments. It's certainly not what we're all about, but we enjoy them (says this 26-year-old librarian). I am a WoW player, and I also enjoy the Super Smash Bros., Guitar Hero, DDR, and TF2 gaming events we host. I don't know how I feel about games promoting literacy--I was an avid reader long before I played video games, so I don't necessarily link the two in my head. But the games get them into the library. You need to support a positive image for the library--the more positive it is as a place, the more likely teens are to come and use it.

Warcraft does have an extensive lore and lots of great books that go along with it though. As do Warhammer, Halo, etc. So I do see a connection.

Sara Merrick said...

Thank you for your weekly wrap-up. I would be concerned about the state of publishing, but since I'm now looking at a retirement age of 90+ there's still plenty of time for the industry to rebound and for me to be published. Sigh.

Bob Day said...

Hey, thanks Nathan, I appreciate it. I know you're busy...next time I'll Google it. I swear.

Adaora A. said...

Trust me Nathan, once you've played ROCK BAND you never go back!This from an almost 22-year-old ROCK BAND addict. I'm also really into LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD, but that's neither here nor there.

Digital library sounds interesting. Are they going to spin off quotes from books and give you points if you read them correctly/identify them? Sounds interesting all the same. I don't think it's going to take the desire to read a properly bound novel out of me or my hands.

Jeanne said...

Anonymous- do you have kids? I've got three- two with verifiably high IQ's-(one of them has already been accepted at to his first choice University for Fall 09 majoring in Secondary Ed/English) and I can assure you, they would prefer death to a poetry slam or word contest. First off, even if they thought that it sounded good after studying their brains out all week, their friends would beat the you-know-what out of them. It would be social suicide.

I think the idea of marrying reading with video games sounds interesting. Will the kids have to read chapters on the screen to move forward?

Jeanne said...

I should also add that we live in Football Country. Oklahoma. Boys are expected to get concussions, not win poetry contests. I'm sure in other parts of the vast world it's different. Here, all the matters is that OU stomps UT tomorrow.

And I will read the new Dracula book. I feel a dark faze coming on. :)

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

The digital gaming/reading link - may also bring many boys/young men to reading at least something, who would otherwise not. But when I read I love creating a visual world from the words on the page. Imagination and the resulting creativity are critical factors in early development, hope it can be countered in another way.

Video games and the book in an all-in-one Kindle has to be next?

Question: on a Kindle or Sony reader - presume there is no book jacket? Will that become less important in future for digital-only books?

ChrisEldin said...

Re teh video games connection to books---I mentioned this *two* years ago at a children's book writers conference. Everyone looked at me like I had a third arm.
I think it's another way publishing is changing....

Nina said...

Hi there! I really enjoy your blog! After all, my dream is to become a writer one day! I'm only 16, too!

Keep up with the great posts!

-N.

http://alifeconsumedbyliteratureandprose.blogspot.com/

Betty Atkins Dominguez said...

I accidentally sent my comment via e-mail, still, it is good advice.

acpaul said...

I realized that the Nobel prize no longer had any meaning when they awarded one, in science, to a man who had never done anything scientific. Just political and popular.

The Introvert bill of rights is a scream, and just what we quiet thinking types need.

Vancouver Dame said...

Interesting post. Why is digital literary so important? An explanation for why you indicated that would be helpful. From my observations, there must be some payoff for the game player to do the reading - i.e., a free upgrade of the game, free games, etc. The market which is being targetted thrives on instant gratification (don't we all?) I would find it annoying to have to jump back and forth between a game and reading a book for clues, but I happen to like books - and the self-paced aspect. Gaming encourages flash responses, but reading requires a little more time when reading text as opposed to seeing visual images. Is there a conflict there? (I know there are still a lot of Guitar Heroes out there, but that is still a visual, and physical activity. Did it encourage players to read up on the artists or bands who created those songs? I'm doubtful that it did.)
As for the betting, there will always be some form of that activity. Bemoaning the fact sounds a little like whining. Aside from religion, not much is sacred anymore. Life in the 21st century plays by different rules.

lotusloq said...

So many things! Wow!

The video games promoting reading? Indeed, they do already, and they can even more. There are some games that do it better than others, but I can assure you that if the game says it my kids will read it and for young readers it increases their vocabulary and reading speed. If it links to a novel, they will be more likely to read the novel. It's the reality of the world we live in. It seems to me that it could be a great market possibility for writers who are willing to go with it.

Fairness of the Nobel prize:
Whatever! I was wondering how many on the committee are anti-american. Not that I have a problem with a french winner. I have a master's in french, but I'm just saying: it seems fishy to me.

As for the betting business: Really? Betting on that? Sheesh, people will bet on anything! and then get bent out of shape about it.

As for the book soundtrack connection. Stephenie Meyer did it for her books and I know that the sales for those artists that she included were up on itunes. Especially certain artists benefitted from her playlists. Muse in particular. I think that is why one of the groups from the playlist performed for her release party. A lot of fans of her books became immediate fans of the music. For a lot of books I think music could work hand in hand. Of course, I am a huge fan of music like a lot of other people that's why I think it would work.

So much more to comment on, but I think I'll stop there. This is already way too long.

Have a great weekend!

Stacey said...

Bob, I wanted to comment on your idea of a book soundtrack. I say if the book is popular enough, music to go along with it also seems to be a popular trend.

I am thinking specifically of books that I know that have inspired music, ie. Harry Potter and Twilight. But I do know Stephenie Meyer lists her "playlists" that go along with her books, and I know people who have downloaded the music for thier own albums. So eventhough it is not sold as a compilation in the stores, it certainly is drawing attention to a "book soundtrack".

Hope that helps.

Maris Bosquet said...

Bob,

I like the idea of soundtracks for historicals, but only if the music is authentic to the period.

My blogged WIP, a YA historical set in the late 18th century, has links that allow my readers (betas) to hear the music mentioned in the story. It all adds up to a little extra knowledge about the period. If the music helps set a mood, like a movie soundtrack, than so much the better!

Furious D said...

1. Now is your time to buy, and you can control Random House with the change from your couch cushions!

2. Vampires suck.

3. To get to the next level, you have to read a book and answer a quiz on it. Sparking better sales in Coles Notes and other "study guides."

4. Introverts reserve the right to annoy people in blog comments.

5. I'm to slow to follow trends, preferring to step up the next one, so I look avant garde.

6. Le Clezio is Cormac McCarthy, the whole thing is just a scam to fool those snooty Eurotrash judges. He is also the real mother of Sarah Palin's baby. It's a long story.

7. I'll bet there was heavy action in Vegas. They'll bet on anything. ;)

ORION said...

I was away on a cruise and I'm back now...I can't tell you how many KINDLES there were!!! It was amazing!!What was even more amazing? When the owners found out I was an author they downloaded my book right on the ship...
Very cool...
As far as trends... very good article. I was told when I was writing LOTTERY that lottery stories were so over...

martha said...

Le Clezio is NOT Cormac McCarthy - Read the NYTimes article on him. He is far more of an internationalist. Which is what is wrong with much of American writing today - there's far too much inward navel gazing. There's a whole reading public out there which is not particularly interested in elegiac memories of growing up in the American South or the Midwest.

Scott said...

Not a huge fan of the American lit bashing, of late. It's pretty easy to dogpile right now on the U.S., and there aren't many opportunities to do so being passed up. Americans need to do some real soul searching and break out of a national adolescence, in my opinion. The same old same old I could do without, but I'm not exactly ashamed that there's a literary identity strengthening going on.

And I just have to think books and video games don't really mix well. There are ways to promote books through their characters, and I have seen quite a few HALO paperbacks on shelves, although I haven't actually tried reading one of them. But outside of some story background in a manual, trying to incorporate serious reading into gameplay seems like the quickest way to make your video game property fail.

Jeanne said...

I read an article on independent.com/uk in which Doris Lessing says that winning the Nobel Prize was a "bloody disaster." So, maybe being overlooked for that award is not such a bad thing.

Since only 12 Le Clezio's books have been translated into English it's not our fault that most of us "belly button gazers" haven't got him on our shelves. :) I read a couple of excerpts and I have to say, I'd still rather hear American writers write about life in America.

Jeanne said...

I mean - READ what American writers.....about American life. I'm thinking of being checked for early onset alzheimers if this brain fa--ing continues.:)

bryan russell said...

Martha,

The way your post is worded makes it seem as if you're implying that Cormac McCarthy writes "elegiac memories of growing up in the South or Midwest." Which is pretty funny (at least for anyone who's read McCarthy). Well, that's my chuckle for the day, and I quite enjoyed it.

Jeanne said...

Also- Martha - Futures prices, and Oil are down a bit, but there's still a lot of money in Cattle, Crops and Crude. Think, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Also,banks in these three states have recently been evaluated and are generally very sound. (Dad owns a bank) So, if I wanted to sell books to people who had money, I'd learn the proper use of the word "ya'll" and other things like- all soda is "Coke" - even if it's Pepsi. These Midwestern and Southern folks may still be in the book market, despite the economiic collapse.
Have a good weekend - YA'LL! :)

Anonymous said...

Could you paraphrase what the PM article said? Because it's restricted access only, I think, and while I'm curious to know how the industry is doing, I don't have an extra $20 to spend on a subscription right now. :/

Anonymous said...

Loving books are like loving the air we breathe. There is no economic situation...they are a necessity in life!

Anonymous said...

Loving books are like loving the air we breathe. There is no economic situation...they are a necessity in life!

Jeanne said...

True Anon. The economy made me snarky. And any twinge of anti-Americanism sets me off after my time in the EU this summer.

Am about to start reading "One Thousand White Women." My friend says it's wonderful.

DISCOVER CHURCH said...

Second to the last sentence:

*mrrrowrrr* pfft! pfft!

Loved it!

Kristan said...

You know, I had kind of the same amused reaction to the suspected Nobel lit leak. Like, what kind of NERDS are betting on books instead of sports and ponies??!

JhEnglish said...

"oh wait then the kids would be actually using their minds, i forgot."

Ohh lol that just made my day.
Great blog thx for posting.Keep up the good work!!

Morimasa Tonaki

Jeanne said...

Where is Nathan today? Out living a normal life instead of creating a post? How dare he?
Just wanted to make a follow up comment - from the stalker reltated post last week- Someone made a lude comment about my child on my blog today. Just as I wrote that I feared- in my comment last week.
So, I freaked out at the thought of someone getting their jollies from my daughters pic, deleted the whole dang blog- then was encouraged to blog on- minus kids pics. That's gonna be hard for me but- to heck with the stalkers and pervs- I restored the blog. :)
Also- feel like my IQ went up 936 points today!!

The Life of An Ambitious Book Girl said...

Glad I left publishing last month!! I decided to go into teaching since the income was terrible and I wasn't able to focus on my writing.

Reason I'm glad, so many people in my office got the boot due to the economy and a loss of a huge client we had, Hachette Books!! OUCH

The Life of An Ambitious Book Girl said...

P.S. Re: Anonymous comments on it's affect on acquiring new books...from my experience in publishing (which has been a few years)it already has affected new authors!!

Unless you are a famous indv. you most liskely aren't going to get signed on this coming year...of course, there are exceptions like anything else in life. It's a sad time in publishing.

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