Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Week in Publishing 11/7/08

This Week! Publishing!

This week marked the publication of CHURCHILL BY HIMSELF, edited by Richard Langworth, a book you also might know as one of the books that is posted to the right side of this blog. This is THE authorized collection of Winston Churchill quotations, it is exhaustively researched, superbly accurate, and is simply an amazing, authoritative, and essential book. It would make a fantastic Christmas present for your Churchillian-inclined friends and relatives. I'm just sayin'.

I'm still saddened by the death of Michael Crichton. C. Max Magee over at the Millions sums up what Chrichton meant to my generation -- he was the guy who really sparked our love of reading when we were growing up. SPHERE, quite simply, blew my mind. What a great book.

In book promotion news, The Swivet recently featured a guest blog by Courtney Summers, who broke down the different social networking sites and provides pros and cons. Bonus points for a Phil Keoghan reference.

Also in book promotion news, at the indispensable HarperStudio blog, Seth Godin is sanguine about the powers of free. He offers this wildly comforting quote: "Novelists and musicians can make money with bespoke work and appearances and interactions. And you know what? It's entirely likely that many people in the chain WON'T make any money. That's okay. That's the way change works." Ahh... don't you feel better already? Embrace the poverty.

Less sanguine is Booksquare, who notes the recent Random House e-book and downloadable audio adjustments as Not Good Things, and I think correctly notes that they are moving in the wrong direction.

Remember the hullaballoo when Knopf paid Bill Clinton seventy three gazillion dollars to write his memoir? Well, Hillel Italie assessed the interest for the coming Bush memoirs and....... not so much.

I can hardly bear to open Publishers Lunch these days for fear of reading about more horrendous publishing news. This week's carnage: HarperCollins' operating income fell to $3 million in the third quarter, Barnes & Noble's CEO noted that we're in the worst retail climate ever, and Borders lost its credit cover. Uncle!!!

And finally, in still more tragic news, I'm not sure if you heard but the Bachelorette has shattered my belief in true love YET AGAIN. Yes, Bachelorette Deanna Pappas and her erstwhile fiancee Jesse Csinsuiwnelkfj have shockingly called off their engagement. This marks the 14th time the Bachelor or Bachelorette has forever destroyed my belief in true love. Luckily we have an upcoming season to restore my faith that love can be found on a reality TV show in which you date multiple people simultaneously.

Have a great weekend!


Crimogenic said...

I already buckled and started posting free chapters (at least Chapter 1 is up now) on my blog and on goodreads. Umm.. it's a good start for one who fears "free"... anyway, now I get to try to use all those self-promotion ideas to network with other writers and publishing people. Actually, I found out about goodreads from Courtney Summers' post.

lotusloq said...

Hahahahahaha! Oh my gosh! Thanks for lengthening my life with laughter after all the depressing news on Pub. Lunch. (Oh if only it were Pub lunch!) I'm so sorry your faith in true love has been shaken so deeply! All it takes is one more season!

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

Nathan, I hate to pop more of your illusion, but the Bachelor/Bachelorette is a HOAX!!! lol, none of them really love each other (ok, except Trista and Ryan).

have a great weekend!

Gottawrite Girl said...

Loved Sphere. The movie was another, embarassing story! Thanks for the post, Nathan!

Dave F. said...

I have a relative who is conservative. He'll enjoy Churchill for his birthday in December and I'll get a break from trying to buy two gifts.

Lizz Huerta said...

I loved _Timeline_. I reread it every couple of years and still love it.

I'm still waiting for a reality show about writers. Every week a different genre.

R.J. Keller said...

I'm a serious history nerd and have been waiting (semi)patiently for Churchill By Himself. Cool beans!

bryan russell said...


A question: I was wondering about some of the specific downsides to shopping a book in this economic climate, and if a decision might ever be made to wait a bit? I was considering whether editors might get gunshy. "Oh, I love it, and two years ago I would have published it, but these days..."
As it seems to be a no no to shop a book twice, would this be a way of shooting a book's future in the foot? Would it be better to wait for a possible upturn, or is that too big a gamble? "Who knows what the future will bring, and the book is ready so we shop it now..." Or would editors be willing to reconsider something when financial times are better?

The financial articles you linked to got me thinking, and I was wondering if you'd noticed any initial reactions from editors. Business as usual, or are people starting to hedge their bets and play it safe? I'm hoping for the former, and hoping the upturn comes fairly quick in the economy, so that the downward pressure doesn't last long enough to inhibit the acquisition processes of publishers.

So, basically, how does this all affect an agent, and how much more crucial is timing in regards to shopping a book in the current situation?

word verification: eardabut... it's like you're already telling me where to stick my head. Spooky.

Nathan Bransford said...


Very good questions. That's a little more inside than I'm usually comfortable blogging about, but yeah, I'd say most agents I know are feeling the effects.

Ice Charades said...

A bit of Churchill trivia - he is one of only six people to be made honorary U.S. citizens.

Furious D said...

1. It's good to know that Churchill By Himself is THE book, instead of being the book, or ever worse, a book. Did that make any sense?

2. Crichton was a great writer who practically invented the techno thriller.

3. One thing is for certain about social network sites is that you'll meet some real weirdos on MySpace. ;)

4. I refuse to embrace poverty, because poverty's sitting on top of me.

5. I think it has a lot to do with the sort of fans certain genres attract and whether or not it will work or not.

6. Interesting, the publishing industry will publish a novel about a man who wants to take a shot at Bush, but won't take a shot at publishing Bush.

7. Embrace the poverty.

8. There is no such thing as true love in reality television, just faking it until the checks stop coming.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nathan.

And it seems eardabut was right! Even more spooky.

new word verification: pesse... pessimistic? But cuter, so there's always hope (if the book is good enough)

Thanks again.

bryan russell said...

that was me, by the way... (darn overeager fingers on the keyboard...)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Nathan...true love isn't found on reality tv.

It's found in trashy romance novels.

Marilyn Peake said...

I also feel very sad about the death of Michael Crichton. I absolutely loved every minute of reading Sphere, and the movie is one of my favorites. I remember hearing many years ago that filmmakers love Crichton’s visual storytelling ability because his novels include so many details they can use in making the movies.

The financial meltdown continues. I’m suddenly happy that I’m deep into writing a new novel with no thoughts of marketing it right now. After all, what does a writer need in the middle of writing a novel? Just space, something to write on, and access to research materials. I must be one with the writing. Obi-Wan Kenobi, that is my only hope.

K.S. Clay said...

It is sad about Crichton. I loved Timeline. Also, A Case of Need. That was a great medical thriller. The guy knew how to keep you reading.

Loren Eaton said...

Adored Sphere ...

Steppe said...

"Luckily we have an upcoming season to restore my faith that love can be found on a reality TV show in which you date multiple people simultaneously."

That's a funny bit dude. Very good use of irony. I didn't realize M.C. wrote "Sphere".
Like most really good fiction it concealed a true story and resonated with readers for a reason. They sensed it was true.

Mind is a quantum field activity.
Body is a quantum field activity.

Its all static until the sphere comes back.
Would you try to sell a story like:

"Sphere: The Reckoning"

Have a nice weekend Komrade.

Erik said...

The market won't change until the writers have some control, which either means there are a lot few writers, a lot more readers, or the take over the means of production by force.

As to which is more likely, I'd like to note that most writers I know would have trouble finding the business end of a rifle, so I think we have to look for a more civil route than the last one.

R. Daley said...

I hurd Bush's memwars was gonna be writed in crayon. Splendificous.

I will miss Michael Crichton, too. He truly was a significant contributor to modern culture. My mother passed away from ovarian cancer in 2001 (just 2 months before my first son was born), and I hope the Crichton family can find peace now that his suffering is over. Watching a loved one succumb to cancer is heart wrenching indeed.

Ryan Field said...

Churchill...solves at least one Xmas gift for my father.

Mary said...

Speaking of TV, I recently watched season one (are there more?) of The Hills –- after the title was planted in my brain by reading this blog. I loved it. But I was completely shocked when Lauren did not go to Paris!!!

johnaskins said...

She gave up the chance to become Mrs. Csinsuiwnelkfj? WTF?

Stacey said...

Hey Nathan,

The Churchill book sounds like something that would be great for my dad for Christmas. He loves things related to WWII since he grew up during it.

Just a question though. Is it coming out on Book on CD before Christmas? He doesn't read small print very well anymore.

P.S. Your blog always has the best word verifications! I am keeping track of my faves to post my own definitions sometime. ;)

Jill of All Trades said...

Oh gosh, so that engagement ending coming from the beginning. She was just TOO over the top "in love". Really.

Laura D said...

I'll try the free route. I have to make a name for myself. And I'm buying my myspace friend J.R. Turner's books this weekend!

Kim said...

Don't give up on true love, Nathan! Not knowing anything about your personal life, I hope you've already found it. If not...don't despair. Every pot has a lid. :-)

Am giving the Churchill book as stocking stuffers this year. Cheers!

Adaora A. said...

I think I might as well throw in the towel in regards to this whole 'love' thing. If I can't find love by competing with 12 or so beautiful girls (ALL kissing and etc with the man I'm supposed to be going after) then where can I find love? This is getting ridiculous. Where can a young woman like myself and a young man find love nowadays if not on telly?

Congrats on the publication of CHURCHILL BY HIMSELF. I did indeed notice it on the side bar of this lovely blog. Nice to see it's out and about for me to pick up. This biliophobe can never resist a good book.

And on a serious note, the death of Mr. Crichton is a great loss. Every time a great author dies it gives you pause. Their never going to write another amazing story because their light has been blackened forever. I know it sounds quite cheesy for me to say that, but I just can't think of any other way to put it.

Cheers, and have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

SPHERE is aswesome!

Sort of reminds me of the movie Abyss, but earlier, and better.

Whirlochre said...

Bush can remember stuff?

Scott said...

What Ryan said. Dad all set for the Holidays. He likes the "vote liberal under 30 or you don't have a heart, vote conservative over 30 or you don't have a brain" quote. However, I did get him to agree to upping the age to 50, and citing Obama's age of 47 as a perfect twixt number.

Which makes me wonder if buying the book on Nathan's recommendation means your query moves to the top of the pile.

Hey, if we can't bribe in this country anymore, that's some change I can do without! /sarcasmism

Zoe Winters said...

On Seth Godin, I think free has to have a purpose. i.e. at some point someone has to fork over some money. Be it a publisher or fans. While it's goofy probably to expect to make "real money" writing fiction, artists still deserve to be compensated for their work.

Maybe fans will cough up donations, or buy print copies if they get a free ebook or podcast first.

But what I'm seeing is, the more publishers start to cut out writers on the money end, the less motivation writers have to go through their gates in the first place. I mean can't we "give it away" without a publisher? Probably, yes.

And if we then, after giving it away, build up a reader base, why would we need a third party involved unless they're willing to give serious front cash?

Things like HarperStudio, if publishing is going in that direction, then the only true line between self publishing and traditional publishing would be the "vanity" of saying, "Harper published me."

Whooptie doo.

We've gotten so big about telling people not to write for the money, that somehow that has translated to: "you don't really deserve any money."

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on love. My husband and I started going together at the age of 16 in high school, went to college together and married over winter break when we were 21. Began having kids when we were 24 and will celebrate our 23 anniversary in Jan.

We were not on a reality show---that might be the thorn.

We're still going strong!!


BarbS. said...

Sigh. So the numbers indicate people aren't buying books. Is it so wrong then, to publish books online free for people who can't afford something new or that they can't get from the local library?

I'm all right about sharing. What hurts is knowing that so many people throughout the industry are affected by the loss of revenue, from bookstore clerks who could lose their jobs to copy editors, production staff, proofreaders, editors and yes, agents.

Erg, this recession thing is such a brutal cycle...

BarbS. said...

:O Hey, guys, did anybody else notice the Freudian slip in my last post: "...from bookstore clerks who could lose their jobs to copy editors..."

LOL There should be a comma after "jobs." Without the comma, it sounds as though bookstore clerks will be replaced by copy editors who lost their own jobs!

BarbS. said...

So a conversation over dinner led to this discussion re the fate of the publishing industry:

Can a mega-hit save the industry?

What will that mega-hit be about? And will it be fiction or non-fiction? Conventional or alternative?

Of course, if any of us knew the answers, we'd have the mega-hit on our own hands... :P

valbrussell said...

I believe reality T.V. is an oxymoron and telly will rot your mind, you must resist!
It's a fact that the business is in horrendous decline but at least we can take comfort in the cyclical nature of everything on this planet.(Zen of me) Hopefully I won't be dead by the time publishing is on an upswing.(realistic fatalist of me)

Erik, I completely agree with your sentiments about writers having more control etc...however, as for the business end of a rifle, your remark only applies to those who don't write westerns.

kimrennin said...

The novel most complete, attributed, annotated and cross-referenced collection of the great statesman's quotations, ripostes, aphorisms, sayings and reflections ever published. He also highlights the myriad quotations commonly mis-attributed to Churchill.


The Life of An Ambitious Book Girl said...

Great blog! Re: the bachlerotte (and I do realize you wrote about more important issues...what is her problem??? She wanted this 'true love' crap from day one and she kept picking the wrong guys!!

I love watching teh show though, it's a total train-wreck.

Adaora A. said...

@lifeofanambgirl - the laugh is in the fact that they actually believe they're going to find the love of their life on a TV show which is edited in such a way as to have every X personality in full display. The ditz, the brain, the beauty, the shallow, etc....I think the only happy batchelor couple was Trisa and her hot firefighter hubby. I think their expecting baby number two. She bagged a hot firefighter who is fantastically just a little bit younger then her but just as prepared for the long hall.
Though the genius in the show is that I immediately pick a favourite every season, and like clockwork I delight in their victory (no matter how short-lived it turns out to be in the future). I love to discuss reality telly. Has everyone seen 50 cent's new show called 50 Money something or other?

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