Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, February 27, 2009

This Week in Publishing 2/27/09

This week in the Kindle!

Yes, the Kindle news is flowing fast and furious as everyone assesses their favorite new white book thingy of the future. What does it all mean? Um. Depends on who you ask.

First off for your nuts and bolts review, David Pogue always delivers a great rundown and he likes the new version quite a bit. Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos went on the Daily Show to talk to Jon Stewart, whose conclusion was essentially: "It costs what now?" (Also on the Daily Show: confirmation that they are working on books beamed to brains. Bezos: "We're working on that." Well, hurry, please!)

Of course, we all know by now that the Kindle 2 is stirring up controversy with its text to speech function, and the head of the Author's Guild took to the pages of the New York Times to assert that authors have a right to a share of revenue from derivative audio uses, even if said audio sounds crappy at the moment. (And especially since the said crappy audio is getting better).

How do authors feel? Well, Neil Gaiman came out very quickly against the Author's Guild stance by saying that when you buy a book you're buying the ability to read it out loud (although actually, the Author's Guild isn't disagreeing with this -- just having an e-reader do it) and that no one is going to confuse it with an actual audiobook.

Author Jason Pinter strongly disagrees with Gaiman: Amazon is making money off of the technology, and he says that authors have to stand up for their share of the pie when the market is segmented, particularly because the technology is only going to improve. In a nod to Gaiman, Pinter writes: "Major bestselling authors have less to worry about because the bookstores (and audiobook producers, and all other tributaries) can expect a certain number of sales. As tides rise, people with bigger platforms will be able to keep their heads above water. But the situation is different for authors who must squeeze out every bit of potential book revenue to stay afloat."

Well. At least we're all agreed that Amazon is going to completely dominate the new book world, right? Um..... Also depends on who you ask.

First up, writing for Slate is Farhad Manjoo, who writes that publishers are doomed as Amazon uses the Kindle to gobble up an increasing share of the e-book marketplace and will subsequently flex its muscle a la Apple and iTunes. Meanwhile, Mike Shatzkin argues that Amazon will lose its competitive advantage in an e-book world as new devices challenge the Kindle and as the new companies don't have to worry about Amazon's huge logistical advantage with physical books. (HT Maya Reynolds)

Got all that? Welcome to the new publishing world! We totally have this under control.

Hmmm.... did I forget anything? Oh yeah: here's what your Kindle looks like naked.

In non-Kindle news: more fallout from the Great Query Flood of '09, as agent Rachelle Gardner was forced to abandon her policy of responding to everyone, and would like everyone to please remember that we don't have time, nor are we paid for, personalized responses to every manuscript we receive. But we still try.

And finally, ever wondered whether you or one of your fellow writers have crossed the line from confidence straight into delusion? J.A. Konrath has a helpful breakdown.

Have a great weekend!


Mark D. said...

If books are recited on these e-readers, will it be by some electronic computer generated voice? Doesn't it make more sense to have an actor, or even the author him/herself recorded in a reading to be played back at leisure on these things?

Mira said...

I loved reading the Rachelle Gardner blog - thanks for directing me there. What a lovely person! A great role-model for how to set a limit graciously and compassionately.

It also really speaks to the reality of the increase in query responses. I think what everyone has been saying about the economic problems leading people to dip into book writing is true.

In terms of the piece about delusional writers some of it was useful, but other parts were just plain silly.

I'd argue with it, but I'm all argued out this week.

Although I would argue that I should recieve a shiny new Kindle for Christmas. I'd argue for that very enthusiastically!

Marilyn Peake said...

I believe Neil Gaiman’s a brilliant writer, but I disagree with him about the need for writers to protect their audio rights on the Kindle. My books are available in eBook format for the Kindle, but separate audio book versions are recorded by professional voice actors and sold at Right now, it’s no big deal – The audio version for the Kindle can’t hold a candle to the quality produced by professional voice actors on a soundstage, but that may change. Amazon planning to beam books directly into our brains? Will they come with commercials? You will buy Amazon. No other bookstore can compare. You want Amazon to rule the world, you really do.

Love the piece on confident writers vs. delusional writers. Especially love this part:
Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.
There’s that darn difference between getting published and making money, rearing its ugly head again. But, so often, that’s the reality of being a writer. Sigh.

Anonymous said...


Do you really think that the economy has lead to more queries? I mean, that would mean that people are pumping out books in what like a few months?

Anonymous said...

If Amazon isn't charging extra to be able to hear the book that's been purchased, they'll probably give the author the royalties on the audio enhancement. Te he. (Cause 10% of nothing is still nothing, see?) I think all you can really do is get outraged if James Earl Jones's voice starts doing the narrating and people can download the audio book into physical form like a CD or share it with the world at the click of a button.

Nathan Bransford said...


I honestly have no idea why the queries are on the rise so much, but honestly a lot of these projects look they were cranked out in a few hours given how sloppy they are. So yeah -- plenty of time for people to dash something off and send us queries.

Marilyn Peake said...

Anon @ 10:45 AM -

I wouldn't be worried at all about Kindle audio if it stayed as lame as it is right now, but eventually computers will probably be able to create realistic voices. Think about how far the quality of computer games has come in the last few years. I wonder if the same law that says a writer loses their copyright if they don't defend copyright infringement within a certain number of years will apply to this audio book situation with the Kindle. Any lawyers here?

Rowenna said...

J.A. Konrath's post was great--though I think people are fooling themselves if they think they've never slipped into a moment of delusion or two. It's about whether you snap out of it or not! I also wasn't sure how I felt about this comment "Would you rather be paid or be praised?
Confident writers know the best form of praise is a royalty check." If money isn't the primary goal of writing, I don't think that makes someone delusional(in fact, at this stage, it keeps me from becoming so)--and I'd personally rather publish a book that did well critically than financially.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Peake-

I completely agree.

Hilabeans said...

*Taking a deep breath*
Writing is a lifelong process. I agree with several points on the confident vs. delusional writer comparison.

In regards to the question of economics and the spike in the number of new queries, I look at things this way - after being laid off, people who were simply closet writers have more time to devote to their craft. Is there anything wrong with that? I don't think so.
We all need to step up our game, become marketers as well as writers - I mean, aren't these the skills we'll need even after our books are published?

More competition is not a bad thing in my mind. It's a catalyst.
One more thing, there's no rule book that says you can't finish a novel in two months ;). Have you read Stephen King’s On Writing?

Bane of Anubis said...

Great post and thanks for the link to Konrath's nice breakdown.

Gaiman isn't necessarily right and his view may be distorted, but given the nature of today's global paradigm, I'm guessing that authors & publishers lose this battle.

And I doubt there's anybody that can seriously compete with Amazon... its business model has been rock solid for most of its existence and it'll continue to take market share - publishers, agents, etc., I imagine, are beginning to capitulate to some degree and will eventually work with them more actively for mutual benefit.

Hadn't heard of Rachelle - hopped over there and realized why. She probably wouldn't appreciate my polytheistic stories :)

BarbS. said...

I know several people who adore the Kindle for its ability to enlarge print. (At least, they said it was the Kindle, not another reader!)

My one neighbor, who is nearly legally blind, would love to have a device that reads the books to her. She doesn't watch tv or dvd, and books are her chief form of entertainment.

Word verification is PUPFUL! How cute...

Bane of Anubis said...

Definitely not in it for the money, but I'd rather do well financially than critically... just going back to Nathan's post about the value of critics and my opinion that they're overvalued... Obviously, we'd all prefer both, but financial success at least (usually) guarantees future publishing and probably allows for more flexibility to explore whatever artistic sides we may have.

Vancouver Dame said...

I'm still interested in the Kindle, but won't purchase until the price comes down. All electronic devices seem to do that as the market gets flooded (by those who want to be the first to own a ...(whatever). I like supporting the booksellers at the current time, as visiting a bookstore is one of those things I like to do.
I also believe the writer should get a percentage of any revenue generated by his product on a Kindle or whatever. It seems artists, musicians, and writers are expected to be more generous with their product than anyone else in the business world. I still like Harlan Ellison's take on that -
Have a great weekend everyone! We have sunshine in Vancouver today. (a good thing for Feb in the rainforest)

BarbS. said...

Speaking of people who have a hard time reading... We're back to the old format! Yayyyyyy....

Hi, Nathan! This layout's MUCH easier to read...

Romancing the Guys said...

I'm not a writer, but I'm a huge fan of the Kindle 2 for reasons that have nothing to do with the audio technology.

The one and only flaw with the Kindle 2 is that the computerized audio will never compare to a professional actor reading the book. So I think most people who like audio books, will continue to buy them in the traditional way.

annerallen said...

Thanks for the Konrath link. I think I was pretty delusional when I started writing. Maybe a certain amount of delusion is required to take the first steps down this crazy path?

But it sure would be nice if we could keep newbies from querying while still in the delusion stage. I know I sent out some awful ones 15 years ago.

Hilabeans said...


Maybe the newbie queriers (is that even a word?) will make your letter stand out that much more in comparison.

Maybe I need to stop drinking the positivity Kool-Aid and go back to writing.

lotusgirl said...

I would think the fact that we have a lot of out of work people leaves us with a lot of people trying their hands at the writing thing. People who don't have a lot of talent for it.

I was asking the question today on my blog though about all the soon to be out of work journalists out there with newspapers falling apart. Is that going to result in an increase in submissions to agents? Submissions by people who actually know how to write and have a talent for it (however unliterary it is). What do you think?

Crimogenic said...

J.A. Konrath's post was brilliant. He's is always so funny, but what he says is always so true!

I understand that some agents aren't able to respond to queries anymore, still it's frustrating for authors. We're get over it though.

Also, I'm unphased by the new jump in the numbers of queries. I don't think it necessary means more competition. Nathan makes a good point about that.

L.C. Gant said...

Thanks for the rundown on the Kindle 2 debate. I've heard so many different opinions about it lately and the whole thing had me really confused. Your explanation made everything a lot clearer.

For the most part, I thought Konrath's post was spot-on. Everything except for his remark about luck. I personally don't believe in luck. If I did, I'd be pretty depressed. I've never won anything in my life, not even a game of Yahtzee.

Rick Daley said...

Awesome! No layoffs!!!

WORD VERIFICATION: poeyst. Rue de Merde.

Rachel said...

J.A. Konrath's blog made me laugh. However, I think a lot of writers start off delusional. That doesn't mean they can't transition to confident. I know that many of my friends and I thought it would be easy getting published when we each started writing. It was pure ignorance. Yet after a couple of rejections and several conferences and workshops, we learned to take this business seriously and progressed from delusional to confident and hard-working.

Thomas Burchfield said...

Two ideas:

The Manjoo article makes me as if Amazon became the world's de facto publisher/bookstore, might that not bring up anti-trust/monopoly questions?

2) Might we be headed for a two-tiered system where only certain books are published in hardback (literary novels, for example), while genre novels (especially by new writers) show up almost exclusively on e-readers?

Mary said...

Amazon makes a lot of money from audio books, so I doubt the Kindle’s speech function conflicts with that market. There are some questions here that will become more pertinent in the future, and writers must get whatever royalties they are due. But as technologies become more complex and overlapping, can every method of use be controlled?

Following the Author’s Guild’s current thinking on the Kindle, when books can be beamed directly to our brains, will we be expected to read them quietly and not speak them out loud?

MzMannerz said...

I don't care for audio books or e-books. I know I'm going to be the crotchety grandma who needs to get with the program, but thankfully not today.
The Washington metro area isn't quite as hard hit employment wise as others (largely due to the federal gov. presence) but of the folks I do know who have been laid off, not one of them has the slightest interest in writing a book.

Stephanie Faris said...

Sometimes a little delusion can be a good thing. At one point when I was a wee little writer I had the delusion I'd be rich and famous someday and it kept me going through a lot of rejections. Now I just write and submit because I can't seem to STOP writing. But sometimes I miss that naivety that had me dreaming big. Eventually the industry crushes that out of you, with writers saying things like, "Most writers never make enough to write full-time" when I personally know of at least 20 writers who do...of course their standards of living may be a bit lower than your average American, but still...

Hank Mendheim said...

Here's my two cents on the whole responding to queries issue. When you apply for a job and send in a cover letter and resume, you know that if they are interested they will call you. If you don't hear from them, it's time to look for another job. In my mind, the same goes for queries. I'm a television producer at a network and am constantly pitched by publicists. I always tell them, if I am interested, you will know it. Don't call me to ask if I am interested. It's not about being rude, it's about being productive. God bless, Rachelle for trying, but you just can't answer every email.

jimnduncan said...

Have to say, I agree with Jason Pinter. Pubs and authors need to stand up for audio rights. Is the Kindle's new tech considered an audio book? At this point, I'd probably say no. It's more like having a decent text to speech program running on your computer. Yes, people who like their audio books will still buy that format because of the current quality difference, but technology has a way of catching up, and this will be no different. At some point, the generated voice, while not up to acting standards, will mimic the real world voice close enough that many will accept it for the convenience. When the younger generation can download a book and pop it onto the kindle to read over into their ipod to listen to, you may start seeing the gradual decline of audio books. In this day and age, convenience rules.

So, I really hope they stand up for audio rights and win against Amazon, because the way things are changing, authors need to be able to access all available streams of revenue in order to make it. I could see publishers adding an audio surcharge to e-books though, if there ends up being the expectation that they will be just as likely to be listened to as read. People worry about the Kindle cornering the market, but the lightning speed at which this tech is advancing, you'll see readers coming out that support multiple formats, allowing for far greater options than the Kindle. Of course, it will also allow for an even greater proliferation of dreck to wade through in order to find something worth reading.

As for Rachel Garnder's new query policy, I'm a bit surprised this is making the rounds (I've seen this commented on in several places now)since there are numerous agents out there now who have had this kind of policy in place for some time. I'm more surprised that most agents DON'T do this as the norm to be honest. It makes sense. I don't find it disrespectful. Agents need query reading to be as efficient as possible. When I apply for a job, I don't expect a 'yes' or 'no' answer. I only expect to hear back if they are interested in talking to me. This isn't any different. If an agent says, I will respond within 'x' amount of time, otherwise assume I am declining. It's sound business. An agent's time is too important to be wasted in such a manner. This is even more relevant now with the huge influx in queries that are hitting agent's inboxes.

I would be remiss if I did not shamelessly plug my lovely wife's even lovelier debut romance novel, A Taste of Magic. Check it out at:!

Lupina said...

My hooray for the old format, too.

Konrath was so right on. Although I do think you need both talent AND persistence. I know some horribly untalented writers who have incredible persistence, and vice versa. Neither combination gets you published.

Adaora A. said...

Wow the Kindle looks good naked! What's its secret? Has it been on the microbook diet? Has Oprah allowed Kindle to borrow her PT Bob Greene? Whatever Kindle is doing seems to be working...

In all seriousness though, I still have a hard time going Kindle when it comes to my books. Obviously, that device would be handy when taking the 16 hour journey to and from Toronto to Lagos, Nigeria (which I just took), but I honestly can't give up the feel of a book in my hands. I enjoy feeling the covers and opening the pages by hand, I even like bookmarking the page I left off at. I dunno, I suppose sooner or later I might end up with a Kindle too.

Mira said...

I'm testing a theory I have.

I suddenly feel uncomfortable on this site. Almost like a....pariah.

Am I over-personalizing?

I think that people might be disagreeing with my posts, because I was so outspoken earlier this week. Some may feel uncomfortable with that.

Maybe they want to stand far, far away, so when the lightening strikes it doesn't hit them too.

Perhaps I'm taking something personally that I shouldn't. I've been known to do that.

For an experiment, though, I'd like to make the following statements. Let's see if people disagree with them.

a. One of the most powerful tools for social change is writing.

b. The role of the artist is often to challenge society.

c. Red and green are different colors.

Okey dokey.

I really like the people here. I didn't mean to get into a battle. But I can't sacrifice integrity.

Furious D said...

I'm sorry, I just can't get excited about the Kindle.

Give me a paper book that I don't need batteries, plugs, or anything other than just enough light to read it by, and I'm as content as a pig in his own... you know...

As for being a delusional writer, well, my delusions of grandeur are where I get all my ideas. ;)

Jenny said...


Amazon's demanding a 66% cut on the Kindle books it sells strikes me as a huge problem for publishers. Amazon doesn't get anywhere near that big a cut for the paper books even though they have to handle and ship them.

The other huge issue for me is that Kindle can't handle books with a laid out page format, which rules out any nonfiction book with callouts, images, charts, tables, etc that require a non-floating page design. Their translation program currently chokes and dies on PDFs that will print beautifully.

But even for fiction, unless Amazon is offering big publishers a completely different Kindle deal than small pubs, their predatory pricing is exerting even more pressure on publisher profits and that will mean even less left for authors (and agents).

Anonymous said...

Wow. Seriously? Wow

Nathan Bransford said...


Definitely. I'm actually more swayed by the second "Amazon and e-books" article because I think they're going to be strongly challenged by more comprehensive devices that are built by other manufacturers.

For instance, the Kindle costs $360 and can basically do one thing. What if someone comes along with a $350 tablet-sized device that can show movies, play video games, display e-books, and connect to the Internet? It would blow the Kindle out of the water.

If we were looking at an Amazon-only future I would be more concerned, but I think things will be much more complicated than that.

Anonymous said...

Question for those with a Kindle -- are you bothered by the small number of words per line? Usually a line of text in a book is what -- 12-14 words? On a Kindle there's 5? If that?

Does it ever jar you, you don't know how long a paragraph is or where you are suddenly in the book because a paragraph is several "pages" long when in reality it'd only be 1/8 of a real page?

Mark Terry said...

The Leopard OS-X, which is the Mac's operating system, has a function that will read out loud in a variety of different voices, from text, pdfs, Word, etc. It's a really cool novelty for about 2 days, then you realize it sucks, it mispronounces words and only has a faint grasp of punctuation. At the moment I just don't believe the Kindle's ability to do this means anything in terms of rights or competition.

John Scalzi has a lengthy and thoughtful comment on his Whatever blog today as well.

Nathan Bransford said...


You can change the font size if it's too big for you.

Tim Edwards said...

You can add me to the slightly concerned group. We are at the Kindle's inception now, and it is hard to tell whether it is going to take the world by storm or whether people are going to still prefer actual books for the majority of their purchases.

I think it's dangerous to let Amazon get away with too much now, as if we let them go unchecked it will be harder to rein them back in when the technology inevitably gets better. Good on the author's guild for standing up for author's rights.

I don't have a problem with Neil Gaiman or his opinion, but it strikes me that someone with mega-best-selling books and film options doesn't have all that much to complain about right now. However, that could change in the future...

Irish B said...

As for me, I'm waiting for Plastic Logic. I like what I've heard about it so far. It seems to be promissing a great alternative to Kindle.

I've looked into Kindle quite heavily and I'm just not impressed. I'd rather read on an iphone. The fact that I can do more than one thing, in my mind, justifies the price.

Lisa Schroeder said...

I can't imagine being an agent in this economy. Everyone thinks, hey, I'll write a book and make millions. Heck, if Stephenie Meyer, a SAHM can do it, surely I can too, right?

You have your work cut out for you! Hey, you know what? Now that I've been here, thinking about this, I don't feel so bad about diving into the revisions my editor sent me. It could be worse. So thanks for that. :)

Kimber An said...

If agents send an automated response stating they received my email and will respond if interested within a set amount of time, I'm okay with it.

If they don't respond unless interested, period, I don't query them at all. I figure if they don't have time to respond with a form rejection then they don't have time for a new client. I'm sure my query letter won't be missed.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Hi Mira,

Don't feel like a "pariah." I like your posts, just keep posting.

I'll take your quiz:

a. One of the most powerful tools for social change is writing. YES

b. The role of the artist is often to challenge society. YES (although I would change "often" to "sometimes," except if I were talking about myself, then I would have to change "often" to "almost all the time" - unintentionally, I don't try to, but that's how it's turned out for me so far. Why oh why do I have to be this way? I don't know...I don't really mind...I'm broke...I mind that, but otherwise...what fun is it if you're not rocking the boat? To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra:

These boats were made for rockin'

and that's just what I do

one of these days these boats

I'm gonna rock all over you.

c. Red and green are different colors. YES.

I won't lay my 60-line Isaac Newton & prism poem on you though.

Wanda B.

Patrice said...

I own a Kindle 2, but I just don't see it snuffing out paper and ink - not yet anyway. I have four young kids and I certainly wouldn't buy them each a Kindle (some of their favorite authors, like Kate DiCamillo and Rick Riordan don't even have ebooks). I agree that a middle-aged, technophile, like me, will gravitate to something like an ebook. But for now, I don't see it replacing paper books for the very young or very old reader. By the time that does happen, the publishing industry will catch up.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Mira. I agreed with a lot of your post the other day. Stating your opinion whether it goes against the grain or not is important. We all learn from each other and it is smart to consider everyone's point of view to refine your own thinking. I do have to say attacking someone for their difference is in very poor taste, and I hope to never see it happen again, although I realize it's highly unlikely when you swim up stream. Mira at least you didn't stoop so low and didn't have your defense blocked when you didn't dunk your head quick enough in response.

Mira said...

Wanda and Anon 6:37,

thank you.

Wanda, thanks for taking my quiz. :-) I didn't know you were a rebel, too - high five, girl! And my mind is spinning at the idea of a 60 line poem about Issac Newton. Someday, I HAVE to read that!!

Anon - thanks. What you said meant alot to me.

I don't mind taking on the whole publishing industry, but I really don't want to alienate my fellow writers or Nathan.

I'm not exactly sure what to do. I've considered laying low for a few weeks, just to let this blow over, and things can get back to normal. Maybe I'll do that.

But I won't stay away for long. This blog is way too much fun.

Anonymous said...

Life will never be perfect enough to have everyone agree with you, and what fun would it be if they did? Don't lay low, even if people argue with you your opinion is valued, and who knows after they think about your words a little bit maybe they will come to agree with you. If you watch closely you'll see it happen on this very sight quite often. Just keep your arguments smart. Agreeing with people just to make them happy only makes you appear stupid, but don't hesitate to admit when your wrong.

Anonymous said...

About your advice to writers on crossing the line from delusional to confident, you might consider this:

Confident meets failure = delusional

and then

Delusional meets success = Confident

So dear, the world celebrates success no matter how you get there.

Writers are emotional creatures and god help if you bunch of agents turn them into savvy businessmen - that would indeed be a tragedy.

Mira said...

Hey Anon,

Thanks for the support! Again, it means alot.

Well, let's see how it goes.

I got caught up in the fun of the debate. But it's not fair to Nathan to stir up so much controversy that people feel uncomfortable.

Again, I may be over-personalizing and thinking I'm more important than I am, but I can only do the best I can with the way I perceive things.

T. Anne said...

Please pass the positivity Kool-Aid.

Internet rumors have the Apples e-reader out as early as fall 2009. I think I'll let the K2 purchase slide until then just in case.

It's sort of exciting to me that the publishing world is on the threshold of some major shift. No, I don't think you'll be out of a job, but I do believe there will be more room for aspiring authors. I just can't wrap my head around the idea every rejection is valid. There are a plethora of wonderful writers hindered by these narrow gates.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nathan,

I have been a reader of your blog for some time now, and I have to say, of all the agent/editor/author blogs out there, yours is probably the most comprehensive on what's going on in the publishing industry.

However, I have to say that for the most part, your posts are all about what's wrong with the publishing industry. Yes, yes, I know, the publishing industry is in a state of crisis and I get that it is harder than ever for an aspiring writer to break through. I commend you on giving the honest truth and not trying to lead people on.


I sometimes think that as much as you try to give writers the cold hard truth, it would be nice if you could give some encouragement and hope as well. For many of these people, we're not just talking books, we're talking dreams.

Yes, many will not ever be published.

Yes, those that do will most likely never be able to make a living from it.

Yes, the industry is changing so much that it is harder than ever to make a debut.

Yet, I have to believe that there is a reason why these aspiring writers shouldn't give up.

So, I'm daring you to devote a full week of posts to the positive in the publishing industry.

That's right...I want to see posts about some of the great things that are going on (because the deals on Publishers Marketplace haven't ceased yet). Give your faithful blog readers a silver lining in all of this doom and gloom.

Can you do it? Five days of nothing but flowers and sunshine when it comes to giving your sage advice?

I dare you.

Arron Ferguson said...

"Well. At least we're all agreed that Amazon is going to completely dominate the new book world, right? Um..... Also depends on who you ask."

My money's on Amazon. If you take a look at the Amazon Web Services (AWS)(1), they are creating a playground for technologists to do anything from create virtual private servers, to billing and e-commerce stacks.

Seriously, they are creating an aggressive campaign that is wooing those who are swayed towards e-commerce to jump aboard. If publishers don't see this, they're soon going to be extinct.

(1) Amazon Web Services. 18 February, 2009. 27 February, 2009.

Writer from Hell said...

Enuff said - agent to the writers! Just for a change let us have a 360 degrees..writer to the agent.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:27 - agreed.

I am so very tired of all the industry related blogs which basically state the following:

1) It's a business so we don't have to be courteous.

2) All you aspiring authors are irritating little idiots.

3) Amazon is evil!

Good grief, why bother querying? Might as well go straight to

P.S. My word verification is 'brati.'

jjhoutman said...

Here's what The Onion has to say about the new Kindle:

Jen said...

Ugh. I just wish they'd get rid of the Kindle completely. I hate eBooks and eReader things. Give me actual paper pages any day. Every day. Books smell good and the feel of paper under my fingers as I turn pages is what gets me up in the morning.

Nathan Bransford said...


Most of my posts are about what's wrong with the publishing industry? This week I wrote about book revenue breakdown, the importance of learning to summarize your work (which I believe everyone can do), had a de-lurk day, the difference between sympathetic and unsympathetic characters, and the varying reactions to the Kindle, some of which were positive and some of which were negative.

Who's being negative?

Ink said...


Keep commenting! I may not always agree with you, but I think you're great. You're always funny, honest, interesting and smart. We can have rowdy discussions! Seriously, I don't think anyone's thinking bad thoughts your way, at least not on any general level. Keep it coming.

a) yes, though it often doesn't work nearly as well as we might hope.

b) sometimes, though people write for all sorts of reasons, and many writers are conformists.

c) yes, but I like blue better. And grey, too, unless we're talking about a dreary day. I'm all for sunshine. Is this bloody winter every going to end?

My best,

Ink said...

The Daring Anon,

I respect your sentiment, but I think Nathan's pretty upbeat and funny most of the time. If he regrets layoffs and current publishing struggles that's only natural, as this is his business and those are people he might know, people he might have worked with.

And I don't think he should coddle us. I, at least, don't want that. I'm not here for a pep talk. I come for information, and I stay because of the laughs and the interesting discussions. If writers don't want to hear the facts (or engage in the interpretive discussions), well, they don't have to read or comment. I don't intend that in a mean or dismmissive way, just as a simple commentary. If you don't like the attitude in the industry you don't have to listen to the chatter. I've certainly never been put off by any of Nathan's personal comments, which in my view definitely tend towards the positive (though in a realistic sense). Yes, he posts links to some depressing things, but that's simply the state of the industry and it's not required reading. I'd rather know the lay of the land. And, well, he post videos of piglets doing cute things...

The business is tough, and I'm fine with that. If it's a true dream then such incidental stuff will do little to dissuade me. Personally, I'm not happy that the publishing industry has slowed in a year when I'll probably be submitting two projects... but that's the way it is, and at least I'll be well-informed on the process. And my chances are my own. Statistics, averages... these are meaningless in terms of individual cases. My chances are made by my stories, my writing. That's it. Bad odds aren't going to make me throw in the towel, as query stats, while interesting, offer no basis for prediction on any specific project, which has to stand on its own merits. And I like that challenge. Writers need internal motivation, I think, a sort of blind amibition to write great stories. After that we can let the chips fall where they may.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to disagree or send letter bombs. I have prongs and a radiation suit for just such an occasion! Always be prepared...

My best,
Bryan Russell

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that all of these ANON comments are not one person. You are getting lots of support on here. I only made the 6:37 & 7:08 comments. You are important, and so are your thoughts.

Marilyn Peake said...


I actually enjoy your posts, and get the impression that many others do as well. I think people are just comfortable discussing topics openly and intelligently here, so opinions that are the opposite of yours aren't actually meant to refute your opinions, just meant to express another point of view. When I'm busy, I respond to Nathan's blog but don't even get around to reading the other comments until much later. On especially busy days, I regret it, but I have to skim over most of the comments. Many times, different opinions are the result of very different experiences within the publishing industry, and all those experiences are very real to the people who have been through them. In other words, all the opinions are valid, but based on different facets of the same industry. Personally, I would be disappointed if you stopped posting here, Mira. I post here a lot...and practically every time I do, I blush and tell myself I really should learn to shut up and lurk. Writers are always taking risks like that.

RoadScribe said...

At least she gives us a time frame and says no to the SASE saving postage expense and will contact us via email if she is interested. This agent I will check out and be glad to query if she is into romantic suspense. If not her blog and yours is my daily read.
Thanks for posting this Nathan.

Marilyn Peake said...

Ink said:
"...I think Nathan's pretty upbeat and funny most of the time.

"And I don't think he should coddle us. I, at least, don't want that. I'm not here for a pep talk. I come for information, and I stay because of the laughs and the interesting discussions."

I agree! There are many different types of writers' groups, including those that repeatedly tell writers that, if they keep on writing, chances are they'll be rich and famous someday. Those types of groups can be extremely helpful when a writer's working on their very first project and bolstered by blocking out any and all information about possible failure. But, after a while, a lot of the information in those types of groups just doesn't match reality. At this point in time, I want to know what's really happening in the world of publishing...information that changes every day...and I want to be able to laugh at the millions of daily frustrations encountered within that world. I think that Nathan does a great job of providing lots of valuable information about the real publishing world while keeping a remarkable sense of humor.

Mira said...

Okay, thank you guys. I'm feeling embarrassed that I imagined I was sooo important and that I was being ostracized. I have a habit of speaking out loudly, and then going "uh, oh. What's going to happen to me now?"

You'd think that would stop me from speaking out in the first place, but somehow it doesn't.

Marilyn, it feels good to hear that everytime you post, you blush. So, do I!!! Well, it feels good in terms of identifying, but if I had the power to help you not feel that way, I would! Your posts are always so mature, intelligent and thoughtful. It's how I want to post when I grow up.

Anonx3 - your support means alot to me. I feel sad that I won't know which Anon is you when you post in the future, but I know you now. And thank you.

Bryan, I loved having a rowdy discussion with you in particular. That was fun!! You're great, too. I love your intelligent, assertive but gentle style.

Okay, I'm all reassured. Thank you again.

And now to post.....and then blush.

Marilyn Peake said...


You just made my day! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Anonymous said...

Sorry most of the time I can't sign in because of where I am posting from, but I'll say hi every now and then, and you'll know it's me.

I get hot and feel queazy on occasion after I post, because when I have something to say it's usually different than what everyone else says; otherwise I let the conversation take it's course without me. Is that what I was doing, blushing? Honestly I thought I was past all of that, but you could be right. I'm not used to having people angry with me and when it does happen I think it affects me more than it should, but sometimes I just can't keep my mouth shut either, darn it.

Mira said...

You have a good weekend, too, Marilyn. I meant every word.

JDK, nice to meet you. And I know exactly what you mean! I think Marilyn's right. It's part of the blessing and curse of the author - taking risks. Saying what we need to say - because we have to. And then hoping we don't get into TOO much trouble for it.

But Ink is right too - nothing wrong with a rowdy discussion, right? :-)

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