Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, June 26, 2009

This Week in Publishing 6/26/09

This week! The publishing!

We'll start waaay back in the Great Depression. With our current economic downturn affecting..... everything, including culture, are you curious about what people were reading back then? Me too. Would you believe werewolves, dog books, and business books?

Knopf Doubleday (I'm still not used to saying that) has quite the Fall season coming up, what with books by Dan Brown, Jon Krakauer, Margaret Atwood, Pat Conroy, and Jonathan Lethem, among others. Bookseller Arsen Kashkashian takes a look at the catalog with the reverence it deserves, but calls it "Random House's Hail Mary" and discusses the decisions a buyer has to make with such a momentous list.

Speaking of bookselling, agent Andrew Zack posted a takedown of the Bookscan service, which purports to report (say that five times fast) 70% of book sales and which publishers rely on heavily, but as any agent knows, actually reports FAR, FAR LESS I SWEAR I HAVE THE ROYALTY STATEMENTS IN FRONT OF ME DON'T BELIEVE BOOKSCAN THE SALES TRACK IS FINE I PROMISE. Ahem. Little, Brown editor in chief Geoff Shandler also weighed in in the comments section.

The New Yorker's indispensable book blog The Book Bench tackled a crucial and weighty question this week: is Lauren Conrad's novel L.A. CANDY any good?

Oh, and speaking of celebrity news, my bunker buddy Dick Cheney sold his memoir for a reported $2 million.

In news-via-John Ochwat news, speaking of Dick Cheney, there's a hilarious contest over at the Globe and Mail to name his memoir. Ooooh the possibilities.

Also via John Ochwat, John Scalzi tackles the question of why debut novelists always seem to be in their thirties (except of course for those precocious teenagers). Why is it? Well, it takes a while to write a novel, and anyway, most writer's first novels suck.

Over at Bookends, Jessica laments the poor state of communication in the publishing industry and how frustrating it is to have to chase editors who are so uncommunicative you start to wonder if they're still alive. Hear hear.

And JA Konrath tackles a tough question in a really awesome, comprehensive manner: when should you self-publish?

And finally, I'm really going to miss the King of Pop. I don't know if we'll ever again have someone who is as talented a singer, songwriter and dancer. RIP.







70 comments:

The First Carol said...

Name for Cheney's memoir: Shot in the foot, oh sorry, that was YOUR foot.

A Paperback Writer said...

And we've lost Farrah Fawcett, too. I was a huge Charlie's Angels fan as a kid.... sigh.

Dang. That's why I haven't made it yet as a novelist; I'm in my 40s instead of my 30s!! Well, maybe if I keep working hard, I'll eventually become the Grandma Moses of the world of YA Fiction.

JohnO said...

I want my own show on CNN. Only without all those TV cameras and things.

KayKayBe said...

Yeah! It looks like I'm first up! I wanted to throw in a word for audiobooks. I got back from vacation and am a little behind the times (and sunburnt).

What I understand is...when you read to kids, they learn vocab, sentence structure, comprehension, and the more time being read to correlates to better writing and reading skills. This is why the pediatricians and teachers push you to read to your kids. It changes their brains, in a good way. Audio books give these same results. TV does not. So I voted yes on Audiobooks as reading.

Ink said...

I'm salivating in anticipation of Lethem's Chronic City. And I've been checking Amazon weekly for Krakauer's book for, oh, about a year. That probably says something unhealhty about me...

And I watched the full Thriller video today in the throes of gradeschool nostalgia. Anyone else breakdance on big pieces of cardboard back then? No? Oh. Um... forget I said that. Not that I said anything. Certainly not. Nada. Zip. Zilch. And zero, too. I definitely said zero. I'm sure of it.

Margaret Yang said...

It was really, really interesting to read the booksellers side of things. Not something one typically reads on blogs.

Marsha Sigman said...

I feel like a piece of my childhood just died, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett on the same day! I am completely depressed.

Verification word:buctisad

Anonymous said...

Paperback,

Don't be discouraged. I believe you would find the 30-ish trend generally includes career writers - people who've worked at other jobs to support their writing career.

There are many authors who publish later in life because they have chosen writing as a second career.

Give it another ten years, and the stats may very well show a higher age statistic than trends indicate right now - especially since more and more people in our culture are successfully beginning second, and, even, third careers.

Who knows, you could very well be one of the published authors that help swing the trending upward!

BTW: My grandmother always told the best stories.

D. G. Hudson said...

It's too bad that we've lost one of our musical legends - Michael Jackson- I still remember listening to that song, and loving his great choreography.

As for books in the news, I see that someone is now writing about Hemingway's books from a different perspective - his first wife's. Hadley is a prominent figure in 'A Moveable Feast'. Once again, we see the piggybacking of one novel on another which has had success. Where is originality? This always seems like plundering of a classic to me. Another example of same old, same old. I don't buy books like that, or the airy novels of glitzy teen celebs (LC).

Great postings this week, Nathan.

Dara said...

I definitely agree with that article about new novelists being in their 30s. I'm only 24, but I can definitely see being at least 30 before a book of mine would be published.

Perhaps it would be earlier if I didn't have to spend so much time researching for my historical...oh well! :)

Kirsten Hubbard said...

um, regarding L.A. Candy, I can't believe I just read "white silk nightie" and "white silk sheets" in the first half of the first page.

Bill Loehfelm said...

Bill Loehfelm here. As you may (or may not)recall I got drilled in the publishing press a few times this fall for "flopping" as the inaugural winner of Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award when Publisher's Lunch published the Bookscan numbers for my novel FRESH KILLS. Well, lo and behold, turns out Bookscan (BS) grossly, grossly under-reported my sales.

On the upside, my first royalty statement turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. The lesson I took from the experience? Stop reading my own press, especially when it comes to sales.

As a reader, I'm over the moon about this fall's publishing schedule. Some of my all time faves (Lethem, Conroy, Atwood, and Russo)have books due out. As an author whose sophomore effort drops in early September, I'm more than a little intimidated, tho still very grateful to be on the sched. at all.

Bill.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for linking to the Scalzi piece. I'm pushing 38 and I was really (honestly) getting depressed. I'll be on the other side of 40 before this novel gets published, but I did take 5 years out to earn a PhD, so I'm not doing so badly after all.

Erik said...

Another publishing event this week was the launch of arno books (www.arnobooks.com). They have a pretty interesting concept going. I was lucky enough to have an inside track to publishing w/ them (friend of a friend kind of thing) and now they are looking for queries. I know there are some good writers who look at this blog, so I thought I'd let everyone know!

Thermocline said...

The article about new authors gave me better excuses to have started writing later in life than the simple one that got my ideas for a novel draining from my noggin into my typing fingertips: mortality. If I don't get writing now I might never begin.

Lauren said...

Ah! So many links! I think I'll have to bump about half of these to Saturday morning's reading.

I'm so excited for about a million books that are coming out this fall. I'm going to have to start saving and budgeting NOW. Oh, and blasting through my current TBR pile.

Ink, I can join ya in the cardboard-box-breakdance nostalgia. Although I think I busted my butt more times than I did anything with style. But a couple of weekends ago, some friends and I went to a skating rink -- they still have those! -- and did the Thriller zombie dance on skates. Oh yeah.

wv: "Natin" Nathan's southern cousin?

Rick Daley said...

I would like to read a book about Dick Cheney meeting Lon Chany, it could be called "The Man of 1,000 Targets."

Last night I spent a considerable amount of time showing my seven-year-old son that I can moonwalk. I also pointed out how cool Eddie Van Halen's guitar work was on "Beat It."

It's a shame Michael Jackson's talents were overshadowed in recent years by his misgivings (real and/or alleged). He had more raw talent in one sequin-gloved pinky than I have in my whole body.

Mira said...

Great links, Nathan, thanks.

That is sad about Michael Jackson, on so many levels. I hope he finds healing in...where ever he is now.

I really like the Konrath link, that was interesting. I also loved the Kashkashian link! Yea! Someone talking about the insanity of publishers was lovely. I did not like that he blamed Dan Brown for layoffs, however, that's ridiculous. Look to business practices for that. But I did get a sense that Dan Brown wasn't Kashkashian's favorite person, which was funny.

I've been hanging out at Bookends as well as here, lately, and I like what Jessica has to say. It's a very different type of blog than this one, but I enjoy it. I guess I just like to talk about all these issues.

I can understand why people were reading werewolf novels in the Depression. I imagine many people wanted to imagine they had the ability to transform into something that was powerful and could vent rage. But dog books? Why dog books?

Okay, lots of links, very fun, thanks.

Jeanie W said...

The Washington Post also has a Dick Cheney memoir-related contest. Write the first paragraph:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062403427.html

Kristin Laughtin said...

That article on literary trends in the Depression is certainly proof that some things will never die!

I was so grateful for Scalzi's post the other day. I'm 25 and don't feel anywhere near being ready to be published yet (although one of my novels is, I think/hope, of publishable quality--I just want to have more than one of those written before I pursue it!). Now I have something to show those people who question why I'm not trying yet, and don't believe me when I tell them not to freak out because most authors don't get published until later anyway.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Wolves? No wonder someone asked to read the book! STAGE 2

Michael Jackson back to back on radio stations - isn't 'good career move' the quote from Elvis' management?

Anonymous said...

Dick Cheney: How to try to turn a Democracy into a Dictatorship.

Lunatic said...

Don't you have to be careful about calling editors anything? They may read your blog too. ;)

Fred

Mira said...

Oh wait. I get it.

Because a dog will always love you, no matter how much money you have. That's why they liked dog books.

Lol. Where else can I talk about stuff like this? I really enjoy your blog, Nathan.

Oh! I forgot. I have some advice for you Nathan. I start my first class tomorrow, so I had to buy the textbook. 50 bucks. 50 bucks!!

So I ordered it on-line. For 50 bucks, I expected the Hindenbury of books. But do you know how big that book was? 150 pages.

For 50 bucks. What a racket.

So, that's my advice, Nathan. Rep. textbooks. You'll rake it in.

Jen P said...

Agatha Christie was selling in the Depression too - crime always pays.

Wait, maybe's that's the title for the memoir.

Debut authors in their 30's - he doesn't seem to mention something I would expect - publishers want to invest in good books but they also want to invest in authors who have potential to write lots of them and have a career with the house, or not? IE: You may have more potential long term payback from an author who is relatively young.

Heather B. Moore said...

To help out with the "depression era of book sales" everyone on my birthday list will get a book this year.

Very sad about Michael Jackson and the rest. The world has changed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links! Love Fridays.

T.Wolfe said...

You are so correct. An aspiring writer's first novel (unpublished) usually does suck! LOL But then again, so do some of the published works. :(

Have a great weekend!

RIP

Aimee K. Maher said...

Writers in their 20's are too busy going to clubs? Like Lauren Conra...

oh, wait. Plastic got a deal.

hannah said...

"(except of course for those precocious teenagers)"

Damn kids...

Marilyn Peake said...

Thanks for more great links! I'll enjoy checking them out throughout the weekend.

So sad, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, and David Carradine all recently passed away ... and suddenly barely mentioned by our TV news, there are still many people dying in Iran and Iraq.

writer said...

I hope we can all agree that Lauren C most likely did not write her own book.

I can't even believe there's a doubt about this. To write you have to sit down, clear your head. Master characters, character arcs, dialogue, and theme. You have to write that first sucky draft and another five after it, take editor notes and be able to implement them. She got a book deal less than a year ago and the book is already out now. Does anyone honestly think in a brief eight or nine months she accomplished WRITING it?

I have no doubt she'll be great at the book tour thing, though. Being adored and having people tell her she's spectacular and whatnot. :)
In fact, she should do ALL author tours; free up authors from that burden.

Scott said...

Konrath offer a wealth of in-depth common sense, but I take issue with two points:

1) I've heard over and over that pitch meetings at writing conferences are a waste of time and money, and...

2) If your ISBN follows you around and shows poor sales, wouldn't that say more about your ability to market your book in a sea of self-pubs than the actual contents of the book. Seems a bit fickle to snub something that barely had a chance to begin with strictly considering the numbers and available resources.

On other news, I'll miss Michael, too. In fact, I've missed him for about 15 years.

Kristi said...

I still have my Thriller album so I can one day explain to my children what an "album" is - although I no longer have my record player so I won't be able to play it for them. Maybe they can use it as a frisbee.

I'm not touching the Dick Cheney thing, as I refuse to send any energy that man's way.

Finally, as someone hoping to be a debut novelist while still in her 30's, I don't consider that "old." Well, some days I do, but not today. Happy Friday! :)

Anonymous said...

Jen P,

Publishers want books that will sell -- today.

Tomorrow, twentysomethings may prove to have been one-time wonders, thirtysomethings develop writers' block and fortysomethings change agents and houses... etc.

Publishing is truly about the book in hand….and the author's track record.

Each book has to earn its keep.

Sure, publishers love landing a bestselling author long-term, but tomorrow is never guaranteed.

I'd bet a publisher would pick one of the older giants: Koontz, King, Child, Deaver, Grisham, etc. over a twentysomething author – ahem – if % remain equal.

Hey, Bill - Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bill, congratulations!!

Anonymous said...

Title for Cheney's memoir:

AND SATAN SAID IT COULDN'T BE DONE

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:08 - rofl.

A Paperback Writer said...

anon at 10:45
thanks for the encouragement

word verfication: popingen
Isn't that a city in Denmark? (j/k)

Rick Chesler said...

Thanks again for TWIP, Nathan.

Vacuum Queen said...

Your world is so cool. I was thinking what the links from MY world would look like from the week. Not nearly as fun. Darn.

Isn't there any sort of agent meeting you all can have where you make a pact that nobody shall sign a book by a Lauren Conrad type, no matter how many people will buy it? I know that money's money....but still. In the long run, it ain't helpin'.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, thanks for the MJ video link. My kids can't figure out what is so great about him, but I remember Michael from the 70s and early 80s--back to the Jackson 5 era-- and he was quite an entertainer. Too bad his life (and mind) took the odd twists and turns it did. Just think what he might have accomplished if he'd held it together.

And Farrah Faucett on the same day! I think every guy in my high school had that poster and all the girls wanted her hair style.
RIP MJ and FF


And the above admission of age (a few years younger than MJ, probably dooms me to unpubbed obscurity if debut authors are in their 30s.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Book Scan, by its' own admission, doesn't track Wal-Mart or the many, many grocery stores selling titles.

Wal-Mart... how can you ignore the 126 ton retail gorilla and get any sales statistics correct?

Jackson, Presley, Monroe, all sad. Even their happiness was sad... true treadmill to Living Hell stories, all of 'em!

Haste yee back ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great songs Michael Jackson!

Alexis Grant said...

Thanks for this. Particularly liked the link about why new novelists are in their 30s!

Lucinda said...

Nice links. I liked the FAQ link on your site as well. You answer questions with your questions, and I find the answers.

Now, which one will cross the finish line first? The Demons? The Dragons? Maybe it will be Madison with her insane quests. Oh, could it be Lucinda's Magpie? Time will tell...

Thanks again, Nathan for a great study towards learning the craft, earning ruples to pay our dues with, and that magical wand to wave around an agent's head.

have a great weekend

Lucinda

John said...

Thank you for posting the Billie Jean performance. I remember seeing it live when I was a teenager. Michael Jackson is beyond us. Your blog is a true inspiration for writing artists.

Anna said...

I was in my 40's with that first novel, and am missing Farrah more than MJ. Her roles in The Burning Bed and Small Sacrifices were superb...

Jen C said...

Phew, I still have 2 years to get published if I want to go against the trend. And I DO love to go against trends!

Laurel said...

Mira-

Textbook publishing is my most recent career manifestation. Nobody's getting rich there, either. Piracy, reporting issues, used books, all the things cited here.

Re: Authors in their thirties. I am not really all that cool so perhaps my high school/college years lacked the spice to provide an interesting perspective to fiction but twenty something seems so young. My twenties were about living and saving up what I learned and experienced to examine with more perspective later. I worked retail, waited tables, drank too much, lived in another country, learned another language, taught high school, started and ran my own business, met my husband, and brought a stray cat home from half way around the world. I wasn't building publishing creds but I definitely was building the foundation to write something. I certainly don't think I'm the exception...those young whippersnappers are!

Other Lisa said...

I am almost embarrassed to be posting this because I try not to get sucked into the Celebrity-ness of it all...but Lisa Marie Presley's post about Michael Jackson's passing I found truly moving...

Here it is.

Mira said...

Laurel, that's cool that you're in publishing. Good luck with your new career - I hope it goes really well for you.

I was sort of joking about the textbook. I bet students are talented at finding ways to get out of paying book fees.

Still. 150 pages. 50 bucks!!!! I'm telling you, those had better be the best darn pages I ever read in my life.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed every link this week, Nathan. Many thanks.

Anita said...

Thanks for the MJ video...not sure I would've looked it up myself, but I did enjoy just clicking and viewing...made me sad, though, and not just for MJ...it's as if a little of my own youth moonwalked past.

Maggie May said...

Billie Jean= my favorite pop song, ever.

Leona said...

Okay Nathan,we've all appreciated your provocative blogs since your return to the land of the living.

Perhaps you need to visit pergatory more often...

**cheeky grin**

Fresh Water Mermaids said...

Wonderful post Nathan-Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dick Cheney: Some vampires are real.

Chuck H. said...

I was always too old for Michael and, apparently,to be a debut novelist. But that Farrah! We were the same age. Sigh.

Have a great weekend and stay well. We need you in the trenches.

Word ver: britiz--I say, old chap.

Tori said...

I believe what you wrote about new authors being in their thirties Nathan, but I hope I can be one of the few that can get a novel publised before then. I'm only nineteen, so I really don't want to wait a decade to see my name in print. Although I could probably use a good ten years toget where I want to be in my writing:)

Lara said...

Anybody read the New York Observer?
Nick Bilton (working on a book about "The New Business of Storytelling") has a scary quote in the Transom section:

"It would be great if we put the book out there before the printed version, and we could see if people were finishing it or falling off at certain chapters, and then maybe rework it and do real-time changes to the structure of the book as analytics come in."

That kind of sounds like taking the techniques that screwed Hollywood (but made it megaprofitable) and applying them to publishing! Fun!

Anonymous said...

Nathan, I have a very mundane question, but I would like to do the right thing. When an agent asks for a full manuscript, and wants it sent by US mail, what kind of packaging are they expecting? Should I use a 3-hole punch, and put glossy plastic covers (front and back) on the manuscript? Or just send all 270 pages (properly-formatted, of course) loose in a box? Thanks very much for your time.

Anonymous said...

Lara,

It sounds like Beta Readers.

Anonymous said...

Another Death

Billy Mays, the guy that does the commercials for Oxy Clean, died in his sleep last night.

Like Marvin Gaye said: "What's Going On!"

Marjorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marjorie said...

I am going to eventually self-publish my memoir: marjorie-pentimentos. But, my series of interviews will be sent as a query at some point.

Please visit marjorie-digest to read my interview with Edie Beale's, Jerry "The Marble Faun," and to see photos of me with the phenomenal filmmaker Albert Maysles and Jerry.

There are other good interviews there. You will have to open older posts.

Anonymous said...

I was on vacation the last two weeks and hate that I missed the vampire discussions. I just want to say I never realized Nathan had so many young adults following his blog. I always assumed that we were mostly adults, so our opinions didn’t matter on YA. I kind of figure what the teenagers want to read is the important issue.

Mardi Link said...

For Cheney's memoir, apology to Jeanette Walls:

The Gas Castle

Caitlin said...

Hey Nathan, I've been looking for serious critical responses to L.A. Candy, so thanks for this New Yorker link!

I would love to hear your response to my own L.A. Candy review. It's on my blog, if you have any interest in checking it out.

Laura Martone said...

I'm late to this particularly party, but I just wanted to echo other sentiments here about the Thirtysomething Debut Novelist Theory. And all I can say is - woohoo! I'm only 32, which means I have over seven years to sell my first novel, and still adhere to this awesome new trend. Now, I don't feel so overwhelmed. Phew!

So, thanks, Nathan, for turning us onto that and many other enlightening articles...

Related Posts with Thumbnails