Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Week in Publishing 10/23/09

This (crazy) week in publishing...

For a rundown of the really big news in publishing this week, please see yesterday's post.

But there's more!

Jofie Ferrari-Adler continued his series of fascinating/awesome/cool interviews with publishing people, this time with Twelve editor Jonathan Karp. Among the nuggets: some great anecdotes about CB clients and NURTURESHOCK co-authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, a really interesting take on the author/agent relationship, and the publishing philosophy that led him to create an innovating imprint.

In political book news, LA Times' book blog Jacket Copy (which is awesome, please check it out) noticed twin Sarah Palin books, one called GOING ROGUE the other called GOING ROUGE, both featuring covers of Sarah Palin staring purposefully off into the distance. Only: ROGUE is subtitled "AN AMERICAN LIFE" and is the actual Sarah Palin autobiography. ROUGE is subtitled "AN AMERICAN NIGHTMARE." Annnnnnnnnnnnnd.... cue the political anons in the comment section.

The New Yorker's Book Bench blog linked to a rather fascinating and thought-provoking post in Seed Magazine about how we humans are writing more than ever before, and are verging on a future of potential universal authorship. What I want to know is: if everyone's busy writing, how are they going to have time for reading?

INDEX//mb left some serious bait for Eric from Pimp My Novel: an argument against book sales forecasting (via @chriswebb). INDEX believes that sales forecasting is at the minimum useless because it ignores the likelihood of unforeseen random events (aka "black swans"), and argues instead that publishers should focus on being agile and responding more quickly to swings in demand rather than trying to be overly accurate with initial forecasts. Your move, Eric.

Meanwhile, the INTERN has wrapped up her stint at a NY publishing house and rounds up what she learned. Very interesting topics from someone on the inside.

In contest news, recently crowned stupendously ultimate first paragraph winner Travis Erwin is having a contest to celebrate Agent Appreciation Day on November 1st. Very nice! And my very excellent client Natalie Whipple is having a Halloween fiction contest. Very spooky!

National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, is coming up, in which people frantically attempt to write 50,000 word first drafts (hear me: FIRST DRAFTS) in one month. Lots of people ask me how I feel about NaNoWriMo, and basically, I agree with agent Kate Schafer Testerman. Some great first drafts of successful novels have arisen out of NaNoWriMo. Remember: Thanksgiving is for ignoring your family members and cranking out a first draft, December is for ignoring your family members and cranking out the first of many revisions that you will probably need until March at least to polish. Cool? Cool.

Even though I don't rep picture books, I get this question a lot: do you need to find an illustrator for your picture book ahead of time? Editorial Anonymous says: FOR THE LAST TIME: NO! (that's a direct quote).

You may have been wondering how the new FTC guidelines about disclosing free stuff is going to affect book reviews. My very awesome client Jennifer Hubbard (author of THE SECRET YEAR) recently attended a session at the Kidlitosphere Conference with FTC representative Mary Engle, who clarifies that the FTC should not affect book review blogs. Whew! Jennifer also recapped the conference for Shrinking Violet Promotions.

Jessica Faust at BookEnds checked in with a great reminder for all authors out there: we agents do the things we do for a reason, and if you don't like or aren't good at writing queries/synopses or revising: well...... it's basically your job to be good at it.

In posts about the writing life, Alexander Chee wrote a moving article about taking a writing class with Annie Dillard, which has some truly fantastic writing advice (via John Ochwat), and Cynthia Leitich Smith has a post with advice for debut authors on dealing with nasty reviews.

And finally, the Onion checked in with a local San Francisco author who is at this moment writing very deep thoughts in a Moleskin notebook.

Have a great weekend!


Lisa Schroeder said...

You make me laugh.

And that is all for today.

Happy Friday!!

Marilyn Peake said...

As usual, thank you for so many great Friday links. Have a great weekend!

Margaret Yang said...

Can I get an "amen" on that whole Nano novels=rough draft thing?

Jenni Bailey said...

Oh crap. Am I a snoot? I love Moleskine notebooks. I put them on my Christmas list this year. They're so light and small and they fit into my purse without taking up space. I swear I didn't know how fancy they are. I swear on all that is good and holy. I swear Moleskine notebook!

Chuck H. said...

I would love to check out the links in today's post and comment at length on everything but I just told my wife I was going to the basement to write and she believed me so now I guess I'll have to.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Lost Wanderer said...

I can't wait for NaNo to start. First draft, not worth sending to poor agents, but great fun I hope.

Great moleskine link. Once you use that quality, cheap notebooks just aren't good enough.

Have a nice weekend :)

Joann said...

That Annie Dillard essay - wow, just, wow. Thanks for posting that Nathan. -sniff-

Teresa said...

Thanks for all the great links, Nathan.

I'm wondering is this is just me, but I've started noticing books are being published with more typos and word problems (trial for trail, etc.). These aren't small presses either, one novel was published by Simon & Schuster, another by Soho Press.

I can easily overlook an isolated typo, but I'm talking about novels where the typos or poor word usage appears multiple times in a single novel. So much so that I'm ready to put the novel now and quit reading, because I feel like I want to edit it.

I know I'm not the only one noticing this new problem, so for once, it's not just me. How far do you believe the quality will have to plummet before the major publishing houses redirect their editors from acquisitions to editing again?

Thanks again for all the time you spend to keep us informed.


Emily White said...

Phew! Thanks for all the info. I'm off to check out that Halloween contest!

Emily White said...

Actually, I have a question for you, Nathan, in regards to the two Sarah Palin books (and no, it won't get political).

Is it considered ethical for another author to copy a book jacket and title to such an extent? Rogue and Rouge are far too similar to not cause some confusion with potential buyers.

ryan field said...

I can't believe it's NaNoWriMo time again.

Nathan Bransford said...


Please check out this post on the difference between editing and copyediting. Acquisitions editors aren't actually responsible for catching typos. Also, I would hypothesize that new books don't have any more typos and errors than they did in the past - classics just have the benefit of having had multiple editions and thus multiple times for errors to be caught.

Also, it's just really difficult to catch every single typo even when there are multiple people looking for them (including the author). Even the New Yorker misses things from time to time.


I think the ethics of the twin Palin books situation is probably in the eye of the beholder.

Fresh Water Mermaids said...

I love Annie Dillard. What a treasure!

Michelle said...

I heard about the spike in queries the first week in December relating to NaNoWriMo. I imagine those would require a special kind of form letter.

I love Moleskine notebooks too. I found them at our book fair for a great price.

Marsha Sigman said...

Incredible article by Alexander Chee on Annie Dilliard.
I could see her.

Thank you!

Marilyn Peake said...

Just read THE INTERN's blog. She is hilarious! I think I'll make her blog a regular stop in my Internet surfing. Her posts always make me laugh. I'm seriously considering paying for her to critique my latest novel. I wish I had her sarcastic wit, so that I could make myself giggle throughout the day. :)

Mira said...

Fun and interesting links today, Nathan.

I really liked the article by Cynthia Smith.

But I'm still not clear. Are we supposed to illustrate our PB ourselves? I wish someone would finally give us a definite answer.

Re. the Bookends thing. I have a terrible problem. I just LOVE getting into highly controversial debates on the internet, especially around topics I feel strongly about. It's a blast. I clearly need help. I was telling Bryan I hope they invent a 12-step program for people like me soon, so I can get the help I so desperately need.

I'll be browsing the rest of the links this weekend. Have a great one, everyone!

Anonymous said...

No-one's commented on the Seed Magazine article? Odd. This is a thought that's been troubling me for a while now.

Everyone writes and nobody reads. THAT IS SCARY. And it's happening; hardly anyone I know reads anymore. Even I went through a long period where I didn't read any books at all.

Reason is simple: there are far easier ways to be entertained. Video games, movies, TV shows, all nowadays have top quality stories and you don't have to think half so hard to get it.

I think in today's society where our minds are constantly being bombarded with crap (consider how many things you have to remember on any given workday, then add advertising + Twitter + FB on top of that) our brains are so overloaded we just don't have room to read books.

Instead, we choose to offload some of the junk cluttering up our heads- we choose to write. Whether that be useless junk (Twitter/FB) or novel writing, the result's essentially the same. Why read someone else's shitty stuff when you can write your own? That's the attitude these days, and I've been guilty of it as well.

Lydia Sharp said...

I love the end-of-the-week recaps. When I first started following this blog, it was 100% I-know-nothing-about-what-happened-this-week-except-what-Nathan-posts-on-Friday. Now it's about 50% (see above) and 50% Hey-I-knew-that-thanks-for-the-reminder.


I enjoyed Alexander Chee's essay so much that I linked it in my sidebar. Moonrat had asked for favorite quotes, which was difficult, but I ended up with this one (because it describes how I feel every day):

Sometimes you write amazing sentences, she wrote to me, and sometimes it’s amazing you can write a sentence.

D. Williams said...

Though the wrap up is "this week in Publishing" what about a little mention for ANTpM (fka ANTM)? Someone with the initials NB finally got a petite ousted correct! Congrats! And good luck to Rae.

Kate Schafer Testerman said...

Thanks for the shout out, Nathan!

Nathan Bransford said...

Whoops, sorry I misspelled your name, Kate. My word, I've been misspelling everyone's name lately.

Anonymous said...

Btw, Mira- please don't get help. If anything, the Internet should be valued as a tool for constructive debate.

We need people like you. The End.

(anon 1:37)

Duo said...

So Nathan,

Do Twelve publish fiction titles?

Nathan Bransford said...


Yes, occasionally.

wendy said...

Thanks for all the info once more, Nathan. Have you recovered from the contest yet? ;)

Mira, submitting illustrations with a PB ms doesn't hold any advantage towards publication. Most publishers advise against it unless, like Maurice Sendak, the author is a really good illustrator.

An artist friend told me her paintings displayed in a gallery had been admired by a local editor. So my friend happily did a few illustrations for a PB text of mine. I rang the editor and told her the situation, and then took in my friend's original artwork, plus copies for her to show the rest of the Board/committee. When I contacted the editor again she informed that others found the illustrations too old-fashioned, so the text/ms had been rejected as well.

The moral seems to be that if you submit illustrations as well then the work has to jump through two hoops: approval for the text and the illustrations.

Duo said...

Really enjoy your blog, Nathan, and only found it last week!

And though I'm in London and it's almsot 10.30 in the evening, I alwasy come onto it at the end of the day!

Have a great weekend,

Vacuum Queen said...

As far as the Sarah Palin thing goes..we vote with our wallets. If the book sells many copies, that's the people's vote. If the other book sells many...then that's the vote. I really don't care, but what I thought was the greatest was your "aaaaaannnnnndddd......let the anonymous political comments begin" (or something like that).
You're funny. :)

Teresa said...

Thanks, Nathan, your post helped clarify the issue for me. It must be because we're ordering so many first print runs of editions that I'm noticing it more. I'm certainly not getting smarter. ;-)

Oh and I don't gloat, by the way. Both the books were well written and I think that's the other reason the errors jumped out at me so strongly. I hate to see that happen to any writer.

Thanks again!

Valerie said...

So what you're saying is, you don't want me to send you my nano ms on December 1st?

Anaquana said...

So if we're planning on querying agents in December, should we specifically mention that it was not something we wrote for this year's NaNo? :-)

And I just have to say that, as somebody who spends quite a bit of time writing (or at least trying to write), I've already well surpassed my 52 books in 52 weeks goal for this year.

Vacuum Queen said...

Ooh...can I also add that my son's class does Nanowrimo (3 years now) and ALL of those kids have pushed themselves into a whole new dimension of writing. Great novels? Not one, but the pure amount of words was the amazing hoop we sailed through. It's definitely quantity versus quality and that's a controversial issue in schools. All the testing only begs for quality 5 paragraph essay writing, but the more we beg the kids to write using only perfect sentences, the less they come up with.
Anyhoo....Yay for Nano!

A Paperback Writer said...

Going Rouge?
I like it.
Maybe I'll have to read THAT one.

Dara said...

Counting the days until NaNoWriMo begins! I love all the write-ins with fellow writers working on their first drafts, the word wars and the general craziness of it all. :P

Heidi Yantzi said...

I love the story about the incredibly special author and his precious notebook so much, I saved it in a file called "Writer Stuff."

ahhhh I do love those fancy little notebooks. I even write unworthy drivel in them, I love them that much.

doctorquery said...

Doctor Query says:

Come over and show me your attempts, and I will slash through them for you!

That is all.

Robena Grant said...

The article by Alexander Chee, on Annie Dillard, made my day. Thank you so much.

Jarucia said...

"But there's more!"

Are you a Russel Peters fan by chance?

Had to ask.

And on's produced two first drafts for me that are sequels to another book I find I've been revising for nearly two years.

I'm breaking out of the mold YA fantasy and doing chick-lit this year...I need some laughable distraction to being 7+ months pregnant.

Oh, and it's true, there's nothing like being pregnant to make you stick to a deadline. Even if it's only personally set.

Henya said...

Something to be said about making people smile. Loved the moleskine notebook. I needed this kinda inspiration... on to writing (enough already)

Marilyn Peake said...

Just now finished reading Alexander Chee’s article about taking a class with Annie Dillard. Wow. I am speechless ... which is saying a lot. Amazing article! Thank you for that link.

D. G. Hudson said...

Perhaps you can only have deep thoughts in San Francisco. And if an author happens to like the Moleskine books, so what?

Was the author outside of Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore? (I like my Moleskines,too --very practical.)

As for Sarah Palin, what is there to say about such a vacant example of women in politics?

Interesting links.

Anonymous said...

I gotta admit, I was fooled. I liked her before I knew much about her. I had heard that everyone was afraid of her, and I figured that anyone that everyone is afraid of had to be good for us. Turns out it wasn't that kind of fear.

Ink said...

Vacuum Queen,

I think it's great the students are doing that. Dong five or ten five paragraph assignments a year will not make them better writers. To do that they need to write! A lot! So doing Nano is cool. Sometimes I think our culture has forgotten the basic premise for success... practice, practice, practice.

Alexa said...

March! I wish here I am a whole year later and it;s still not ready to send to you. Let's hope this year's NaNo needs less revision.

Have a great weekend too.

Christine H said...
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Christine H said...
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Anonymous said...

Typos in mss...

I used to be a proof-reader, and I can tell when it's not being done. There are homonyms galore (rein/reign seems to cause the greatest grief);I've even seen those blank widowed lines you get in Word when you've been tinkering with a small part of a very long manuscript.

Why am I no longer a proof-reader? Laid off.

Anonymous said...

);I've - is exactly the reason I liked to print & correct more than once, for any given file :)

Homonyms are multiplying because they are impossible for Spell Check to correct: it has no way of detecting sense-in-context.

But copy-editors cost money, which is exactly why they've gone away. :(

Marla Warren said...


May I please get your take on something?

According to the Harper Collins UK website, the European edition of Michael Crichton’s posthumously published novel Pirate Latitudes is scheduled for a Monday November 16 release—a full eight days before the US release on Tuesday November 24 according to the Harper Collins US website. Amazon UK, as well as Amazon in France and Germany, also give the release date at Nov. 16, while the Amazon US and Barnes & Noble websites show the release date as Nov. 24.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a book by an American author being released abroad before being released in the US. Perhaps the publisher wants the US edition to come out right before the Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping, especially Black Friday.

Whatever the reason, I’m going to be very irked if I have to wait eight days longer for Pirate Latitudes because I live in the US. (In fact, “very irked” is an understatement.)

Do you have any insight on this, Nathan?

Mira said...

Anon 1:37 - thanks. :)

Wendy - appreciate the information. Thank you.

mm said...

I came across your page recently, and I first want to say that I find the information here to be generally helpful. I have one question, however.

I have recently been reading several blogs by copyeditors, literary agents, and publishers, and have noted the consistently snarky and condescending attitude most of them have towards authors. I can understand some of the frustration, based off of what I have read. And I can see that it comes down to a basic matter of authors and people in publishing have two different sets of interests. But I just find the whole thing off-putting.

I live in northern Louisiana, hundreds of miles away from the publishing business, and have spent the last year toiling diligently at a satisfying draft of a first novel. I have worked hard to build something that I think will be worth reading. I have no contacts in publishing besides a couple of acquaintances of friends, and little hope of ever seeing my novel published outside of being able to convince a literary agent with no prior knowledge of my name or work to take the time to read my manuscript. And when I repeatedly see this condescension from the very people whom I hope to be impressing, I find it a little discouraging. I also find it confusing, because neither the people in the publishing business nor the writers can have any amount of "success" without the other.

You seem like one of the more tempered ones in your treatment of authors. I was just wondering if you have any thoughts on this?

Calla said...

It's NaNoWriMo again already? November always seems to sneak up on me. Thanks for the reminder though. Now I won't have to ask why a few of my friends seem on edge over the next four weeks.

ParisBreakfasts said...

The links in this post are such time-suckers I can't keep up or catch up with anything I have to do in REAL life.
Thanks for all the procrastination aides.

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

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who takes her notebooks seriously! I break out in hives if get more than twenty feet from one.

I can't stand Moleskins, though. Not because they're fancy, but because they don't stay open by themselves (so I can't jot one-handed) and don't hold my favorite pen.

I have a separate elastic strap/bookmark/penholder from Container Store that I attach to stiff-backed spiral bound Barnes&Noble brand notebooks. I'd buy them by the dozen if they were stocked by the dozen. *sigh*

TKA said...

Loved the Alexander Chee article about Annie Dillard's class.

Thanks again, Nathan, for such great links.

S.D. said...

I take it many Wrimos query you on Dec. 1st or so?

Liz H. said...

The Onion just wrote a review of the middle grade novel I'm polishing:
"Moonstone Castle has it all: a neurotic tomboy, horses, a castle, monsters, a magic spell made the adults disappear...all that s&#t that kids love. Who cares if the first paragraph starts with a sunrise. Kids want action and humor, not art."

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