Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, November 13, 2009

This Week In Publishing 11/13/09

Would you believe that there wasn't any earth-shattering publishing news this week in publishing? WalMart didn't slash the price of hardcovers to 99 cents, a new e-reader didn't debut, and we're all still here. Thank goodness there are still links:

GalleyCat asked the provocative question Do Authors Really Need Agents? For the most part the answer was, "Um... yes. They do."

In e-book news, Amazon announced that they created a PC Kindle app (link via Greg Peisert), so you can now read your Kindle books on Kindles, iPhones, and your computer. I'm told you can also still read books on paper, but I haven't been able to confirm that rumor.

Editorial Anonymous has a great response to a reader who wonders if editors (and presumably agents) know they are dream crushers. EA makes a crucial distinction: we hold your work in our hands, not your dreams. No one should be able to crush your dreams with a rejection. She writes, "dreams are achieved through your hard work, and not through the miraculous intervention of others." Word.

A former vice-presidential candidate has a new book out, and the Associated Press got their hands on an early leaked copy (Palin reportedly is none too happy about the leak and the review). Sarah Weinman, writing for Daily Finance, took a look at the economics of the book advance and calculates that Harper would have to sell around 400,000 copies in hardcover to break even. Is that a safe bet? The Millions' guess (and mine as well): you betcha.

In The Rejectionist news, Le R. announced the winners of her form rejection contest, which had such hysterical entries I don't know how she even picked winners. She also took note of this week's query trend: angels. Particularly angels tempting girls with their "smoking hot bods and snowy snowy wings." Wow. Heaven help us all. (get it??? get it???)

@lilliamr noted a PW article about a new query service making the rounds that would pre-screen queries for agents to make sure that they conform to their guidelines and genres of interest before the agent sees them. Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware sums up the mixed history of these types of ventures. I won't be signing up, but all you have to do is take a look at Jessica Faust's rapturous post about her query holiday to get a sense of how much of a strain it is these days to keep up with the query pile. Yes, aspiring authors are busy too and all that, but the time it takes to read them all (let alone respond) may be approaching a point of unsustainability.

Twitter lists are fast becoming the hot new thing in the Twittersphere, and thanks very much to GalleyCat for including me in their Best Agent Twitter feeds list. I've created some nascent lists of my own that will continue to grow, including my clients, editors, writers, publishers, agents, and other non-editor publishing types.

In self-publishing news, Andrew Sullivan announced that he is working with Blurb.com to create a self-published coffee table book version of his View From Your Window posts, and is crowd-sourcing an estimate of what the initial print run should be. An interesting experiment indeed.

HTMLGIANT notes a Cormac McCarthy interview wherein he suggests that the days of the 700 page MOBY DICK-style literary doorstopper are completely over: "Nobody will read it. I don’t care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different."

And finally, can I get a NaNoWriMo status update? How are all the Word Marathoners doing out there?

Have a great weekend!






134 comments:

Karla said...

Kind of surprised you didn't mention Harlequin Enterprises news about Carina Press - is that because it's strictly an e-press?

Nathan Bransford said...

karla-

Could you link to it? I'm definitely going to miss some stuff!

Feywriter said...

I'm at 14,000 words for NaNoWriMo. Not where I want to be, but still more than I'd ever written in two straight weeks.

Thanks for the link to Editorial Anonymous. So true about dreams.

Karla said...

I can never figure out how to leave a link!
www.carinapress.com

Crystal said...

Just broke 31,000 words for Nanowrimo last night! Woot!

sue laybourn said...

29k words for me.
I'll query you as soon as I'm done.
kthxbai.

Joke.

Karla said...

There was a press release, too, but I can't find the link. Sorry.

pjd said...

You're asking for NaNo stats? For reals?

OK. 12,600. But I get to spend nine hours on airplanes with my laptop next week. So I hope to catch up. The good news: I actually like what I'm writing as I write it. At least, most of it.

And no, I hadn't seen that kitten video (previous blog post). My kids will die from the cuteness.

Scott said...

Can someone explain to me what you do with a 50k word novel when you're done with it. Is it just an exercise to jumpstart your ambitions, or am I missing something? I'm thinking it has something to do with why we have so many YA novelists these days.

Angels, huh? Sparkly ones with wizard powers? How about wereangelpires?

chris said...

Hovering around 10,000 words. Pretty sure I won't make 50,000 by Dec. 1, but I'm ok with that. My goal was to force myself to make writing a habit, and I think it worked. We'll see in a few weeks...

In related news, my novel is YA paranormal and is about...angels. Dammit. Started with the idea before they became the next big thing. But I also think it's kind of a unique take. My angels aren't angelic in the traditional sense. Still, though...dammit.

Deniz Kuypers said...

20K for me! I really can't allow myself to read all the links you posted... OK, except for the Cormac McCarthy interview. Thanks!

Kate said...

Thanks for asking us about NaNo - we need to share our progress but our families would rather we just shut up already.

I'm at 20005 words, right on schedule and going strong.

Emily White said...

Haha! Yeah, I got it.

I can't say that I'm attempting the NaNoWriMo this year, but I do have plans to be completely finished (revisions and all) by the end of this year! *crosses fingers*

Wish me luck!

Jade said...

400 words away from the 30k mark on Surviving Reject High.

Can I get a hells yeah. Who knew NaNo would be so much fun.

Amber said...

I didn't do NaNoWriMo (hell, I've never done it!). I was too busy pounding away at the rough draft of my other novel I started in October, and I'm proud to say I've finished the rough draft at 63,500, though I'm giving 20,000 words to myself for the re-write. Plus, I'm busy with editing half of Witch Tourniquet so I can send it off to another beta reader. I hope to start querying early next year--about time, too!

I've never believed that anyone crushes dreams, except maybe Simon from American Idol, but I think he openly admits he's a dream crusher anyway. I believe dreams can be achieved through hard word, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I occasionally watch The Fairly Oddparents and sometimes wonder what it would be like to have them. I could wish I was published, but I think I'd be left with a lackluster feeling knowing that I didn't do any hard work to earn that.

Plus, as a slush pile reader I know I'm not crushing dreams. I do have hope for some of the manuscripts I've rejected, because they were good, but I couldn't accept them because they didn't fit the types of stories the e-zine looks for.

Thermocline said...

The PW article about the new query service mentioned a weekly e-mail to agents letting them know they had outstanding queries. Notices about messages. Why would an agent sign up for that?

susiej said...

Well, Mr. McCarthey, I absolutely loved all 782 pages of Susanna Clarke's Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrel.

But as for Moby Dick- please, that NEEDED editing. I understand it was about obsession but all those pages of whale info- zzzzzz.

Amber said...

"But as for Moby Dick- please, that NEEDED editing. I understand it was about obsession but all those pages of whale info- zzzzzz."

That's how I feel about most classics written in the 19th century. Liked Frakenstein though.

Amber Lough said...

Thanks for the links!

I'm trudging along at 14K for NaNo, but I'm happy with it---finally breaking my inner editor and writing this darned thing. An editor told me yesterday, when I mentioned I should just quit and pick up...anything else...that I was in a common state in the NaNosphere. Apparently many writers hit a wall half-way through. Good to know I'm not the only one.

Susan Quinn said...

Had to choose between edit-madness on my WIP, or diving into NaNo with that crazy new novel idea, so . . . I decided to do both.

And start a blog.

I'm pretty sure there's a diagnosis for taking on too much writing at once, but I don't have time to look it up.

wordver: restrupl (I'll get a rrrupl minutes of rrrest in December)

Louise Kuskovski said...

Thanks for posting the angel trend. I'm always curious about that sort of thing, but have no way of knowing about it unless you tell me. So thanks! I feel a bit more up to speed, about something, which is nice as most of the time I'm in an info-less bubble. I live in Hamburg, Germany and have yet to learn how to say more than "I'd like a cappuccino, please" So the daily beast cheat sheet, your blog and facebook are all I have to keep me grounded. When given half a chance to do so, I just prattle on--as anyone reading this might be able to see...As it stands, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year and just updated my word count. I'm just under 22,000--despite a terrible virus that has hit our household this week. Thank goodness it is not the flu. Anyone with that or any illness out there, my heart goes out to you. I forget how awful it is to be sick, it is never fun. Feel well. Have a good weekend.

Mrs. Parker said...

What do you think about Harper/Collins Authonomy site? Helpful or harmful to new authors?

Kimberly Kincaid said...

Do authors really need agents...this kinda strikes me along the same lines as "Do football games really need referees?" Not technically, but chances are, if you go without 'em, the rules get blurry and someone ends up hurt.

Am not doing NaNo, but weirdly started a new MS right at the end of October (so yeah, there's that cheater week in there I guess) and I'm at almost 30,000 words. I'm not really sure how, considering how badly I stalled out last week. I almost threw that white flag out in search of a truce, and then...BAM. More words came out. Cool, that.

LOL @ the whole "haven't been able to confirm that" thing on paper books. I love my paper books, okay. Love everything about 'em. But I am finding that, in some cases, the e-reader thing is equally appealing in its own right. So I do both. Naughty, I know. I'm going right to "real book" hell, I tell ya.

Thanks for the roundup, Nathan :)

Grace McConachie said...

This is my first year doing NaNo and I'm at 22,633 words. This is the first time any of my characters have taken on a life of their own and I'm loving it!

T. Anne said...

43K and I'm plugging away all weekend, when I'm not at the park, mall or grocery store.

nikkimantyla said...

susiej, I completely agree!

"Well, Mr. McCarthey, I absolutely loved all 782 pages of Susanna Clarke's Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell."

Every once in a while there's a doorstopper that's amazing.

Cid said...

Twitter lists are pretty nifty!

I'm currently a little over 69K for my NaNoWriMo novel, it's my first year and first time back from like a seven year break of writing little more than short fiction bits here and there. My end goal for NaNo this year is either 150K OR finishing my novel - I'd be happy with either ^__^

Dangit - I sort of wished I'd written my NaNo over steamy, hot angels instead of well - what I am writing.....

Ink said...

E-books are dead. Gotta sweep that old technology away, get rid of those old-fashioned binary code abstractions.

Luckily, there's a new technology on the horizon. It's truly amazing. Made from trees, believe it or not. An actual physical object with words impressed permanently on it. Memory problems? No more. Can't download? Thing of the past. Get rid of that e-reader, it's obsolete. We're going physical, folks. Remarkable.

Nick F. said...

Sorry to say I'm not doing NaNo this year. Decided it's better to take my time with this book, which sadly is taking a very long time. It's great fun to write, and I certainly do hope it shall be published some day, but I'm not used to writing mysteries. I'm so used to reading them and watching TV adaptations of them that my brain keeps trying to tell me "Case solved. Next!" *sigh* Afraid I don't know where I'm meant to be by this point in NaNo, if I were doing it, but my WIP is at 14814 words right now, and as soon as I'm done with this here reply I'm going to write more.

Richmond Writer said...

14,000 words but I'm not sure they count. The dictionary has what a million words in it, surely enough to tell a story, but it doesn't.

Kristan said...

Holy crapola, I'm embarrassed to put my NaNo word count up here now. WHO ARE YOU ROBOTS AND HOW CAN YOU WRITE SO MUCH?!

Wow...

Sindaena said...

My NaNo project is on track at just over 20K words. Sadly, my husband, with no aspirations of ever publishing his book is blowing away my word count and having more fun in the process. Maybe there is something to not worrying so much about how good it is during the initial draft.

The WEbook query service strikes me as very disturbing. Did you notice that the PW article mentions that authors will be charged for the service in the future? Ick.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

CreateSpace and BookSurge merged-- I'd say that's pretty earth-shattering news for all the vanity publishers out there.

Amazon is going to elbow everyone else out of the POD market.

Caroline said...

13,577, and I really need to catch up. No time to leave an interesting comment, sorry!

Madison L. Edgar said...

Somehow, I'm right on track with NaNoWriMo... I'm at 23,000 words. But I'll probably fall behind soon. I have exams coming up...

Rhimos: Is anyone else feeling that they book you're writing for NaNoWriMo is way better than the book in which you're currently seeking representation? I almost feel like I should stop querying for my completed novel right now because, if I ever do get an agent, I'd rather my NaNoWriMo book be my debut! **frustrated sighs.

Kristi said...

Great links - I love the smutty angels thing. No NaNo'ing for me this year but I did finish another revision on my ms and it's almost ready for my critique group. Good luck to all those participating in NaNoWriMo and Happy Friday! :)

maybegenius said...

Broke 28K this morning and feeling pretty good about it. I've been pleasantly surprised by how much of what I'm writing might actually be, y'know, USABLE.

Word to Editorial Anonymous, for sure. Word, indeed.

Josin L. McQuein said...

People will still read the doorstoppers (The Historian, anyone?), but most of them are part of crazy popular series (HP, Twilight).

As for my NaNo count, I plead the 5th.

Now, off to read links.

Mercy Loomis said...

I'm not NaNo'ing. Just plugging away at my newest short story before getting started on the next novel. I'm trying to keep up with both short and long works, but it's hard getting excited about the long ones, because the short ones actaully get me gratification (and money!) fairly quickly, as opposed to my first novel which is still making the rounds...

And HEY! I like long books! (But then, I read treatises on ancient history for fun, so I'm not exactly normal...)

Karla said...

Found the November 11th PW post about Carina Press, but I still can't figure out how to make it into a tidy linkable thing. :S


http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6706550.html?rssid=192

The Writing Muse said...

Nano progress report: 19111.

Marilyn Peake said...

Loved the interview with Cormac McCarthy!

Kat Harris said...

Nano = 21,632 (I counted myself.) :-)

Scott @ 11:36 a.m.

My story won't be complete at 50,000 words, and I'd certainly never query a draft as rough as the one I'm turning out, but for me -- and many others -- nano is a good lesson in discipline.

Lorin said...

NaNo is at just over 18k. I vow to get ahead this weekend!

Amanda P. said...

I was pretty much out with my NaNo before I even got started. My brother-in-spilled a drink all over my computer a few days before Nov. 1st.

It grew wings and is now in laptop heaven (R.I.P.).

Rooty Too, mRoo, and other nom de plumes said...

I'm at 24,000 words on NaNoWriMo.

This is the second year for me doing this. So much fun!
The first time (two years ago), I finished around 89,000 words and then went on for two years finishing and editing (and editing) my novel. Two years ago,it was a real feat to complete the daily/monthly word goal.
This time around, I am spending more time rereading what I wrote the day(s) before, crafting, enjoying, plotting, savoring. I am more interested in quality than quantity, but I can't appreciate enough the energy of this project and participating in it. It certainly is an awesome event.
And my novel isn't about angels so much as it's about human beings, but there are angels involved and in the title...
-Rooty Too

Anaquana said...

I am at 23k.

More than 2k more than I wrote for all of NaNo last year. :D

Anna said...

Scott, there isn't much one can do with a 50K novel. It's more the act of getting the words out, definitely an exercise to jump start ambitions, as you put it. It's also a fantastic feeling of camaraderie with writers from all over the world. Many people who complete NANO get that far and that's it, but many of us continue and finish the manuscript.

When I see so many of those 50K plus a few, I do wonder if folks just get that far and say, "Right, I'm done!" or do they then pick it up later. Of course that's an unknown, but it does make me wonder.

Right now I have a blessed word count; I'm past 50K and finished. What I'd love to see are as many as are able to hit that number, for the sheer joy of doing so (and donating even just a tenner towards keeping the NANO boat afloat). What happens afterwards is the writer's discretion...

Frank said...

30k or so as far as NaNoWriMo is concerned. It's my third year so I didn't expect much trouble, but I probably won't do it next year.

Anonymous said...

25k and half way there!

annerallen said...

Scott, actually Carina Press will look at your 50K word novel. I have info and submission guidelines on my blog at
http:annerallen.blogspot.com
Darn. Blogger won't let me make that link live. But you can click through my picture.

Kind of exciting. Carina is looking at most genres (except YA.)

Although, in my heart, I love Ink's take on the whole ebook thing. Treeware is so very glitch-free.

Kate said...

I think I'm with Cormac (can I call him Cormac??) on the boat anchor novel. My book club recently decided on 'The Pillars of the Earth' and I just. Couldn't. Do it. And I didn't lose a wink of sleep over it either.

Laurie Boris said...

NaNoWriMo count over 30K!! And thanks for the update on the week that wasn't...

Lisa Dez said...

My YA angel book is probably in the Rejectionist's stack as we speak. Guess my agent will know who the Rejectionist is pretty soon!

Amalia T. said...

62,000 words and counting. Aiming to finish the draft before the end of the month, though, not just to reach 50K. The book itself has decided it doesn't want to be a story about the Trojan War, and Helen's WHOLE life, it wanted to focus on her abduction by Theseus... sooo... that's where we are now.

pippa said...

Just under 27K, and will be dying to see your post about how many queries you get right on 12/1 as people finish up their fantastic first drafts. ;) I despair of EVER getting published. Not an angel, vampire, or overweight woman happy with herself to be found. *weeping ensues*

Valerie L Smith said...

Thanks for posting the link regarding the angel trend. Even though I'm writing a YA angel novel, that information doesn't ruffle my feathers. It just tells me I need to work harder to stand out in the slush pile.

Besides, by the time I send my query on that piece, a new trend will have subdued the angels. Maybe honest alien politicians with webbed feet.

Dawn Hullender said...

At the risk of sounding sacrilegious...Twitter is the devil.

No one cares if I'm sitting on the potty right now or stuck in traffic. My life is not that exciting, so no twitter for me.

As for NaNoWriMo, I've hit 41K words and am done for the day. I think I can even spare a few days off for my birthday :-)

Karen Schwabach said...

Yikes. 24,762 words, and now I feel like such a lightweight looking at what other people have got. How do people do it?

Nathan, I will not be querying you when it's done, 'cause I've been otherwise agented... no hard feelings, I did enjoy querying you while it lasted.

Karen Schwabach said...

Amanda P.-- lol! Now apparently you have to watch out that it doesn't come back looking for forbidden love 'n' file-sharing with the next computer you get.

Anonymous said...

I'm 28k words into my novel, and I figure I will finish up the first draft by Christmas.

Is a novel that is 80-100k words a reasonable length for a new author?

Nita said...
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Nita said...
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Nita said...

Thanks for the link to the Cormac McCarthy interview. I originally planned to expand my NaNo novel to 600K, but will reconsider. Right now I'm at 33K and feel alright. But that's just my query. ;-)

ryan field said...

I like what EA said.

Tori said...

At the moment I am at 21k with about 500 more words to go until I reach my daily goal. And surprisingly it doesn't COMPLETELY suck, just...mostly I guess. In Dec. I'll continue the Nano pace if I haven't yet finished the novel. Then come revisions. I am scared for that.

Anonymous said...

Did you see this one?
TEN WAYS TO WRITE A BESTSELLING NOVEL By Paul A. Toth
...at Flatmancrooked.com

jesusangelgarcia said...

Dear Mr. Bransford,

You wrote: Do Authors Really Need Agents? For the most part the answer was, "Um... yes. They do."

Funny how my read on that same GalleyCat article was, um, AGENTS say, yes, writers need us, but the sole writer quoted in the piece simply said, "Fuck no!" (for the most part)

Seems to me that writers don't *need* agents, but agents absolutely need writers.

Respectfully,
JesusAngelGarcia

Amanda P. said...

Karen ~ Great, I have to be on the lookout for a computer love affair from beyond the grave. That would so be my luck. lol

But I'm getting a Mac next, so that will solve all of my virus and haunting problems, right? ;)

Heather said...

I love your week in publishing!

I'm at about 22k for NaNo, which is behind where I want to be because I'm aiming for more than 50k. I hope to get ahead this weekend. I broke the rules and edited some pages because I'm trying to get into this writing workshop, and I'm more excited about this story than anything I've ever written. I hope it pays off.

Also, I can't believe you asked for NaNo stats. Either you think we're crazy and want to prove that we are epically failing across the board, or you want to cheer us on. I haven't decided yet.

Honolulu Writer said...

@21,000 for NaNoWriMo. If I can get another 4K this weekend, I'll be on track. A nice way to jump start a new book, even if there are necessary additions, endless rewrites, edits, edits, edits in my future :)

Honolulu Writer said...

read about Carina Press on Combreviations Blog -- Laura of Pimp My Novel friday fame. She's got some links too.

Myrna Foster said...

I'm just over 17,000 words for NaNo. Thanks for asking.

KK said...

I could say something pithy about your blog today Nathan, but I was again distracted by your not so subtle way of letting your readers know who you like politically.

I have to say I'm not interested in your opinions in that area as much as I know you aren't interested in mine.

Why don't you stick to reviewing the publishing world as an indifferent agent? It sure would make reading your blog easier. I read it for info from your job, not your political views.

NickerNotes said...

NaNoWriMo: 21,032 words. I have been un-contracting contractions (my YA characters sound like early readers) and tagging EVERY dialog line.

Nathan Bransford said...

kk-

You'd have to be pretty darn sensitive to take offense to anything I said in that post.

dt said...

Having a blast with NaNoWriMo - currently at 24K and will be at 30+ by Monday. I have the writing part down. Now I need to work on editing the manuscripts I've written. Sigh.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anne said...

I was scratching my head on where I read that bit about 99¢ book price wars yada yada yada, since seeing the John Grisham interview on the Today Show. He really put it all in perspective.

I'm at just over 22K words in my quest for 50K and something usable at the end of it all.

Oh, and I've been reading Janet Evanovich's "How I Write" to help give me an extra push this month. And a literary agent is a must if you are serious about being taken serious[ly].

JenD said...

NaNo Count: 27,883 words...and they're not even the same word typed over and over...yay me!

DanP said...

Agents are always going to be important for authors and for the publishing industry itself, regardless of what it morphs into.

Writers need to write and agents sell their wares. And the arena where the work is sold and published is an increasingly complicated. Further, a good agent can help groom writers to coax out the best prose. They can see the strengths and weaknesses and provide a perspective the writer can seldom glimpse. Agents= perspective.

In my experience, they can also help writer cope with the inevitable mind/body roller coaster. I don't have to tell those writing out there, that this is a physically demanding endeavor. Just like a professional trainer, a good agent can suggest the places that could use conditioning and attention. More than handy-- vital.

So, I actually think agents are now much more important than ever before. Today's market is shifting wildly and is more complex than at any time in history, and only someone with a sufficient vantage can hope to seize the opportunities skittering across the publishing horizon.

My opinion: a good agent, has never been so valuable.

joeinlosangeles said...

Personally, I think Cormic is right about book length. Sure, there is always going to some long books that sell. But I think we are going to see page counts go downward. My fav books tend to be relatively short ones.

Laura said...

This has probably already been said-- I can't read all 87 of the comments, but the doorstopper over? Ha, I say, HA! What were the first weekend sales of Stephen King's new 1074 page book?

My copy is sitting next to me here on the bed.

Laura said...

lol, I mean what *WILL* be the first weekend sales of SK's new book.

I refuse to believe that the epic is dead.

Mira said...

Huh. No offense to the person who was bothered, but I looked all over for the political message and I couldn't find it. I tried making anagrams out of the first letter of every sentence, but that didn't work. Anyway, I have a call in to Dan Brown, maybe he can help me break the code, because I have no clue.

So, very fun links, Nathan, thanks.

In terms of NaNo, not this year for me. I totally cheer on everyone who is participating though! Cheer, cheer! Go, writers!

Gordon - the main thing agents do isn't negotiate contracts. Agents are a publisher out-sourcing of the job function of locatinng manuscripts. Publishers don't want to deal with the slush pile, or weeding folks out, so they basically 'hire' agents on a commission basis to sort through the submissions and bring them the best. That job function isn't likely to go away.

Agents do other things too, like negotiating rights, and stuff like that. Nathan has a post on it somewhere recent.

Also, agents are starting to take on more mentoring functions, which, given the changing landscape, makes sense. Publishers used to develop their writers; I think that job duty is also now falling to agents.

So many great links, I'll be reading this weekend. Hopefully about an angel with a smoking hot bod. Odd. Usually I don't think of angels as sexual seducers. I also don't usually snowy, snowy wings as....um, I can't even think of a word for it. But I'm willing to reconsider.

Ellen said...

I thought the Rejectionist was a guy.

karen said...

Not doing NaNo the traditional way. I'm working on something I'd already started and reporting on facebook each night. Started at 40,828 Nov 1 and just passed 60,000 tonight. Small potatoes for some of my friends but remarkable for me. I try to hit 2,000 a day, six days a week, with extensive re-writing as I go along. I'm content with where I'm at. - And, yes, I'm perfectly aware that's lousy grammar. Oh well.

Amanda Acton said...

NaNoWrimo = 27k words in and ahead of schedule! I'm totally loving this style of punching out a first draft. :D

Shanann E. Schnell said...

Shanann says: two thumbs up... Its a Like!

Other Lisa said...

I like long books!

Oh, word verification: eplow. E-plow? I'm not sure what that would be but it's very evocative.

Michelle said...

Woo-hoo...checking in at 19,519! The goal is to be at 25,000 by the end of the weekend. I've updated my YA novel synopsis if anyone is interested.
Author: michcarl
Link to profile: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/170996
Some days have come easier than others, but the exciting part is that I love the story that is unfolding, and I'm looking forward to revisions afterwards.

GhostFolk.com said...

Okaaaaay...

a PW article about a new query service making the rounds that would pre-screen queries for agents ...

So the real question is Do agents need an agent?

Rik said...

NaNo update: abject failure. 3k words written, 22k more required to catch up. But I'm getting very good at devising new writing avoidance strategies - like this one ...

knight_tour said...

Hmm,with these eBook thingies...how long before authors have to do soundtracks for their books?

Ink said...

Gordon,

You always seem to talk about literary agents like used car salesmen, as if they're unliterary product pushers. But that doesn't square with my experience at all, or what I see when I look across the industry. I think pretty much every agent I've come across has been a diehard book person. There are far more profitable things to sell, if selling is what you're into.

Agents are generally people who have studied literature, love books, and have worked themselves up in the industry. Some of them write themselves, and many have extensive experience as editors. It's pretty dismissive of the profession and the people in it, people who may naturally be drawn to complex series of tasks necessary to perform well in that profession. Which includes a cross-section of literary and business skills.

It's an unnecessary devaluation, I think, and doesn't really square very much with what's out there. I'm guessing there's a whole lot of writers out there who are thankful for the literary and editorial skills of their agents. Yes, some will be better at this than others, and some will do more of it, as well. But that's the same with every profession. And part of the job of the writer is to try and find the sort of agent that suits them.

Your argument reminds me of the one always thrown at English teachers - oh, you're just a failed writer. If you can't write, teach... but that's dismissive (and a little insulting) to the art of teaching, to what might be someone's calling.

I do agree that they're might be growing niches in the industry for indie publishers. I mean, there's already a lot of good small presses out there, like Soft Skull. And especially, I think, if the Indie publishers are patient and interested in supporting a writer's career, shepherding them through their first books and slowly building a readership - something that the big publishers are far less inclined to do than they once were.

Mira said...

Dear Nathan,
Thanks for your great advice on all agent/publishing matters. Recently, my agent sold my first book so your articles really resonated with me. Best Wishes, Mira Bartok

Chuck H. said...

There are two Mira's? Oh, lord this is going to get confusing! NaNo update: ah crap, never mind.

Word Ver: cladism - the firm belief that one should be clad - in something.

Laura said...

NaNo update-- As an edit-as-you-go perfectionist (so NOT working), I am loving NaNo. I'm working on quantity and storyline over quality, but will spend January and, well, let's face it probably the six months after that in NaNoRevismo (so named by the INTERN)making that quantity sing with quality.

Word count? A mealy-mouthed 11,133, but the weekend shall avenge me.

Anonymous said...

Nathan,
I was so pleased to read your shout out to the NaNoWriMos.
It would be *way* fun to see the kind of writing that comes out of that project that are also regulars here.
Maybe you could run a NathanNaNoWrMo
excerpt blog.
One (to three?) paragraph excerpts(from anywhere in the novel!) from the finished NathanNaNoWriMo winners.

Dara said...

NaNo update: 26,882.

Halfway to 50K, but only a quarter of the way to my 80K goal, which I'm gonna try and make by the end of the year :) Then in January, I'm going to start the loooong process of editing.

Aiming to hopefully have it polished enough to start querying next year. Eeep!

Dara said...

Ok I should've been more clear in my post--I meant that I'm hoping to start querying by November of next year. I'm not one of those rushing to get my NaNo novel out within two months :P

Anonymous said...

I'm at nearly 20,000 words on nano with a brand new story idea. I use nano to flesh out whether I've got a full novel in my idea, or is it better suited for a short story. I don't know until the end of November. For nano, I allow myself to free associate, use terrible grammar and just get the idea on paper. No plotting, no notes, no planning. And NO EDITING. NONE!

So, nano is worth it...for the ride. I'd suggest really trying it one time. Get in on it now, and make yourself do 25,000 words in 2 weeks. Post your progress. Join some forums. Have some fun and really push yourself to your own personal limits.

Anonymous said...

OMG, the Angel blogpost was hilarious !!!

Mary said...

Loved the interview with Cormac McCarthy! Thanks for the link. :)

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

Uh oh. That was funny, Chuck. Maybe I'll start calling myself "This Mira. Not the other Mira, that's a different Mira, I'm this Mira." That should clear it up. For now, I'll keep drinking a glass of milk.

Gordon, Gordon, Gordon. Must you be insulting? I thought you were going to stop that.

Please don't be disrespectful to Nathan on his thread. That's just uncalled for, frankly, while he's giving you a forum. Also, I adore Nathan, and I'll just stop talking to you. You might see that as a perk, but if not, please don't be use an insulting tone.

In terms of your points, I agree with what Ink said. Also, I think the agents who are good at mentoring will rise to the top. Those that aren't will hire someone who is.

But the most important thing is that no publishers, indie or otherwise, will want to deal with the slushpile.

Also, I think what will happen eventually in e-books is this: publishers and booksellers will merge as a function.

You'll no longer go to any on-line bookstore to get any book. If you want to buy the e-book of Dan Brown, you'll need to go to his publisher's website and buy it to download, for example.

This will make authors hot properties. Advances may stay, percentages may become more negotiable, rights more confusing, contracts more complicated: in a sea of all this, agents will be more in demand than ever.

My predictions could be completely wrong, of course. Maybe things will centralize. But that would be my prediction right now: agents will become more important to publishers as the 'finder of talent.' Authors will want agents as mentors and tour guides, and rely on them to get the best deals.

Anonymous said...

I love long books. Just give me a world I can lose myself in,a never-ending adventure.
And kids LOVE long books.

Matilda McCloud said...

I'm at about 24,000 words, but I've trashed a lot of it already (can't turn off my internal editor). But doing NaNo has been great because after I trash the lousy parts, I have a clearer idea of how I should write it. Also, it's good for writing discipline. I know I have to write every day.

Jourdan Alexandra said...

"I'm told you can also still read books on paper, but I haven't been able to confirm that rumor."

Hilarious. I'll be quoting that one for awhile.

Malia Sutton said...

"I'm told you can also still read books on paper, but I haven't been able to confirm that rumor."

Yes, you can still read hard copy books on paper...lol I still read them while I'm on the treadmill :)

Mira said...

Gordon,

Well, thanks for your response in that it felt thoughtful - but: It didn't take?

That's how you shrug off making a verbal commitment and then breaking it, Gordon?

Well, I guess that's your choice. I feel disappointed hearing that though.

So, not much more to say here. I think we'll just go around in circles at this point.

I will say, though, that GLBT vampire erotica for grade schoolers is pretty darn funny. I'd read that. Heck, I sort of want to go write it. Almost as funny as angels trying to tempt young girls with their hot bods....to do what? Follow the path of righteousness?

I'd read that too.

Wendy Oliver said...

I'm at 30,386 on a series romance. (Not your type.) I'm really close to finishing another round of revisions on my last NaNoWriMo. (juvenile adventure - also not your type. Sigh.)

Harlequin's new e-press is Carina Press dot com
http://carinapress.com/

Matilda McCloud said...

Gordon--

Without one of those "lounge lizards," I NEVER EVER would have been published--no how, no way. Period, end of story (as my father used to say).

Cardiff Sparrow said...

I am glad I resisted strong temptation to sign up properly. I just don't have the time and shouldn't be able to find it with the commitments I have. Really enjoying watching other peoples' progress however and using the month to push revision.

Ink said...

Gordon,

You're conflating editing with writing. They might be related but they're not the same. Not at all. Many brilliant editors don't write themselves. And many writers couldn't edit others worth a spit. So to base an agent's editing and agenting abilities on a novel they might write is illogical and, frankly, seems rather pointless.

And, come on, no one's changing David Foster Wallace into Stephanie Meyer. A good editor helps a writer achieve what the writer is attempting... not what the publisher wants. And the market is too fickle, anyway, to just say "Hey, throw some vampires in and we can sell this!" I simply don't see that happening. That's coming from writers following trends (or at least following the cultural zeitgeist), not agents... who probably get sick of it in the slushpile.

And in either case, if you don't like an agent's editorial advice, don't take it. No one's forcing you. Agents aren't china dolls who are going to break if you don't take every single suggestion. That should all be part of the ongoing editorial discussion that occurs around each book. And if that editorial discussion isn't working for your stories in the way you want, then maybe the agent/author match isn't the right one. Or maybe you simply want to write something that isn't marketable and has no audience. Which is the writer's prerogative... but the writer shouldn't feel entitled to an audience and sales if that's the case.

Christian said...

Cormac McCarthy's comment is interesting in light of Stephen King's latest release, weighing in at a hefty 1088 pages. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I'm only part through it, but I don't think Oscar Wao has a gay vampire in it. The Namesake didn't. The Emperor's Children definitely does not, although Julius is gay, and Murray does prey on young women...White Teeth didn't. I don't think the Shipping News did. Hmmm, aren't these all agented works of true art AND bestsellers?

Ink said...

Gordon,

I don't think it's naive, as I was using "editor" to describe anyone doing editorial work, not just people working for major publishers. And lots of editors, even at the big publishers, still love great stories. If all they're doing is peddling commercial interests without thoughts to individual stories than they're not good editors. And there are probably a few of these, but I certainly haven't come across to many.

And it's hard to completely change a story without the writer's consent. I'm sure they sometimes make suggestions in light of trying to find a work a larger audience... but the writer still doesn't have to accept this. It's their choice to accept an editorial suggestion or not. And it's their responsibility to evaluate that suggestion and its ramifications.

And it's also faulty to assume that a suggestion looking to increase audience is necessarily artistically inferior. It might make a better artistic work as well as a more commercial one. You can't lump individual artistic projects into grand generalizations such as "commercial" and "artistic". Most writers want their work to mean something. Most also wouldn't mind being compensated for their efforts. I don't see any conflict in writing the story you want, and then seeking to sell it afterward. It seems reductive to think that just because writers want to get paid they're necessarily compromising their artistic integrity. Do some do this? Certainly. Does one necessarily lead to the other? Certainly not.

And I think it's important for writers to remember this when dealing with editorial comments. Editing is subjective, and it's always going to be up to the writer to control their manuscript and keep their own aims in mind.

Other Lisa said...

Wow...

My experience with the agent "editorial" process and then the publishing house editorial process was, well, very different from what Gordon describes. No one tried to make me do anything I didn't want to do. Both parties were concerned with making my book better within the framework of what it already was.

In dealing with publishing houses, there was only one instance where there was interest but only if the book was rewritten to be something very different from my intentions. That wasn't something I wanted to do, so I didn't. When everyone says, "this is a very subjective business," they do not kid.

I totally agree that there is a really unfortunate risk aversion going on in the major publishing houses these days -- I can't remember who it was (probably Nathan) who said that they are willing to take huge risks on big names but not small risks on debut authors, which to me is not a very sustainable business model.

So all hail to indy presses! Maybe they will be the ones to take the risks in the future.

But given that practically everyone who reads books is also writing them...I don't see how you eliminate the need for a filtering process. I've read a lot of aspiring writers' stuff. Some very good (and the people I know who are very good are all finding agents and/or making sales) but most...not so much.

Publishers rely on agents because they don't have the time or the money to do all the filtering themselves.

As a writer, I also know that I never would have been able to sell my book on my own. It simply would not have happened. The complexities of the contract, the potential for foreign/ancillary sales -- though I could educate myself up to a point on all that, I don't particularly want to make it my job to be the expert, and I don't have the access to the people who make those decisions. In an agentless world, how does that all happen?

I guess if you don't care about getting paid for your work, that's not a problem. But I personally do care about that.

Romy said...

Just over 26k but slowing as I hit that tricky middle. Keep it up fellow Nanoers. Even if you don't hit the 50k target, every word you've written is a step closer to completing that novel!

Anonymous said...

Gordon said, "Which means, you go in with "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and you end up with GLBT Vampire erotica for grade schoolers."

Huh? On what planet does this happen? Someone please tell me what I've been missing all these years while I've been working in the publishing industry and Gordon has been doing whatever it is he's been doing.

Ink said...

Gordon,

They made a suggestion... she said no. Got published anyway with the story she wanted. Not exactly like the publishing industry taking a tire iron to her legs...

Other Lisa said...

Gordon, talk about misreading what I said. Try reading my comment again.

Frankly, you'd be a lousy lawyer if this is an example of your ability to examine evidence.

Anonymous said...

"It's called hyperbole."


Nope, bud.


It's called unwarranted arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Getting attention on comment threads is one good way to promote yourself as an unknown wannabe writer. But it has to be done with care. If it's negative and abrasive, you only get a bad reputation and come off looking like a loon.

Anything posted on the web lasts forever. Even comments on blog threads.

Liam said...

NaNo...my story is kind of slowly and painfully dying. I can't decide what to name my HQ and I don't know if it should be an old church or what.
Pain.

Jonathan Stephens said...

See chapter 94 of Moby Dick, "A Squeeze of the Hand," to get a seldom-mentioned theme of the novel. I couldn't believe it and couldn't hardly see the other themes because of the shock to my collegiate-washed brain.

And gold stars for your excellent use of "nascent" in a blog.

Steve & Sarah said...

Just stumbled across your blog, love to get the insider perspective on the publishing industry.

Sandra said...

Feels like I've stumbled into a roomful of people! Wonderful blog, as always, Nathan.

I too can't believe you asked for NaNo stats. That's like offering a sardine to a starving cat.

I'm at 36K of a novel that is treading dangerously close to chick-lit waters.

As for Chris, wondering what the point of it is, well, this is my second go round, and both times I only did it because I moderate an online writers group and THEY all wanted to do it. And, you know what? I'm truly grateful. Stories I didn't know I had in me came out, and I had, am having, a hoot. As Anne said, the camraderie is wonderful.

And, it certainly helps towards the million words thing.

Daniel Allen said...

I'm a little embarassed to admit that I've written less this month than any month in the last two years! *blush*

NaNoWriMo...hmph!

Genella deGrey said...

LOL - I left my comment with The Rejectionist about angels: It was man (artists) who decided Angels had wings.

Not in any biblical account are there descriptions of wings.

My first book depicted such hotties - sans the white feathers. ;)

It's all about where you take your research from.
:)
G.

Bryan D said...

As Josin mentioned, The Historian (just shy of 700 pp.) certainly drew a large audience. And Ken Follet's World Without End (at a whopping 1015 pages) also did very well.

The former is an example of how even a newcomer can still succeed with a mammoth tome, and the latter is an example of how a successful author can command a large audience for ridiculously long books--and leave the reader clamoring for more.

If JK Rowling wrote a 2,000 page book, the bookstores would still have lines out the door waiting to buy it at midnight.

People are definitely changing how they read, and I think it's going to affect the type of writing that appeals to a broad audience, but it's not necessarily the death of the long book. I think authors with broad appeal will likely be the ones who learn or intrinsically know how to package a suspense-building mini-story into each chapter so that readers are propelled forward in short bursts of satisfaction. That's not so different from the formula used by Grisham, Rowling, and other list-smashing authors.

MLeaves2 said...

I was inspired by NaNoWriMo, but I started early - June 19, I think. And it's probably going to be closer to 95,000 words. But I'm trying to wrap up the first draft by the 30th.

R. D. Allen said...

I'm at 40k right now in NaNoWriMo. ^_^ I don't think it'll be over at 50k, though... probably closer to 60k-70k.

: D

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