Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Week in Publishing 5/14/10

This week in..........

TYRA MAIL! Screeeeeammmm!!!!!!!

Yes, it has finally happened. Tyra Banks. Novelist. The model/talk show host/judge-of-fierceness has smized her way to a book deal for a YA novel called "Modelland," involving a land populated by "Intoxibellas," who are, of course, hot and fierce and will cry dramatically if you ask them about the challenges they had to overcome to become a top model (I made that last part up). Are you couture enough to read this book or are you just catalog?

Meanwhile, a commenter at Gawker took a stab at the first chapter, and the results. were. AMAZING. An excerpt: "When Mr. and Mrs. Catalog woke up on the dull, Covergirlless gray but not smokey-eyed Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the bland sky outside to suggest that fashionable or artistic things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Catalog hummed as he picked out the most boring pose for his photoshoot, and Mrs. Dursley talked smack happily as she wrestled a screaming Dreckley into her high chair... None of them noticed the large, tawny TyraMail flash across the window."


Believe it or not there was other news this week. I know!! I was surprised too.

More e-reader news afoot as Borders will be selling the e-ink Kobo e-reader for the cheaper-than-Kindle price of $149.99 starting in June. And in tablet news, Google is apparently teaming up with Verizon to create a tablet device amid news that a whopping 28% of Americans expect to buy an e-reader or tablet in the next year, and 49% within three years (via PubLunch).

All of which leads Mike Shatzkin to observe that e-book growth has been somewhat incremental things over the last few years and things have been changing gradually. Get ready for suddenly. (I love that the last few years were the gradual part. Hold on tight, everyone!!!)

The Guardian surveyed the landscape of international book covers, noting that unlike movie posters, book covers vary wildly from country to country. (via The Book Bench)

Stephen Parrish sent me two great links: an article from Newsweek about Herman Wouk, still writing at age 95! And I missed this one a few weeks ago, but the NY Times has published their seven millionth article about self-publishing.

Lots of great agent blog posts this week! Mary Kole is decamping for Brooklyn, Rachelle Gardner has a great post on the secrets of of a great pitch, Kate Schafer Testerman asks how much info is too much info about an author, and my brilliant colleague Sara LaPolla has an awesome post about what writers can learn from Betty White.

In other publishing news, Jeff Abbott tipped me off to an interesting post from Publishing Trends about the rise of hardcover series in the YA world, and Eric from Pimp My Novel has a great refresher post on some of the different departments within a publisher.

This week in the Forums, Friday Night Lights is back on network TV, we're continuing our discussion of LORD OF THE RINGS (I'm now into RETURN OF THE KING), predictions for the next big YA genre, whether the present tense works, and I would be wondering what is happening on Lost, but I'm too busy wondering why no one thought to give the guy in the black shirt a name. I mean, isn't that explanation enough for why he turned into a smoke monster??

Comment! of! the! week! Well, Bryan Russell (aka Ink) shows why he's the sheriff with a comment that bears mentioning again in full. On voice and the importance of authority:


For me, one of the absolutely key elements of voice is authority. With a great voice you know the writer is in control, so in control that the writer vanishes and you see only the story. A great voice carries you through the story, compels you through the story.

"Call me Ishmael."

There's such authorial command in that opening. Indeed, it is a command. He doesn't say "My name is Ishmael" or "I'm called Ishmael." He says "Call me Ishmael." The voice itself tells you to sit down and listen to the story it's going to tell.

I think all great voices have that authority. Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Tim O'Brien, Ann Patchett, Javier Marias, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Chimamanda Adichie, David Foster Wallace... voices so uniquely themselves, and yet they all hold an incredible confidence and command. There's a sureness to a great voice. The words are simply right and the rhythms of the prose are buoyant. You won't sink, not with these voices

And finally, amid speculation that Hollywood is SO OVER Jane Austen and is now moving on to the Bronte sisters, there's a hilarious video making the rounds around the Internet (and forgive me, I can't remember who sent it to me first): the Bronte Sister Action Dolls!!

Have a great weekend!


Jen said...

Tyra Banks? I think I might be sick.

Krista V. said...

At least Tyra Banks actually reads children's literature (according to the December 2009 issue of INSTYLE magazine, a la the Upstart Crow blog), and isn't just picking the hottest genre on the market. And at least I can now say, with complete authority, that I'm a better writer than a soon-to-be-published author:)

I checked out her website's post about it, and she seemed to delight in being coy about the details, even character names. Sounds like she's still in that early-writer stage of thinking it's the idea - and not the execution - that's most important.

Josin L. McQuein said...

All shall cower before the Bontesuarus!!! It eats overly commercial model fiction for breakfast and uses the twig-figured heroines to pick its teeth.

(Watch out for that Anne, Tyra. She looks fiercer than fierce.)

Jacqueline said...

She got a 3-book deal with Random House. So I guess they liked her idea A LOT. What a load of pressure for an early-writer stage. I'm sure she'll manage, after all she is fierce.

Kim Lionetti said...


So happy to have FNL back, but just doesn't seem right to have Coach Taylor wearing red.

Nathan Bransford said...


Coach Taylor: "You don't like it THEN GET OUT OF MY HOUSE GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!!!" (everyone leaves)

Hahaha.. I'm actually really liking the East Dillon plot, I'm so excited about this season. But yeah - it's jarring to see him wearing red.

Mesmerix said...

Everyone thinks they can be a writer.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean, pudding not included?!!!

Most Excellent Post, Mr. Bransford.

Richard said...

The lessson of the Tyra Banks deal is the importance of branding. If you already ARE a brand then you only have to put together a readable book. If you want your writing to MAKE you a brand, then it had better be crackerjack bloody awesome.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

I also read another report (sorry, can't find the link anymore) about Tyra getting pretty upset because Sarah Palin came out with a book the same day and Tyre says she did it on purpose. Very Cranky! Don't know how true that is, but I wonder why she would think a 'political figure' would want to storm on her parade? Doesn't she have better things to worry about??

And, AWESOME video! Where can I get those dolls, erm, I mean, action figures? =)

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Woops, I meant TYRA, not Tyre =) innocent mistake =)

abc said...

RE: FNL--I enjoyed the overenthusiastic assistant coach. Copycat yelling behind Coach Taylor.
Also, is Landry really only a senior? Seems like these kids spend way too many years in high school.

I will never ever ever ever ever read ModelLand. Or that Hill's girl's book. Or anything with prom in the title.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I'm looking forward to Tyra's series because it will be amazingly entertaining no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. As will anything written by the Gawker commenter.

Those e-reader stats are fantastic! I wonder if they'll hold true.

Man in Black doesn't need a name because it's ~mysterious~ or something. Or maybe they're saving it for a "goodbye, ____" moment if and when he dies (at which point it will probably be underwhelming no matter what name they choose. We waited that long for "Josh"?!) Ahh, I love Lost.

I very much agree with the point about authority.

hannah said...

I am basically to excited for the Tyra book to even survive. Haters gotta hate, whatever.

But it's going to be FIERCE.

hannah said...

Ahem, *too* excited. I do know words, I swear.

Sissy said...

Tyra is out to be the next Oprah, so watch out world!

And yes, I am planning to buy an e-reader and am currently debating the pros and cons of the kindle/nook/ipad options. And now Borders is going to have their own thing? Sheesh.

Mira said...

Cool. These look like a fun bunch of links. As always, Nathan, thanks you.

But first, the video. That is the greatest thing ever. Girl power! Yay! At first I was worried the Bronte Sisters wouldn't win. They were battling against such terrible evil - but then they pulled it out! What a story twist! I never saw that coming - who knew they could turn into a giant dinosaur! I sure didn't. Boy, they are good writers., I hope that was funny. I want it to be funny, because I zeroed in and got completely fixated on a very important new concept in this post - which is that if people write funny posts, they should query Nathan immediately. Boy oh boy. It crossed my mind that I wouldn't mind having Nathan as an agent, he seems pretty cool, so I'd be happy to query him after writing a post. Any time. Just let me know. Really.

So, I'll have to go read the rest of the post now.

Honestly, in seriousness, the Tyra thing makes me alittle nervous. I'm sure the books will be great. She won't write them, of course, or if she does, they'll be heavily edited. I just worry about the effect on young girls. I hope it's not about women being defined only by looks.

Well, if it is, fortunately the girl power of the Bronte sisters will balance that out.

Okay, off to read the links. Have a great weekend.

Oh, and that was a good comment by Ink. I like his blog too - he's doing a cool thing on his blog with flash fiction. Very fun.

Okay, bye.

Livia said...

I love the "Aveda Kedavra" comment someone left in response to the Tyra Potter spoof.

Livia said...

And I'm willing to give Tyra the benefit of the doubt, until I read the book at least. Love her or hate her, she did build a pretty good career for herself.

Rick Daley said...

Thanks for re-posting Ink's comment, I missed it the first time. And I do respect his authori-tie...

ryan field said...

I remember when they signed Joan Collins to write a novel.

Who knows? Maybe Tyra can pull it off better than Joan did. For her sake, I hope she can.

Smelling The Poop said...

Authority IS key. That was a great comment.

Other Lisa said...

Oh, wow, I thought the Intoxibellas part was made-up too! But it's, it's NOT. Wow.

April Wendy Hollands said...

Hahahahahaha! Brontesaurus! BRILLIANT! I would like to see a Branwell Brontë doll too, complete with a bottle of booze in a paper bag.

J. T. Shea said...

The books in the photo in the NYT self-pub article have CORRUGATED CARDBOARD covers!

Self-publishing didn't work for me. I put the manuscript on the pavement outside my house one night, but nobody was interested. I didn't leave it long, of course. Someone could have tripped over it and sued me.

The Publishing Trends article about the rise of hardcover YA series does not surprise me. I have already praised Scott Westerfeld's LEVIATHAN in a comment here, both as story and physical book.

The Bronte Sister Action Dolls are great, but Anonymous 11:32 pm is right. Why is the pudding not included?

Mary McDonald said...

Thrilled FNL is back--even though I watched it all on DTV in the fall. I plan to watch it again on NBC.

I so want an e-reader. I have the Kindle app for my netbook, but I don't think it's quite the same experience. I do love how easy it is to get a book. Literally one click and it's on my netbook. I bought three today for $0.99. I specifically went looking for books that might have been by authors not traditionally published. I want to check out the quality.

Michelle said...

The Bronte action figures rock! I just want to see a Mr. Rochester doll--post Thornfield Hall fire. Every Barbie needs her Ken! (What was UP with those girls and men?)

Kelly Wittmann said...

The Bronte sisters were pretty "catalog," so that's good enough for me.

Renee Sweet said...

Best. Video. Ever.

Ink said...

Thanks, Nathan. I guess third time's the charm. :)

And I totally have to read the Brontes now. They have much more dino power than I expected. And boomerang books... I think that says it all.

Alexandria Gilbert said...

So I'm reading the Tyra novel comment of the day and it is definitely the beginning of the first Harry Potter book?

But I'm guessing everyone else already noticed that.

I am seriously excited for MODELLAND! I told all my friends... who mysteriously didn't share my enthousiasm... or so they pretended. I could see they weren't sneering with their eyes, after all.

D.M. SOLIS said...

Dear Nathan,

Thanks for all you do. I just posted some of these links to my blog. I hope that is okay.

With gratitude,


Jojomama said...

Genuinely amusing.Perma-smirk as I read the Tyra banks rant.

D. G. Hudson said...

More celebrity books? Can't say I'm excited about the two new celebrity books mentioned in your weekly wrap-up. Fame is the trump.

Enjoyed Rachelle's post on the pitch, she had some great points. Will check a few more of the links over the weekend.

Enjoy reading Return of the King, Nathan.

Joy Kennelly said...

I love reading every article you write, but today's was especially good.

I was laughing so loud in Coffee Bean while reading about Tyra people began looking at me.

Needless to say, I have re-tweeted your commentary because brilliance deserves to be shared.

Keep 'em coming. So enjoyable to read.

Kari said...

Please tell me you started with The Hobbit. Please!

Jan Markley said...

Loved the video!

Amanda Sablan said...

Bloody hell, that's funny!

God love those crazy celebs, eh? As much as any writer may hate them for being able to effortlessly get crap on the market (how much longer until literal crap is out there?) they make for a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

We can only hope her novel doesn't open with 13 of the first 16sentances having "was" as the in Twilight.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the Bronte dolls video is an oldie, very oldie--1998 oldie.
They would have been a hoot in today's market.

Karen said...

I hope Tyra didn't read this post. She'll be all kinds of upset to know you think there's OTHER publishing news this week.

And that excerpt was brilliant. Wish I could take credit!

Anonymous said...

Tyra Banks also barks and foams at the mouth like a rabid dog ... Perhaps she could do this at a book signing: Tyra Banks as rabid dog

treeoflife said...

I found the Mike Shatzkin link really uplifting... More readers and more book sales? Awesome.

The iPad might be the best thing that happened to the publishing biz since Oprah's Book Club.

Yamile said...

about ereaders: My son (9 years old) earned his own kindle, which he loves and doesn't leave out of his sight. I love my ipad though, especially because there's a kindle app and I can read the books my son buys. With his own money.
No comments about Tyra Banks.

Kimber An said...

I want to be Herman Wouk when I grow up! However, I must ask how do writers with hand ailments, like arthritis, keep writing novels into their nineties?

Thank Spock the Headless Girl on YA Covers trend is, like, so over! I haaaaated that.

Anonymous said...

Best post yet - so funny. Thanks!

Nicole said...

Re: The Tyra thing


...I'm sorry, was that rude?

I hate that famous-person-writes-a-book crap. THAT'S when it's all about who you know and not what you know. Talk about unfair to other writers...

Charli Armstrong said...

Must get in on spoof! Can’t resist!

They were together in the armchair by this time, and Vera plied her with more questions.
“If you don’t live in Paris now—“
“ Sometimes I do still.”
“But where do you live mostly now?”
“With the Intoxibellas.”
“Who are they?”
“They are the fiercest of the fierce, the most beautiful of the beautiful, and have completed all their training at the most costly model schools. If they are not claimed by a top modeling agency in seven days they are sent far away to the Modelland to defray expenses. I’m captain.”
“What fun it must be!”
“Yes,” said cunning Tyra, “But we are rather lonely. You see we have no designers to dress us.”
“Are none of the others designers?”
“Oh no; designers, you know, are much too clever to go around expensive schools to find models.”

Does that sound familiar or am I really the only one who immediately thought of this book after reading Tyra’s concept?

Fast forward to release date and you will see me curled up in an armchair at Barnes and Noble—Modelland in hand—sipping a cappuccino. Yes, I can predict the future. And it looks FIERCE!

Scott said...

Thanks for the self-pub link, Nathan. I've been forced to think of my book as "handmade goods", and am working hard to make sure it's well up to snuff.

That said, I've still not ruled out querying, and am wondering if it would be appropriate to share the online marketing tools (website, blog, etc.) I've created. My thinking is it shows I'm willing to work hard to market myself, and it also helps get across the flavor of the book in a fun way. On the other hand, I'm concerned with falling into the trap of marrying my efforts to less than professional self-pub products.

Your thoughts? Anyone?

Ishta Mercurio said...

OMG, Nathan, your post had me snorting apple juice out of my nose. Seriously. I have to make a note never to read your blog while eating.

Thank you.

Talei said...

I can't stop laughing. Mr and Mrs Catalog, Tyra's Modelland or 'whatever' it's called and the Bronte Power Dolls! It's all too fiercely fabulous.

February Grace said...

LOL @ Michele for this: "The Bronte action figures rock! I just want to see a Mr. Rochester doll--post Thornfield Hall fire. Every Barbie needs her Ken!"

Thank you for the laugh- to that I would humbly add: "Grace Poole Playset with Mrs. Fairfax sold separately. Lunatic wife figure with biting jaw action not for use with some sets. St.John Rivers' ego not included."

Mira said...

So, I've been thinking more about this authoritative voice thing.

If I say: 'Call me Ishmael', that means the reader has to call me Ishmael, right? Even if my name is Mira, they have to call me Ishmael because I said it with Great Authority.


Does this work for other things? If I say authoritative things to my readers, do they have to do what I say? Is this a writing skill?

For example, let's say I wanted to get Nathan to do something. Just hypothetically.

Would I say: Nathan, I want you to do this.

Or should I say it more firmly: Nathan, do this!

Or maybe it would be best to cut to the chase: Nathan!!!!!!!

Just wondering. I want to improve my voice so it's...effective.

Anonymous said...

It has to do with more than just the opening sentence. Call me Ishmael is strong because of what follows. It resonates as authoritative only when you read it in the context of the book.

I would argue that you could get away with all three: nathan do this, nathan!!!, or nathan I want you to do this, as long as they are in tune with the style of the rest of the story.

A reader will never go: wow, this sentence is strong.. unless the whole narrative is strong.. only then can a particular sentence resonate.

So instead of worrying about a sentence, worry about the whole, and then make sure the particulars are in tune.. that way... when I buy your book, I will burst in awe: darn, is this an authoritative sentence or what =)

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