Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, June 11, 2010

This Week in Publishing 6/11/10

In This Week: Publishing!

Before we begin, I would like to offer a word of clarification about my post yesterday (and thanks to everyone who has weighed in). Some have interpreted my post as a belief that bookstores are going to be filled to the brim with books of questionable quality, that everyone will have to self-publish first in order to find a publisher, and that it's going to be one huge gigantic mess of bazillions of books. Not what I'm envisioning!

First off, bookstores are still going to work according to the current system, i.e. they're going to be selling books published by publishers. What will expand further is online bookselling, where there are already millions of titles anyway and where you are already successfully navigating a giant jumble. I don't really see this impacting how you find books, except that you'll have more options if you want them. Otherwise you can still buy books published by publishers and I'm sure they'd be happy about that.

Nor do I think everyone is going to have to self-publish first. Publishers are still going to exist and will still probably be the place where the biggest books are generated, including debuts! So if you don't want to self-publish the existing system will, I think, still be around for some time.

What will change is that books that may not have been taken on by publishers because they weren't seen as a safe bet will have an opportunity to catch on with readers and spread through word of mouth via blogs, Forums, and other social media, and I see this is as a really awesome thing. Think of these extra books out there as a supplement to the existing model - you can find them if you want them and you'll hear about them if they're great, otherwise your reading life isn't going to change all that much.


The Authors Guild and Wiley are currently throwing down over royalties after the AG issued a strongly worded alert about Bloomberg Press' plan to change royalties from being based on the retail price over to net, which the AG points out would reduce royalties "up to 50%." Wiley responded that most authors would receive "more royalties in most instances."

Mr. Steve Jobs announced that 5 million people have downloaded books onto their iPads, an average of 2.5 books per user in 65 days, and also claimed that iBooks now has a 22% market share in the e-book market, which according to Michael Cader (subscription) reflects the market share at the Agency Five, not the entire industry.

Laura Miller at the New Yorker has a really fascinating survey of the latest hot trend in children's literature: dystopian fiction. The reason? Miller: "It’s not about persuading the reader to stop something terrible from happening—it’s about what’s happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader. “The success of ‘Uglies,’ ” Westerfeld once wrote in his blog, “is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia.”

The Great Tahereh has a really truly awesome post about a day in the life of a writer, full of all kinds of goodness and especially habitual e-mail checking.

In agent advice news, Jessica at BookEnds has a really great post about how, in addition to a Series Bible, you might also want to create a style sheet.

The New Yorker has chosen its favorite writing wunderkinds under 40, with a list of twenty of the great young writers under the age of forty, with a mix of usual suspects and relative unknowns. Ward Six countered with 10 Great Writers Over 80 (via GalleyCat), and The Millions created a guess at what the 20 under 40 list would have looked like in 1970.

And Sia McKye has a terrific interview with my client Lisa Brackmann, whose novel ROCK PAPER TIGER is receiving all kinds of wonderful reviews for its depiction of modern China.

This week in the Forums: don't forget to enter your first page for a chance at a critique on Monday (and you can discuss it further here), people share their awesome blog posts, a great list of things to have in place before you query, how many novels have you put in the drawer?, and you ARE watching Friday Night Lights, yes?

Comment! Of! The! Week! goes to Dan, who has a terrific counterpoint about some of the downfalls of this new era where the barrier to publication is lowered. I mainly agree with his thoughts, though I think some of the challenges he notes about systems will be smoothed out. I still personally think on the whole the new world of books will be better, but I'm also not naive to think that there aren't going to be good things lost and some challenges with the new system, which Dan points out eloquently. (you can find his full comment here.

Abridged version:

1. The price of a book is going to come way down. Authors can tolerate a lot of this, as self-published e-books pay much higher royalties than conventional books. But a reduction in the perceived value of content is bad for the market. And with so many potential authors fighting for attention, the price could ultimately reach zero, as authors give away work in hopes of gaining attention they can parley into paying opportunities.

2. Meanwhile where attention is scarce and at a premium, people will start charging others to generate it... The current rule that authors do not pay for publication and that money flows to the author will change to an entrepreneurial model where authors are expected to invest money to try to reach an audience...

3. Whatever the mechanism is for generating reader attention, it will be corrupted. This has happened on every author "display site," where "popular" books get that way through back-channel vote-trading and glad-handing...

And the fact that so many nominees for big awards are not bestsellers indicates that popularity isn't the best measure of quality.

And finally, so excited for the World Cup!!! I love the WC for many reasons, not least of which is the way English people refer to singular team names in the plural so you hear things like "England lose," which, by the way, is what will happen tomorrow. Ha! Take that, ROONEY.

Have a great weekend!


Ted Cross said...

Go USA! Beat England!

Ted Cross said...

I think I'm the only one awake right now...

Jeff Abbott said...

Rooney wanted you for his agent. Never mind.

Emily White said...

Wow. I actually got on the internet right after you posted, rather than hours later. I feel I should take advantage of this opportunity!

As far as the topic yesterday goes (and your further explanation here), I feel that the future is going to look great for readers, but not so much for the introvert writers out there. Of course, perhaps the days for the introvert are over already. It seems more and more demand is being put on us to get our names out there on our own. As an EXTREMELY shy person, I find this frightening.

And though that ipad looks pretty, I just can't get over the price tag. I think I'll wait a few years and buy a used one off of ebay. Maybe then it will be within my budget.

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


Jill said...

I just heard from my husband, on his way back from Las Vegas. He put $10 on the US to beat the pants off England.

$10 well spent!

Remilda Graystone said...

Thanks for the links, Nathan!

Whirlochre said...

England wear pants?

How come I've never seen those babies?

~Sia McKye~ said...

You have some great links here Nathan. I've been following the Wiley *story*. I saw that on Jobs and I thought it funny that main report on the whole Jobs announce ment at first was the outage rather than reporting the figures.

Thanks for the shout out too, btw.

Jen Sadler said...

My head is spinning! So much to read and think about on a Friday. Yikes!

Jill said...


I meant American pants, not British pants.

Though it would be amusing to watch the US beat the British pants off England.

And now I'm blushing.

Other Lisa said...

Hmm, well, in the film industry, they call net points "Monkey points." As in, anyone foolish enough to take net will never see a dime.

Patty Blount said...

Love the idea of the new page critique but can't get past the darn code... I hate those things. It's bad enough that they're wavy, but do they have to be grainy and blurry too?

abc said...

I wish my name was Wells Tower.

Claudie said...

I have to disagree with all of you. There is now way the US win against England. (And no, I'm not from the UK. I'm from Canada, but we all know -we- don't stand a chance.)

Please don't hate me Nathan. I still like monkeys. ;)

Anonymous said...

Laura (not Judith, as you state) Miller wrote this week's piece on young adult dystopian literature.

Nathan Bransford said...

Whoops! Thanks, anon.

Martin Willoughby said...

England may lose, but we will go down with our upper lips stiff.

VA said...

I generally lurk, but England lose? Nah. I'm a flag-waving American, but there ain't gonna be no Miracle on Turf.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Wow, I didn't interpret your post that way at all. I...uhh, guess I'm lucky?

That style sheet post blew my mind because I thought it was one of those things might have little control of, other than insisting that certain words be capitalized or whatnot.

Kelly Wittmann said...

Shocked about the Wiley thing; who to believe?

Elie said...

En-ger-land !

Lynne Connolly said...

You colonists are so quaint!
Big lols
And it's not Britain this time, it's England. Scotland, Ireland and Wales all have teams but they didn't make the final.
England like to make it difficult, so tomorrow start with a quick USA goal but we'll have to see. And watch Capello. He gets quite emotional.

You like the song?

Nathan Bransford said...


As "Gavin & Stacey" is my new favorite show, I will admit the fact that you have Smiffy singing for your side is quite powerful indeed.

Matthew Rush said...

Oh Nathan! If only I had known you cared I would have invited you to our bracket pool (Ted and Bryan (Ink) are both in it. I think Ted picked Germany, Bryan England and myself Italy; even though they generally only win every 12 years).

Anyway, nice to see you spotlight Tahereh (AKA TH Mafi) is she not the best, brightest, most talented young writer you know?

Okay maybe not (you know so many) but she is for me.

Kathryn said...

With hockey finishing up this week and all, I'm just not ready yet for another sport... still miss the sound of the puck dropping on the ice... sigh.

Enjoy the World Cup everyone!

Jen P said...

singular football, I had never noticed, now I can't read a football headline today without seeing it:

"South Korea face Greece."
"Cameroon secure Slovakia draw."

and of course,

"How England can beat the United States in their first group game."

Kristen Isbell said...

I learn so much from reading this blog! I still believe in what one of my friends calls 'the portable technology of a book' but I'm excited to be taking my first tentative steps into this world at such an exciting time.

And while I plan on using my website/Twitter/FaceBook/MySpace/Blog and whatever else I can to generate a buzz about my novel, I won't be self (e) publishing. Just a personal choice...

Oh, and as an American living in Ireland I find it ironic that Thierry Henry shouted about a 'handball' in last night's (boring) match against Uruguay. And I don't feel sorry for Rio Ferdinand at all...Ok, that's mean, but PLEASE do it US team.

Ishta Mercurio said...

For the writer of the future: how to find time to write and promote? I think this will result in less work of quality even from those capable of great quality, simply because self-published writers who are busy trying to self-promote instead of spending that time creating more great writing.

For the Canadian viewers: England vs. USA today at 2pm. My hubby is British, I'm American... This will be an interesting afternoon.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Whoops! I meant to say: "...simply because self-published writers who are busy trying to self-promote will have less time to spend creating more great writing."

So much for posting while I should be on my way to somewhere. said...

One effect authors are beginning to feel amidst the ever increasing number of self-pub'd ebooks catalogued at is the amazing difficulty in creating a title for a new work that is not already "taken."

I think I'm going to have to lleps some words backwards to have a any ecnahc at all.

D. G. Hudson said...

Tahereh's post was great to read first thing in the morning. A laugh is a good start. Nice to know we writers are in the company of other neurotics.

We're watching WC here in Canada -- two of us are pulling for England, but hubby says the series seems to bounce between South America and Europe, and it's South America's turn to take the title. So. . . Everyone here likes to talk soccer when WC is on, but I'm still loving baseball.

Thanks for the many links, Nathan.

Amanda Sablan said...

Thanks for the linkage! I especially liked the "style sheet" over at BookEnds. I never even thought of something like that.

Unique said...

Mr. Bransford,

I'm new this world of publishing. I just finished writing a fictional story, and now, I am confused to where I can find a good editor to do crucial revisions and editing before I seek literary agents.

Could you please tell me on how to find a good editor? Are there any good ones online? Or do I have to seek them locally in newspapers or college campuses.

I know your bombarded with questions from hopeful authors daily. Hopefully, my question can help others.


ryan field said...

"Mr. Steve Jobs announced that 5 million people have downloaded books onto their iPads,"

That's a lot of downloads!

Michael G-G said...

Although 1-1 is a draw, it appears the Americans are trumpeting it as a victory while we English view it as a defeat. Hence, this WC has started off in the W.C., perhaps better known in these parts as "the loo."

I blame the Jabulani which, at least for the goalie, is nothing to "rejoice" about.

Who are you picking for France v. Mexico, Mr. B.?

Em Spinner said...

What England now need(s)is Confidence. That what Ken Dodd's Dad's Dog's Dead says!

E. L. Psomiadis said...



WriterGirl said...

England lose. I never noticed that before!

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne R. Allen said...

The Rejectionist loves her some ROCK PAPER TIGER. Great review over at her site.

Mira said...
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Mira said...

Cool links, Nathan - thanks.

I like what you're saying about the future, and I agree with you! :)

Tahereh is very funny. I'm not sure I like that, because I try to be funny, too. I'm thinking of copywriting humor. Then I can sue people for being funny. This is such a good plan, it makes me happy. As a side benefit, it might make me rich, too, so it seems win-win, as far as I can tell.

I'm thrilled that Lisa's book is doing well!

I don't understand why no one writes Utopian books. Where are the Utopian books?

Great comment by Dan. I hope he's wrong on some points, though. I hope the internet will give authors more power in the situation than he is imagining.

And great advocacy by the Author's Guild. I didn't even know I had a guild, but I'm glad to see they are looking out for us - yay!

Okay, hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Marjorie said...

This is a terrific blog entry. Yes, Amazon now allows you to self-publish with them and to then sell your book at Amazon. You can also sell it at the Kindle Store.

So if you do not care about seeing your book on a shelf in a physical store... this seems to be an excellent option.

The days of rejections resulting in your project going nowhere seem to be over. There are options which are better than nothing.

Wasn't "Chicken Soup for the Soul" a self-published work?

Peter Dudley said...

Here's an item for your next TWIP. Breaking news about the next hottest trend.

barbarienne said...

And the fact that so many nominees for big awards are not bestsellers indicates that popularity isn't the best measure of quality.

-->Or perhaps it merely indicates that what is considered quality by awards panels is not the same as what is considered enjoyable by large numbers of readers.

Readers (collectively, not individually) are oddly perceptive. You can tout a book all you like, but it won't grow legs and start running if the readers don't agree. If they don't like it, they won't push it on their friends, and they certainly won't buy the author's next book.

I'm not worried about astroturfing books. It's hard enough to build a following with experienced, professional marketing departments behind a book. I don't expect amateurs to fool many (except, perhaps, naive authors who will pay them for their services).

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