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.
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!