Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This Week in Books 5/19/11

Books! This week! A little early!

I have some friends coming to town so This Week in Books is getting an early jump on the weekend. You and I may have to work on Friday and all but we can PRETEND it's the weekend, right? No? Not really?

First up, the book that seemingly everyone is talking about... isn't even out yet. Yes, the adult picture book GO THE F**K TO SLEEP is already #1 on Amazon and it still doesn't come out for another month. Dang it, I KNEW I should have titled my book JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE @%^@$ SPACE KAPOW.

More e-reader news as Barnes & Noble looks set to release a new version of the Nook next week. This would be an update to the e-ink version rather than a new version of the Nook Color. According to my CNET colleague David Carnoy, rumor has it an e-ink touchscreen may be involved, a la the Sony Reader.

Socialfish had an interesting infographic on the death of print, which had me completely shocked. Only 31% of Americans subscribed to a newspaper in 1940?? Really?? For all the talk of plummeting newspaper print sales, I didn't realize they were starting from such a low ledge.

There were some great agent posts this week. Jenn Laughran tackled perhaps the #1 question asked question: What are the average word counts of X children's book age group? From now on I'm sending everyone to Jenn's post. As she says, remember those word counts are guidelines, not laws.

Agent Jenny Bent is starting a new series on how her clients found their agents and/or their book deal. Always great to hear the success stories.

And my former colleague Sarah LaPolla has a really awesome post that looks back on the history of YA as a genre.

Meanwhile, over at Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss takes a look at the new trend of agent-as-publisher.

And congrats to Philip Roth for winning the biennial Man Booker International Prize, which actually had one judge resigning in protest, saying, "I don't rate him as a writer at all." (via The Millions)

This week in the Forums, what we were doing while Blogger was down, writing sex scenes, what do you do with your drafts,  and a hilarious Tumblr that pairs book quotes with TV shows: Slaughterhouse 90210.

Comment! of! the! Week! goes to Richard Gibson regarding traditional publishing, self-publishing and control. He has a different take on why he enjoys the self-publishing process:

For me there were many reasons to go with print-on-demand beyond control. I liked being able to design my own cover, page layout, everything, but I certainly didn't have to. And was happy to make many revisions based on comments from reviewers.

The niche market (as pointed out by the agents who liked it but worried about sales) was probably the main factor, together with speed to press (one month vs 2+ years) and confidence in enough sales to recoup the small investment (vs a likely small advance, if I got to that point) were more driving factors.

Once I had a POD publisher I trusted everything chugged along incredibly smoothly. Since I'm also comfortable with marketing (and expected I'd have to do pretty much the same if it had been traditionally published), I'm right where I want to be.

I'd say "control" was more a matter of my enjoying the aspects that a traditional publisher might control, rather than being unwilling to give them up, and it was low on the list of reasons for going with POD.

And finally, this is basically the most mesmerizing thing ever:

Have a great weekend!


Laurel said...

Is there some sort of hypnotic suggestion to buy Jacob Wonderbar imbedded in that video? Because that would be genius.

Barbara Kloss said...

31% back in the 40s? Had no idea. I guess things aren't as grim as they would appear...

Have a great weekend with your friends!
And I laughed at the Wonderbar alternative title. Haha!

Mr. D said...

"Go the F___ to Sleep?"

It's amazing how so many people seem to get turned on by foul language. Lenny Bruce was the first one to capitalize on that. (And he paid the price for it.)

Ishta Mercurio said...

Great links! I love that pendulum vid, although if I actually had something on my desk like that, I'd never get anything done.

Re: only 31% of Americans subscribing to newspapers in 1940: if that figure is Americans, and not households, it makes sense. Take out all the kids, all the households that were struggling to feed their families and didn't have the money for a newspaper subscription, and you end up with a figure around there.

Someone read "Go the F*ck to Sleep" to a group of us at a writers' retreat last weekend. It's right on the money, and we all got a few good laughs out of it, but I'm surprised at the high numbers. Plus, every time I'm tempted to write something like that I think, "but how could this affect my career?" :-P

abc said...

Mr. D: I certainly get turned on by foul language. Which is why I love The Wire. and Louie. And getting drunk. (kidding. kind of of. Not really).

That video makes me feel joyful!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Go the **** to sleep is the result of someone realizing that the man who did The Seven Words You Can't say on TV grew up to become Mr. Conductor.

Viola! Cursing and kids go together like PB&J.


Anonymous said...

Well, Sh*& My Dad Says is a big hit, too. I think it's that momentary shock that gives the humor.

Paul said...

Nathan -- I always enjoy your blog. Just thought I'd alert you to paragraph 4 of Chapter 14 in Jacob Wonderbar. In the event you haven't caught it, and after reading it a few times, I think a name is incorrect. Hopefully I'm wrong!

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks, Paul! Yeah, that one was caught a little late. It will be corrected in future editions.

D.G. Hudson said...

I like the original name of Jacob Wonderbar better; shock value dies an early death. (we're getting so jaded)

When getting in the face of readers is the target, foul language is used as a hook. There are many interpretations of 'funny', and humour like everything else is subjective. I always think "gimmick" when I see titles like that. Couldn't they come up with anything better?

The Writer Beware article is interesting, and will be something we writers will have to keep abreast of as options increase.

Have a great weekend, Nathan!

eplafrance said...

Nat, always enjoy your post. In recent pre-net years the stat regarding NP readership only applied to subscribers...not the multitudes who read in libraries or copies which are purchased over-counter & circulated in the work place.

Richard Gibson said...

Wo - at first I thought some other Richard Gibson was selected for comment of the week... Thanks!

Mr. D said...


Well then maybe you'd like Lenny Bruce, too.

Mira said...

Oh, cool links. Thank you, Nathan.

Good for you, Nathan. I'd bet the last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic, with your book release and creating a monumentous blog directory and other things, like a job and stuff, so I'm glad you're going to have some fun times with friends. I personally think the best thing to do when friends come to visit is for us all to take a long nap. Tourist stuff is over rated. They can look at pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. But a nice long luxiourious nap? Ahhh. Heaven.

So, I checked out the link for Go the F to sleep, and that looks hilarious. I totally see the appeal. There's comraderie for young parents to vent their socially unacceptable but completely understandable hostility toward their younglings because they just won't go to sleep and give their exhausted parents a break, for crying out loud. Ha!

That's so interesting that some of the agencies in the UK are considering becoming publishers and the ethical issues that raises. Times are changing quickly and that brings up new challenges. I'm not sure where I stand on that - seems complicated.

The video is mesmerizing, and very beautiful.

I wish today really was Friday! But it was fun to imagine for a moment.

Mira said...

Oh, and good comment by Richard, too.

Bryce Daniels said...

Thanks for the links, Nathan!

Especially encouraging to read the success stories. Of course, then you throw in a video that reminds me of all the balls I'm constantly juggling, trying to work a full-time job while getting this writing thing into gear.

All donations of spare hours are gladly accepted at the Bryce Daniels Preservation Society.

Doug said...

Not speaking from any personal knowledge...

I'm surprised that the newspaper subscription rate was as high as 31% back in 1940. It was the tail end of the Depression and radio had become a major news source [link is PDF] with more immediacy and lower cost. If there was any really "hot" news, the papers would put out an Extra edition which you could buy on the street to get the news that wouldn't have been in the subscription edition.

Matthew MacNish said...

Watching that on my 2001 iMac desktop makes it even cooler. It's like stop motion photography. Enjoy your visitors, Nathan!

CMSmith said...

Thanks for posting Richard Gibson's comments on self-publishing. As an aspiring indie, I found them inspirational.

Neil Larkins said...

C'mon, Nathan, get a #%^@#ing grip! In 1940 and for many years thereafter, I would guess that easily 80-plus percent of people who could read looked at or bought a daily newspaper, if for nothing else to see what grief Mr. Dithers was giving to Dagwood or what Moon Mullens was doing. The key word here is "subscribe." With newspapers being hawked on every other street corner, newsstands all over, as well as being available in hotel lobbies, drugstores, and through vending machines, etc. being a subscriber was just a further convenience added to what was already conveniently available. Don't think this was an apt comparison to what is happening today in the print industry.

Rebecca Burke said...

Thanks for the enlightening links, Nathan.

Here's one for you, from the British Guardian Th. May 19, '11:

It describes the insane growth of ebooks in the UK after their relatively recent introduction. The numbers will amaze, frighten, or inspire you, depending on your position on ebooks! As a new indie author, I am lovin' it, heh.

The English Teacher said...

About the Slaughterhouse 90210 website:
Wow. This is the first time I've ever actually felt left out of something because I gave up TV almost 30 years ago. I recognized precisely 4 of the shows pictured from last February on and got exactly one of the jokes. Yup. One.
Still, if this is my only regret about not watching TV for the last 3 decades, I guess I'm doing pretty well after all.

chris said...

Introducing the hypnotic Genki Sudo:

Rebecca Kiel said...

I am not really sure yet how I feel about agent as publisher. My first thought was "conflict of interest". But as I spend more time thinking it through, would an agent be spreading himself thin? Agents agent as their business, so would they really want to spend time on something that isn't going to sell? Perhaps it comes down to the particular agent. I'm sure there are many who are more than qualified to handle both roles. For now, I think I'll just get back to writing and see what happens!

wry wryter said...

Ain’t physics grand.

Anonymous said...

Good links!!

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