Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Week in Books 8/26/11

This! Week! BOOKS.

Wow. I'm actually on time with This Week in Books. Who still doesn't believe in miracles??

First up, JACOB WONDERBAR cupcakes!! With recipe!! Yum, people. Yum:

On to the links!

There was rather large news in publishing this week as self-published superstar John Locke inked a deal with Simon and Schuster. FOR PRINT ONLY. As in, the deal the publishers had said would never happen. Only it's most definitely happening. Industry sage Mike Shatzkin says we can expect to see this type of deal again, and in characteristically understated fashion, J.A. Konrath says that the End is Nigh for traditional publishing.

My opinion: this is definitely a big deal. If publishers can't offer enough value to make self-published authors want them to publish and distribute their e-books you obviously have to wonder what value publishers are going to offer already-established authors in a world that is primarily e-books. I don't think it's the end of traditional publishing is here by any stretch and let's not forget this is still a print world, but more deals like this could at minimum prompt some traditional publisher soul-searching. (NOTE: Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, which is the parent company of my employer. The opinions expressed herein are purely my own.)

In children's book news, The Rejectionist had a great response to Robert Lipsyte's It's the End of Books for Boys as We Know It article from the New York Times, and Le R's title says it all: Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope of Someone Saying Something Intelligent?

Pardon me while I have a Tumblr moment, but every time I hear someone say there aren't any good books for boys anymore (or, as Lipsyte suggests, that books set in space are by nature appealing to the lowest common denominator) I'm all:

And then I'm all:

And then I go:

And finally I'm all...

Ahem. Also, credit where due, everything I know about Tumblr I learned from Tahereh, who owns Tumblr. Also gifs.

Happy 50th birthday to Walker Percy's classic THE MOVIEGOER! The Millions had a great tribute.

And there is a huge amount of hype this week around Erin Morgenstern's debut THE NIGHT CIRCUS, which actually had its start as a NaNoWriMo novel.

Oh, and apparently guys prefer tablets and women prefer e-readers.

This week in the Forums, how important are blurbs, a campaign to help authors build their platforms, your top 10 all time favorite books, asking for encouragement getting through the really difficult middle, how to be friends with a writer, and is it a series or is it one fat novel? 

Comment! of! the! Week! goes to Mira, who, on Tuesday's post on the unreality of overnight successes, expresses a sentiment that you don't see enough of on the Internet: Compassion for the successful:
I guess I want to add that I agree with Susan Quinn. We don't really know what impact her success had on Stephanie Meyers. I'm not sure I'd trade places with her. Yes, Meyers earned money and admiration from scores of fans, but she was also widely critiqued, held up as an example of poor literature and Stephen King came right out and said she was a bad writer. Who knows what kind of pressure is on her for her next book. And will her books have any lasting value, or will they fade away, and who knows how that will impact her.
It's very hard to really know what someone else is going through just from the outside. What may look like a blessing can still hold some difficult challenges.
I've found, when I'm really on my path, there's a feeling of righness that comes to me. This is where I should be, and this is what I'm supposed to be learning and doing.
Amanda Hocking actually had a great post on compassion too yesterday.

And finally, one last gif for the road.

Have a great weekend!

Oh, and in all seriousness, be safe this weekend, East Coasters. I'll be thinking about you.


Anonymous said...

Lol lol lol lol !!!

Chris Phillips said...

Those Cupcakes looks amazing!

Fadzlishah Johanabas said...

I love this week's post!

And of course guys prefer tablets. We can play games. It's a given.

Simon Haynes said...

In other news, Garth Nix just self-published a collection of three stories on Amazon.

Lol at the photos. You have too much time on your hands ;-)

Ann M said...

I have a relative who works in the English department at a high school and she says that there's a sense of "looking down" on the sci-fi class - that it's not real literature (she doesn't feel this way, of course).

I don't know why it's considered "lesser" than other books. To me, I think sci-fi can present some of the most fascinating plots and most interesting characters - and some of the greatest ruminations. In a way, isn't the best sci-fi the kind that makes us analyze ourselves? Reflections of what we are or what we could become - for better or worse? Yes, I think there has to be a level of relatability and reality, but that's the case in any story - even if it's about "real life."

I love your photo reactions - I feel the same way :)

(and - yummy cupcakes!!!)

MMRule said...

Thanks for including the cupcake recipe! :) The Pop Rocks really make it great!

Mr. D said...

I still prefer print!

robinC said...

This Week in Books AND a cupcake recipe. YAY!

Elle Strauss said...

That truly is an awesome looking cupcake.

Stephanie {Luxe Boulevard} said...

Oh, golly, you are too much sometimes. The videos alone are so worth the news!

I also read this week that the market for contemporary novels is STILL low. Such a bummer to hear. Sorry to say, but I'm a bit fantasied/paranormaled out. When will the industry catch up and move on?

Anna said...

Eric from True Blood in Zoolander! Count me in for a WIN.

Anonymous said...

A great thing about back lit e-readers: when the lights go out in a hurricane, which they always do, those who've made the digital switch and will never go back to print can read all the way through the storm.

D.G. Hudson said...

Nice looking cupcakes - I'm sure they'll be a hit with spacer boys and girls. I guess that's loyalty, when a fan creates a custom food item in honour of a book they liked. Way to inspire, Nathan.

Also, that LCD idea about boys and space obviously shows that the writer is not a fan of science fiction and therefore has no sense of imagination.

What about girls reading space stories?? That would have been me at that age. It's easy for someone to disparage what they don't understand or appreciate. But after all, it's only one person's opinion... Some people never have flights of the imagination, too bad.

Have a great weekend!

Chuck H. said...

I learned to read at five. I read my first sci-fi at seven. That was my entry into the wonderful world of books. I am now 65 and I read and enjoy every genre. If you want a kid to read, give him/her something they will enjoy. They will branch out later. It works for adults with literacy problems, too. I heard or one program for adult males in which the students were given pornography to practice reading. Later, they branched out into more mainstream literature. Readers will read and they will grow and learn. You just have to get them started.

Chuck H. said...

By the way, I am DEFINITELY NOT advocating the use of pornography to get children to read. But with some adults, it works.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for the shout out, Mira! (and Nathan) And this I love: I've found, when I'm really on my path, there's a feeling of righness that comes to me. So wise. :)

Wishing you all the success that's right for you! :)

Jenn said...

I love Mira's comment and perspective. So true. I got a major publishing contract at a very young age, and the pressure that came with the hype was enormous, actually derailing my career and my confidence in my own writing for quite a while. Not quite a case of "Be careful what you wish for," but definitely a reminder to avoid idealizing successful debuts.

Sierra McConnell said...


And boy books? But most of my characters are boys!

Oh...wait...they're usually reaaally close and though written with a sense of adventure, I'm sure it's not entirely for boys. Unless it's /that/ kind of boy. [wide grin]

Sommer Leigh said...

The boys don't read thing has had me in a fit all week, waffling back and forth because I once made a big rant about what a poor decision it was to slap a bright pink cover on Natalie Staniford's How to Say Goodbye in Robot because it was one of the best books to cross and close the gender divide but it was ruined because most high school boys wouldn't be caught dead carrying around a bright pink book.

On the other hand, it is so apparent that the writer does not know the current library of popular and awesome YA books being published or he'd never have said anything in the first place.

My husband has his seniors do silent sustained reading most days for about 15 minutes. They get to read anything they want and there is no assignment or homework attached to the reading - it is for pure pleasure. He has built a huge in-class library for kids allergic to the actual school library to pick from. The only hesitation from the boys are from those who tend to sleep through class anyway and has nothing to do with actual reading.

Right now there's a waiting list of boys in his classes waiting to check out the first book in The Ranger's Apprentice series and Matt de la Pena is a very popular author amongst his hispanic students.

Here's something else: my husband has found that boys who have never been directly encouraged to read for fun don't really understand what that means. For example, this week he had a boy tell him he didn't really like to read. My husband, ever the book optimist, said, "well there must be something you're interested in that you could read about." And the kid pulls a book out of his backpack and says, "I like baseball and I got this book on the history of baseball but you won't let me read that."
And my husband, confused, asked why he thought he wouldn't be allowed to read it, the kid answered, "Because it's not like, you know, one of them long boring books we have to read for class. It's just about baseball."

After my husband explained to his class that reading isn't limited to classic literature you study in class, that it's about reading anything you are interested in, other boys started bringing in books about cars, sports, and a lot of non-fiction about gangs and memoirs of gang members after they left that life behind.

Sorry about the long comment! I've just had it on my mind all week. Thanks for the links!!

Cathy Yardley said...

LOL on your Tumblr moment! (Love Tahereh's Tumblr account, as well, and this was very reminiscent!) All this, and cupcakes too... fantastic. :)

Darley said...

I'm liking the visuals in this post. And are you sending those cupcakes out to reviewers?

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Tahereh seriously does own both Tumblr and GIF-filled posts.

Livia said...

"in characteristically understated fashion" haha...

And love the cupcakes!

D.G. Hudson said...

Congrats, Mira on Comment of the Week!

I might be able to dredge up a little Sympathy for the Successful, at least I'll try.

It's kind of like hoping The Rothchilds have a great day.

Mina Burrows said...

This post made my day. Love Tumblr & those cupcakes!

ed miracle said...

Nathan, I think one should believe, as I do, in every miracle he meets.

abc said...

I could watch and giggle at gifs all day. Especially that Zoolander one.

Mira = awesome!

cupcakes = awesome!

I don't have a penis or a tablet (or an e reader) but I'm going out on a limb and assuming that I would way way way prefer a tablet. I love me some Angry Birds.

Sheila JG said...

Those look like mighty tasty cupcakes!

I read Lipsyte's article, grrrr. I really enjoyed this rebuttal:

J. T. Shea said...

E-books' missing dimension! Taste! If those cupcakes were printed I could at least lick the paper. Licking the computer screen just isn't the same. Even a touch screen. Flavored ink and paper! The next big thing! You heard about it first here!

Wow! Sounds like publishers are, like, COMPETING with each other! How strange.

Those pulsating people pics are compulsive (and alliterative) but who am I to look a GIF horse in the mouth?

Congratulations to Mira for her typically thoughtful comment of the week!

Anonymous 8:30 am, that depends on the relative longevity of the storm versus the backlit e-reader's battery.

Good point, Chuck H. I know several people put off reading for years by school. That adult male literacy program sounds interesting. Do I have to be illiterate to join?

Thanks to Nathan and all commenters!

Anne R. Allen said...

Book cupcakes. Awesome. If we still had book tours (I've written about their demise this week) book-themed cupcakes might become a required booksigning accompaniment.

All this an Oprah eye-roll, too.

Other Lisa said...

I think the thing about a dedicated E-reader is that it more closely approximates reading a book -- no distractions. Reading a book on an iPad is more like...reading a book on my Mac Air -- I'd constantly be checking my email, surfing the web, etc. I prefer having something where it's me and my book and that's it.

Like, you know, a book.

Mira said...

Wow, comment of the week?! Thanks so much, Nathan and others for liking my comment. That is really validating for me, not only as a blog member, but a writer - so thank you! It's very meaningful to me.

And Susan, I so often resonate with what you say, and I wish you the perfect success for your path too! :)

This looks like an amazing assortment of links - and so much fun with Tumblr - and Glee (!!). You outdid yourself, Nathan, in spades! So I'll have to come back and comment on the links.

For some odd reason, I'm craving a cupcake....with rocketship very strange...

Marjory B said...

I am very sad to say I will probably unsubscribe from this blog, which I have found remarkably useful and helpful. It is rich with cogent information about the industry.

But the tireless self promotion has become so off-putting that I can no longer bear to read the blog. It is actually turning my stomach.

Good luck, Nathan. Thanks for all you have done. I do appreciate it.

Nathan Bransford said...

Who knew that Jacob Wonderbar cupcakes would prove divisive.

Megan said...

I actually just signed up for Rachael Harrie's Campaign a few hours ago. It's an awesome way to get yourself out there and stop writing blogs that nobody ever, ever reads.


Oh and the cupcakes are amazing! Too bad I burn things to death when I try to cook...


TeresaR said...

You can't possibly put cupcakes at the beginning of a blog post and expect me to read any further... !

Lisa Shafer said...

Promotional cupcakes. Nice touch. Hey, why hand out bookmarks when you can hand out food based on your book?
I like it. :)

Ebony McKenna. said...

Those gifs made me blink a few times.

But what also made me blink more was the publishing news. It really is fascinating to see where all this is going. I don't have the answers, but wow, it's amazing to watch.

Mira said...

Marjory B. - I understand your concern. I sometimes think blogs work better working with the principle of attraction, rather than promotion, for the very reaction that you represent.

On the other hand, just my opinion, but I think you're over-representing it abit. Nathan is promoting, but it's not heavy handed.

I just think that social media is Nathan's forte and his profession, and it totally makes sense that he is experimenting here. I'm using it in part as a learning tool, for when I promote. I may steal some ideas from him. I like the cupcake promotion very much, since it's applied with a light hand and with humor.

So, I hope you'll give Nathan abit of leeway to experiment with this and try various things. You can't fault him for wanting people to read his book, or for using his blog to experiment. It doesn't lessen the value of what he offers - you can always skip over the cupcake stuff if you don't like chocolatey goodness. :)

So, that was alot, and I'll hold off on the links, other than to say, I would totally consider signing with a publisher for my non-existent book if they offered was print only. And I got a reasonable royalty rate and creative control. Just saying. In case that might tip the scales one way or another. I'm not really sure which way, frankly.

And the post by the Rejectionist, as always, was witty and intelligent and on point.

Looking forward to another week of great stuff here at this here blog. Thanks very much, Nathan!

Marilyn Peake said...

Awesome-looking cupcakes. I'm so happy for John Locke! And congratulations to Mira for Comment of the Week!

Momma Elkins said...

I have to agree with compassion for the famous. I have such an anxiety attack when someone reads my work for the first time. I have yet to develop the thick skin that allows me to dismiss the comments of anyone who has an opinion. I can't imagine the full force trauma I would be inviting if actual critics picked my books apart.

Unfortunately, I have a comment for just about everything you said on this so here are the bullets:

• Why is Sci-fi considered a lesser form of literature when there are so many fantasy books out? Personally if I have to see another vampire book, it will be too soon.
• I prefer print work to e-readers but I am getting old and out dated myself.
• Why do books have to be considered gender specific? A good book is a good book and if it entertains a child enough that they actually read it, well by golly it’s a GREAT book!
• Finally, you are awesome and I love your blog, it’s the only one I really follow. 

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