Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Week in Books 10/17/11

Last Week! Books!

So in case we need any reminding why I changed the name of the weekly roundup from This Week in Publishing to This Week in Books... well, you need only see that I missed some big publishing industry news from a few weeks back. One that involved my old agency no less. Publisher/distributor Perseus is creating a distribution and marketing service for authors who wish to self-publish, and is only available to authors who are with an agency that has signed on for the service. A premium self-publishing option, if you will. Janklow & Nesbitt and Curtis Brown Ltd. are reported to be close to signing.

Meanwhile, the NY Times had an article about the myriad ways Amazon is competing directly with publishers, including publishing 122 books this fall and apparently offering $800,000 for a memoir by Penny Marshall.

Speaking of which, Amazon is launching a science fiction and horror imprint. Oh, and don't look now, but library e-book checkouts are up 200% this year. Amazing how fast things are changing.

The National Book Awards finalists were announced, congrats to all the nominees!

And in writing and publishing links, Shrinking Violet Promotions had a post I read very carefully on what sells middle grade books, Rachelle Gardner had a post on what not to say in a query, and Natalie Whipple had a really terrific post on writing and hope, and how even though the path is hard, hope is never the problem: losing it is the problem.

Oh, and in technology news, you may have heard that Apple released iOS 5 for the iPhone and iPad. CNET (which, disclosure, is where I work) has a truly fantastic roundup of everything you need to know.

This week in the Forums, the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, discussing dialogue format, writing race in novels, and of course, NaNoWriMo approacheth! Who's doing it?

And finally, not quite sure why this elicited such apocalyptic reactions on the Internet, but behold... a 1-year-old who thinks a magazine is a broken iPad (via CNET).

Hope you had a great weekend!


Adam Heine said...

"...not quite sure why this elicited such apocalyptic reactions on the Internet..."

Ha! Maybe the internet is much older/less cool than it claims to be?

Seriously, my kids treat all cameras like digital ones (showing you the picture after they take it), put all small rectangular devices up to their ears, and try to use the TV as a touch screen. (I guess that last one means TV is a dead technology too, by apocalyptic logic.)

Though my kids also try to water-bend in the pool. So the sample set may be skewed.

Mr. D said...

Nice piece on hope.

Anonymous said...

"Publisher/distributor Perseus is creating a distribution and marketing service for authors who wish to self-publish, and is only available to authors who are with an agency that has signed on for the service. A premium self-publishing option, if you will. Janklow & Nesbitt and Curtis Brown Ltd. are reported to be close to signing."

It's almost funny the way "they" are still trying to maintain a hold on the "gatekeeper" theory. Good or bad, agree or disagree, authors don't need this anymore. And authors have empowered themselves and will continue to do so to the point, where I believe, agents will be hired according to author wishes and needs. Going to interesting to see how it all turns out.

Matthew MacNish said...

Clever title, Nathan! Now I'll read the whole thing.

Matthew MacNish said...

Thanks for the link to the CNET article, Nathan. I finally got iOS 5 after like 7 attempts.

Seriously Apple? A 700 MB download and I can't pause or drop the connection without starting all the way over?

Writerperson said...

Just finished A Visit with the Goon Squad this weekend. Definitely prescient with the "pointers" and the Baby Who Thinks Magazine Is Tablet.

Hiroko said...

Interested in this sci-fi imprint I am! What happens next will be interesting to see.

Anonymous said...

The great weekend has already been had!

Nathan Bransford said...

haha, thanks anon. Old habits die hard.

Marilyn Peake said...

I love that video of the little girl with the iPad! It’s amazing!

The Internet has been on fire this past weekend with discussions about Curtis Brown and Perseus getting involved with self-publishing. Successful self-published authors are wondering why an author would ever give up part of their royalty payments and the total control over their books they have as self-published authors in order to partner with traditional companies in a self-publishing venture. It would be different if they were being offered a traditional contract, as Amanda Hocking was, but to give up the perks of being self-published to simply self-publish through other companies seems a huge mistake.

Publishers seem very threatened by Amazon. This blog post by Kiana Davenport about her Big Six publisher going ballistic and taking action against her when she self-published work they had previously rejected, pulling her contract that she had with them for a different book and demanding her advance money back, has also been making the rounds on the Internet: SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: A CAUTIONARY TALE. There’s a lot in that blog post that’s just shocking, including the things that were said to her. And Kiana Davenport’s a very successful writer, no newbie to writing. She’s been a Bunting Fellow in Writing at Harvard University and recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts in Writing; her short stories have won numerous O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and Best American Short Story Award, 2000; and her novels and short stories have been translated into 21 languages. With that much talent, she ought to be receiving tremendous respect from any publisher hoping to keep her as one of their authors.

Nathan Bransford said...


I don't know the ins and outs, but if I had to guess I'd wager that what Perseus is offering goes above simply printing copies and putting things up for sale on Amazon and B&N, but rather involves actual distribution and promotion. Partering with an agency offers a level of quality control that Perseus can then turn around and sell to booksellers.

But again, that's just a guess on my part.

Marilyn Peake said...


If that's true, that could be a very valuable service; but, so far, there's no evidence that any of that's being offered. I'm waiting to see what happens and keeping an open mind, but after reading about what happened to Kiana Davenport, I'm not so sure that better deals can't be struck with Amazon's own imprints if an author reaches that level of success. I'm keeping an open mind, but it does seem like the big companies are feeling very threatened by Amazon, especially considering the things they said about Amazon to Kiana Davenport and her agent. It's all pretty fascinating to observe.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I'm interested in seeing how this Amazon thing plays out, and how credibly the books will be viewed. I wonder if at first, people will attach the same stigma to it that they do to self-publishing sometimes, since the company also offers that ability through the Kindle. Even if this is traditional publishing with advances and everything, I wonder how many readers will realize that and how well it will take off. I'm of the opinion that competition is good, and it'll be interesting to see how things play out.

Ebook circulation in libraries makes me so happy!

@Marilyn: Thanks for linking to Kiana Davenport's post--I would have never seen it otherwise and it's important to know about.

Michael said...

Nanowrimo is on my radar again this year. I participated in 2009 and finished my Steampunk adventure, Cannibal Island (recently signed with Musa Publishing on that and Lost in the Bayou).

I'm planning on using my Nano time this year to finish Rings of Time, which is the sequel to Cannibal Island.

I'm pleased that technology and ebooks have opened up the playing field to a lot more participants.

Mira said...

Cool!! Great links, Nathan - thanks!

That video is adorable! And I agree, I don't think there's cause for concern. A baby is wondering why one thing changes when touched and the other thing doesn't. Sort of like a mobile that turns in circles and one that doesn't. It's not EVALUATING one as good or bad, just checking it out. Probably good for brain development.

Great, vulnerable article by Natalie. That was an interesting post about MG fiction. I'd like to add one other factor, although I have no proof of this. I think series are attractive to that age group. Gives them a sense of confidence and long-term enjoyment. Even Harry Potter, which started out as MG, didn't catch on until around the third or fourth book. Of course, I could be wrong, just an intuitive guess.

Oooooo, I have an I-phone. I could get me some of that IO5 goodness. I think I'll wait though, for the bugs to be ironed out. I always find it's better to wait a few months, and get the patched version. Not that I think they'd EVER release anything that wasn't perfect, but just in case.

So, I haven't dug into the self-publishing/agent and Amazon things, yet, so I'll have to come back.

Fun round-up, Nathan, thanks!

D.G. Hudson said...

Kids always watch what others are doing, it's how they learn on their own (without being taught).

Have checked a couple of the links, the sci-fi/horror imprint at Amazon, and Rachelle's post.

No NanoWriMo for me. But it's a great way to blast off a novel, and see if you like the process of writing.

Sommer Leigh said...

Thanks for mentioning the Cybils thread, Nathan! Did you notice that Jacob Wonderbar has been nominated? I'm crossing my fingers and toes for its success!

Anonymous said...

It's great that you mentioned the Cybils, only problem is, you did so on October 17th, two days after the nominations closed.

Nathan Bransford said...


All the more reason to be a regular in the Forums!

And Sommer, so excited!

astrid said...

Not only one-year-olds... I swear I always look for the time in the bottom right corner of my piano music. ciao from italy, cat

Mira said...

Okay, so I read the self-publishing/Amazon links.

So, here's the thing. I adore Amazon. They are brilliant and fore-sighted and empower the writer.

And I love that they are competing with publishers, breaking up that monopoly.

But I don't trust Amazon, either!

Amazon is a corporation, and as grateful and loyal as I am to Amazon, I don't want to see them without competition. I don't trust them not to turn ruthlessness back on the author if they gain a monopoly.

So, if agents want to get into the game by offering a valuable package in exchange for commission, fine. Not that the current package is that valuable, but hopefully, that will change over time. Can't blame them for trying to survive, and good for them for thinking outside the box.

And not that they directly compete with Amazon, but they don't work for Amazon either.


And they may wake up traditional publishers who may put forth some effort to compete with Amazon.

The concern here: I think some indie adovocates are worried that agents and publishers will figure out how to bring the bottleneck back.

I share that concern, because the current generation of writers is trained to hand over their power.

Which is why the more options for writers, the better, the more new paths forged, the better, the more pioneers, the better.

There's a new generation coming up that will have a different culture, one that isn't trained to hand over their power.

In addition, there is always a factor here that tends to be ignored. In many ways, it's not what the group of authors choose to do, it's what the most talented authors choose to do. They have the most clout. And with talent, and recorded sales, tends to come confidence and self-empowerment.

So, I'm very optimistic about what lies in store for the author, and the world of books as a whole.

Anonymous said...

re: Cybils, hahah... the thanks I get for updating you on news like perseus' argo? ... life is short, the forums are beyond my keen, & I've grown weary of deleting of more CNET cookies

Brad said...

Quite a post, I'll have to check out the links. And anyone who is a parent of more than one kid wouldn't interpret their 1-year-old's behavior like that. All infants/toddlers do that with pictures: they pick, they scratch at the edges, they do all of that. Jobs didn't code that in their OS, evolution did.

Luke.S said...

As exciting as the self publishing announcement from Perseus is, I really think it is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the changes to come. Considering how integrated all forms of media are growing I would not be surprised if the lines between ebook, popalbums, blockbusters, and video games disappeared for good. Recent evidence of this is the ablum Bjork came out with recently. I would love to see literature find a mature way to grow out of strait publisher produced text.

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