This Week In Publishing 3/30/07

by | Mar 30, 2007 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

From my lips to Oprah’s ears, right? Right? No? SHOOT. In a rather shocking announcement, or at least as shocking an announcement as is possible in the book world, Oprah has chosen Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD (previously discussed on this blog) as her next book club pick. Cormac McCarthy!! The guy who does not give interviews, lives anonymously somewhere in the Southwest, and writes books that feature violence, cannibalism and horses, will soon be sitting on Oprah’s couch. I’m stunned. Next up for Oprah’s book club: JD Salinger, Bobby Fischer, Elvis Presley and Tupac Shakur.

In other, decidedly less shocking book news, newspapers have discovered that the whole end-of-the-world apocalyptic novel thing might be popular. The LA Times is all over this development, and cites the aforementioned THE ROAD as one of the examples that the apocalypse isn’t just for the Left Behind series anymore. Isn’t it refreshing to see that we’ve totally come to terms with dying in a horrific global catastrophe?

Also in LA Times news, the standalone book review section will soon get out of the Sunday issue’s car. Beginning on April 15th the book review section will merge with the Opinion section, and more book reviews will also be scattered throughout the rest of the newspaper. The LA Times, strangely, is not all over this development. Editor & Publisher is though, and you can find out more here.

Racing to fill the vacuum left by the retirement of PODymouth, there are two new blogs that will review self-published books: POD Critic and iUniverse Book Reviews. I salute these hardy souls and wish them godspeed on their quest for the holy grail. Watch out for the Knights of Ni.

Exciting news, authors now have a way to track their Amazon ranking! Not that anyone does that. Or knows the exact minute every hour their sales ranking will update. Or tracks it twenty four hours a day on separate computers to maintain accuracy. As linked to by Thomas Nelson CEO/Blogger Michael Hyatt, the website TitleZ does everything for you, including graphs and charts and records of your top and low ranking — better yet, you can even track your bitter rivals I mean fellow authors. Even more amazing, the TitleZ website has not yet crashed under the weight of thousands of authors frantically signing up. Oh, and the service is free. For now.

The Hugo Award nominees for Science Fiction have been announced, and best of luck to the nominees. The winners will be presented with a spaceship that will cause catastrophic global warming and wipe out the human race unless the winner can successfully use the ship to secure a base on a new planet that is guarded by homicidal plants, a super hot alien girl, and one very smart orangutan.

And finally, have you ever watched American Idol and thought to yourself, “You know, I really like this show except for all the singing?” I know I have! Well, we’re all in luck because in the UK they are going to start an American Idol for books. Yes, you’ve heard correctly, an American Idol for books. As reported by The Bookseller and Publisher’s Lunch, Simon Cowell’s brother is launching a show on Britain’s ITV in which aspiring authors will pitch their projects to the other Cowell, agent Ali Gunn, and an as yet to be determined bestselling author. The guy with the completely true memoir about his alien encounters will be the new Sanjaya.

Have a great weekend everyone!!


  1. Len

    Maybe it’s just one of those rumors–you never know–but I hear that we can next expect Thomas Pynchon to appear with Dr. Phil. He’ll also be appearing in an infomercial with Suzanne Somers pitching an exercise machine that uses a copy of Against the Day as a counterweight.

  2. Anonymous

    As reported by The Bookseller and Publisher’s Lunch, Simon Cowell’s brother is launching a show on Britain’s ITV in which aspiring authors will pitch their projects to the other Cowell, agent Ali Gunn, and an as yet to be determined bestselling author.

    As part of the pitch process they have to:

    1. face Bush Trucker Trials wherein they eat pages from well-known manuscripts;

    2. sing pop songs inspired by classic literature (Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights being the run-away favourite); and

    3. ice skate their favourite scene from literature, tutored by nation’s favourites Torvill & Dean;

    all for the benefit of the audience sitting at home who will telephone or text their support for the winning contestant, only for ITV to admit 6 months later that not all of the votes were registered and offer to give a chunk of cash to charity. The winner gets to spend an afternoon with Richard and Judy and a voucher for lulu.

    I weep for my country.

    – Britbeat

  3. Annalee

    American Writer? But more like English Writer, I guess. I don’t know, it has the potential to be either pretty cool or tremendously stupid, and it’s hard to say which. Kind of like Project Runway, which to those of us in the sewing world manages to be both at the very same time.

  4. Liz

    Actually had readers at the book sale I worked today for our library state they’d never read a book Oprah picked…hmmmmmm. Backlash maybe?

    Any thoughts on which bestselling author will help judge the Brit Book Idol contest? Would this help or hinder your career? Is there a Paula Abdul of the book world?

  5. Nathan Bransford


    Here’s what Publishers Lunch had to say about who the author will be: “Aspiring authors will pitch themselves to Cowell, agent Ali Gunn, and a “bestselling author” whose slot will be purchased by a “publishing partner.”

    It sounds like the author slot is going to be paid for by someone.

  6. Christopher M. Park

    Wow, this ITV show thing sounds like a horrible, horrible, idea. I mean, I’m not a fan of American Idol either, or any of those other talent search shows, but they always seemed more distant since I can’t sing or figure skate or whatever. Next we’ll have Top Coder, Best Welder, American Fax Legends. Bleh.


  7. Lisa

    The fun thing about Idol (and I freely admit that it’s a guilty pleasure now that I’ve gotten my husband hooked – mwahaha), is that anyone can belt out a tune in the shower (or wherever). That makes us instant critics.

    For example, my dog sings better than me, yet I routinely say things like “argh, he’s ahead of the beat” or “man, she’s pitchy tonight.”

    You can’t do that with books. Not everyone reads, and many of those who do can’t tell why they like or don’t like a book.

  8. Laurel Amberdine

    Hahaha, Chris. “Best Welder” sounds kind of fun.

    My writing group hosts an Idol-type competition, but (1) it’s short stories and (2) it’s hosted on a web forum in text.

    I can’t imagine how you judge an author through a TV show. I suspect whoever is hottest looking or has the coolest personality will win.

  9. sex scenes at starbucks

    American Fax Legends. *Snicker*

    Gee, you sure are in the know, Nathan. Very impressive.

  10. A Paperback Writer

    You’ve inspired me. Scenes I want to try ice skating: selections from Dante’s Inferno, the murder of Duncan from Macbeth, and the fight with the giant squid from 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.
    Or maybe I could talk the judges into allowing modern dance instead….
    Oh wait. Shoot. I’m from across the pond. Guess I can’t compete. Dangit.

  11. Dave

    I want to see Oprah interview Biggie Smalls.

    (gimme a break, guys. It’ll make a notorious interview)



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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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