This Week in Publishing 11/16/07

by | Nov 16, 2007 | Uncategorized | 26 comments

NEXT week in Publishing is Thanksgiving week, and in honor of the festivities I will be running a series of posts called “Thanksgiving Leftovers!”

Yes, these are just re-runs of old posts AND YOU’RE GOING TO LIKE IT.

Ahhh, nothing like a lot of yelling to make everyone know they’re around family. Pass the sweet potatoes.

Anyway, this week in publishing there was some really big publishing news. One story in particular. And if you think I’m touching it with a one million foot pole in this blog you’re crazy.

Ken Follett’s PILLARS OF THE EARTH was chosen as Oprah’s latest book club pick. MJ Rose, Jason Pinter and GalleyCat weigh in. My thoughts? Read it, loved it, bought the t-shirt.

Congratulations to Robert Hass, Sherman Alexie, Denis Johnson and Tim Weiner, YOU are this year’s National Book Award winners. Denis Johnson had his wife read a letter in lieu of an acceptance speech because he’s in Iraq on a writing assignment. Also Denis Johnson could totally take Chuck Norris.

Paperback Writer wrote a devastatingly awesome post on whether you are writing McNovel. You should get over there and McCheck it out before you send me a McQuery.

And finally, I don’t often fill you in on my correspondence with aspiring authors (and I don’t usually mess with aspiring authors), but I just couldn’t help it this time and I feel it is in the public good for me to share this because people saying they’re including a SASE in e-mailed queries has become shockingly common. (Author’s reply is adapted/fictitious/possibly pulled out of thin air. As far as you know.)

Author: …I have enclosed a SASE for your reply.
Nathan: Hey, I didn’t get the SASE in your e-mailed query. Could you send that to me?
Author: I don’t think it would work to include a SASE in an e-mail
Nathan: Exactly.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Anonymous

    You’re blog always makes me laugh.
    You have a quick wit, sir.


  2. Heidi

    You’re blogs are great for information, links, and a good laugh! I especially liked reading Paperback Writer’s McNovel blog, although I am apparently not writing a McNovel. I am, however, rethinking my ending to include a happily ever after that is monogamous and sans kids, so readers will think I am under 30 and hot!

    Have a great Thanksgiving, and as a new reader of yours, I look forward to your leftovers. After all, in the words of NBC, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s new to you!

  3. Mary

    What’s wrong with aspiring authors?

    I must hop back to my blog and quickly change the blurbage.

  4. amanda h

    Good to know that my mystery isn’t a Whodun McIt.

    Note to self: stuffing SASE into a little slot on the computer while querying really doesn’t work.

    Have a great Thanksgiving! Bring on the leftovers!

  5. getitwritten_guy

    I’m amazed – – I actually avoided writing a McNovel!!

  6. Jennifer L. Griffith

    Okay, on your last point….I know there’s a learning curve for submitting “stuff” but…

    Oh MY!!!

  7. The Bag of Health and Politics

    In theory, they could include on-line postage with their e-mail:

    I don’t technically know if that would make it a SASE or not. My guess is not because it’d require you to print out the postage and address on your own envelope, with your own printer. If somebody has tried that, then I guess they could try to use the term SASE.

  8. V L Smith

    I am pleased to say that I’m not writing a McNovel either, but I bet there are a lot of guys out there who wouldn’t mind being Bill Gates and having that harem of cheerleaders. Some would probably settle for just one cheerleader.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Nathan! Although, does it really seem like the holidays when it’s so warm? I guess it’s just the sacrifice you make for the job the you love, right?

  9. original bran fan

    I am not writing a McNovel, athough I might be writing a novel King. (And I dearly hope I’m not writing a novel-in-the-box, although I could possibly be writing a novel bell.)

    I feel for those who have written that they’ve enclosed a SASE in the e-mailed query because that’s the kind of doofus thing I’d do. Yanno, cut ‘n paste the body of the query and think you’re good to go, forgetting that the last one was snail mailed and this one isn’t…. I haven’t done this exact move but I could easily see myself doing something similar. D’oh!

    But happily, with an e-mailed query, I don’t have to figure out if it is “a” SASE or “an” SASE. That debate can go on for ages.

  10. Anonymous

    I thought your big publishing news was going to be about Christopher Hitchen’s infamous groping at the National Book Awards. Ew.

    I’d provide a link, but some people might not appreciate it.

  11. Lupina

    Nathan, Mcthanks for the link to McPaperback Writer’s sublime blog. I’m so grateful, in fact, that I’ve enclosed a pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving.

  12. Nathan Bransford


    I’m not touching the touching of Mr. Hitchens’ pole with a million foot pole.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  13. Kimber An

    No McNovels here.

    I do disagree with Number 6. I mean, come on, the Romance Genre is built on Happily Ever After and it’s the hottest selling genre there is.

    Besides, I believe in Happily Ever After because I’m living it. It’s a lot more work and UNselfishness in Real Life than in Fairytales, but it does happen.

    Of course, it never happens for people who don’t believe it’s possible in the first place.

  14. Miguelito

    Wait. I thought that our job was to write McNovels. Things that book stores can sell a lot of.

  15. Southern Writer

    McNovels is cute, and I appreciate the laugh, but let’s go back to that other story you aren’t going to comment on … is it just me, or does anyone else wonder why Judith Regan was having dinner with Rupert Murdoch on Valentine’s Day? Hmmmmmm

  16. L.C.McCabe


    Thanks for the link to the McNovel post. It reminded me a lot of a checklist to use to watch out for bad fanfic characters known as Mary Sues.

    If you aren’t familiar with that checklist yet, you’ll enjoy it even if you don’t understand the Potterverse:

    It gives a lot of potential red flags when it comes to characterizations that annoy the hell out of people.

    Oh, and come on, you don’t want to go on the record by saying that the Judith Regan lawsuit makes for great spectator sport?

    This case has everything:

    politics, the media, sex, violence, terrorism, money, Rupert Murdoch, intimidation, potential obstruction of justice, wrongful termination, character assassination, and O.J. Simpson.

    I’m tellin’ ya. It’s gonna be great just watching this story unfold layer after sordid layer. Day after day. Week after week.

    It truly is a case of truth being stranger than fiction.

    Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!


  17. Dave F.

    Have a good thanksgiving.
    Stuff your turkey and stuff yourself. Preferably in that order.

  18. Ello

    Oh come on! Give us a little of your famous wit on the Regan lawsuit! I know you are dying to express it!

  19. Luc2

    I did include an SASE, I swear. Your spamfilter must have blocked it. Thanks for your McRejection.

    One day, a dejected aspiring McAuthor will find a way to spread a virus on the computer of agents which will prompt an automatic request for a full with every incoming e-query.

  20. Isak

    When are they going to bring back the McRib?

    Seriously, human beings have been creative for over–what–fifty thousand years? How is it that we’re not going to end up with a McNovel situation thanks to a inundated, commercially-driven society?

    Now I’ve got yet another nagging voice to question my work’s worthiness, “Would you like fries with that?”

  21. Tom Burchfield

    Nathan, I shall eat your leftovers and throughly chew and enjoy every bite.

  22. Tom Burchfield

    Oh and point taken about “The Brothers McVampire.”

  23. Roxan

    I’m happy to say I’m not writing a McNovel. And much relieved.

  24. Vinnie Sorce

    I love Ken Follet! I can’t afford new books but he’s on my shelves from library sales and flea markets.

  25. Deanna Enos

    I just started reading this and have a book out that I self published by buying Martha Stewart stock when she went to jail. Sold it went she got out and made enough to cover cost at iUniverse. Book looks good and is selling, but I can’t do enough. Scholastic said, “I need an agent”. I wrote it because I was so concerned about the NCLB Act and what it is doing to our public schools. Check Google Deanna Enos Nobody Left Behind – One Child’s Story About Testing to see the passion I’ve put into this. Are you interested in knowing more about it?

  26. Deanna Enos

    I need to connect with someone with a quick wit. I’m currently witless. What is this NCLB Act doing to our public schools? Does anybody care? I’ve written Nobody Left Behind One Child’s Story About Testing. It’s been published by the fact that Martha Stewart went to jail and I bought her stock making enough cash to pay iUniverse to get this into print. Now Scholastic says I need an agent. Does this interest you?
    Kids need a VOICE. Now it’s just “Shut up and do your homework” everyday after school.


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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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