This Week in Publishing 7/31/09

by | Jul 31, 2009 | Uncategorized | 76 comments

Thanks again to everyone who entered the second Guest Blog Challenge! This was just as difficult to judge as the first contest, and there were many incredible entries. But there could be only five.

They are:

Monday: Carly Wells
Tuesday: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Wednesday: Regina Milton
Thursday: Peter Cooper
Friday: Rick Daley

You will be in great hands next week. Congratulations to the winners!

Meanwhile, in the publishing this week:

Speaking of cover art, in the comments section yesterday reader EJ Lange posted a link to an article about an ongoing cover issue: two new releases with almost identical jackets.

More digital ink is being devoted to the Kindle this week and there’s a wide range of opinion. In the skeptic camp, reader Scott Spem was the first to point me to an as-you’d-expect review of the Kindle in the New Yorker by Nicholson Baker: there’s plenty of sneering (a sample passage: “The problem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a greenish, sickly gray. A postmortem gray. The resizable typeface, Monotype Caecilia, appeared as a darker gray. Dark gray on paler greenish gray was the palette of the Amazon Kindle.”), but despite all that he almost brings himself to liking it in the end.

Meanwhile, in the “Holy crap I love this” camp is blog reader/commenter T. Anne who posted her own review this week, called, appropriately, Confessions of a Kindleholic.

In still-more-fallout from the whole Amazon/Orwell thing, the LA Times has an ominous Op-Ed called “Amazon’s Troubling Reach,” which includes this whopper: “[I]t’s not the incidents themselves but their ramifications that are disturbing, the idea that Amazon can effectively alter the collective memory at will.” Wow. I was going to make a point about this BUT AMAZON ERASED MY MEMORY. RUN!! RUN!!!!! SOMEWHERE! I FORGET WHERE!!

Meanwhile, GalleyCat spotted a journalist who is not terrified of the Kindle and all The Dire Implications it represents! In fact, Paul Carr suggests that Amazon shouldn’t apologize for the Orwell Incident. He writes: “In the past, once illegal copies were in people’s possession, there was little the copyright owner could do about it. Now, thanks to technology there is. Now, thanks to ebooks and the Kindle and Whispernet, the rights of authors – and their reward for spending their lives creating ideas and entertainment that benefit the world – can be protected and actively enforced.”

Meanwhile in still more e-book news, the NY Times detailed how DRM opponents are using the Orwell Incident to advance the non-DRM cause, while Mike Shatzkin, incredibly presciently as always, notes that in the future the DRM debate is kind of beside the point. In our Cloud future, where our content is stored centrally and we access it via our multiple devices, DRM will be the method by which that works.

To further illustrate Shatzkin’s point, I now read books on both my Kindle and iPhone. And the books sync between the devices. As in, after I read 20 pages on my iPhone the next time I sync my Kindle the same book will already be turned to the page I left off on. Let me just say that this shows that DRM… um… hmm… what was I going to say again? CURSED AMAZON!! LEAVE MY MEMORY ALONE!

Meanwhile, more news about the coming Apple Tablet, which will surely not be collective-memory-erasing because journalists love Apple like Flavor Flav loves clocks.

Whew! I swear some things happened that were not Kindle related.

Over at Pimp My Novel is a terrific discussion of Comp Titles, those magical books that are similar but not too similar to yours and by which publishers establish expectations for your book. Basically you hope your book is compared to good ones.

Neil Vogler pointed me to a very interesting post by an author who made the very difficult decision to leave her publisher.

In agent news, Jennifer Jackson has a great comparison for all that manuscript reading and conference-attending agents do for non-clients: not our job per se, but more like research and development.

Fitzgerald and Hemingway are two of my favorite writers, and they had a fascinatingly complex relationship. In a review of the forthcoming book FITZGERALD & HEMINGWAY: WORK AND DAYS, Matthew Shaer notes how Fitzgerald helped Hemingway get published, but later in life Hemingway increasingly felt Fitzgerald was soft and squandering his talent, comparing him to a wounded butterfly.

And finally, I love me some Disneyland, and thanks to the wonders of YouTube I give you… fascinating time-lapse footage of its construction (via Curbed SF via WhitScott):

Have a great weekend!


  1. Helena Halme

    How interesting about Fitzgerald and Hemingway. I read him first as a teenager in a translation to Finnish, must reread some in English now. Relationships between great writers facinate me, it makes them seem almost human. Great post, thanks. I'm fairly new to your blog.

  2. DebraLSchubert

    Congrats to the winners! Can't wait to read the posts.;-)

  3. Bane of Anubis

    Hemingway, kick a brother while he's down, why don't ya? Like the TO of early 20th century literature.

    Congrats to the Bransfordite guesties…

    Amazon, keep up the good work.

  4. T. Anne

    Thanx for the link to my review Nathan! That has brought 'awesomeness' to my entire day… aw heck… the weekend too 🙂

  5. Douglas Brown

    Congrats to the winners. I look forward to reading them.

  6. Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist!

    regarding Kindle, some high school kid is sueing (suing?) Amazon for deleting Orwell's1984, because he claimed he saved e-notes on that version for his upcoming exam or something.

    I wonder how it's gonna play out.

  7. Nathan Bransford

    What's interesting about the suit is that his notes weren't actually deleted. He just lost the underlying work that the notes point to. Without the underlying work some/most of these notes probably don't make sense.

    I'm not a lawyer, but it seems kind of important that he didn't actually have any of his own writing deleted. I'll be curious to see what happens.

  8. Bane of Anubis

    Seems questionable/shady, if you ask me, but given our litigious nature, I'm not surprised (I would go on a political rant here, but I'm trying very hard to stay on topic 🙂

  9. Nathan Bransford


    I know it's not QUITE the same thing but it makes me wonder if I can sue Microsoft for all the times my computer crashed in college and I lost the paper I had been working on.

  10. Stephanie Faris

    Even more of a reason to get an iPhone: I can read books on it. I've tried out the app, though, and I'm not sure I'd do it long-term. My eyes would get tired reading that tiny screen. Still, it would be nice to do something in the grocery checkout line besides peruse Facebook status updates!

  11. Nathan Bransford


    I have to say, reading on the iPhone really took some getting used to and I resisted it a long time. You have to turn the page pretty often and the screen is definitely small. But I've kind of gotten used to it, and the instantaneous page turns is extremely refreshing compared to the lag and page flash of the Kindle. It makes me think that with the bigger size the Apple Tablet could really be a spectacular e-reader even though it won't have the e-ink display.

  12. Anonymous

    I get a person being of the opinion that DRM has its uses, and even of ignoring its many problems because they think the good outweighs the bad.

    I don't get being of the opinion (or of at least sounding like one os of the opinion) that people who disagree with DRM must all be wild-eyed loons who want to give everything away for free and hate writers and other artists. There are plenty of thoughtful people on both sides of the debate.

    And no, this was not aimed at any one person here.

  13. Bane of Anubis

    RE: suing Microsoft for computer crashes…

    LMAO — that class-action would drive them out of business.

  14. Nathan Bransford


    That's interesting, because I actually think the terms of the DRM debate are mostly dictated by the anti-DRM crowd, who tend to paint the pro-DRM crowd as either Luddites or greedy corporate overlords. There aren't really very many people standing up for DRM that I see. But I share your opinion that the debate can at least be responsible.

  15. Marsha Sigman

    Congrats to blog challenge winners, I can't wait to see that the topics are!

    I refuse to comment on the Kindle. I feel completely outnumbered at this point.

  16. Diana

    Meanwhile, more news about the coming Apple Tablet, which will surely not be collective-memory-erasing because journalists love Apple like Flavor Flav loves clocks.

    BEST. SENTENCE. EVER. I will quote this as often as I can manage (giving you full credit, of course!).

  17. CKHB

    First… squeee!!!! Lauren and Rick, I can't wait! (I'm sure the other guest posters will be awesome as well, but I feel like I know Lauren and Rick from previous internet encounters…)

    Second, "journalists love Apple like Flavor Flav loves clocks" is the funniest thing I've read all week. And I've been reading a lot of funny lately. (Although I think it's spelled "Flava". I could be wrong.)

    That is all. For now.


  18. careann

    I'm keeping an eye open for that Apple Tablet. I'm a Mac/Apple aficionado from way back.

    Thanks, Nathan, for taking the time to consider all the guest post submissions, and congratulations to those who were chosen. Your wise words will be missed during the week but I'm looking forward to reading the guests' contributions.

  19. Mira

    Wow – look at all the wonderful links. Thanks, Nathan.

    Congrats to all the winners. I'll be there to cheer you on next week! This is just exciting, I'm really looking forward to reading your posts!

  20. Regan Leigh

    Congrats to the winners! I ended up entering anyway just because it helps me be more productive on my own blog!

    By the way, all this talk about Apple products is killing me! I want an iPhone and an iMac ASAP. Must. Not. Buy. Who cares that it's tax free weekend in Georgia? Must not. Repeat. Must Not. Buy.

    Sigh. I may give in.
    How's that?

  21. M. K. Clarke

    Congrats to the guest bloggers. Bah, missed out again; I'll get my blog post here one of these. . . years?!?

    This is why I've a Zune, I can get Orwell READ to me without fear of reprisals from the same Big Brother he talked about (who knew Amazon would play into this!?). Still, I'm interested to see how things play out.

    Great weekend to you all!


  22. Scott

    First of all, I want to thank you Nathan for making your links open into a new tab. It can be so annoying to flip back and forth. 🙂

    As for Amazon's covering their asses by deleting your stuff and adjusting some rankings, nuh-uh. I'm not going to be subject to anything and everything according to some giant company's PR department and bottom line. I'll be purchasing with more consideration in the future, thank you very much.

    And for the life of me, I just could not figure out the comp title article. Could be I was too bored with the material, or that I'm not as bright as I wish I was, but it lost me at every turn. Oh, well.

  23. Amber

    Since everything else has been commented on….

    I watched that YouTube video all the way through. I'm a huge fan of Disney (always a child at heart, I guess). I had no idea that the castle went up before the movie was out! Random fact of the day, I guess.

    You know, it really is amazing what a lot of imagination and a lot of money can accomplish.

    Congrats to next weeks winners; can't wait to read you posts!

  24. ryan field

    The Fitzgerald/Hemingway link looks interesting.

  25. PurpleClover

    Congrats to the winners!

    Rick! You've been mentioned on Nathan's blog at least twice now. WOWSAHS! Kudos to you! 😉

    I guess I'll post my silliness to my own blog. Sigh.

    Anyhow, that is disappointing about the covers that use the same image. I think I would be pissed if my book shared the same cover as another (unless of course it was Dan Brown's hehe).

    I'll eventually get through the rest of the links.

  26. Laura Martone

    Congrats to all the guest bloggers – I can't wait to read your entries!

    And a special shout-out to Rick Daley! You go, my man!


    P.S. And if anyone's in Gaylord, Michigan, tomorrow morning… please stop by Saturn Booksellers, where I'll be signing my latest travel guide… for the first time. Yikes!

  27. Steph Damore

    Congrats Rick – and all the other winners – can't wait!

    Laura – Sweet! Have fun tomorrow at the book signing. How awesome is that?!

    RE: Identical book covers… I'll have to blog some more on that one. The whole cover art issue to me is crazy. I think I'll pour myself a glass of wine in a bit and blog away about that over at my site.

  28. Kristi

    Yeah Laura – and congrats to the upcoming guest bloggers!

    I'm not an e-reader kind of gal but I may have to make an exception for Apple.

    I'm actually taking the kids to Disneyland for the first time next year – I've always been a Disneyworld freak (my hubby and I were season ticket holders while in grad school – seriously, we didn't even have kids then). My 2-year-old has been to Disney twice already, so I hope Disneyland can live up to the hype. 🙂 Happy Friday!

  29. Author Guy

    Thanks for the link to Pimp My Novel and book comping. I work as hard as I can to make sure my books comp to nothing, not even my own books.

  30. Laura Martone

    Thanks, Steph and Kristi! I'm so excited… but I did my first live radio interview today, and it went so well, they've asked me to come back as a regular guest. Woohoo!

    Oh, and Kristi, I LOVE Disneyland. Although Disneyworld's Epcot is pretty darn cool. Hope you have fun!

  31. A misinterpreted wave

    Congrats to the winners, can't wait to see what you have to say.

    Really interesting links to the Kindle plot, and I too would love to have sued Microsoft for lost work (haha). I'm with you Nathan on the student suing, and agree that if his actual notes were left he's probably got no chance whatsoever … but you never know for sure.

    Yay for you Laura. Pity I'm in a way off land, and can't actually meet you in person. Maybe another time. Good luck anyway – and especially awesome news on the radio gig.

  32. Anonymous

    I will not get into this debate – I will not get into this debate – I will not –

    Oh, heck, I can't help myself!

    The difference between the Microsoft and Amazon example is:

    A Microsoft system or product failure would be a service issue – not a product licensing issue.

    MS legally protects itself from service failures by having its customers agree to the terms and conditions BEFORE they're licensed to use the MS products. You use the product knowing it may fail and you've accepted those conditions.

    However, Amazon, allegedly, took the product and the student’s ability to use his work although he was using the product according to the licensed agreement that he entered into with Amazon when he "purchased" the digital book.

    Then the student, allegedly, used the annotation features that came with the Kindle that he also purchased and used according to the terms of their purchase agreement.

    If the lawyers can prove that the student used both products within the terms of his licensed agreement – then Amazon may be held liable.

    The fact that Amazon did not have the rights to distribute the book electronically is a problem between Amazon and the persons who do legally hold the digital rights – it does not give Amazon the right to take the student’s work – or his ability to easily use the work.

    If, for example, Microsoft decided to take your MS Word software and usable access to all of the Word documents that you have on your system – (although you were using the product according to your licensed rights) – then you could sue MS and (try to) hold them liable for any losses that you sustained.

    If Amazon were to update the functionality in the Kindle units to store the annotations separately from the ebook and in a useful format (also independent from the ebook), then the student could access and download the annotations despite the removal of the eBook.

    In addition, if Amazon change their licensing agreement with users – and/or – properly vet their licensing rights for ebooks before they distribute – they can legally avoid these types of issues in the future – just like Microsoft.

    These types of class action suits tend to force companies to deal with consumer service issues sooner rather than later.

    Amazon will probably settle out of court, update the legal agreement that customers enter into when they buy ebooks, and modify the Kindle's annotation features.

    For the record: Amazon is no worse than any of the other technology giants who had to figure it out as they went too.

  33. Steven Till

    There's also a good article over at Fast Company Magazine about Amazon and digital books and the future of publishing.

    As for Hemingway, he's one of my favorites too. Apparently, plans are in the works for creating a movie based on the last years of Ernest Hemingway’s life and his creation of The Old Man and the Sea. Andy Garcia will direct the film, titled “Hemingway & Fuentes,” and play Gregorio Fuentes, a Cuban fishing-boat captain who was a good friend of Hemingway and helped inspire the novel. Anthony Hopkins will play Hemingway, and Annette Bening will play Hemingway’s wife, Mary.

    The Cape Coral Daily Breeze had an article about it a couple of months back. A release date is supposedly set for sometime next year.

  34. Steph Damore

    Wow anon, thanks for the legal rundown. And you weren't going to share that? C'mon. I agree, Amazon learned their lesson the hard way. Now they can fix their mistake, pay retributions (not just monetary) and hopefully move on.

    Laura – A radio gig too? Sweet. And to think, I can say I knew you when…

  35. Bane of Anubis

    Laura, congrats — sounds like fun (and a bit terrifying — I'd be a blubbering idiot on the airwaves 😉

    Anon — you're right, but it's a money grab, nothing else. It's not a frivolous lawsuit by any means, but it's a capitalistic one, ironically enough.

  36. Rick Daley

    Now I have expectations to live up to, I hope I meet them (or better yet, exceed them).

    I'm trying to post this using my Blackberry, if something goes wrong it's the tehchnology to blame, not the user.

  37. Anonymous


    Truly, I am not taking sides – but imho – this type of litigation (class action) is what drives corporations to deal with consumer sales and service support.

    These issues are normal problems that occur with any new technology development or product release – but I do think Amazon's lawyers and technology staff could have thought of and avoided these issues. It makes me go – hmmmmm. I also think the lawyers would not bring a class action suit if they were not confident that Amazon violated the terms of their agreements.

    Anyway, all legal entities have to comply with the law and the legal agreements they enter into

    – So –

    Individuals pay fines and/or go to jail for legal violations and corporations pay money – what else you gonna do to make a company comply?

    Far too often – It has to cost a company more money to break the law than it costs the company to comply with the law.

    I am not directing that last statement at Amazon. I believe these issues were most likely sincere oversights – and, of course, they still have to be proven in court.

  38. Bane of Anubis

    Anon – I agree that money/sanctions are the only ways to hold companies accountable — hence class action lawsuits… however, I'm fairly certain that the individual student (and/or his/her family) couldn't care less about proper corporate governance and is seeking class-action status to appear socially philanthropic. Yeah, I know I'm a cynic, but I don't buy it.

    Now, if details show that the student's not seeking greater punitive damages for himself, I'll come down from my high, pale horse.

    All that being said, i think he's got a fair gripe — I just have a strong aversion to litigation… This, no matter how much of an uproar there was, was not an egregious mistake (perhaps poor PR handling of situation) and unless Amazon intentionally deceived for some purpose, they should be given some slack, as would be afforded a smaller company. Just because a company is big or b/c someone has a lot of money/power does not mean they should be held to a different standard than those of lesser means(it's blatant social hypocrisy).

  39. PurpleClover

    Rick –

    I've been posting a lot more recently with my BB. I have to admit I feel the need to always type a disclosure. I tend to start sentences with "Cause" since I'm trying to keep it brief. lol. Plus scrolling is a pain!

    Anyhow, congrats again! When you get all rich and famous because of your blog post, I will frame a copy of your personal critique to hang on my wall. lol.

    You deserve it though!

  40. Anonymous


    And the court will likely agree with you.

    Many times a company need only demonstrate that they have operated in good faith, make restitution (which should be small) and then comply with the court’s orders to prevent future issues.

    The article that Marilyn provided in her links quotes the lawyer of the lawfirm initiating the suit: “Edelson says he intends to seek to represent all Kindle owners in the case against Amazon. Amazon's user agreement says that consumers who purchase e-books are buying the right "to keep a permanent copy" of the material”.

    And the article that goes on to say:
    “Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, says that a court might be sympathetic to Amazon because the company was apparently trying to mitigate potential copyright infringement.”

    — I agree.

    Amazon will change their user agreement and modify their software.

    They’ll probably pay a pittance to the consumers and be done – Well, almost done. I’m sure your cynicism is justified in that the payment will include the lawyers’ fees. 😉

  41. Kim Rossi Stagliano

    I love my Kindle – though I just read a book that I disliked so much my Amazon review said, "I wouldn't mind if Amazon took this one back."

  42. Thermocline

    Laura, that's really exciting news! Have fun with it this weekend.

  43. KayKayBe

    Anyone else get really annoyed about all of the stickers that end up on book covers? I put up a sample book cover that defeats the author/title covering, sticker-loving bookstores. Lots of fun to imagine my book published:)

  44. Marilyn Peake

    To add to the Amazon discussion, Jeffrey Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, is now worth $6.8 BILLION. I'm guessing the Kindle lawsuits will be settled out of court. If the cases go to court, Amazon will most likely have a fleet of the best lawyers. I find these kinds of things fascinating, including the fact that Bezos is only #68 on the Forbes list of The World's Billionaires. (Bill Gates is #1 at $40 BILLION, and Warren Buffet is #2 at $37 BILLION. I saw a fascinating interview with Warren Buffet when the economy was in dire straits, in which he talked about moving some of his own money from one place to another in a way that would alter the overall economy for the better – that’s a huge amount of control over the economy.)

    Despite all of this, a Forbes Special Report says: "The richest people in the world have gotten poorer, just like the rest of us. This year the world's billionaires have an average net worth of $3 billion, down 23% in 12 months. The world now has 793 billionaires, down from 1,125 a year ago."

    Hmmmm …

  45. Laura Martone

    Thanks, Wave, Steph, Bane, and Thermocline, for the words of encouragement. I'm so grateful for my online pals… great, now I'm blushing.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!


    P.S. And, Rick, don't sweat it. I'm sure your post is awesome… and besides, we already know you're one entertaining dude. 🙂

  46. Marilyn Peake

    Laura Martone – I just now caught up reading all the comments. (It's been a busy day for me, only at my computer for brief periods at a time.) Congratulations on your radio interview and book signing! That's awesome!

    Rick Daley – I recognize your name from comments you’ve added to discussions on Nathan’s blog. How cool that you’ll have a winning guest blog here next week. Congratulations!

  47. Other Lisa

    Just because a company is big or b/c someone has a lot of money/power does not mean they should be held to a different standard than those of lesser means(it's blatant social hypocrisy).

    I have to disagree. Companies/individuals with a tremendous amount of money/power have the ability to manipulate regulations and markets to their advantage that less empowered companies/individuals do not have. The reality is, they are able to write the standards to their own benefit.

    Be that as it may, and not being a lawyer, I think Anon's take on this seems about right.

  48. AM


    Many congratulations are due today.

    1. Congratulations to the guest bloggers selected for next week

    2. Laura – A radio appearance and a book signing? Congrats!

    3. Eric – I’ve enjoyed ‘Pimp My Novel’ – I’ve been lurking over there. The information is great.

    4. Stephen nice article – thanks for sharing.

    5. Rick – I appreciate the Slushpile! I’m a regular lurker – but I do not read cereal boxes. Maybe I will write a blog titled ‘Confessions of a lurker: Why I lurk’. Thanks for blogging!

    It is nice to be a part of virtual community where so many nice things are happening to so many nice people.

    (My word of the day: nice)

    Writing is one of the few professions where we can be supportive competitors.

    Isn’t that nice?

    Seriously, thanks Nathan.

  49. Mira

    AM, yes – lots of congratulations today. Rick, I didn't quite take in that was you! Wow. I'm sure you'll be great, really. I have no doubt. Long overdue for you to shine, imho.

    I don't know if I recognize any of the other choices, but I'm sure if I knew you, I'd be just as excited.

    Laura, congrats as well – that sounds really fun.

    I agree with other Lisa and Anon about the corporation stuff. The more power and money a business has, the more influence, the more they should be held accountable.

  50. Vacuum Queen

    Darn. I mean, congratulations to the winners! It will be fun reading good stuff from new peeps.

  51. Steve Fuller

    That's weird. My email entries got lost in cyberworld two contests in a row.

    That's the only explanation that makes any sense.

  52. Anonymous

    Hi there,
    Quick Kindle question but more to do with the body than the actual e-reader/Orwell/Amazon issues swirling about!
    We don't get to see many Kindle's down here in Australia, so I was wondering if anyone can enlighten me on whether they get very hot to handle, particularly the back side? I say this because I write on an alum-bodied 2008 MacBookPro and it gets red-hot after an hour or so of cooking my manuscript. So, after all the recent rumours about Apple releasing an e-tablet for Christmas, it got me to thinking – do Kindles get too hot to handle, does their temp change if you read 100 pages in one sitting?


  53. Maripat

    Anon 3:57 AM–

    I have a Kindle 2 and I haven't noticed any heat coming off of it.

  54. Rick Daley

    Thanks Laura,PC,Mira,Marilyn, et al (still limited to Blackberry, so this is most inefficient). And of course thanks to Nathan for picking my entry!

    For the record, this is the fourth time I've wormed my way into Nathan's blog. Query critique, TWIP Slushpile announcement, inspiring a follow up you tell me after the revision cheklist, and this.

    Not that I am counting…

  55. Mira

    Rick, when you've got it, you've got it. It's just irresistible. Not only that, but as the Friday person, you'll be up all weekend. Not too shabby, Mr. D. 😉

  56. Bane of Anubis

    I have to disagree. Companies/individuals with a tremendous amount of money/power have the ability to manipulate regulations and markets to their advantage that less empowered companies/individuals do not have. The reality is, they are able to write the standards to their own benefit.

    To a certain extent, this is true… however, they are also held to higher standards and have greater restrictions placed on them (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley) in today's era.

    Ultimately, I'm not supporting large companies/individuals — I'm supporting fairness, which is all too often thrown out the window when it comes to public opinion about "The Man" — whichever large entity that may be (admittedly, due to money and influence, these entities can get away w/ more, or at least can suffer greater detriment w/o permanent consequence than most of us).

    Govt/market protection of large entities bothers me as much as litigation against large entities (well, litigation in general 🙂 — so if that topic ever somehow comes up, I'll be sitting on the other side of the fence.

  57. annerallen

    Congratultions to the winners! And to Laura. I love this blog. It's like a friendly virtual cafe for writers.

    For a recap of the wonderful "Am I Crazies" thread of earlier in the week, and a bit of Kindle humor, check out my new blogpost "You May Be A Bestselling Author on Tralfamadore"

  58. Clarity


    "…journalists love Apple like Flavor Flav loves clocks".
    Anyone who can come up with that simile deserves a "follow".

    I have to read more about that Orwellian irony.

    Au revoir.

  59. Marilyn Peake

    Finally had a chance to watch the time-lapse video of the building of Disneyland. Wow! Fantastic! I’ve been to Disneyland several times and to Disney World many times, and have loved every single visit. One of my best vacations ever was going to Disney World for a week that included New Year’s Eve, attending a New Year’s Eve show of Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba in Downtown Disney, then going outside afterwards and welcoming in the New Year by watching the Disney fireworks. It was awesome, a night I will never forget.

  60. PurpleClover

    Steve Fuller –

    I like your idea better! It must be a glitch. Yep…definitelly a glitch. Especially if it happened to multiple people???

    Stinkin' spam filters! 😉

  61. Laura Martone

    Thanks, Marilyn, AM, Mira, and Anne! I appreciate being able to share good news with my online buddies. 🙂

    Oh, and Steph, my book signing went really well – some of my "live" pals dropped by, and it was fun meeting new people, too. And a visiting artist even painted a watercolor of me after the signing… true, it didn't look a thing like me, but it's the thought that counts, right?

    Okay, now that that's done, I can catch up on all these newsy links. I'm so excited for this week's blog posts. I can't wait to see which topics were picked… although I'll gladly put money down that Rick's post will be hilarious. Better not disappoint me, man. (wink, wink)

  62. JaxPop

    I was thinkin' there would be more comments about the author leaving S&S – for less money. None! Guess it's tough competing with Hemmingway & Kindle. (That has a nice sort of ring to it – could be a high end men's tailor, or maybe an exclusive jewelry store.)

  63. Marilyn Peake

    Laura – Congratulations! Sounds like you had an awesome book signing!

    JaxPop – I think that Louise Doughty’s decision to leave her publisher makes lots of sense. Her sales figures were slipping, and nowadays publishers (and many agents) frequently drop an author if that continues. She was, in fact, offered a significantly smaller advance for her new book. On the other hand, people at a different publishing house were extremely excited about her new book, and that’s why she signed with them. Lots of well-known authors, including Piers Anthony, are now published by multiple publishers, having some of their books published by large publishing houses and some of their other books published by small press. I know authors who were advised by their agents to use a pen name in order to find publishers for their second book after their first book (published under their real name) didn’t sell well. I think it's great that Louise Doughty had choices.

  64. Anonymous

    Where is Nathan going? Vacation again?

  65. JaxPop

    Marilyn – I wasn't questioning the decision – was just surprised there were no comments/questions.
    Enjoy the remaining few hours of your weekend. Dave

  66. Anonymous


    I read the article by Louise Doughty, but I didn't feel she gave me much to work with – as far as forming a "good" opinion.

    She heralded the working relationship with her editor and she was pleased (enough) with her last advance – but then – she vaguely glosses over her reasons for switching houses.

    She implies, but does not state, that the first publisher was somehow responsible for the fact that she "had written two good books in a row that had been acclaimed but flopped at the box office."

    Why does she make this implication? She doesn't say.

    She also doesn't say whether or not she talked about her concerns with her first publisher.

    Frankly, I have to say that going to visit a publisher where the staff has been coached to show enthusiasm for a potential convert doesn't convince me that the publisher is appropriately enthusiastic.

    I mean, what did the first publisher do wrong and what is the second publisher going to do right?

    I hate to sound critical – especially of a published author who is probably light years ahead of me in the talent department – but the article came off as being a bit whiny, and I initially took it as an inexpensive way to announce that she had switched houses without volleying anything that might be substantially litigious about her previous publisher.

    I generally agree with Marilyn, and I am sure that she knows more than I do about the inside workings of the business – which is why she could infer more out of the article – but I had nothing to work with other than the article itself.

    Perhaps, Marilyn can fill in the gaps. Perhaps, Ms. Doughty was indeed concerned that she was about to be dropped and didn't want to come out and just say that?

    There, that’s why I didn’t say anything before.

    I hope I don't get attacked – I'm sensitive today.

  67. Marilyn Peake

    Anon @1:45 P.M. –

    I've heard many stories about authors being dropped by publishers when their books don't sell well. When the economy was good, it was taken for granted that, if an author's first book with a big publishing house didn't sell well, their second book wouldn’t get picked up. My impression is that, if Louise Doughty’s new publisher is very excited about her new book, they won’t be as likely to drop her if her sales don’t increase and they might even be willing to put more money into advertising her new book in order to boost sales. Reading between the lines, I wondered if Louise Doughty wasn’t worried about eventually being dropped by her first publisher. She was lucky to have had a choice, but I think it must have been a very difficult decision.

  68. Marilyn Peake

    Earlier today, found an interesting link in my Twitter feed to an article about Amazon filing a patent application for embedding ads in books: here.

  69. Sharen

    Hi Nathan –

    Your recent post on dealing with the "Am-I-Crazies?" prompted one of my own.

    If you'd like to take a look, please go to:

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Sharen Ford

  70. Lea McKee

    Hey Nathan, i was just reading your blog, like I often do 😉 and while reading about your Guest Blog Challege I was reminded of the Agent For A Day challenge and was wondering if you were planning another one. It was a really great experience!

  71. AM


    I wonder if Amazon would be regularly updating the advertisement/commercials, and if authors should be negotiating royalties from both the books' sales and its advertising.

    Advertisers could pay a publisher/author based on the number of times readers view their advertisements.

    I suspect that bestsellers will charge a higher advertising fee and as an author's sales increase, advertisers will be willing pay more per each view.

    This is something to think about. This could significantly change the publishing industry, especially self-publishing.

    And way beyond having a say in my novels’ book covers, I would definitely want a say in what advertisement is displayed 'on' my novels.

    Thanks for sharing.

  72. Marla Warren


    If I may share my perspective as a bookseller, it is not that bookstores love stickers. We put stickers on books to distinguish which ones are currently discounted. We cannot just put these books on specially marked displays or tables, because customers frequently leave books that don’t belong there in those spots (either carelessly or deliberately). I’ve had customers who insisted that we had to sell them a $150 medical book for a dollar because it was on the clearance table. We respond that the book is not stickered for that table, so another customer must have left it there accidentally.

    I agree that the stickers can obscure important parts of the cover. Occasionally customers have asked me to locate a book for them which they did not notice because the sticker covered up part of the title or the author’s name. It’s something to be considered when designing a book cover.

  73. Marjorie

    Since "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" was written by one of your clients, you might enjoy reading the interview at my blog (marjorie-digest) with Anna Berger. She was in the original film. She has had a career on film, TV, and stage that spans six decades and she worked with Kim Novak, John Garfield and Marlon Brando. Recently, she played Cookie on "The Sopranos."
    I was thrilled to have had Anna sit with me for the interview and we are now friends.


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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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