This Week in Publishing 9/24/10

by | Sep 24, 2010 | Uncategorized | 35 comments

THIS week IN publishing

First up, get your Query Critique Friday on in the Forums! UPDATE: my critique (and more about avoiding perspective shifts in queries if at all possible) posted here.

One of the larger ongoing news items in the publishing world is the board spat between CEO Len Riggio and investor Ron Burkle. Confused about what’s going on there? The NY Times has a very helpful breakdown of the who what when where why how of the whole thing.

In an interview, author Danielle Steel denied that she is a romance writer, which for some reason set the blogosphere a-sneerin’. For the record, I think the distinction she was making was between category/traditional romance and the novels she writes, which, sure, often have romantic plotlines, but which fall more in the women’s fiction realm. Not sure why this one became news, but hey…

Flavorwire had a pretty priceless collection of cliches in author photos, and, as he was wont to do, Oscar Wilde stole the show. And over at AbeBooks, a pretty cool gallery of authors and pen names.

The world’s first Wonka candy store is opening in the Times Square Toys R Us, and…. searching….. searching….. nope. No golden ticket necessary. Whew!

In writing advice news, Laini Taylor discusses the importance of writers having a cheerleader (preferably more than one), Moses Siregar writes about the difference between one, two, three, and four word adjective descriptions, agent Jennifer Laughran writes about the pros and cons of multi-book deals, and agent Kristin Nelson talks about how the best way to approach daunting query odds is by covering your ears and saying “La la la!”

And finally, coinciding with the upcoming Banned Books Week, YA author Laurie Halse Anderson posted about an editorial that called her novel SPEAK “soft pornography” because it deals with two rape scenes. Say what? The writing blogosphere rose up with a collective UM NO I DON’T THINK SO EDITORIAL and The Rejectionist, Janet Reid, Pimp My Novel, Matthew Rush, Laini Taylor, Stephanie Perkins, and Tahereh Mafi were among those eloquently weighing in.

Speaking of which, in honor of said Banned Books Week, Tahereh and The Rejectionist are co-hosting/sponsoring an Internet Happening wherein bloggy people will post about their favorite banned book next Thursday, September 30th. If you plan to participate, please be sure and enter your blog on Tahereh’s master list.

Oh, and thanks to GalleyCat for their roundup of the #BadJobsInNovels Twitter hashtag related to Wednesday’s post. There were some seriously hilarious entries.

This week in the Forums, how much money would someone have to pay you to make you never write again?, what is the extent of a writers’ social responsibility?, if you were an agent what kind of agent would you be?, the dreaded synopsis, does the final battle have to be a cliche?, and discussing Arcade Fire’s new album.

Comments! Of! The! Week! Go! To! There were some great responses to Wednesday’s post about bad jobs in novels. Some highlights:

Amanda: Definitely the wench: always serving, never served…

T.N. Tobias: Think about who has to clean-up after the 30,000 strong orc war party comes strolling through town. Fantasy settings seem to leave out the sanitation engineers that must exist…

Jenn Marie: The beat cop or security guard in suspense novels. Just doing their job, thisclose to a commendation or promotion for noticing a clue that nobody else did, when WHAM. Serially killed.

Nate Wilson: It’s gotta be tough being the chief inspector or head detective in a mystery. Not only do they arrest the wrong guy every single time, but they’re constantly shown up by someone with no formal training whatsoever. Those poor, arrogant fools.

Anonymous: The poor soul that has to clean up the tavern after the fight, of course. Funny how they never mention him, huh? Chapter one, the tavern is in complete shambles. Chapter two, it is nice and clean and everything is put back just the way it was. Who did that? Not the innkeeper, of that you can be sure.

And finally, via Gizmodo is a video with three different e-book experiences OF THE FUTURE. I just want an animated cover.

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.
Have a great weekend!


  1. Shiloh Walker

    Ragarding Danielle Steel, eh, I think people who don't read romance just assume Danielle Steel writes romance, and while some of her stuff has romantic aspects, that doesn't make it romance-more women's fic.

    Then some of DS remarks about romance struck some romance lovers as insulting.

    So there was the kerfuffle.

    Me, I'm not too sure why it was newsworthy, either.

  2. Christine Macdonald

    Love those comments. The Inn Keeper comment made me snort.

  3. Anonymous

    Author Jeaniene Frost had a very personal and informative blog post dealing with SPEAK as well.

  4. Nathan Bransford

    Thanks, anon. I know I missed some of the good ones, so if people could include links in the comments section that would be great.

  5. maine character

    There was also this agent who, to celebrate his 1,000 post, gave a query and first five pages critique to the 1,000th commenter.

    I happened by at the 400 mark and stayed to the end, and it was a great gab-fest of non-sequiturs, Castle, Yoda, and jokes, all culminating when it sped up to where the 900's went by in a blast of frantic typing.

    Looking forward to your 2000th post.

  6. A Paperback Writer

    Wow. I thought there for a while today, Nathan, that you'd forgotten us. Glad you got this posted. Thanks.

  7. abc


    In defense of Kantiss Everdeen at

    (if there is a way to embed the link I don't know it. 2010 and I'm still staring at TV going "wow")

  8. A Paperback Writer

    Oh, and I loved the author pics. I've often wondered if the chin-on-fist look was required or something…..

  9. Nathan Bransford


    Like this (replace every [ and ] with < and >)"

    [a href="paste the link here"]Your Caption here[/a]

  10. swampfox

    Author photo cliches. I love it.
    But I'm not guilty. I'm the only one using three quarter rim lighting.

    I think.

  11. ryan field

    The DS issue was probably newsworthy because the romance market in general is huge, it's bringing in money, and more readers are buying romances than ever before now that there's an international market.

    But I'm just interested in the new candy store in Times Square.

  12. Moses Siregar III

    Thanks for the mention, Nathan!

    Btw, are you a SF Giants fan? There's a chance my Braves might run up against them in the playoffs. The NL playoff races are amazing right now.

  13. Matthew Rush

    OMG Nathan. I'm picturing an animated cover with Jacob Wonderbar zooming by in his spaceship, a ludicrously large bubble and a double rainbow in the background. EPIC.

    My own WIP would have the Japanese Kanji character for permanence being drawn by an invisible hand on a plain white background. At least it would until my house's marketing and art departments overruled me.

    Also thank you so much for the linkage. The company you've placed me in is utterly humbling. I supposed I better step up the quality of my posts.

  14. Ted Cross

    Hey Matt, you made Nathan's round-up! I wish I could have him call me eloquent!

  15. Matthew Rush

    Hi Moses. Nice to meet you. I'm watching Fox Sports South right now, and these Braves better rally quick. If they can't beat Washington at least 2 out of 3 I can't see them holding on the the wild card.

  16. Nathan Bransford

    Ack. Sorry to Jennifer LaughrAn for spelling her name wrong.

  17. abc

    Thanks, Nathan! I will practice.

  18. lotusgirl

    Love those photos of the authors. Interesting posing.

  19. Tahereh


    you are a double rainbow made of win.

  20. Sommer

    I brought up the Speak topic on the forums here under Banned Book Week 2010 with a bunch of links to different posts about the issue.

    Banned Book Week 2010

    Probably the best compiled list of authors and bloggers and readers Speaking Out about Speak and Twenty Boy Summer can be found here at
    Reclusive Bibliophile

    I think this event has been all I've thought about and talked about all week. I've been feeling a little bit like I'm going to war against book banners. Thanks for giving this some attention Nathan.

  21. Other Lisa

    Speaking of baseball, my Padres are trying to kill me.

  22. Sheila Cull

    Laini Taylor, wow. Thank you for turning her on to me Nathan. Laini Taylor is an outstanding role model and I can't wait to read her books.

    And thank goodness I was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and Bears; I can teach my family/friends how to cheer properly.

  23. LSimon

    I think part of the reason the Danielle Steel thing gets romance writers (and readers) so pissed is that romance gets (lots of sales! but) very little respect. So when someone like Ms. Steel or Mr. Sparks (who make a lot of money selling very romantically inclined books) decides they are better than the genre or the people who love it…meh

  24. Moses Siregar III

    Matt, my Braves have been ugly recently but there is some room for optimism, too. They have the best home record in MLB and they play 6 of their next 7 games at home (right now they're up 5-0 on the Nats in the 7th in DC). And the Padres and Giants have to play each other in the last three games of the year, so one of those two will lose either 2 or 3 games in that series. The Braves just have to stay ahead of one of those two to win the wildcard (the Rockies are nearly out of it).

    My boys aren't playing great right now, though. But it would be great to see them in the postseason.

    Oh yeah, write on!

  25. Julie

    Shannon Hale also wrote about the Speak controversy on her blog.

  26. Maria Kenney

    Well I hate to say I believe the propaganda, but I couldn't imagine Barnes & Noble in anyone but Len Riggio's hands.

  27. Clarity

    Taking it back. "This here's the bumper crop".

    But wait, we have repetition, Gizmodo and Vimeo vids. Ah… twins.

    As for pseudonyms, missing: Steinbeck also wrote under the pseudonym, "Amnesia Glasscock". I know you find his chars. "provincial" but I like him. Glasscock and all.

  28. B.E.T.

    I have to admit, all this news was very interesting. I heard about the Danielle Steele through Pimp My Novel. I've never read anything by her, honestly, but I have to admit I was skeptical about the comments.

    Banning books, that's just a ridiculous concept in itself. Often vulgar content is needed to make a message go through, seriously.

    And the video regarding the narrative 'Alice for interactive reading', I don't know…that concept just sounds like it's making reading a hassle if you have to unlock it like a videogame. Good stories should be immersive already without some fancy software to try jazzing them up any.

  29. Stephanie Perkins

    What a cool surprise! Thank you for linking to my blog, Nathan!

    And I'm so happy to find Laini in here. (Twice!) She's one of the greats.

  30. Maria Kenney

    The "Alice" section of the video reminded me of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books from the 90s. I'm dying for those things to make a comeback!

  31. Mira

    Alrighty. It's time for my regular kind-of-weird-because-no-one-else-is-doing-it commenting on each and every one of your links. Yay!

    So, first, I loved your query critique, Nathan. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing these. And thanks for all the wonderful links. Very informative and fun.

    So, this battle between Riggio and Burkle confuses me. I've said a couple of times now that I'm willing to buy Barnes and Noble and I'm puzzled as to why I don't already own it. Seems to me that's the perfect solution. If you don't want to sell to Burkle, sell to me! I only have 45 dollars, Mr. Riggio, but if that's not enough, we can set up a payment plan. Maybe I can borrow the money from you. Okay, I'll expect a call pronto.

    I haven't read any of Danielle Steel's books, so I don't know what genre her books are, but if romance writers are mad because they don't get much respect, I give them respect. I thought it was easy to write romance, and decided to sit down one day to do it. Why not? Easy-peasy. Well, I couldn't write it. Okay. Nothing more to say here.

    Eeek. My post is already long, and I only addressed two links. Better hurry. I thought the author pictures were fun, but cliche…..What does Flavorwire want in their author pictures? Authors cannonballing into pools? Shaking their booty in some wild tribal dance? I mean, what? Okay, moving on, that was an interesting list of pen names. I'm thinking of using a pen name, too. Not for this post, though, might be too late for that. But in the future.

    Okay, at first, I was really excited about the Wonka store, but…..well, please don't read the next line if you don't want your childhood dreams to be shatterered into little pieces – but then it occured to me, Willy Wonka isn't actually making this candy. It's just regular chocolate with the name Wonka on it. I'm sorry, but someone had to say it. On the other hand, hard to go wrong with a whole store of nothing but chocolate.

    I thought Laini Taylor's cheerleader article was fanastic!!!!! Thanks for linking to that, Nathan. When I read about whether to use one, two, three, or four adjectives, I immediately want to write sentences using ten of them on a regular basis. I don't know what's wrong with me. Good article by Laughran. Love Nelson's 'la, la, la' approach! Yes! 🙂

    Re. Speak – I respect, applaud and support all of those who are speaking our with such powerful and passionate voices. Thank you! And what has struck me about this the most is the power of the internet. The ability for people to rally and come together in a cause has increased exponentially. The internet is a more profound game-changer than I think we might realize.

    Your whole 'bad jobs' in fiction threads were sooo funny. What a fun topic, Nathan. I read the tweets and they were equally as funny. That was fun.

    That video is made of awesome. I loved the whole idea of linking information – just terrific – and I hadn't thought of it quite that way. Oddly enough, though, the interactive fiction gave me pause. That would be a completely different way of writing a book….it's interesting and exciting. And fun. But I hope the value of a non-interactive books isn't lost, too. Sometimes it's better if the reader doesn't get to pick the ending.

    Okay, I'm done. Phew.

    I'm all talked out, so I'll just say I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Thanks, Nathan! 🙂

  32. Laini Taylor

    Thanks for the mention, Nathan! 🙂

  33. J. T. Shea

    Mira, you mean Mr. Riggio hasn't rung you about selling B & N yet? I wonder why not? When he does, don't forget the pole dancers!

  34. Mira

    J.T., I know, it's weird. He's probably just been busy.

    I was thinking of replacing the pole dancers with cute, cuddly, live koala bears. I just think there's a bigger market for that sort of thing. But we can put the bears on the poles.


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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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