This Week in Publishing 9/3/10

by | Sep 3, 2010 | Uncategorized | 43 comments

This Week In Publishing!

Page Critique Friday!! Please stop by the Forums for your Page Critiquing Pleasure. That is, if you are not already splayed on a beach somewhere in anticipation of Labor Day Weekend and SNIFF the end of summer FOR THE LOVE OF SUNSHINE SUMMER WHERE DID YOU GO??

UPDATE: my critique and more about the danger of expository dialogue posted here.

Meanwhile, links!! I have had quite the busy week so I may have missed some news items – if you spotted a good link please share it in the comments!

First, in Truly Important Publishing News, EW wonders why there have been no authors on Dancing With the Stars. YEAH. WHERE ARE THEY?? Then again, Elaine Benes worked in publishing on Seinfeld and we all know how that turned out.

There have been some more interesting Future of Publishing discussions around the blogosphere this week. Tim Ferriss of the Four Hour Workweek has a far-ranging discussion of the economics of print vs. e-books and what this means for authors, and concludes that save for a few exceptions, traditional is still the way to go. And Kassia Krozser at Booksquare has a nuanced take on the idea of books and value and what happens to the collective notion of publishers’ value when they let established authors rest on their laurels and publish books they know to be of questionable quality.

Also a new book social networking community has launched! The Reading Room allows its users to generate reading groups and features a list of free e-books to peruse. Check it out.

In the wake of all the talk of whether NY Times favors men vs. women, Slate ran the numbers on the reviews for adult fiction and found that men received 62% of the reviews and 71% of the coveted double reviews (a review in the weekday paper plus a review in the Sunday TBR). They caution that missing from the analysis is the number of overall adult fiction novels that are published by men vs. women.

The $99 e-reader is here! Fresh off news that Borders will be selling Build-A-Bears (some people thought this was a spoof but it’s true and hey whatever works, Borders! No judging here), they will also be selling $99 Aluratek e-readers featuring the Kobo bookstore. Meanwhile, Sony came out with a new generation of e-readers priced at $179, $229, and $279 depending on size, features, storage, and 3G capabilities. And on the horizon is an Android powered 7″ tablet designed by Samsung, which will feature a bookreading App by Kobo.

Set your blasters to global! Harpers US, UK, and Aus/NZ are teaming up for a pan-world science fiction and fantasy imprint called Voyager. In addition to possessing the ability to time travel AND wield a +5 sword, the resulting imprint will feel no pain and can’t be reasoned with.

In query news, Tahereh has an incredible ode to queries in Shel Silverstein form, the Rejectionist posted her adorable first query from Age 7 and promptly ripped it to shreds, my wonderful client Natalie Whipple is launching a Friday feature called Happy Writers Society by sharing her first query, and the Guide to Literary Agents blog has an interview with my fantastic agent Catherine Drayton.

This week in the Forums, Page Critique Friday!, don’t forget about the Ask Nathan thread if you have any questions, how did your favorite childhood books influence you, turning a short story into a novel, how do you decide where to put chapter breaks, and teenage writers unite!

Comment! of! the! Week! Goes to Mira, who had a terrific comment on whether angst inspires writing. An excerpt:

The drive to write for me can come from witnessing human suffering up close. When you see a deep level of human pain, it makes you want to do something, anything to make it better. You want to tell the world, try to influence it, try to heal it, try to make it better.

And when you suffer deeply yourself….I’ve been trying to capture this in words forever, and I probably won’t be able to here. But when you are in deep emotional pain for long periods of time it changes you. It softens and cleanses. It’s so hard to describe, but for me it’s been like a pumice stone. It scrapes away the edges and makes the channels run clear and clean. You have access to something very deep within you, and that’s the part of you that can come forth and speak through the creative process.

And finally, acclaimed band the Arcade Fire has a truly groundbreaking video that allows you to input your childhood home address or school and uses it to create a personalized music video. It uses HTML5 and works best in the Chrome browser (thanks to Lawrence McKay for the heads up). Definitely worth checking out.

Have a great weekend!! The blog will be dark on Monday for the holiday and I’ll be back on Tuesday.


  1. abc

    Yes! I'm glad Mira got the comment of the week. I was rooting for her.

    I'm seeing Arcade Fire in a couple of weeks in St. Paul and couldn't be more excited. They are my favorite and my best! Thank you for linking to it (although my childhood address doesn't work. Frown).

  2. Anonymous

    I agree. Mira's comment was remarkable.

  3. T.N. Tobias

    A lot of struggling against personal strife this week. Is there something in the air? Or has social media started to craft it's hive mind?

  4. treeoflife

    Nice article by Tim Ferriss… given he champions the 4 hour work week, it must have taken him two months to write it!

    Having just got a Kindle this week, I'm also starting to question the pure financial stats. Amazon sells more ebooks than physical books? Sure, look at the top seller list, and see how many are "selling" for $0? Or, 99 cents? Number of books don't tell the whole story…

    Heck, I already went on a buying spree… I didn't spend a cent, but have enough interesting books to read for the next 6 months.

  5. Nathan Bransford


    I think the key distinction is that Amazon is selling more e-books than hardcovers, not all print books across the board. Though there was a news item last week that Laura Lippman's e-books overall were outselling her hardcovers. A sign of things to come.

  6. ryan field

    Wow…another social networking community. I'm going to wait on this one. Sometimes editing your life is just as important as editing a book.

  7. treeoflife

    Thanks for the clarification Nathan, that makes a big difference. Funny how that fact has been distorted by the media… when I read about it, I thought it had meant all physical books, not just hard covers.

    Anyways, the key to me is whether Amazon counts all those $0 books as sales. Sherlock Holmes is the 3rd or 4th best selling book on the site, and it's free. I bought it, but may very well never read it.

    Don't get me wrong, the ebook will pass the physical book, but I think Tim Ferriss's point that authors should not forget the physical book just yet is a valid one.

  8. Nina

    Love the first Queries links!

    When you asked if angst has anything to do with the production, I first answered no (and added "as long as my house i clean"). But that couldn't be further from the truth. Those times I have been at a low, I have produced more, I've just never thought about it. Actually, my first trilogy is inspired from the four hellish years of my life!

    I have always said that here is nothing bad in the world that can't be turned in to something positive. Those years I struggled from day to day, have brought me where I am today, and I'm glad it wasn't all a waste.

  9. Kristin Laughtin

    I was just wondering why authors aren't considered celebrities on any of those reality shows featuring famous people. I've never really watched any of them, so it's possible I could have missed if one did make an appearance, but I've never heard shocked remarks of "OMG Charlaine Harris is on DWTS!" And there are definitely a few authors who are well-enough known in the public eye to be recognizable.

    Mira's comment was great because it was personal. She talks about the things I didn't want to reveal in my own comment to that post…but hopefully would allow to come out if it could benefit a story.

    And I can't stop laughing at the idea of Borders selling Build-a-Bears. I can't believe that's true…actually, with the way Borders has been doing near me lately, I can. And that's sad.

  10. Rick Daley

    Nathan- Thanks for re-posting that comment from Mira, I missed it the first time around.

    Mira- your words captured the essence of what I'm sure many of us feel.

    WORD VERIFICATION: slyming. Popular in the '90s after the success of GHOSTBUSTERS, slyming is act of coating someone with ectoplasmic residue.

  11. Marilyn Peake

    I'm delighted that Mira earned Comment of the Week! Her comment was brilliant and insightful, and as good as anything the best writers in the world have ever written.

    You posted a link to the "Ask Nathan thread" in your Forums. Do you answer all the questions posted there, or do you answer questions randomly like in the Friday Critique sections? I’ve had a fairly involved question on my mind lately, and keep thinking, I sure wish I knew an agent I could ask about this. Your Forum might be just the place, but I didn’t know if you answer all the questions or not.

    Thanks again for so many links, Nathan. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

  12. Kelly Wittmann

    I want to see Phillip Roth shaking his groove thing on DWTS with that completely straight "Phillip Roth look" on his face.

  13. Sheila Cull

    OMG! Amazon is selling more e books than hardcovers? OMG. I'll change too. I already promised. For the environment….

  14. Mira

    Nathan, thank you for comment of the week!! I was going to make lots of jokes and jump around and make a thank you speech, but well, it's a nice moment for me. This is very confidence building and people's comments mean so much. Thank you. And Marilyn, you consistently say wonderful things to me and you are going to be in my acknowledgements section when I write a book. I'm not kidding.

    Oh, and Rick, you don't come around these here parts enough! – to my mind anyway.

    To answer your question, Marilyn, if that's okay, Nathan diligently answers every single question on that thread. It's an amazing resource.

    So these are some fantastic links. I'll be back to comment on them after I've read them. Nathan, you are very funny, btw. +5 sword and can't be reasoned with. Ha, ha, ha.

    It's a holiday weekend! Yay!

  15. Mira

    Oh – I read one link so far – the rejectionist critiquing the query she sent when she was seven – that is so funny!! I liked the Mo-Fu part. Ha, ha.

  16. Marilyn Peake


    You are so sweet. I just really, really hope you write your book because I want so much to read it.

    And thank you so much for answering my question about the Ask Nathan thread in the Forums. That is awesome that Nathan answers all the questions asked, in addition to doing the Friday Page Critiques and running this Blog. I’m so happy there’s a place where I’ll be able to ask a question which I think only an agent could answer. It’s kind of involved, so I’ll have to spend some time thinking about how to ask it.

    About Rick: I know … I miss the comments made by him and a few other people who used to comment more often here, too.

    Have a great weekend!

  17. Livia

    Nathan, you should write a "how I got my agent," post. It'd be interesting.

    You could be like, "When I started querying, I had no idea how the publishing industry worked…" Hmm, or maybe not.

  18. Nathan Bransford


    Ha. Yeah, step one was learning what a query letter was.

  19. T. Anne

    Nice Mira! You've captured the essence of being a writer.

  20. Jeff S Fischer

    Man, oh, Man. I am learning so much by checking in with this blog. Good writers and good books are not going anywhere. At first, I totally balked at Mira's blurt, yeah, yeah, yeah, I told myself, I did, war and peace and all those fancy words about keeping on keeping on, and other such nonsense, I told myself, but sometimes a couple of little sentences mean a whole lot. Mira did some beautiful, and I hate to sound sentimental or weak, but honestly, god I hate myself for writing this, healing sort of writing. At the cliff, should I jump or not, writing. To me, that is what all the greats did. (deep breath, Jeff) Now, can you do that for 300 pages? My lovely, and dangerous, girlfriend, tells me writing a bunch of pap to get to one great thought isn't good enough writing. I have fought with her tooth and nail, and then some, about that in my own writing, but now that I've read a writer that has a genuinely insightful thought, but I haven't read the whole book, which it seems isn't done, I think she might be right(not that I like giving that to her.) Anyway, sorry about the trailing thought, Mira, god, please, back it up. And what's with the South Africa San Francisco void? Or do I not read and do research closely enough?

  21. Anonymous

    Mira, who dances with the funny, I think your deep, true heart is where your gold is threaded.

  22. Marilyn Peake

    Irony: I spent an hour or so writing out my question for the Ask Nathan thread in the Forums, but don't need to post it now. Just writing it out helped me figure out that, deep in my heart, I already knew what I needed to do. Onward now, to more writing and editing on my two current manuscripts – one adult science fiction, the other YA Fantasy.

  23. Deidre

    Congratulation to Mira (comments of the week).

    I still like to read printed verson of a book rather than on screen. I can read that any place and most comfortable way-but is that e-reader do the same thing?

  24. D.G. Hudson

    Congrats Mira for Comment of the Week! What you said touched a nerve in a lot of us.

    Thanks Rebecca for sharing your first page in critique.

    Nathan, thanks for the extra info on expository dialogue and those tags that seems to float in and out of favor, depending on who you read. And oh, yes, all the links to keep us amused.

    Hope everyone enjoys the long weekend!

  25. Anonymous

    The best thing I have is a true heart.

    Thank you, Mira, for offering that truth to all of us.

  26. Anonymous

    99 bucks for an e-reader. Not bad.

  27. Jan Markley

    The Reading Room looks like a kool site. Thanks for passing on the link.

  28. Anonymous

    Quote: "EW wonders why there have been no authors on Dancing With the Stars."

    Steve Wozniak wrote "iWoz" and was on Dancing. But I suppose he only wrote one 'book'…

    This is quite ironic, because those of us with decades of experience in the tech industry have noticed the "major" publishing companies had no clue what was coming, and still have no idea what to do. Sadly, it's been spelled out for them time and again, by people who…

    "aren't authors."

    ~Supporter of the Ninja-feline destroying Space Monkey Revolution.

  29. Nathan Bransford


    Not quite sure what you feel publishers weren't prepared for?

  30. abc

    Nathan, your agent is an Aussie! I love Aussies! Aussie's tend to have a sweet tooth, like me. And they have the best accents and are they nicest country around. (the YA novel I'm working on is set in Australia, so I'm thinking about it a lot lately). Lucky you.

  31. Anonymous


    Surprised by your response, actually.

    Technology. They still aren't prepared. I (and many others in my field) can tell many still don't see the forest for the trees.

    Then again, maybe we're wrong. I just know where I'd place my bets, and it's not with the current gatekeepers.

    A great blog as usual…

  32. Nathan Bransford


    I just think it's kind of a pat response to say that publishers "don't get it." They've been preparing for the e-book transition for more than a decade. There are a lot of interesting digital initiatives in the pipeline. I don't think that every decision is perfect or that everyone in the industry uniformly "gets it," but I'd also be curious about what specifically you feel the industry as a whole isn't getting.

  33. Nathan Bransford

    Sorry that may have come across as bristle-y when I'm really just curious for your take, anon.

  34. Bane of Anubis

    "… blasters to global." Love that line.

  35. J. T. Shea

    Excellent Comment of the Week, Mira!

    Rick Daly's mention of GHOSTBUSTERS reminds me of something. Didn't Harold Ramis' character Egon declare 'Print is dead!'? A quarter of a century ago…

    Anonymous 9:39pm/10:17pm, I echo Nathan's questions. Also, Space Monkeys are cool, but Ninja Cats have eight extra lives.

  36. Sheila Cull

    Definition of FORUM

    a : the marketplace or public place of an ancient Roman city forming the center of judicial and public business
    b : a public meeting place for open discussion
    c : a medium (as a newspaper or online service) of open discussion or expression of ideas
    : a judicial body or assembly : court
    a : a public meeting or lecture involving audience discussion
    b : a program (as on radio or television) involving discussion of a problem usually by several authorities

  37. Mira

    Thanks to everyone who liked my comment that I haven't thanked yet. 🙂 It is very healing and motivating for me to know that what I learned touched others. Thank you.

    Jeff, I'm not an expert, but I think one good thought after pages and pages of junk is about on par for most writers. At least that's what I've read in writing books. And yes, I hope to back it up. 🙂

    So, I've gotten so much attention on this thread that it felt like I really shouldn't write another long post to comment on the links.

    But I have to comment on Nathan's wonderful links! He might think I didn't read them. So, I'll write a SHORT post. I really will. Hope I don't strain something.

    Nathan, your page critique was wonderful, as always. I learn so much! Thank you!!!! I want to announce that when I'm a rich and famous author, I will NOT go on DWTS. In case they were wondering. Funny Seinfeld video. I thought Tom Ferris was interesting and complicated, with all the different scenarios. Loved Kassia's article! Totally agree – I think, on all levels, publishers would benefit from more relationship with their customer base!

    On the same note – Yay! Social networking for READERS. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thank you(!)Nathan – statistics about male bias in advertising – bless you, you're wonderful! Love my e-reader, love it, love it, love it. Bought two books this weekend in 30 seconds. Yay Voyager! That's one of my reading genres, so yay! I thought Tahareh's ode to Silverstein was very clever! Every time I got to Natalies' site, I'm struck by what a cool, likeable person she is. I noticed your agent also represents the Book Thief. Well, of course. She has good taste. I couldn't see the video, but I'm sure it was fun.

    Phew. I did it. I discovered the trick is: no paragraph breaks. And I just want to add one thing – Nathan, you really do have fun links. Thank you!

    And thanks again to everyone for the nice things you said. Truly.

  38. Jeff S Fischer

    Mira, not to be too fussy about words, but I used the word pap and not junk. I didn't mean junk, as in trash. I thought you were that South African girl named Misha, not Mira, and according to Wiki pap is a sort of food. Although, to be honest I was going off my grandparents language, I usually write something and then look up the significance, the uncanny, I'm tellin' ya, but I meant more food for chewing, as in a pasture, which I will often read all day long, rather than intense thought after intense thought which I think the greats do. Some thoughts are sub to the main but it never bores me to turn the page. I just thought your thought was very much up there with a great novel, as long as that wasn't the only thought. I'm still working through this myself. Not to put you in league with me; god help you if you are.

  39. Mira

    Jeff, thank you for the compliment. 🙂

    And I'm new to this writing business, so we're probably in the same league – or it's likely you're ahead of me.

    I don't have any answers, of course. I guess we just have to keep writing and studying and hope that we reach people. I do think practice increases your craft and artistry and being in touch with yourself increases your depth. But there's so much here that's out of our control.

    I want the same thing that you want – so if you figure it out, let ME know! 🙂

  40. Anonymous

    from Anon @ 9/4 9:39

    Sorry Mr. Bransford for the late response. Too busy, unfortunately.

    First, your "bristling" is expected, and refreshing.

    Saying "don't get it" was strong, and I should have used a better term. But, let me explain:

    I've been neck-deep in technology and its business for decades. I chose to write because, after all, I'm an avid reader.

    Did reading that many books over 30 years really "qualify" me to lecture on, or even have knowledge of the publishing world? No. I was ignorant.

    Does using technology for many years (ipads, palms, phones, laptops)… qualify someone to say they understand the business of technology? No. But so many (that I've read) in the pub industry believe otherwise.

    Example: the 'agency model' hooplah earlier this year.

    Example#2: Pub insiders (not you) comparing ebook growth to mp3 sales growth over last 10 years. The comparison is very misguided.

    Again, maybe I'm wrong. Either way, sorry and I wont post anymore comments.

  41. Nathan Bransford


    No, not at all, I hope you post more. I think the industry has a lot to learn from people in the technology field, which is why I'm always hungry to hear specifics. Thanks for clarifying.


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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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