This Week In Publishing 10/1/10

by | Oct 1, 2010 | Uncategorized | 36 comments

Phis Teek Wn Iublishing

Page Critique Friday! The page up for critique is up for critique in the Forums for, uh, critique. Check it out here. UPDATE: my critique and some openings to consider avoiding here.

Also, before we get to the links, just a heads up that I’m participating in author Swati Avasthi’s charity auction to benefit the Family Violence Prevention Fund. There are lots and lots of great things up for bididng, including many signed copies of great books, and a query critique from yours truly.

Also also, in yesterday’s post I reversed the character names in FAT KID RULES THE WORLD. Gah! Please forgive me. Further proof that I need a copyeditor by my side at all times as an urgent public safety precaution.

The Rejectionist is having an incredible uncontest wherein people approximately a million times braver than I are sharing their hilarious/awesome/embarrassing writings from childhood. Head on over to enter yours!

There’s a new e-readable tablet on the horizon as Blackberry has introduced the Playbook, which will be released in early 2011. CNET’s got the specs along with a guess of pricing between $500-$1,000, and PWxyz has the publishing news: Kobo is planning a social book reading app that will incorporate BlackBerry Messenger, and Amazon announced that it is planning a Kindle app for the Playbook as well.

In other e-reader news, e-book platform Blio, which promises a more interactive e-book experience, was launched amid what PWxyz characterized as a “shakey” debut. Blio is working to fix the issues and will be expanding on its initial slate of 11,000 titles.

And in still further e-reader news, a Scholastic study reported that kids say they would read more if they had an e-reader. Oh yes. I remember that trick. But MOOOOOMMMMM, it’s EDUCATIONAL!!! Oh. And the same study suggests that 39% of kids think information on the Internet is “always” correct. Okay, wow. Kids, for the record: there IS a Santa Claus, everything you’ve read about Chuck Norris is completely true, and JACOB WONDERBAR is a work of nonfiction, so you might want to stock up on corndogs in case a man in a spacesuit comes around willing to trade you a spaceship. Just wanted to clear that up, there’s some bad information out there.

In writing and life of the writer news, in an article I agree with 1,000%, author Ann Patchett talks about the primacy of plot, Bryan Russell/Ink talks about choosing what to work on next and relates it to gravity, Tahereh has a hilarious post on the ten phases of rejection, Kate Schafer Testerman tackles one of the oft-asked query etiquette questions: can you resubmit a query?, and New York Magazine spotted American Book Review’s list of the 100 Best First Lines in Novels.

In a provocative post on Shrinking Violet Promotions, and perhaps a further sign that author sentiment toward social media seems to be ebbing, Sarah Prineas talked about how social media is a place to connect, not a place to sell. She couldn’t put it more starkly: “author shilling does not sell books,” and she cites blog tours and contests, Facebook fan pages, and retweets of book mentions as things that don’t work, and concludes that authors have more to lose than gain with self-promotion. Agree? Disagree? Personally I feel like it’s the execution of the marketing that’s more important than the method.

Further to Wednesday’s post about which book would prompt you to stop and talk to someone, The Rejectionist pointed me to a post in the new Paris Review blog, which has some great advice about which books to read on which NYC subway line. Hint: better bring a tome for the G.

And very sad news, literary agent Ralph Vicinanza, who over his long career represented many great authors and repped the foreign rights for Stephen King, Norman Mailer, and other luminaries, passed away this week.

This week in the Forums: there’s been an overall re-organization of the Forums including a new redesigned Ask Nathan forum that will hopefully result in easier browsability, so please check that out. Among the topics being discussed: paperback originals, whether to get an agent before submitting to a small press, gender roles and the pressure of Prince Charming, the passive voice is debated, dealing with getting stuck 1/3 of the way through a novel, and what’s your favorite song that tells a story?

Comment! of! the! Week! Goes! To! Honestly there were so many great comments in Tuesday’s post about Banned Books Week in the Internet Era that I couldn’t bear to choose just one. So I’m bestowing a collective Comment on the Week to everyone in that thread. Thanks for such interesting thoughts!

And finally, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, in the 13,872,985th sign of the supposed impending literary apocalypse, Snooki from Jersey Shore will be publishing a novel. There’s always a ton of handwringing about The State of Publishing and The End of Literature As We Know It whenever one of these celebrity deals gets announced, but as this great Millions article (and comments section) demonstrates: books by celebrities have a very long history. The literary world will keep turning.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Julia Rachel Barrett

    No way…I'm leaving the first comment? Impossible! You have some great links up today – glad to see you're human and suffer the same slings and arrows as the rest of us!
    Promo – maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but most of us have no other way to get the word out about our books – call it a necessary evil that we all hope and pray we will eventually not have to do. Happy weekend!

  2. J. T. Shea

    So 61% of kids think there's false information on the Internet? How cynical modern youth are! Everybody knows the Internet is infallible!

    Wow! I won Comment Of The Week! Well, okay, so did 95 others…

    Snooki's book deal IS a sign of the impending apocalypse, period. Not just literary apocalypse. The world will end when I end this sentence….Waiting…Still waiting…Maybe tomorrow…

  3. Tricia C.

    How funny. I just told my students yesterday that I thought Jersey Shore was a sign of the impending apocalypse.

  4. swampfox

    All right! Everybody won comment of the week. Except I didn't comment that day. 🙁

    And to top it off…word verification: crepity.

    Figures. Better be extra careful on my way home today.

  5. Katzie

    Excellent info as always. ^_- The link for your charity critique doesn't appear to be working, though. 🙁

  6. Remilda Graystone

    I can't wait to see what Snooki's book will be about… Most likely gym, tanning, and laundry. Thanks for the links, Nathan!

  7. M.A.Leslie

    I am from the Jersey Shore and I promise you that it is nothing like that. I do have to say though that it is depressing to know that Snookie will be published before I am. Sigh. Life goes on though.
    Maybe I should follow in her footsteps and start using crayons to write my manuscripts and queries.

  8. Anonymous

    I don't "from Jersey Shore" is necessary to identify *which* Snooki you are referring to…


  9. Johnaskins

    I went to that 100 best first lines page and found that what they are is the first lines of the 100 best novels, or what someone thinks are the 100 best novels. IMO the first lines of many aren't that great. I mean, "Call me Ishmael" is well known, but if you picked up the book at B&N without knowing anything about Moby Dick, would you read the second line?

  10. jjdebenedictis

    If Paris Hilton can do it without provoking the Four Horsemen out of their bathrobes and into their spurs, then Snooki can too.

    That Shrinking Violet post was really interesting! I do agree with it.

    I'm more likely to look at a book written by an internet-buddy, but my buying decisions are still strictly according to whether the book sounds like something I'd enjoy. And someone who shills their work constantly? Is not someone I consider an internet-buddy, so there really is no point in them doing so.

  11. abc

    Man, I wish I could enter the Rejectionist uncontest b/c I bet there was some juicy material in my childhood journals. I was a journaling maniac. But you know what? I don't have my childhood journals anymore. And you know why? Because my dad burned them all. Yes, HE BURNED ALL MY JOURNALS. He was in a purging mood and got it into his head that I agreed to it. What the hell? I'm not Jim Morrison.

    I still get upset when I think about it. Besides all the fun revisiting I could be doing, that material could be so useful in helping get the voice of YA in my YA writings! Damn you, Dad!

  12. reader

    Dear God, help us all.

  13. Trina

    Snooki? Oh dear God.

  14. Michael Johnston

    "In other e-reader news, e-book platform Blio, which promises a more interactive e-book experience"

    Is that really what people want? When I read, I want the world to go away; I don't even like the Kindle "feature" that faintly underlines passages and tells me how many folks have highlighted it. I don't care, Amazon!

  15. Nathan Bransford


    Yes, I think people will eventually want and even come to expect enhanced e-reading experiences. Even for just a novel without illustrations, my understanding is that Blio could potentially allow you to, say, read the e-book to a certain point, get in the car and have the audiobook pick up at where you left off, and then when you return to the e-book it will pick up at where the audiobook leaves off.

    And for nonfiction, it's the difference between B&W illustrations and graphs and color and videos. It allows a level of color and design that hasn't never been present in paper books because it wasn't economically viable.

    Sure, for an unillustrated novel that is just intended to be read, the difference isn't going to be that great. But there's an enormous amount of potential for creating better reading experiences.

  16. Matthew Rush

    You have a great weekend too Nathan. I'm truly sorry I didn't get to kick it with you and Tahereh and argue about whose shoes are cooler: Yours or Brian Wilson's.

  17. Jennifer Purdie

    I saw this comment on Twitter:

    Bad Idea: Snooki "writing" a book. Worse Idea: Being seen reading said "book"

  18. Kelly Wittmann

    Nathan, I know you're right about celebrity novel "writing," but somehow that knowledge does nothing to mitigate my irrational rage over this Snooki thing. Well, at least I can admit it's irrational, right?

  19. maine character

    abc – here you go.

    You're closer to being Jim Morrison than you'd thought.

  20. chajunkie


    I agree. Many of the first lines on that list would not inspire me to read on. I didn't even finish reading some of the longer ones. You know you're in trouble when "It was a dark and stormy night" (which is generally agreed to be the WORST opening line EVER) is on a list of 100 best first lines.

  21. Baron Korf

    Bah, that list of 100 is weak. I mean really, no "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." What gives?

    Or "Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost"? Granted that one is poetry and not a novel per se.

  22. J. T. Shea

    Regarding the Blio and similar enhanced reading experiences, I believe Michael Johnston and Nathan are BOTH right. People do and will want such features, but not always and everywhere. The broader question is why the paper book has survived and flourished at all. Why did cinema or radio or TV or games or the Internet or audiobooks not replace it? Each enhanced our experiences of stories in different ways, but none replaced either paper books or each other. Why such massive redundancy and so little cannibalization?

  23. Sheila

    I agree that social networking is not the way to sell your books. It's like a little kid whose mom keeps trying to stuff him with vegetables. Just leave me alone–okay? But–if you can get one person to read and like your book and tell others, you're off and running. How? I guess by writing a great book! (and having one good friend)

  24. Carol Riggs

    hahaHA, yes, I read Tahereh's 10 phases of rejection earlier today, and after I finished laughing, I had to share it with a couple of people. Pretty funny stuff. (Wouldn't be so funny if 99.999% of it weren't so TRUE, eh!??)

  25. InternationalNerd


    I love how PWxyz links Endgadget's comparison chart … too bad they claim it's a Sharp Galaxy tablet instead of Samsung. D'oh!

    The iPad will continue to do well because Apple's marketing is genius(ly) targeted to the right consumer space. However, I think the Galaxy tablet will take much more space than a Blackberry will.

    1. Galaxy tablet has a far superior screen. Blackberry = TFT.
    2. Developers are flooding to Android, Blackberry OS is being abandoned like the Titanic.
    3. 3G (all carriers). i.e. There not liming their selves like Apple with AT&T.

    The best ebook reader on iPad (IMO of course) is not ANY of the major players, but of course a 3rd party app called Stanza. (Whose company was bought by Amazon since it was so much better).

    Because of the above, I believe we'll see non-traditional publishing companies making the biggest strides in e-reading experience.

    And I agree, "books" will become graphical, with pictures, charts, etc. They'll be far more interactive than they are today. But Michael, you'll be able to turn these on and off at leisure. Just like on Stanza you can change the background at leisure.

  26. lotusgirl

    I'm so glad the literary world will keep on turning.

  27. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    The iPad will finally have competition? Apple got a big head start though.

    And since I'm about to launch on a virtual tour for my first book, I really hope it's not a waste!

  28. Sheila Cull

    Phis Teek Wn Iublishing. Nathan, this is so brilliantly written that it appears that creating it would've cost you 12 solid hours. But you'd need to have done it in less time. Isn't it nice to know another person is impressed by your success?

  29. Kristi Helvig

    Nathan, it's awesome of you to participate in the Family Violence Prevention auction. Thanks for all the links–I've never been bothered before by hearing about a quasi-celebrity being published, but Snooki? *sigh*

  30. Dawn Maria

    On the subject of authors and social media-

    I've had great success connecting with some of my favorite authors in my genre, like Claire Cook and Allison Winn Scotch on Twitter. In fact, Claire's promotion of her book tour led me to attend a signing of hers in CA, even though I live in AZ. We had a Twitter discussion that led to meeting at her book signing and then going to drinks afterward.

    Admittedly, that episode says a lot more about the generosity of Claire Cook than the brilliance of Twitter, but hey, I had a drink with one of my favorite authors! Without the personal interaction online (yes that sounds like an oxymoron) I doubt it would have happened at all.

  31. Dawn Maria

    On the subject of authors and social media-

    I've had great success connecting with some of my favorite authors in my genre, like Claire Cook and Allison Winn Scotch on Twitter. In fact, Claire's promotion of her book tour led me to attend a signing of hers in CA, even though I live in AZ. We had a Twitter discussion that led to meeting at her book signing and then going to drinks afterward.

    Admittedly, that episode says a lot more about the generosity of Claire Cook than the brilliance of Twitter, but hey, I had a drink with one of my favorite authors! Without the personal interaction online (yes that sounds like an oxymoron) I doubt it would have happened at all.

  32. Mira

    Ah geez, school sucks. No time. No time, no time. Sadly, I may need to postpone my completely odd but predictably long responses to all of your links, Nathan, until I'm out of school. I haven't had time to read them! Arrggh. I haven't had time to visit the forums! Arrgghh. Time, time, time. Ahhh well. At least I'm being EDUCATED.

    I will say, I read the post, and it's very funny. You're funny, Nathan. I also read the page critique, and you are very good at that. Don't know if I've said that before.

    I also think it's wonderful that you're participating in an auction for such a worthy cause!

    Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

  33. Maria Kenney

    I personally don't mind shameless self-promotion via social media. We get it from all directions, and in the end it's our choice what we want to tune in to/purchase/read. I also agree, Nathan, that execution is important. No one wants to be accosted daily by an obvious marketing scheme, but most people are happy to get such information from the internet (isn't that what it's for?). Personally, I follow all my favourite authors on facebook. I want to be the very FIRST to know when their latest novel will be out.

    Perhaps the 100 Best First Lines in Novels aren't "Best" because they make you want to read on (though, c'mon, most do) but because they are strange, and unconventional, and sometimes even offensive. They don't necessarily draw the reader into the plot (though, again, most do!) but into the striking absurdity of something exciting and fresh and never-been-done-before. Even the "dark and stormy night" of #22 could have been cutting-edge in the 1830s – just as "bright cold day" (#8) would be a cliche if recycled. I haven't read half of those novels, but just scanning their first lines on that site made me shiver. Oh the importance of the first line.

    I wish My Booky Wook wasn't already taken, because I would buy Snooki's Booky Wook on title alone.

  34. Jan Markley

    Loved the 100 best lines – but they forgot this one from Charlotte's Web: "Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

  35. flibgibbet

    Re, the social meda discussion.

    I might be alone in this, but I don't WANT to know much about an author before I read their book/s. I want to experience the story without bias. Without the author's personality/exploits coloring the experience.

    As would-be writers we're told over and over not to intervene on the page (advice I agree with), so if a writer's public persona becomes as big or bigger than the story, isn't it sort of the same thing? Author intrusion? (Snooki's book is a case in point. We already don't like it and we haven't even read it yet).

    Same is true in my own limited experience—the friends/family that I've allowed to read my WIP, find it difficult to separate me from the project because they know me too well.

    For a reader, I think the author is like a magician, and magicians never tell because they'd spoil the illusion. (For a would-be writer, however, these insights are a gift. It IS nice to know that great authors write shaky first drafts).

    Am I truly the only one who feels this way?


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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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