This Week in Publishing 10/8/10

by | Oct 8, 2010 | Uncategorized | 9 comments

Tento týden v publikování…

First off, thank you so much to everyone who entered the Guest Blog Contest Festival Event! There were actually so many spectacular entries that I decided to expand the number of contest winning slots. That’s right folks, this blog is going seven days a week. Well. At least until I get back. So! Please come back tomorrow for the first guest blog post! I have notified the winners, but shant reveal them so as to preserve the surprise.

Also, there will be no Page Critique Friday this week or next as I’m out of the office. I’ll be back on the 19th, enjoy the guest posts in the meanwhile.

Now then. Publishing news!

The biggest literary prize of them all, which you may know better as the Nobel Prize in Literature, was awarded to Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa for “his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.” He is the first South American to win the award since Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982. The US of A remains shut out since Toni Morrison’s win in 1993.

In possibly just as big news, Jonathan Franzen had a tough week in the United Kingdom. First he discovered during a reading that the books that were printed were from an earlier draft and contained errors (HarperUK issued an apology). Then his glasses were stolen from his face. No. Really. Not joking. The perp was later caught, and Franzen didn’t press charges. Don’t miss Patrick Neylan’s great roundup from the Guest Blog Contest.

The New York Post caught up with the owner of two of the most famous hands in the world: the hand model from the TWILIGHT COVER. (via GalleyCat)

In publishing economics news, the Wall Street Journal took a look at some of the factors behind declining advances in the publishing industry and their effect on literary fiction in particular. And a used book salesman who travels around scanning barcodes and trying to find profitable books talked about his profession and the unease and detachment he feels about his line of work.

And Malcolm Gladwell made some waves last week when he argued that social media is not an effective tool for social change. Writing for the New York Book Bench, Rollo Romig used Gladwell’s article as a jumping off point to consider what social media and social change do have in common: narratives. And writing for Change Observer, Maria Popova argues that Gladwell is “#wrong” about social media.

This week in the Forums: the share your good news thread, getting excited about Scott Westerfield’s BEHEMOTH, book recommendations for teen boys, how many books do you read a month, age progression in novels, and coming soon, NANOWRIMO!!

Comment! of! the! Week! J.T. Shea knocked this one out of the (Jurassic) park. In response to Wednesday’s question about self-publishing:

If the publishing dinosaurs do die out, I have a completely original plan. Let’s get their DNA from flies that sucked their blood and then got stuck in tree sap that later turned into amber. Then we fill in the gaps with reptile DNA (among other stupid mistakes) and clone them on a secret island theme park off the coast of Central America. Then we invite families with children to get eaten…I mean entertained by the revived dinosaurs.

I can see it now. ‘Run, Lex! It’s the Elsevierosaur! Oh no! There’s Tyrannosaurus Random! And there’s a Scholasticus right behind you! Not only will they tear you apart limb-from-limb and devour your remains, they’ll try to give you only 25% of the Ebook net!’

And finally, the Rejectionist was kind enough to pass me this incredible, incredible link. Harry Potter’s Facebook Page, Draco’s Twitter account, Hagrid’s Foursquare and more! Unbelievably funny.

Have a great weekend! See you when I’m back.


  1. swampfox

    Wouldn't mind going to that park, but don't forget the ice cream.

  2. Marilyn Peake

    I finished reading Franzen’s novel, FREEDOM, this past week. The man is a genius. How he can write so many separate characters in so many different stages of their life with such exquisite detail and incredible insight, as if he had lived through each and every stage, is mind-boggling. (Of course, most of the characters are dysfunctional and less than admirable, but they provide a wealth of insight into the culture within which they live.) My first reaction after completing the book: to feel like a complete and utter failure at writing compared to Franzen. I also felt deeply moved by Franzen’s picture of U.S. culture and why it is what it is right now – a kind of escapism to avoid some very deep and frightening issues for which everyone wants to devour entertainments in order to block out reality. And, as though to prove Franzen right, the literary world joined in, commenting more on his stolen glasses, his brouhaha with Oprah, and his personality than on what he had to say. La la la, scary information, don’t want to hear it. Unfortunately, I joined in, too. Couldn’t resist the Franzen glasses situation. Started sending out tweets about how maybe he writes through magic glasses, and if a writer just had those magic glasses, they could write with the same skill level as Franzen. I have taken somewhat to heart Franzen’s approach to writing by trying to stay off the Internet during writing sessions, and I did get a lot more done in a much more serious tone of writing than ever before.

    That was a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. I love literary books, and recently have discovered some incredible literary books published through small indie press. I’m planning to buy the novel SLEIGHT talked about in the article. I read TINKERS by Paul Harding, the novel that received a boatload of rejections, then was published by an indie press and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize last year. It was a beautifully written, very moving novel. I loved every minute of reading it. As a reader, I love good literary fiction, and will purchase it no matter who publishes it.

  3. Joseph L. Selby

    Holy crap, someone mentioned Elsevier?! When I say I used to work for them, the first response I almost always get is "Who?"

  4. Marilyn Peake

    Oooops, TINKERS won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year, not last year.

    Have a great week!

  5. Matthew Rush

    Have a great time in Eastern Europe NB!

  6. Mira

    Marilyn, I really liked your commentary on Franzen's book.

    Nathan – I'm so glad you're off having fun. I hope you have a lovely, refreshing, renewing wonderful time.

    But I will certainly miss having you around the blogosphere!

    But I will totally enjoy the guest posts – I guess there will be eleven (!) of them. How fun to have weekend posts – this is wonderful for everyone.

    I also want to say YAY for J.T.! That was a very funny and clever comment. Nice work, Mr. Shea.

    A couple links stood out for me. First, I think it's wonderful that a Peruvian won the Nobel Prize. Way overdue.

    In terms of the Franzen eyeglasses thing. Yes. Soon all famous authors will be dealing with the paparazzi and obsessive fandom. Matter of time. Utterly serious.

    The Wall Street Journal Article was both sensational and inaccurate. Boy, e-books really must be making a splash if the Wall Street Journal is resorting to anti-e-book propaganda, leaving out a few relevant facts, for example that it's the publisher's (heavily critiqued) decision to keep e-book royalty rates low, and that royalty rates for e-self-publishing are huge. Propaganda.

    Gladwell is wrong, wrong, wrong. Sorry, but he is. Social media is absolutely the best thing that ever happened for activism in the history of the world. Look at all the recent activity around the book about rape that was supposedly 'soft porn.' Powerful voices rose against this.

    Great Harry Potter site!

    congrats again to J.T.! Looking forward to the guest posts. 🙂

    Have a wonderful vacation, Nathan!

  7. J. T. Shea

    Jurassic Park? What's a Jurassic Park? Google…
    Who's this Michael Crichton? I've been pirated! Years ago! Time-travel, obviously.
    Oh, he's dead. But he wrote a book about pirates! Which was published posthumously.
    I'm haunted by Time-Traveling Pirate Ghost-Writer! A SEVEN FOOT TALL Time-Traveling Pirate Ghost-Writer!

    Seriously, Michael Crichton was great, not just tall. He drew his characters broadly and briefly, making them cool to the verge of coldness at times, but that seemed to suit his fast-moving economical tales. He made much of his movie of his own novel THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY in Ireland, in and around Cork, where I live. I will be very interested to see what Steven Spielberg makes of PIRATE LATITUDES.

    Mr. Shea, Mira? If we're going to run Barnes & Noble together, just call me John. And yes, both the WSJ and Gladwell articles oversimplify things, to say the least.

    Enjoy the Czech waters, Nathan! Though I might give the vodka enemas a miss…

  8. Ishta Mercurio

    Have a great time, Nathan! In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to tomorrow (and the day after that, and the day after that…).

    If the Twilight hands lady wants to make it as an actor, I don't think an article on how she carries an apple in her purse to prove that it was her will do it. Auditioning, maybe, but not going around convincing strangers of the Importance of her Hands in the Twiverse.

    I'm pleased about the Nobel award. That's a great piece of news.

    And congrats, J.T!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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!

My blog has everything you need to know to write, edit, and publish a book. Can’t find what you need or want personalized help? Reach out.


I’m available for consultations, edits, query critiques, brainstorming, and more.



Need help with your query? Want to talk books? Check out the Nathan Bransford Forums!