This Week in Books 3/11/11

by | Mar 12, 2011 | Uncategorized | 23 comments

This week in books! Just a little late!

I wasn’t able to get this up on Friday as I was watching the fabulous Stringer Belle and todayokay at the Hotel Utah Thursday evening, but I saved up lots and lots of links for your weekend! Oh, and if you want to see Stringer Belle yourself, I shall see you at Cafe du Nord on April 21st. In the meantime, give Take This Song a listen. Good stuff!!

This week I also had the pleasure of participating in a podcast with Mike Wolf, in which I talk about what I do in my new job, what it was like leaving agenting, and some talk about the future of publishing. (Check out Mike’s awesome interview with Seth Godin as well)

The YA Mafia wars heated up around the blogosphere as people wondered: Is there a YA Mafia? Who’s in it? How do I avoid swimming with the YA fishes? Basically, accusations of cliquishness have been flying and hashtags were formed. YA Highway has a helpful summary, and Jenn Laughran, Ally Carter and Natalie Whipple were among those weighing in. My response: Yes, there are cliques on the Internet. No, it’s not a conspiracy. Yes, I’m in a top secret underground blog alliance. No, we won’t kill you. Yes, I’m kidding.

If you sold 40 million books would you keep your day job? Jeff Kinney did! The author of the Wimpy Kids phenomenon has kept up on the website Poptropica, a virtual website for pre-teens that he developed the idea for. Pretty cool.

Blogging. Does it help your writing career or is it a waste of time? Should I stop here and call it an afternoon? Well, Justine Musk wrote a pretty cool defense of blogging that has some very good blog advice mixed in as well. Basically: be patient, don’t obsess over your stats, and write some epic $*#& (via Jenn Laughran)

Ever wonder how a book-to-film deal happens? Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a great two part series explaining how it works.

Problem: Authors can’t sign Kindles. Solution: Invent a really cool app that does just that.

The newest publishing phenomenon isn’t vampires. Instead: A book about an eleven year old who had a near death experience and met Jesus. The New York Times took a look at the story behind HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, which has sold 1.5 million copies and counting.

What’s in a name? Well, for Hadley Freeman the answer is: A lot. She wrote a fascinating article on her obsession with the other Hadley (Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife), the burden Hadley Richardson represented for her, and how she ultimately came to appreciate Richardson thanks to a new bio.

And in couldn’t-fit-it-elsewhere news, Ward Shelley created an amazing science fiction flow chart, and the people behind Funny or Die are launching a book imprint.

This week in the Forums, I launched a new forum dedicated to social media, so if you have social media news, want to talk blogs or Facebooks or what have you, please stop by! It’s way easier to register for the forums than it used to be, so don’t hesitate to register. Also being discussed: dystopian book recommendations, sex in fiction, writing in a genre that’s been “done,” and, of course, crayons!

Comments! of! the! Week! This has truly been one of the great comments week in this blog’s history. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has weighed in, it’s been completely fascinating. I already highlighted some great comments on Tuesday, but wanted to post two more. First, Jim Duncan talks about some of the benefits of traditional publishing (which he expanded on in his own post):

Such an interesting topic. The one thing that struck me most about Hocking’s post is that she stated how much her efforts at trying to make success have cut into her ability to have time to write. For me, this is the biggest drawback to the whole self-publishing business. I love the idea. I cringe at the massive amount of time and effort required to have any chance at success.

Honestly, I’d rather be writing. My chances overall are still greater through a publishing house, and they do their best to take care of things I’d rather not take the time and effort to deal with. I’m not a full-time writer. I work, have a family, and such, so writing is not a full-time job. Self-publishing is not a “do it on the weekend” gig, not if you want to have a chance at success. It is it’s own business, and unless you can afford to hold down two jobs, I still don’t recommend this as a first or best option for writers.

Sure, it’s fine if you are just wanting to get your story out there, and yes, good things can happen. They do and will continue to do so, but I don’t believe a lot of writers get how much beyond the writing it can be to deal with all aspects of putting a well done story out there.

For now, I’m very happy letting others take care of many of the things I don’t want and can’t afford to be involved in. Perhaps one day, if I’m selling well enough to cover the costs of living, raising kids, having insurance, and so on, I’ll delve headfirst into this realm, but for now, I’m content with a paper publisher (and yes, they’ll have an e-version available), and having the time to write more stories.

And Karen Wester Newton on Thursday’s post about the pricing curiosities of e-books vs. hardcovers:

I really think publishers are missing one key fact with their current strategy. In the past, they would put out the hardback first, then a year or so later the paperback. Readers who didn’t want the hardback, either because of cost or space issues, would notice the paperback on the New Releases table when they went to the book store, and say, “Great, it’s out; now I’ll buy it.”

A lot of eBook buyers don’t go to the bookstore anymore. There won’t be new reviews when the paperback comes out, and the publishers lower the price on the ebook (if they remember; it does not always happen). How will the ebook reader know the book he was interested is now a more reasonably priced ebook? Generally speaking, he probably won’t know. So publishers may be protecting the revenue they get from the reader who will buy the hardback instead, but they are also losing revenue from the reader who doesn’t want the hardback at all and will only buy the ebook. It’s question of which number is greater. As the number of ebook buyers grows, publishers need to find a way to not only manage price changes but let readers know about the changes.

And finally, here’s an incredible glimpse at the future, courtesy of Corning Glass. My favorite YouTube comment: Our future will be vulnerable to rocks.

Have a great weekend! Which is already here!


  1. Munk

    When you say, "Yes, I'm kidding." Does that mean you're kidding about being in a top secret underground blog alliance or that you WILL kill me?
    Please don't answer if your response puts me at any greater risk.
    P.S. I am NOT the guy staring at you from across the coffee shop.

  2. Christine Tyler

    I feel naive about it sometimes, but when it comes to blogging, and all the pros and cons of platform-building or marketing or whatever, my response is just, "It's fun."

    It's fun learning. It's fun building. It's fun making friends. It's fun writing, and reading what others write. I imagine it's fun getting published. Do it because you love it, or don't do it.

    As long as having fun is not a waste of time, then I'll do it, and when you're in it for the enjoyment, suddenly e-publishing, and rumors of a YA mafia just become another colorful pane of glass in the stained window you're looking through.

  3. Remilda Graystone

    Thanks for the links, and I've got to say: The future now scares me. It looks cool, but…it does look very vulnerable to rocks. :p

  4. L.G.Smith

    Ha! Munk, I had the same reaction. Not sure which part he was kidding about, but I'm keeping a low profile.

    Thanks for the links. As a new blogger I appreciate the article on, um, blogging.

  5. Jay

    Whenever I see these posts, I read "This Week in Boobs."


  6. McKenzie McCann

    You know, there seems to be a huge obsession with e-publishing as of late. But I think everyone flips their lid over it a little. It is the future. The destiny of everything is to someday cross swords with computers.

    It does raise the question of which way should authors go. In reality, companies do both. They will put more money in whichever works.

  7. Anna

    Thanks for the link to YAHighway. I was so confused about what people were talking about re: YA Mafia-now I know.

  8. Mira

    My goodness. I don't even know where to start.

    Wow and thanks.

  9. A Paperback Writer

    Your reference to the Hotel Utah thoroughly confused me, as the Hotel Utah I knew (uh, that would be the one in Utah) has been gone for a couple of decades (converted into offices and a church). I had no idea there was a Hotel Utah in San Francisco (but, thanks to Yahoo!, I am aware of that).
    Wow. You just learn things every day around here.

  10. Libby

    Lots and lots and lots and lots of GREAT links. Thanks!

  11. Bryan Russell (Ink)

    Bonus weekend post! Well, sort of. And Stringer Belle! I love her already! Reminds me of Feist, and that's a good thing.

  12. Kate Hart

    Thanks for mentioning YA Highway – we appreciate it! 🙂

  13. Cyndy Aleo

    I am so fail working in tech and not having any clue that Kinney was involved in Poptropica. That's one of the kids' favorite sites and the Wimpy Kid books are my boys' favorite series, and I feel like I should have somehow known this!

  14. Shannon Chamberlain

    This whole Heaven is for Real phenomenon reminds me of the Weeds episode where Andy and Doug dress up as itinerant preachers and baptize the meth addict in the blow up pool at the on-the-lam trailer park.

  15. Adam Heine

    A lot of the stuff in that video seems pretty awesome. But I don't know if I want my boss to be able to chat with me while I'm brushing my teeth, aye?

  16. Elie

    Our future will be vulnerable to rocks – and dirt. And systems failure. All I could think about was the unnatural, sparkling cleanliness and emptiness in that vision of the future. But fun as sci fi!

  17. D.G. Hudson

    Great reading material for a time-change Sunday. Thanks for the link collection, Nathan!

    Getting a little music culture is always a good reason (excuse) to post a little late. We love you anyway, nearly-always-there faithful blogger.

    Blog alliances – are we going the way of Survivor? Gad, I hope not, too much backstabbing and dirty talk about your fellows.

    Justine Musk's post is a great read – I agree with her sentiments and her advice. Blogging may be going through an evolving period, perhaps to acquire more validity, but blogging is far from dead.

    Love the Hadley Freeman post, as I'm a Hemingway fan (which she isn't), but she's right on with how the big guy treated his women. (a case of too many desserts to choose from for a guy with a sweet tooth for women) I want to read Paris Wife, simply because of the subject matter (Paris and Hemingway – what's not to like?)

    As a sci-fi writer, I loved the Science Fiction flow chart. It's interesting to see what impacts Science has had on writing since it came to prominance.

    Have a great weekend!

  18. marion

    Is there supposed to be a link to Corning Glass? If so, it isn't there.
    Love the Sci Fi flow chart. Too weird! Will probably put it on my new blog, & throw the link out to my FB friends.
    Thanks for giving a steady stream of info. & fun.

  19. Liesl

    That commercial kind of creeps me out. Everyone looks just a little too clean and perky, like their computers have erased their need for actual thoughts and emotions. It's something out of FEED by M.T. Anderson.

    And where are all the bums on the street? Did they zap them into their little devices? Do not deny me my bums on the street.

  20. K. C. Blake

    I understand what Hocking means. Because my self-published ebook is coming out in June, I am online promoting it more than I am writing. In the end, I hope it will be worth it.

  21. abenning

    Authors can TOTALLY sign eReaders. I have about 10 autographs on the back side of my Nook. I usually also have a paper book for the author to sign, but they never hesitate to sign the Nook. Shannon Hale, Laurie R. King, Rhys Bowen… And, if I decide to sell my Nook, I can either sell it as is, or pop off the back and replace it.


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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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