This Week in Books 10/8/11

by | Oct 8, 2011 | Uncategorized | 19 comments

This week! Books!

What a week.

Now that I’m the social media manager at CNET rather than a literary agent (Note for emphasis: Not a literary agent. No more queries, pleaaasssseeee!!!), I’m at the whims of the tech news cycle and it doesn’t get much bigger than this week. I’ve had my nose to a screen pretty much nonstop.

The life of Steve Jobs has been endlessly parsed and discussed and debated since his passing (here’s a massively comprehensive roundup from CNET), and it’s amazing how deep his influence runs. To just take one little corner of the world, the publishing industry, he had a massive impact. For someone who famously said that no one reads anymore, he sure shook up the book world.

The iPad ushered in a completely new way of reading that will transform books forever. Sure, e-ink readers are still popular, but tablets will soon be ubiquitous and we’ll increasingly do our reading not on paper but on screens.

And even beyond the reading experience, the app store model is now how the Big 6 publishers sell their e-books, resulting in curiosities like e-books sometimes costing more than hardcovers. His influence is everywhere.

We lost a great innovator way too soon. He’ll definitely be missed.

Meanwhile, I managed to snag some links from the past few weeks in between all the frantic tweeting and Facebook posting I’ve been doing for work, and here they be. Oh, and for all the latest tech news (and to see what I do for my day job, follow CNET on Facebook and Twitter!)

First up, it sure seems that interest in self-publishing is running very high, if the fantastic comments on last Thursday’s post are any indication. And agent Sarah LaPolla had a really awesome week of posts on all things self-publishing. First was her own take on the self-publishing landscape (along with three valid worries about it), and then some really great interviews with Marilyn Peake, Tracy Marchini, Karen Amanda Hooper, and Michelle Davidson Argyle. Check it out!

Dare I say blog fatigue is setting in among the bloggerati? Author Natalie Whipple admitted that she’s tired of blogging (Internet negativity being a big factor), and none other than J.A. Konrath is taking an indefinite hiatus, saying he’s tired of screaming. I’ll post more about this on Monday – speaking personally I haven’t lost the blogging love, but logistically it’s definitely hard to keep up.

In writing advice news, the Children’s Literature Network has an amazing collection of thoughts on voice, editor Alan Rinzler has advice on pursuing traditional publication from three amazing editors, Patricia Wrede talks about character development (via Livia Blackburne), and io9 has a great post by Charlie Jane Anders about the ten types of writer’s block and how to overcome them.

“Big” books seem obvious in retrospect, but they often start as seemingly small ideas. Agent Betsy Lerner has an amazing post on this phenomenon.

Reader Noreen pointed me to a really fascinating article on the way fiction has influenced our perception of reality, which wraps up with the layered satire of Stephen Colbert. Really interesting stuff.

And Jennifer Hubbard has a great collection of inspiring posts.

This week in the Forums, discussion Steve Jobs’ death, your most random writing fodder moment, multimedia e-books, is blogging a bad idea for writers, discussing CreateSpace, and the future of YA. Oh, and Rachel Ventura created a cool blog logo based on Nathan’s hot dogs!

Nathan's Famous Writer Blog

Comment! of! the! week! I should probably say weeks! goes to Matthew MacNish, who had a great summary of Stieg Larsson’s prose:

The writing is kind of like Swedish architecture and design: austere, yet functional.

And finally, Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address has been watched over 10 million times, but if you haven’t yet watched it please do yourself a favor and do so:

Have a great weekend!


  1. Bob

    The agent's blog isn't quite right in that she confused Locke selling one million eBooks at .99 with earning one million dollars. Two different beasts.

    Eisler didn't walk away to self-publish, he went with another publisher called Thomas and Mercer for the same deal.

    I think a big problem are the rumors and misconceptions floating around that people believe. I keep seeing the same names touted as the top "indie" authors, yet when you examined where they are now, they're signed with agents or publishers. Nothing wrong with that, but writers need to understand why they aren't walking down the apparently green path of self-publishing.

  2. John Stanton

    Creating a good book is a labor-intensive bitch of a job.

    I would love to have someone handling all the work for me. The paradox is that if a self pub is selling enough books to get attention from a big traditional publisher, the writer has already done most of the work. At that point they have to decide if the increased sales volume from a big publisher can offset the bottom line bite that publisher will take.

    A famous reality TV star with no record of ever having said anything slightly intelligent will be approached by or will approach a big publisher and together they will produce a well formatted, well edited piece of crap with beautiful cover art.

    … not going to happen in the self pub world

  3. Livia

    I think there is a bit of blogging backlash now. The new shininess is gone, and people are starting to actually think about it and evaluate the pros and cons. Which is a good thing, I think.

    Bob raises an interesting point about the "top indie authors" actually not being completely indie. To me, that says that there is a lot of room for new publishing models halfway between traditional and indie.

    (And thanks for the shout out!)

  4. Anonymous

    "The agent's blog isn't quite right in that she confused Locke selling one million eBooks at .99 with earning one million dollars. Two different beasts."

    Unfortunately, those who have come late to the party don't know…or don't understand…what the pioneers have been doing for a long time. And they talk about what they've just learned at the proverbial watercooler instead of what's been happening. I've seen more than one blog post by literary agents that are way off the mark. It's almost as if they are trying to reinvent the concept of Indie publishing/self-publishing. One blogging agent even confuses established e-publishers with self-publishing and that's not a difficult concept to grasp. But it is an insult to successful e-publishers who've been around for a long time. I do know that with almost every blog post you read nowadays…excluding this blog…you have to take into consideration that not all the information is going to be accurate.

    On another note, thanks to pioneers like Steve Jobs and a lot of other people who saw digital books as the next step in publishing, it's been amazing so far.

  5. Matthew MacNish

    Hah! This is funny, because I've always wanted to win comment of the week, but when a friend emailed me, I thought for sure it would be for the comment on "Do You Read Books Straight Through" post.

    Not that I'm complaining, that was quite a brilliant comment as well.

    Anyway, the work you put into this little venture for all of us really is appreciated, Nathan. I haven't been blogging half as long as you, and the amount of work that goes into it is so much more than I ever would have guessed. I have a lot of friends with very popular blogs who are getting burned out too, but not me. Not yet.

  6. Marilyn Peake

    Wonderful tribute to Steve Jobs, Nathan! He will truly be missed.

    I'm honored and delighted to find my name on your blog, as one of the writers interviewed by Sarah LaPolla! Finding my name on your blog has added icing to the cake of my wonderful week being interviewed by Sarah. You and Sarah LaPolla are two of my very favorite blogging agents.

    I’m looking forward to checking out the many links you provided in This Week in Books 10/8/11. Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Pam

    Gosh Nathan, my speculative, sci fi, literary, steampunk was done at 500,000 words and I was going to query you. Now what will I do?

  8. Rick Daley

    You blog tops the list in my Google Reader for consistency…It's most consistent in terms of posting, quality, entertainment, and information. I hope you don't burn out!

    Self-publishing will continue to evolve, as will traditional publishing. At the end of the day, though, it will be the quality of the published book that will be talked about, more than the path to publication. Good books will come from both sources, as will books of lesser quality.

    There will be growth in options and opportunities for the industry as a whole.

    WORD VERIFICATION: sneses. What happens after your nose starts itching from hayfever.


  9. Marilyn Peake

    Ooooops. I just realized I wrote "You and Sarah LaPolla are two of my very favorite blogging agents." I should have said, "You and Sarah LaPolla are two of my very favorite people blogging about the publishing industry." I do realize you're no longer an agent, and I find your posts about the tech side of publishing very valuable as well. 🙂

  10. Anonymous

    I think the "real" bloggers will remain. I think those who were only trying it out or doing it to promote something will fizzle out. I've seen more blogs come and go than I can count. I've seen more people in the pubilshing industry come and go than I can count. But the good ones always remain.

  11. Mira

    Wow, Nathan. I've been trying to get through all the links, but I've only made it through a couple so far. But, they are good links, so I've got reading to do this week!

    It was fun to see Mathew and Marilyn spotlighted! Fun to think there's a community of people here that I know and am rooting for.

    In terms of your blogging, I absolutely love your blog, it's fun and informative and thought provoking, and you are an extremely generous host! But I want you to take care of yourself too!! So, whatever works for you to find balance is the best, imho.

  12. ginny martyn

    Thank you SO much for "this week in books". It is my main source for publishing information. Seriously.

  13. Will

    I'm definitely suffering blogging fatigue, what with revamping my WIP entirely and having college to deal with as well…I feel like I'd be letting my few readers down if I quit, though.

    I'm off to peruse that link to the blogging thread in the forums, but before I do I will say that while it takes away time I could be writing and offers an easy procrastination route, it still feels good to connect with other writers via a blog. Maybe it's just that feeling of validation, of actually mattering somewhat, that us novice writers need, but I'd say it's still something worth looking at despite my mediocre success with it.

  14. Michelle Davidson Argyle

    Hehe, I love that logo! And thanks for the shout out for Sarah's blog series on self-publishing and small press publishing. It was truly an honor to interview with her. 🙂

  15. Anonymous

    The problem with CNET's twitter account is that they don't follow anyone back. How condescending and arrogant! I'll not be following.


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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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