The Last Few Week in Books 4/15/13

by | Apr 15, 2013 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

Photo by me. Instagram!

Lots of links!

But first, in case you missed it last week the Louisville Cardinals won the National Championship, which means Susanne7799 was the winner of the 5th Annual Blog Bracket Challenge! By a wide margin, actually. It also means Ted Cross finished in second place for the third consecutive year. Amazing! Ted is officially the Buffalo Bills of the tournament challenge. Susanne, please contact me for your prize, and Ted, contact me as well I’m sure we can think of something to celebrate three years winning silver.

Thanks to BookCourt for hosting me yesterday, and in case you missed that one I have one more upcoming event this Saturday at noon at Books of Wonder in Manhattan. Come on by!

There were two fabulous and thought-provoking articles recently about feminism and young adult fiction that I highly recommend checking out. The first was by Rachel Lieberman, in which she discusses how to develop a good feminist narrative without making it preachy or propaganda. And my good friend Sarah McCarry, aka The Rejectionist, had a tour de force essay in The Rumpus about the implications of reader reactions to Lorraine Scheidt’s Uses for Boys.

Authors’ Guild president and bestselling author Scott Turow took to the New York Times to blame cheap foreign editions, copyright law, low e-book royalties, search engines, e-book piracy, professors, libraries, the potential of used e-book sales, Amazon, and devaluation of copyright for “the slow death of the American author.” I kind of died a slow death while reading that Op-Ed, and plan to devote a full post to it tomorrow.

So, we all know that Fifty Shades of Grey made massive amounts of money. But just how much? Enough to prop up the entire multinational company above Random House.

Why exactly did Amazon acquire Goodreads? I say to eliminate a potential competitor. Jordan Weissman says because Goodreads has remarkable insight into hardcore book buyers. Ezra Klein wonders if it’s to hasten social reading.

Agent Rachelle Gardner spotted a great quote about what happens when sales guys run companies instead of product people, and extrapolates to a publishing industry that too often is driven by what sales people think will sell instead of editorial teams.

Reddit’s co-founder took to Reddit to ask about which book promotion activities worked. GalleyCat rounded up some of the best suggestions.

Night Shade Books has been on the rocks lately, and is trying to sell to two companies, in a deal many agents and authors have criticized. Agent Andrew Zack sharply criticized the initial deal, which was later improved, Zack and others were more satisfied with that one. If you can trace through all the back and forth it’s actually a very good primer on publishing terms and contracts.

In other publishing news, Penguin will sell e-books to libraries again, the Guardian has a solid post on 10 ways self-publishing has changed the books world, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reminds shareholders: authors are our customers too.

And Richard Nash has written an article about the business of literature that several people have sent me that is apparently very good but I haven’t had a chance to read yet. I will soon! Busy week!

Comment! of! the! past! few! weeks! goes to Michael Offutt, who has an interesting response to the post about whether we’ll all be publishers in the future:

Maybe what’s needed is a revamp of the traditional publishing model with regard to bookstores. Allow me to explain: 

Best Buy just partnered with Samsung following Apple’s model of featuring tech giants having their own stores within a retail space and then having those specialists who work for the parent corporation on site to assist in picking out products. 

Why couldn’t Barnes and Noble or another kind of brick and mortar store do the same thing? 

Why couldn’t you have retail space divided up among traditional publishers like Random House and Knopf with specialty spaces and employees that work those spaces there to talk about their books?

And finally, if we needed any further proof that success and popularity in the future will be increasingly (if not infinitely) democratized, the NY Times has a really interesting profile of YouTube star Jenna Marbles, who has now racked a billion (yes a billion) views.

Have a great week!


  1. Matthew MacNish

    Techdirt debunked the Scott Turow thing pretty well. Let me know if you want me to look up the link.

    Ah Night Shade. So many great books. So many poor friends. They did throw great parties, though.

    And congrats to Mike Offut, he makes a great point!

  2. Mary

    Jenna Marbles is awesome. As a writer, I envy her for making a career out of doing something she loves.

  3. Dave

    A lot of great links! Thanks for sharing. I've read a few of those articles now. Also good point about YouTube. It's always great to try and establish a social media connection with fans.

  4. abc

    Oh, AND ANOTHER THING, Oh my Gosh, I really, really, really, really LOVED Sarah McCarry's piece in (on? at?) The Rumpus. EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT RIGHT NOW!

  5. Maya Prasad

    Thanks for the links, Nathan! The Night Shade thing really is a good primer on contracts (and makes this newbie author nervous).

    One correction: I think you miscredited the post on Ingrid Sundberg's blog, which was a guest post by Rachel Lieberman

  6. Matthew MacNish

    And Sarah's article made me cry. Thanks a lot, Nathan.

  7. Anonymous

    With regard to the Rachelle Gardener link…I'm not sure that you can apply the same analogy to publishing. In other words, Steve Jobs was talking about product people for specific products and there was very little subjectivity involved. And I'm not sure the comparison to editors is valid because editors acquire books based on subjective taste. They choose books based on what they love, and not necessarily always on what they think people are going to love. And your link to Fifty Shades of Grey might be a good example of this because most editors would have passed that book by based on subjective taste. Yet look at what FS did for the publisher and all those who work there…in spite of all the negative comments from publishing professionals.

    I also read where something like 25% of e-books now being read are self-published. I'm not sure it's that many, and I do read varying stats on this, however, most of those self-published books are/were rejected by editors with specific tastes. Frankly, I tend to lean more toward sales and marketing people when it comes to taking on books they think the public will buy and read. And if the past is prologue I think it's already been proven that trad publishing was not on its game for far too long.

    So while I think Gardener's enthusiasm about Steve Jobs and his quotes are valid, I also find it interesting she didn't read it until just now. I made a point of reading the book the instant it was released strictly to see how it would apply to publishing. And I gained a lot of insight from it, too. However, she fails to mention that Jobs also was highly in favor of price fixing e-books and controlling the market that way (sales and marketing), and she also fails to mention the DOJ ruling last year with regard to that topic. Basically, and I could be wrong, I don't think Jobs would have agreed with her post 🙂

  8. Anonymous

    I'm confused by the Feminism and YA writing post. There's nothing she lists that's really feminist…it just seems like common sense story development to me. I wonder what I'm missing…again…


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!