The number of links this week may set a TWIP record, but holy cow was there good stuff out in the publishophere this past week. Let’s get to it!
But first, before we get to the links, today may be your last chance to see the award winning (not really) circa-1999 design of this blog, featuring its square, awkwardly fonted logo and its “I slapped this thing together in a weekend” design ethos. Barring technical catastrophe the blog will be transitioning over the weekend to a fresh new look courtesy of the wildly talented web designer Sean Slinsky. Pardon our dust as we get things running.
And there may just be a few more surprises in store come Monday.
Now for real let’s get to it:
First up, in the wake of the controversy about their new self-publishing/vanity arm, Harlequin announced that the new outfit will be called DellArte Press. Which is, um, an interesting name for, um… moving on!
There have been some anonymous murmurings in the comments section that I have been too focused and too pro-e-books lately, to which I would reply: 1) umseriously this e-book thing is kind of a big deal and 2) let me repeat I am not and would never advocating getting rid of print books and/or bookstores. To that end, Amazon recently released a list of the Best Book Covers of 2009, which feature some awesome can’t-be-replaced-by-e-reader design. (via The Millions)
And further to that point, Bloomsbury publisher/editorial director Peter Ginna, who recently launched the must-read blog Dr. Syntax, posted an ode to the print publisher’s secret weapon: the book designer.
But the e-book world marches on. My client Jennifer Hubbard thinks about what the e-book future might look like, and Mike Shatzkin has a fantastic three point publisher plan for fighting piracy. My favorite is the first one, which entails getting proactive about spreading fake book files on file-sharing sites. Fight dirty, publishers!
And lots of people have been wondering what will happen in an era where getting published is as easy as uploading a file to a website. GalleyCat asks: do we really need three million books? (To which those three million authors answer: yes for my book, no for the others!). And meanwhile, via How Publishing Really Works comes an article on how self-publishing doesn’t (usually) work.
And finally in e-book news, J.A. Konrath has eleven bold e-book predictions for 2010, including e-readers for less than $99 and the rise of estributors.
Just kidding, that wasn’t the last e-book link. Alan Kaufman wrote an article comparing the closing of bookstores and the rise of e-books to… the Krystallnacht of Nazi Germany. No, really. He writes, “The book is fast becoming the despised Jew of our culture.” Also: the article is available on the Internet. Horrors! (via HTMLGIANT)
Upstart Crow announced the details of the second annual auction for author Bridget Zinn, who has had quite a tumultuous year getting married and getting a book deal while also fighting cancer. Details about the auction, which includes signed books, manuscript critiques and more, here.
The Rejectionist went and got all famous on us, writing an article for The Stranger about what one agent assistant’s inbox looks like.
Cormac McCarthy’s old Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter is being auctioned off today, and you people had better bring the cash because I’m going to outbid all y’all and in fact…. um…. oh. It’s expected to go for between $15,000 and $20,000. Nevermind! Maybe I can bid for a bottle of white-out instead. UPDATE: the typewriter sold for $254,500 (via @JBD1). Rumors that this was purchased for me as a Christmas present: unconfirmed. Also the rumors were started by me.
Pimp My Novel has a fantastic two part post on the factors that go into how many copies of an author’s book an “account” will order. Pimpin’ a novel ain’t easy indeed.
In Curtis Brown literary agent interview news, I was recently interviewed by The Writer’s [Inner] Journey, and my colleague Ginger Clark was interviewed by Editor Unleashed.
Rachelle Gardner posted a plea for authors to stop complaining about agent response times, and author Lauren Barnholdt chimed in that “Agents not responding to your email is not the reason you are not getting published.” Meanwhile, INTERN marveled at the mere fact that with book publishing you can actually send things to agents and editors and have them read for free. Unlike, say, patent applications.
And in somewhat related news, Good.is had an article about a study suggesting that happy writers don’t generally make good writers. Get cranky, people! (via The Book Bench)
Almost finally, Moonrat posted a very helpful list of things authors should expect from their agents, and Kate Schafer Testerman added some things to the list as well.
And finally finally, via the Book Cover Archive blog comes a fantastic video from the New Zealand book council. A journey through a book:
P.S. This is the future:
Have a great weekend!
The Comcast/NBCU merger, while mosting posing a primacy megamedia giant conglomerate also will have a major, though unnamed in the news, impact on digital and paper publishing markets.
One umbrella roof under which a majority media outlet has control over content and dictating fashion appeal.
Verd verificate: wriata, writing errata.
The Rejectionist says
Famous!?!? Oh STOP! Thanks!
We'll challenge you to a fancy revamped blog-off… arm wrestling? Light-saber battle?
ryan field says
The eleven bold predictions are interesting, especially the exclusivity prediction.
Nathan Bransford says
It's on! I should warn you though, Sean's design powers are fierce.
So being cranky's not a bad thing anymore? Woo-hoo! Who knew? Time to dig out my "Mr. Cranky" t-shirt and get to writing!
p.s. thanks for all the links!
Holy cow, that was SOME week in publishing! =)
Gordon Jerome says
Self-publishing is always a mistake–except for one instance: you wan't to be a publisher as much as you want to be a writer. Then it wouldn't make much sense to let someone else publish your novels or books.
Independent publishing/small press is not the same thing as self-publishing. There's a huge learning curve associated with publishing that most writers are just not equipped for. Better they should find a small publisher they believe in and go with them.
In my always humble opinion.
What's so great is that there's going to be a zillion indi's soon servicing a zillion niches and we're all going to have a better literary experience!
Tracy Hahn-Burkett says
Nathan, I'd love to hear your take on the Georgia case this week where a jury found that an author had defamed her former friend by basing a novel character on her. Seems like frighteningly bad precedent to me. Here's a link: https://tinyurl.com/yhv44av
There's always an appeal–maybe.
Nathan Bransford says
I've always advised people to write all their books, including novels, such that no one could possibly recognize themselves in the book. Laws are even stricter in the UK and Australia.
The happiness article is just another in the line of articles telling me I shouldn't be a writer. To which I go…
If I ever get a book deal, I should print up pro-happiness smiley face stickers and stick them to people at writing conferences.
Marilyn Peake says
Love that study about how happy writers don’t generally make good writers. Thank you for that! I’m a happy person in general, but I think good writing requires a certain level of intensity.
Wow, I loved that Book Council video 🙂 Thanks for the review Nathan! I missed some of those events.
Marilyn Peake says
I think we’re in for huge changes due to the growth of electronic books, newspapers, magazines, and so on. I think the changes will be much broader than what we’re expecting. Currently, there are only five large corporations running all the major publishing houses. Huge corporations have been buying and selling TV channels for some time now. On the news yesterday, I was surprised to hear a news commenter mention that free broadcast TV may eventually disappear, replaced entirely by cable TV purchased as subscriptions by customers. Reason: cost of advertising cuts into the parent company’s ability to increase profits every quarter. The large publishing houses also work on the financial model of trying to increase quarterly profits for stockholders. That model is limited in regard to selling books. If all of China suddenly begins to read voraciously, that would open up a new market, but the eBook revolution is much more likely to happen in the near future. I could see technology companies buying up the major publishing houses, selling off all the parts of the current publishing industry little by little over time as people become acclimated to reading books electronically, and handling the entire publishing process themselves: selecting books for publication themselves rather than using literary agents to find books, quickly publishing books electronically, and then providing advertising online. It’s probably a wonderful time to own a good small eBook publishing company because larger companies may offer to buy it as all these sweeping changes take place. I remember when, less than five years ago, hardly anyone knew about Fictionwise. They were a very small business. Then, in March of this year, Barnes & Noble purchased Fictionwise for $15.7 million. I’m guessing that sometime in the near future a larger company will purchase Barnes & Noble and shut down all their brick-and-mortar bookstores in order to increase profit. The changes will probably happen slowly, but I bet ten years from now a whole lot of things in today’s publishing model will sound extremely dated and old-fashioned.
Rick Daley says
Is this the first instance of Godwin's Law being invoked in the ebook discussion?
Ed Miracle says
You're re-designing the blog? But . . . but . . . Blubber,sniff.
How will we know it's really you?
Wowie, that is a lot of links! I'm actually very interested in this new Ebook trend. To be honest, don't most people get their books digitally right now anyway? I know a lot of people that get audio books digitally downloaded instead of getting them on paper. So if there is a way for them to actually read the books via Ebook, what's the harm?
But here's a concern I have with the whole Ebook trend. Even if these Ereaders will go down in price to be affordable, do you think that any of the manufactuerers will make the Ereaders automatically accessible to the blind and visually impaired? I was thinking that since Apple has a new way to make all of their products accessible, that they might be the first to implament this factor into an Ereader. Otherwise, third-party software developers will have to make a new technology for blind people like myself to be able to access these Ereaders.
That Tablet demo was pretty cool. Can multimedia books be that far away?
Methinks … nope.
L. T. Host says
Gah, I'm already waiting for Monday for so many reasons… now I have to add seeing your new blog design and the "surprises in store" too!
The Rejectionist's article made me even more empathic toward the slush readers and more determined to make my query stand out – in a good way, not in a "God I need a drink" way.
As far as happy people not making good writers – yeah, we'll see about that. Thanks for the wonderful links and Happy Friday!
Lisa Dez says
I gotta have those Kiwis do my book trailer. That's one of the most seriously cool things I've ever seen.
Haste yee back ;-) says
I now know how we're all gonna get our 15 minutes…
Haste yee back 😉
Just a tweak. No need to re-read.
E-books? We've been talking about e-books?
Huh. Didn't notice. What are e-books?
So, there are way too many links to discuss, which is always a HUGE problem on Fridays. There are all these incredibly interesting things to talk about and not enough space.
So, naturally I picked the most important things, which are:
a. You're changing your blog layout??? NO!!!! I love this layout. It's comforting and familiar. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
On the other hand, there is a silver lining. This makes me deeply unhappy which will undoubtedly make me a better writer.
On the other hand, though, you have SURPRISES. That makes me totally excited and thrilled, which will probably make me a worse writer. So, that's bad.
On the other hand, I CAN'T WAIT until Monday. What's the surprise? What is it? What is it? Is it good? Is it money? Is it for me or do I have to share it with the other bloggers? What is it? What? What? What?
Okay, so that part is making me crazy, so I'll probably be a better writer because of that, so it's all good.
b. Really great interview, Nathan. Truly – Very interesting. Although you forgot to talk about e-books.
Um, I like what you said about how it's the manuscript that takes precedence. That was a great relief to me for many, many reasons, but perhaps the primary reason is I'm probably really pushing it right now with the e-book jokes. I just couldn't resist. 🙂
c. About the happiness stuff. I can happily report that I am a pretty grumpy most of the time. The whole layout debacle is just icing on the cake. So, I'm really happy about that, because it means I'm a better writer than..but wait. If I'm happy about that than……
I give up.
I'd say have a good weekend, but I'll probably be back tomorrow to comment on some other of the links.
Especially the e-book ones.
Oh. Okay. I'll say it. Have a good weekend everyone. 🙂
Thanks for the shout out!
Tracy Hahn-Burkett says
Thanks Nathan. Hmm, maybe I need to take a stroll through my MS this weekend . . .
Regarding the question of whether a writer needs to be unhappy to write well: I prefer to think that writers who have been unhappy in the past but who have reached a better point in their lives can both be happy and write well. After all, we've got the material, but we're not too depressed to get out of bed, sit down at the keyboard and write!
Marilyn Peake says
Anon @ 12:16 PM –
I’m so excited to see that someone else is following the Comcast/NBCU merger. I was watching the news today on MSNBC when I suddenly realized I was watching a show called The New york Times Edition. I thought, What the heck? Wasn’t The New York Times a print newspaper from 1851 to the present day, with an online electronic version started only fairly recently? Now it’s also a TV show? Hmmm … I’m guessing print newspapers and most free broadcast TV shows will eventually disappear, replaced by Internet and cable TV news. Non-media corporations are purchasing media companies, and those huge non-media corporations will probably bring sweeping changes to the way we receive information by creating entirely different models than those we use now.
Here’s something interesting. MSNBC (name standing for combination of "Microsoft" and "NBC") recently purchased a company called EveryBlock, a two year-old hyperlocal news start-up company that will allow MSNBC to collect huge amounts of local news that they can utilize in various ways: article here.
Marilyn Peake says
I saw the news about Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter earlier this week, and soooo wanted to buy it. Saw the price; changed my mind. Bidding on a bottle of white-out sounds like an excellent idea! 🙂
Vacuum Queen says
Couple thoughts I had while reading this….one is that as a teacher, I've got the support of knowing a published book I'm giving to my students to read has at least passed some sort of rigorous journey to completion, and should therefore have something in it worthy of reading. BUT, once publishing becomes similar to uploading to youtube (youpub?), I can pretty much guarantee that the students may only ever acquire a taste for crap for the rest of their days.
Second, once you think about it, a blog is sort of a self publishing moment. Today I had a few moments to sit and read something and I chose to read your blog. So there goes THAT book reading moment. Why are we people so anxious to get words bound into paper if we can already post stuff online – for FREE? I mean, your Cormac M. paragraph was funny and I giggled out loud. That almost never happens with 20 minutes in a book.
I'm just sayin.'
Chuck H. says
I guess there's no need to worry about e-readers 'cause the Wall Street Journal says they will be obsolete soon anyway.
Harlequin, as if you didn't know Nathan, is one of the standard characters in Comedia del Arte. So why not name a self-publishing/vanity arm after it?
Nathan Bransford says
Hadn't thought that, though I would think at this point Harlequin would want to avoid references to comedy.
So many good links. So far, I've enjoyed the agent interviews and Dr. Syntax. I love book covers too.
That blog, in general, is good and his Risky Business post, which mentions Nathan, was a good read. Loved the accompanying pic. Nathan in his high school days, no doubt.
I'm also wondering, if I put on a pouty face, will it make me smarter and less dangerous.
GhostFolks – Getting back to you from yesterday. I knew what you meant and I take it as a compliment, 😉
Thomas Burchfield says
Sheesh, enough with the Holocaust comparisons already.
Good stuff on the e-books, though. Regarding these predictions, I think a new species of agent will evolve, so Nathan's enthusiasm and interest indicates he's currently evolving himself an extra set of legs and longer more sensitive antennae (sorry to bug you with the metaphor.) I certainly intend to crawl out onto this new dry land, myself.
In the meantime: some mini reviews at https://www.redroom.com/blog/thomas-burchfield/books-read-things-seen
What's up with people who blog to complain about writers complaining? Those types of blogs are getting really old and drive away writers, perhaps even good writers who don't complain. Just sayin'.
Thanks for sharing the video from the NZ Book Council. It was amazing, and it really captured the magic of a book. It's about amazing stories, interesting scenes, new characters, and seeing a printed word, all together. Lovely.
Vegas Linda Lou says
The last paragraph of your linked article by Max Dunbar, “Why Self-Publishing Doesn’t Work”:
J D Salinger is rumoured to put his finished novels in a sealed box, unread by anyone except himself. It seems sad but it’s a better outcome for him that any writer will have if they go into self publishing: which is vanity publishing in a hired suit, and is to actual publishing what alternative medicine is to medicine.
I see a lot of "anti-self publishing" articles like this, with a noticeable air of superiority layered with undertones of defensiveness. If self-publishing is only for untalented, egotistical wannabees, why do geniuses like Dunbar waste their time writing about it?
And I kind of like alternative medicine.
Bane of Anubis says
Looking forward to the new layout — hopefully something other than Blogger orange 😉
Laurel Amberdine says
Wow, that Kaufman article… I can hardly believe anyone would make that comparison. Kindle = tool of Nazi-like oppression!?! The Onion wouldn't be that silly!
Susan Quinn says
OK, I have that tablet screen in my story . . . in the FUTURE! Guess I'm going to have to come up with something a little more out there.
Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for Monday.
And are you going to go all sleek and pretty on us, like the REJECTIONISTA? Cuz I'm kind of fond of the dorky look. And isn't organge your favorite color, anyway???
Happy Weekend. 🙂
Mergers like the Comcast/NBCU one are like parasitic growths. Unable to build real growth, large companies combine or devour smaller ones in order to satisfy a bottom line index increase. It's been going on now at a breathtaking pace for half a century.
It's already a bean counter world in the upper echelons of the Big Six Sisters of transnational publishing conglomerates. What the heck, mix in broadcast television, cable, satellite, telephone, Internet, screenplays, information exchange, communication, music, games, advertising, never forget advertising, and education, what a monopoly game.
Antitrust laws were recently gutted so anything big goes bigger anymore, like it was with the junk home loans that spoiled a sure investment strategy, spoiled a global economy, like it was with junk bonds, and like it is with mega Ponzi schemes.
And next comes energy taxes, and runaway excise taxes, and healthcare taxes, and all the middlemen taking their tithe rake on top of the taxes adding to the costs.
One way to get people back to work and keep them there is to make it all so expensive that the working slobs at the bottom have to work eighty-hour workweeks in thankless menial jobs just to keep our heads above the red tape, and so that we enrich corporate high muckety-mucks and fund corrupt government with their heads in the sand so far out of touch with the everyday people that the concept of budgeting for bare subsistence is unthinkable.
And while they're at it, conglomerize what little there is in life that's meaningful and enriching and entertaining so that the packaging and distribution of propoganda is carefully centralized and targeted predigested and wholesomely moral and choiceless. And information/entertainment becomes the next tobacco, the next cotton, the next whale oil, the next petroleum economy.
Yep, I'm an unhappy writer. But it's not only that I'm unhappy, it's that I've got problems I can work out by writing, not solve, just find some cathartic release for a never-ending slog through all the misery heaped upon my shoulders. Thank Providence, there's a light of hope at the end of the tunnel from reading and writing.
Marilyn Peake says
Anon @ 3:49 PM –
I’ve discovered a most wonderful thing while writing science fiction. No matter how depressing, the news can be used by science fiction writers to create fictional worlds in which trends are carried to logical extremes.
T. Anne says
I'll be curious to see your new site! Does it involve technical thingamabobs such as entering out name, email address and website?
Marilyn Peake says
I originally went to college to become a journalist, pursued other avenues but still love research. I decided to do a little bit of research to see if Harlequin’s self-publishing venture might be part of the new buy-and-sell-and-increase-quarterly-profits model. Well, what do ya know? Harlequin is owned by Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Harlequin partnered with Author Solutions to create their new self-publishing venture … and Author Solutions is owned by … wait for it … Bertram Capital Management LLC. So, is Harlequin’s self-publishing venture really so surprising, considering the prices they’re charging for their services? I don’t think so.
Yes, ma'am. I'm a Down and Out in Paris and London in a Nineteen Eighty-four world.
I've been exploring a common assumption that individuals are personally responsible for their happiness, especially when blaming people for not being happy; meanwhile, in the health and prosperity challenged populations, who have happiness acquistion challenges to boot, it's easy to look up and see that good health and prosperity don't make the privileged any happier, but money and material wealth sure make miseries easier to bear.
I want to begin by replying to something you said yesterday but I didn't notice until this afternoon, and I gather it is likely to be missed if I respond to it over there, so yeah:
"…and then 500 years went by and books didn't change that much."
Perhaps this is because the format we've had for the past 500 years works, non? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Anyway, on to today:
Three million books a year? Even if that means I'm more likely to get published in a fair amount of time (which, let's face it, it doesn't really improve the odds any of getting published period, let alone quickly) I feel I must quote one of the comments,
"Something often overlooked when discussing the failings of publishers is that they polish books before publication. Few publishers will release a book as handed in by an author: copy-editing and proofreading are things that must be done by third parties in order that they are done well, and very few authors are capable of writing manuscripts that don't need the guidance of a line editor."
Three million means either /a lot/ more editors and the like are needed, or it means the quality of books is going to decrease. The former is not likely to be answered to appropriate scale, and the latter is not an option I welcome. Pass on the mega-printing, thanks.
Haven't read the Krystallnacht article yet but it sounds like a roaring time. Of course he may have very valid points. Will return with post-article judgments in due course.
And because I don't feel like leaving this tab open for a long time as I go from link-Facebook-link-Sharpe-link-PBS-link-Facebook-link-MSN etc. etc. etc. I'm just going to shut up now and come back with any more observations when I've finished.
Malia Sutton says
Your posts are so cute. I love them.
Elaine 'still writing' Smith says
Oh dear, it's all going to be shiney happy on the Blog by Monday. I liked the 'part-time Blogger threw-it-together' look. Whatever next? Paperless books?
I'm looking forward to checking out all the links in depth – once I've gotten over the march of progress and time.
Marilyn Peake says
Anon @ 4:45 PM –
I feel your pain. Personally, I think what’s happening to many individual people is extremely sad, even though I didn’t mention it earlier. Extremely sad. I try to reflect that in the fictional worlds I build in my novels and short stories. I’d like to make a real difference with my writing someday, but who knows if that will ever happen. Good luck with all of your own writing.
Most of those covers are awful.
Pseudonymous High School Teacher says
Ah, lots of links, lots of reads for the weekend. Thank-you for putting them together for us ; -)
So I'm almost finished with the Nazi E-Book article (to be fair, I only just got round to it six or seven minutes ago, tops) and I agree, to a point. Perhaps it's a bit over-the-top at the moment. The Nazi analogies are almost certainly OTT. But then, I live in suburban Philadelphia, not in San Fran. There used to be only three major bookstores in the area — a Borders, a Barnes & Noble, and an Atlantic Books. Everyone else was a small local seller, most of them used bookstores. Some of the used sellers have gone under over the years, but most are still plodding by. And of the big three, only the Atlantic Books went under (which still makes me sad, as I used to get things like my collection of Sherlock Holmes and vintage comic books on the cheap at Atlantic). San Fran, judging by this article and some other things I've read, is experiencing the deaths of many more bookstores, although perhaps it is not really more, it just seems like more because I live in fairly populated suburbs, which, if you take just the population of my county comparatively to the San Francisco Metro area, my county is equal to about 5.6% of the SFMA population. So if 1/3 bookstores is dying for 5.6%, 1/3 dying in 5.6 by 5.6 by 5.6 forming a whole seems like a lot more. And yes, that is probably impossibly shoddy math. There's a reason I write books and don't work at a flipping bank.
Other Lisa says
I pretty much agree with anon @3:49 PM. Part of the reason I am perpetually melancholic. Which at least makes me a better writer. Which makes me happy!