This Week in Publishing!
First up, just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I’ve been experiencing some e-mail technical difficulties and some queries have disappeared into the great electronic ether. My policy is still to respond to all queries, so if you sent me a query and didn’t hear back within a week or two please try again. Whenever you follow-up, please include the original query.
Also, Sheriff in the Forums Ink/Bryan Russell will soon be participating in the Terry Fox Run for cancer research! Please stop by his blog and consider donating, it’s a great cause.
And it’s Friday, which means it’s time for a Page Critique. The page up for critique is posted in the forums, so check that out. UPDATE: my critique and more on pacing in action scenes here.
On to the links!
There has been an interesting discussion percolating around the writing blogosphere this week about the effect the Internet is having on writing and the life of a writer. Hannah Moskowitz wondered what effect Internet groupthink and such a tightly knit writing community is having on YA literature. Ally Carter talked about The Crazies, a reaction to the anxiety and helplessness writers feel during the writing and publication process, and how to combat them. And Natalie Whipple talked about putting the cart before the horse and the temptation of acting like a writer at the expense of being a writer.
And speaking of the effect of the Internet on writing and books, journalist Jack Shafer had an essay on the changing role of books in his life, noting how when we’re curious about someone we now turn first to the Internet rather than to a book, and how he no longer feels the same attachments to books he once did. He writes, “Books are being replaced by reading.” Agent Michael Stearns had a similar feeling about how books disappear into the iPad rather than being physical presences that remind us of their need to be read.
In award news, the much-anticipated Booker shortlist was announced, and congrats to China Mieville and Paolo Bacigalupi, who tied for Best Novel at the Hugo Awards. And now that it’s September already it’s Fall for the publishing world (gah!!), which means it’s time for, as the NY Times puts it, The Big Books.
Tony Blair’s memoir was released amid a great deal of egg throwing and protesting at his readings. Wow. Just for the record, I don’t mind if people throw food at me when my book comes out, provided they are cupcakes (soft and delicious!)
Laura Miller at Salon took a look at TWILIGHT and HUNGER GAMES series and came away with a provocative question: is Bella a more empowered heroine than Katniss? Meanwhile, science fiction living legend and Twitter maven William Gibson just released his new novel ZERO HISTORY, and in an interview with the WSJ he talked about the future of books. His ideal is an Espresso-like book making machine in every bookstore.
In writing/publishing advice news, agent Janet Reid says no no no to the fictional memoir, Tracy Marchini has advice for those writing epistolary novels, and agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post on what goes on behind the scenes in acquisitions/publishing committee meetings, where the fate of many a book hangs in the balance.
The Wall Street Journal is starting a stand-alone book section, which many people feel is intended to take further aim at the New York Times.
And NPR has a great article on how to sell a book. The secret? Good old-fashioned word of mouth. Oh. And huge marketing efforts help.
This week in the Forums: discussing Banned Book Week 2010, plot vs. character: which comes first?, dealing with perfectionism, and sharing your writing space.
Comment! Of! The! Week! goes to Hannah, who has some great follow-up advice on yesterday’s post about dialogue. An excerpt:
My main gripe with dialogue, and what I think can make it read as very false, is when characters respond too directly to what the other one says. In real life, people don’t listen well. They’ve already formulated most of what they’re going to say before they’ve heard the other person’s side of the conversation.
And finally, not one but two videos! The first comes via Bloomsbury publisher Peter Ginna: a hilarious video on the steep learning curve posed by the invention of the book.
And finally finally, a really incredible video that will hopefully get your weekend off to a peaceful start. Giant bubbles:
(via Andrew Sullivan)
Have a great weekend!
Amy B. says
Finally read the Laura Miller article. Pissed off beyond words pretty much covers it. Just because Katniss's desires don't center on boys doesn't mean she doesn't have passion. What does Katniss want? What is she fighting for? Her family, and her community, and her way of life that she is trying to save even when it's obliterated. Really, her motives are rather akin to Harry Potter's, as is the fact that she becomes an unwilling pawn. Miller's argument to me is that of someone who truly didn't understand the books or who just wants to stir up controversy where there is none.
Annette Lyon says
Yay, bubbles! Off to read a boatload of links . . .
Thanks for the nods, Nathan!
I was going to write more here, but I'm too fascinated and hypnotized by the bubbles to think…
Christine Macdonald says
Thank you for taking the time to do ALL you do. It is very appreciated.
T. Anne says
I put a link up on my blog Monday leading over to Hannah's. Her post was very thought provoking and I thought it should be required reading for authors and publishers alike.
They vote with their dollars.
It's a really good idea to keep in close contact with them.
Love the giant bubbles.
Hannah's blog post makes a great point about trends. It seems to happen in all genres. I don’t think in trends when it comes to the books I love – I just want more of them. When 90% of the new fantasy/paranormal books feature blood-sucking ghouls rather than swashbuckling heroes, I have to wonder when the readership I belong to vanished, and who neglected to tell me. 🙂 I'd love to hear more about what causes the rise and wane of trends in publishing…
Sheila Cull says
Oh, now I'm torn. I so agree with Michael Stearn. The photograph combined with his words were powerful. Hmmm.
Dayana Stockdale says
At times, being able to communicate with all these other writers is fun and helpful. Sometimes it is downright daunting. To really know just how many people hope to get published someday is like WHOA. So the internet does force writers to do a reality check. I'm still undecided about this whole blogging biznass. Does it help me? I don't know. Do I feel less alone in this whole gambit? A little bit.
THANK YOU for the links (especially Hannah Moskowitz and Natalie Whipple).
I think this EXACT thing about social media and YA writers. It does seem like so many of them are trying to be cool for OTHER YA writers almost to the exclusion of what a real, live teen reader likes or wants in a book.
Also, to me, giving your fellow YA authors big high-fives and five stars on GoodReads and Amazon reviews (so, ostensibly, they can/will do the same for you if you get published) is sort of disgusting. It's one thing if you really feel that way about a book it's another if it's a quid pro quo.
I feel the same way about certain agents when I read their twitter accounts. They don't sound like adults, but teens or worse, preteens. What is one supposed to think when researching agents when their posts consist of: "I ate a cupcake! Congratulate me! I bought a coffee table, isn't it cute? Yay me!"
I used to revere certain agents before I discoverd their tweets. Now I'm bewildered, and left to figure out if they're that vapid when dealing with editors? During negotiotions? Gah!!
Matthew Rush says
Wow. Imaging those bubbles with a double rainbow in the background. Talk about Nirvana (the state of enlightenment, not the band, unless … never mind).
Anyway thanks as always for such an amazing wealth of info Nathan, if only there were a few more hours in the day to read it. I'll have to spend my free time this weekend working on my re-write instead.
Also for any readers who can't spare any money to sponsor Bryan Russell in the Terry Fox run (hey times are tight, I know) please still be sure to visit his blog. The man is an amazing writer.
Marilyn Peake says
I’ve been following most of these stories on the Internet. Hmmmm … Am beginning to realize how much I learn from the Internet, in regard to books, politics, science, humor, a whole lot more. The Internet is truly an amazing place. Have a great weekend!
Regan Leigh says
I have to say that the Salon article annoyed the crap out of me. 😀 I was only able to skim it so far, but really? An argument that Bella may represent more empowerment? And Katniss/Patty Hearst? LOL
I'll go back to that link later. 🙂
I also think I did too little writing and too much surfing on the net this week since I already knew about most of those topics.
Bryan Russell (Ink) says
Thanks for the shoutout, Nathan!
Off for a training run right now.
Matthew Rush says
Go Bryan! Just dream of earning a deep fried beer at the end and you'll never stop running.
ryan field says
I'm going to see Tony Blair accept the Liberty Medal from Pres. Clinton in a few days in Philadelphia with old Log Cabin friends. Hope they aren't throwing any food.
Michelle @ The True Book Addict says
I received my October issue of Writer's Digest today and guess who was listed in their 27 agents annual hot list? YOU! Congrats! I was like, "Wow, I read his blog all the time (again, a terrible lurker)!"
Have a great weekend!
February Grace says
That Natalie Whipple post was great- I stopped reading then went over and read it before I even looked at the rest of your weekly round up! Good stuff, an important reminder: to BE a writer, you must do one thing…write!
Happy Weekend, Mr. B!
PS Would it be too weird if I actually admitted that when I saw the first blurb on the news last night about that huge fire near San Francisco that I honestly thought- 'Gee, I hope Nathan Bransford is ok?' Cause I'm not ashamed to admit it, I did.
You probably live nowhere near where it happened, I don't know, I'm just sayin'. (And no I'm not kissing up I'm not even looking for an agent anymore! *laugh*)
I mean it sincerely from my little writerly heart- I was worried!
If that's too weird- apologies.
J. T. Shea says
The YA blogosphere is indeed one of the Internet's gilded ghettoes, an echo chamber. Of course, my own voice is one of those echoed back to me…
But Hannah Moskowitz and Ally Carter are right. Writers shouldn't wasted time commenting on blogs. Oh, wait…
Speaking of TWILIGHT, a bookstore I frequent now has a whole area for vampire books, all black-covered. Yesterday I found WUTHERING HEIGHTS and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE among them, also black-covered. Not the modern mash-ups. The nineteenth-century originals, which have no vampires I can remember!
William Gibson is right about an Espresso Book Machine in every bookstore. Apart from restaurants and bakeries, what other retail outlet can actually make its products on the premises?
The Book Help Desk Video reminds me of why I prefer scrolls.
Now I must go and stock up on cupcakes to throw at Nathan.
If interested, I recommend folks go to Bryan/Ink's blog. Even if not to contribute, but just to read his beautiful tribute to a great man. Very moving.
Matthew, I went to your link. What blew my mind is last year's prize winner. Fried butter. OMG. There are just no words to express it.
J.T. – thank you! Finally, someone else is talking about multiple links. There are all these wonderful links, how can you respond to just one!? Personally, I like to respond to each one multiple times.
For those worried about the fire, understandable – it happened in San Bruno down the peninsula coast, a huge explosion, and a terrible tragedy. But not in San Francisco.
The links this week are terrific. I have so much to say! So, I'll have to come back.
But one thing before I go – the bubble video – that is amazing. When I am old, I shall do this. I shall stand on the beach while children run after giant rainbows…with someone behind me playing Beetoven on a piano.
live, laugh, inspire says
thanks or the links, would say more but still giggling over the invention of the book 🙂
Kathryn Magendie says
As always, thanks for taking the time to share links . . .
After reading tye NY Times piece on upcoming books, I'm predicting that come January bookstores and publishers are going to be lamenting what a horrible season it was for book buying.
If you want to sell books, you have to have product on the shelf that people want to buy. Books by D-List celebrities are not the type of thing that is going to make people drive to the bookstore.
I don't see any "Huge" sellers anywhere in that article. Not the kind of book that drives people to the store to get it or a "wait in line" kind of book.
"Just because Katniss's desires don't center on boys doesn't mean she doesn't have passion. What does Katniss want?"
Katniss never seems to want much of anything in the series. She gets pushed from one tense survival moment to the next while she dithers between best friend love and fake friend love.
I think it was an amazing idea because it doesn't ever revolve around her relationship with the characters and she never has any real chance to make decisions for herself (except how to survive).
The Ally Carter article about The Crazies was pretty much exactly what I needed to read about now.
Thanks for the link to the Laura Miller article. It may stir up controversy, but it was sure interesting to read! I thought the analysis of American ambivalence toward violence was spot on.
Nathan Bransford says
Hey thanks, I think the same thing about readers whenever I see something like that happen. Really sad situation – I live about 8 miles away but could see the smoke from my apartment.
I agree, I thought it was a really fascinating article also. If people only read just looking for Bella vs. Katniss they might be missing out on some of the deeper analysis.
Jaycee Adams says
Hey, I wanted to say thanks for yet another great idea you had, Nathan. I was browsing through one of your recent articles on how to write, and there at the end were links to further articles that were similar!
I've seen such links on other sites before, of course, but it just never hit me to start doing this in my own blog until I saw how simple yours are. Now I link up some of my previous posts in my own blog and the traffic has increased almost exponentially!
It's not enough to have categories easily accessible. It's not enough to have links in the articles. You've got to put links at the bottom of the article.
I also discovered Google is now offering free site-metrics, and from there, I found the one page that most people were coming to, and put some good links on that page, and wham! Much more traffic to the rest of the site! Links on THOSE pages, and WHAM! Even more traffic!
So thank you, Nathan, for setting yet another great example for everyone to follow. Next time you're in Daytona Beach or I'm in San Fran, I'll buy you lunch or something.
D.G. Hudson says
Thanks for the links, Nathan.
Kudos to Bryan (INK) for participating in the Terry Fox annual run for Cancer research!
I liked Friday's critique excerpt – see the forums.
Enjoy what's left of the weekend.
Jaycee Adams, I went to your site and you have quite a voice there.
So, first, Nathan, I'd like to say that I haven't recieved an e-mail from you. I didn't send you a query, but frankly, I'm not sure it's fair that only the people who send you queries get e-mails from you. The rest of us want e-mails, too. So, please don't let an e-mail glitch stop you from e-mailing me. Really. Any time.
These are wonderful links. And I agree with D.G., your critique in the forums was terrific, as always. Thank you so much for continuing to do them!
The whole blogosphere discussion is fascinating. Hannah is rightly concerned that YA continue to reach YA, but the interesting thing is that many adults read YA. I wonder what the age breakdown really is. I also wonder if some new age groups are forming. Great article by Ally Carter, although I disagree with something. She was saying that she chats with her friends on Twitter, and that's not a clique. But I think that if you do it in public, it is a clique, even if you don't want it to be. If you want to just chat with your friends, e-mail is more private. So, Natalie's article made me have two reactions. One – I'm glad I'm not the only one who talks on blogs but doesn't write, and two – I need to start writing!!!!!!
I thought Scafer and Stearns articles were interesting. The lines of media are blurring, and that's interesting.
In terms of Tony Blair, I'm not sure the best way to protest the violence of war is to throw eggs and shoes at someone for writing a book. Just saying.
Awards lists! Someday I'd like to win an award. That's my fascinating contribution to that topic. I thought Laura Miller's article was very interesting. I don't agree with everything – I do think Katniss had a goal in life – to protect her family – and I'm going to bring this up in the forums for more discussion because it's interesting!
Expresso machines are good and address the immediacy issue, but sadly, I don't think they will save the bookstore. They might though.
With apologies to Janet Reid, I don't agree. If you can't write a fictionalized memoir, and not get sued, it still seems to me it's better than writing a non-fictionalize memoir and getting sued. I thought Marchini's article was good, and I can't comment on Rachelle's piece, except to say it was really well-written, because I'll get really grumpy about the subjectiveness of the business. Good for the Wall Street Journal! Competition is a great thing and may push the NYTimes to look at its policies.
I liked the NPR article, and agree (!!!) with the marketing. But the very best way to sell a good book is to write a super-duper-trouper-quadruper good one.
Excellent comment by Hannah, I completley agree. And that making of the book video was hilarious. I thought the part where the help manual was a book was especially clever.
Phew. I'm done. Thank you for Friday links, Nathan! I love that I can have all these OPINIONS. It's so fun!
Hope everyone is having a happy Monday!
Doug Pardee says
Just say "no" to the codex. It's Big Religion attempting to save money by writing on both sides of the papyrus. A codex will never hold up like a scroll will.
And don't get me started on parchment.
Jaycee Adams says
Thank you, Mira! I hope something I said was of value to you.