This week! The books!
I don’t know if it’s the new year or the chilly weather or the fact that everyone is dusting off their shiny new e-reader for a little “Holy cow I’m not reading on paper anymore,” but there were quite a few Future of Publishing articles this week, so let’s get right to them, hmmm?
First off, agent Mary Kole has a really interesting article about the future of agenting, in which agents offer up some visions of what’s to come. And though I’m of course no longer an agent, I chimed in with a shorter version of what I said yesterday. The future, it is most definitely coming.
Meanwhile, industry sage Mike Shatzkin has a characteristically insigutful post about differentiating the purpose of Digital Rights Management (DRM) between stopping piracy (hint: not very good at it) vs. stopping casual sharing (hint: actually pretty good at it). Probably a large part of why you’re not going to see it go away any time soon.
And further to this whole future business, my good friend Eric from Pimp My Novel has a great post on brand management and how publishers are not adapting quickly enough to the new landscape and are still continuing to muddle their own brands with imprints that only matter to insiders. It’s been two months since I left agenting and I already am forgetting basically all imprints, but just off the top of my head, Random House alone contains: Random House, Knopf, Crown, Crown Forum, Broadway, Nan A. Talese, Spiegel & Grau, Three Rivers Press, Doubleday, Dial Press, Bantam, Doubleday Religion, Harmony, Waterbrook, Ballantine, Clarkson Potter, Vintage, Anchor, Dell, Del Rey, Triumph, Pantheon, Knopf Children’s, Random House Children’s, Delacorte, Schwartz & Wade, Wendy Lamb, and I’m sure I’m forgetting plenty. And that is just Random House!!!
And finally in the future of publishing, if you want one of those newfangled Kindle thingamajigs, reader Steve Fuller is happily giving one away! Stop by to find out how to win.
On Wednesday we discussed the balance between writing and life, and there were two pretty moving posts this week about that tenuous balance between grief and books and writing. Stephen Parrish received permission to reprint a transcript of David Foster Wallace’s funeral, and it’s an incredibly moving outpouring from the people who knew him. And over at HTML Giant, Kyle Minor reflects on reading as an escape from some of the horrors of life and death (via Bookslut). I’m not sure if you’ll read two more moving links this week.
The ALA has come and gone and some of the most cherished awards in young people’s literature were announced. Congrats to Clare Vanderpool for winning the Newbery for MOON OVER MANIFEST, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead won the Caldecot for A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE, Paolo Bacigalupi won the Printz for SHIP BREAKER, and Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Award for ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Congratulations, all!
And are you curious about which books were bestsellers the week you were born? Wonder no more.
I know I have been woefully negligent about our Page Critique Fridays as I’ve gone through quite a busy stretch, but rest assured, I shall resume them soon enough!
Picking up on Reena’s good comment, I think I see the lifespan of publishers shortening faster than that of agents, Nathan. This is because an agent’s role is morphing into something that includes vehicle design, not just content. The agent already is doing the work of acquiring editors, often of publicity departments, and is advising and negotiating pathways to distribution, more and more of which lie outside traditional routes.
While offshore and film rights negotiations, of course, may remain closer to current patterns, the the future of smart agenting lies in the transmedia efforts being tracked by Digital Book World’s Guy LeCharles Gonzalez ( https://www.digitalbookworld.com ), by Jane Friedman ( https://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/ ) and by rich-media developmental specialists like Dan Blank of We Grow Media ( https://www.wegrowmedia.com ).
In the same way that authors are hustling to embrace and capitalize on the potentials of the e-phenomena, a clever agent can become, him- or herself, an enabling mentor and impresario, guiding authors to recast and envision projects to achieve their transmedial possibilities.
As Jimmy Cramer ( https://www.cnbc.com/id/15838459 ) loves to say, there’s always a bull market somewhere. An agent’s job is rapidly becoming that of the experienced scout who can get to the top of the hill, see where the new markets are rising, and signal back down to her or his authors the best concepts, techniques, and evocations of storytelling to deploy.
And finally, there have been some serious links this week, but this should cheer you up. There is no happiness like the happiness of a baby elephant at the beach (via Sarah LaPolla):
Have a great weekend!