This week! Books!
The Great Resignation. Publishing style.
Editors are creaking under chronically low pay, ever-expanding publisher expectations, publisher under-investment in support infrastructure like contracts departments… and oh yes, all of this is happening amid bonanza years for publishers’ bottom lines. This makes it accordingly more difficult for young agents to get their books read by editors and compete in an increasingly “winner takes all” ecosystem where bestsellers are bigger than ever and everyone else is fighting for scraps. You can throw in an often-toxic environment for employees of color to boot.
When you combine all this with an economy where it’s easier to find advancement elsewhere, it’s probably not terribly surprising that you’re seeing editors and agents throw in the towel for more hospitable climes. Those who are staying raising red (and white) flags. Erin Somers at Publishers Lunch sums up the recent spate of resignations ($ link) and Elisabeth Egan discussed it too.
The pandemic affected writers in ways similar and different, and Meredith Maran at the LA Times has a survey of how it impacted writers in Los Angeles.
Controversy erupted this week amid allegations that publishers Quarto and Octopus censored books that were printed in China, including removing mentions of Taiwan and artist Ai Weiwei. Note: Just printed in China. The books were intended for western audiences. Octopus defended the changes as non-material and author-approved, and Quarto cited fiduciary duties to their shareholders. Sheesh.
In writing news, Olivia Fisher has a post all about picture books, and agent Kate McKean argues that the most important skill as a writer is to be self-aware.
And Alexandra Horowitz has an ode to the humble index.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson
- Shadows Reel by C.J. Box
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- High Stakes by Danielle Steel
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- One Damn Thing After Another by William P. Barr
- In Love by Amy Bloom
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Allow Me to Retort by Elie Mystal
- From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks
Young adult hardcover:
- Gallant by V.E. Schwab
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Loveless by Alice Oseman
- You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
- The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
- Out of My Heart by Sharon M. Draper
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Writing a book is a time game
- 14th annual blog bracket challenge! (entries closed!)
- Careful starting off dialed up to 11 (page critique)
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, I enjoyed this LA op-ed by former child actor Rider Strong (never thought I’d write those words) about the privileged and false bubble of 1990s pop culture.
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All the more reason to seek either self-publishing or find a small publisher. Not sure I want to support an industry where the workers are miserable and underpaid.
Nathan Bransford says
Well I have some very bad news for you about the top place where you’d self-publish…
Neil Larkins says
Might I hazard a guess? Ha-ha. Starts with A to Z, almost.
“…and everyone else is fighting for scraps.”
Indeed. The old ‘the rich get richer, the poor can go to hell’? Corruption tends to corrupt.
JOHN T. SHEA says
Nathan! Don’t hurt Mr. Bezo’s feelings!
Nice photo BTW. Which reminds me of what bothers me about Supertalls. It’s not so much that they’re supertall as that they’re superthin. Anorexic skyscrapers that look ready to topple over. I have more faith in gravity than in engineering…
Carol Phillips says
I’m wondering what the “ever-expanding publisher expectations” are. From what I hear editors–and publishers–are expecting more and more from writers: near-perfect ms and expert marketing plans. And non-fiction writers are responsible for obtaining rights for all sourced material. I still want to be traditionally published to receive validation of my work, but geez, the process is discouraging.