This week! Books!
As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, author Salman Rushdie was attacked onstage at the Chautauqua Institute last week, but fortunately is expected to recover. Jennifer Schuessler writes about how the attack has renewed discussions about free speech, and Randy Boyagoda calls for more people to read Rushdie’s work.
The antitrust lawsuit over Penguin Random House’s proposed acquisition of Simon & Schuster is entering the home stretch, and closing arguments are expected today. I’d again point you to Publishers Weekly’s and Publishers Lunch’s ($ links) comprehensive coverage.
There is so, so much to pore over in this trial, and I’m sure publishing people will be talking about their favorite juicy findings for a long time to come. One nugget that jumped out at me was Penguin Random House’s CEO Madeline McIntosh’s testimony ($ link) that “We can feel that we’re in comfortable, profitable territory at around 70 percent of earnout for most books.”
I have always wondered about this number! Editors and publishers often treat a book earning out as a shorthand for a profitability breakeven point, but agents know that’s not true. (Earning out = when a book’s earnings exceed the advance). Agents will try to negotiate for advances that aren’t likely to earn out and publishers will grant them and the publisher will still sell enough to earn a profit. But the real breakeven point had been kind of a mystery to me.
McIntosh also revealed that she approves about two hundred $1 million+ book deals a year. Nice work if you can get it!
And lastly on PRHS&S, Katy Waldman focuses on one genuine question raised by the trial, which influenced quite a lot of the testimony: Is publishing about art or commerce?
A judge ruled that Andrew Cuomo could keep his $5.1 million advance for his ill-fated Covid book because a now-defunct states ethics board had violated his right to due process, but suggested that New York’s new ethics commission could take up the issue again.
Move over Tinder, Klerb is a new service that aims to offer matchmaking for book lovers. Were I single I’d absolutely be swiping left on some bookshelves.
Can you copyright a title? Can you trademark a character? Over at Anne R. Allen’s blog, IP attorney Joseph Perry offers some helpful background on how copyright and trademark law applies to titles and characters.
And agent Jessica Faust talked about why she passes on nonfiction queries. Don’t neglect that platform, nonfiction authors!
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:
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Path Hit By Lightning by David Maraniss
- The Destructionists by Dana Milbank
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Young adult hardcover:
- Long Live the Pumpkin King by Shea Ernshaw
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen
- Loveless by Alice Oseman
- Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman
- Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
- Ground Zero by Alan Gratz
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Don’t outsource your agent search
- Careful letting an adult voice bleed into children’s novels (query 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 really enjoyed this article by Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey about the questions you need to ask yourself in order to build a meaningful life. They seem equally applicable to building a meaningful writing life too.
Have a great weekend!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my online classes, my guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
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