Posts Tagged: Publishing

Indie Bookstore Road Trip

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Independent bookstores will save the world, or at least the publishing industry, maybe. Josh Weil and Mike Harvkey took a road trip across the country, exploring independent bookstores. They found a collection of dedicated shops and local literary communities, but that didn’t answer the fundamental question: how important are independent bookstores are to writers?

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Seriously Serious

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Over at the Paris Review, Jason Novak has taken up the pen again; this time, he’s turned to authors and their eccentricities. Among his observations:

“Somewhere Hemingway is sitting quietly at his desk. Pouring another bull. And fighting another drink.”

Other targets include Don DeLillo, Jane Austen, Hegel, Nabokov, Heidegger, and the state of Publishing itself.

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Riskier Books Find Readers

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The changing economics of the publishing industry may be hurting profits, but it has also allowed writers room to experiment with new forms that are often more challenging to readers than has been allowable in the past. Instead of meeting declining sales with pedestrian replicas of past successes, authors are taking greater risks, and often rewarded for it, explains Thomas McMullan at the Guardian:

Perhaps the taste for inventiveness stems not so much from reaching back into modernism, but more from the desire to find something representative of the physically detached, digitally connected way most of us communicate, just as Joyce was compelled to find a new way to express the rapidly changing face of the early 20th century.

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The Era of Celebrity Bookselling

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The Colbert Bump helped propel Edan Lepucki‘s California to the third spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Lena Dunham’s endorsement helped sell Adelle Waldman‘s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Celebrity and celebrity endorsements have long played a role in moving products.

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Keep Failing

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Don’t let that stack of rejection letters get you down. For writers of all kinds—would-be, struggling, under-appreciated, even critically acclaimed—failure is part of the job description. At the New York Times, Stephen Marche describes a writing profession riddled with disappointment and missed connections, from the ever-frustrating publishing world to a reader’s power of interpretation.

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Why We All Can’t Be J.K. Rowling

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After a panel at the House of Commons about copyright issues, author Joanne Harris writes in the Telegraph about the difficulty of being successful within the publishing industry. Among other factors, she attributes some of the failure to readers’ misconceptions about the lives of writers:

Part of the problem…is that, thanks to the media, the public has a distorted view of what the average author’s life is like.

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Amazon Attempts to Drive Wedge Between Authors and Hachette

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The standoff between Amazon and Hachette has harmed authors more than either corporation. The corporations are surviving on massive war chests and alternate revenue streams. Authors, however, are far more adversely affected by reduced book pre-sales and the sale of electronic books (available immediately) versus physical books (artificially delayed by Amazon).

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NYPL Hosts Panel on Amazon

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The continuing battle between Amazon and Hachette was the focus of a panel discussion hosted by the New York Public Library last week featuring novelist James Patterson, publisher Morgan Entrekin, literary agent Tina Bennett, and several political theorists. Jason Diamond has a writeup at Flavorwire:

The takeaway from the event was this: the trouble Amazon causes the book industry is but a symptom of a larger and dangerous illness (there’s also the company’s well-documented poor treatment of its employees, for instance) and it leaves you wondering what comes after books.

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J.K. Rowling’s Literary World

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A boozy editor; a powerful though closeted publisher who retreats to the countryside to paint naked youths; a jealous literary agent whose own writing is “deplorably derivative”; a much-revered but pompous and sexist novelist; a writer of “bloody awful erotic fantasy”; and the victim’s wife, who ignores his books until they have “proper covers.” Then there’s Owen Quine himself, a middle-aged writer riding out his career on a novel published years before—the only decent work of literature he’s produced.

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We Respectfully Decline

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At Guernica, Alexandria Peary observes a fine but lethal distinction between being declined and being rejected, a difference that had very real effects on the literary ambitions of nineteenth-century female writers. While to decline a submission implies thoughtful deliberation over that particular work, rejection is an all-encompassing denouncement of something larger: a category or, in this case, a gender:

Women writers in the nineteenth century—when creative writing really got going as a possible profession—faced more rejections than declines, though probably more than a spoonful of dejection.

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The Hashtag That Changed BookCon’s Lineup

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The inaugural BookCon event just took place in New York City in conjunction with the publishing industry’s annual trade convention. When the event’s entirely white lineup was first announced, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter campaign drew attention to the problem and led the event’s organizers to put together a panel discussion about the need for diversity in literature.

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Literature vs. NYC

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Independent publishers are producing literature, Chris Fischbach writes in the Virginia Quarterly Review, which is not the same thing as what commercial publishers are printing. Fischbach (a publisher at Coffee House Press) goes on to explain a duality similar to that of Chad Harbach’s MFA vs NYC—if there are two competing writing identities, one is premised on earning money while the other focuses on artistic expression:

Literature is not the same thing as publishing.

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Little Book Amok

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As authority disseminates across webs of increasingly smaller presses and publications, it becomes harder and harder for new authors to see their books on bookstore shelves, especially those of larger stores like Barnes & Noble’s.

Unless, of course, they put the books there themselves:

They haven’t yet asked me to stop desecrating their shelves with my book, or notice, for that matter.

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In Defense of Literary Agents

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The rise of self-publishing and smaller independent presses has left many writers questioning the value of literary agents and their fifteen percent commissions. The collaborative nature of publishing depends on these middlemen though, warns Bethanne Patrick at Beyond the Margins:

…agents today do more than simply harvest a commission (if indeed they ever did only that).

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