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?...more
Posts Tagged: Publishing
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....more
Printing pricing information on book covers has long been a standard practice to help track inventory. The suggested pricing also helps increase the perceived value of books. The internet, especially Amazon, has changed that perception of value leading some booksellers to question the pre-printed price information....more
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.
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....more
A new survey of book buyers shows that some customers are buying fewer books from Amazon as a result with the ongoing conflict with Hachette. The Bookseller reports that though only 61% of respondents knew of the dispute, 19% of those that did were buying fewer books from the online retailer....more
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.
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)....more
Comic publishing pioneer Françoise Mouly discusses bringing comics to the mainstream, life at The New Yorker, and the burdens of being legendary....more
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.
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.
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.
In the beginning the words flowed like honey, like maple syrup, like corn syrup; yes, the metaphors flowed just like that....more
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....more
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.
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.
Books are not dying. However, how we publish them—as well as how we consume them—is transforming drastically.
By far the biggest boom in new titles, has come from self-published authors. More than 391,000 books were self-published in the United States in 2012, an increase of 422 percent since 2007.
Writer and illustrator Summer Pierre talks about the business of publishing books, no longer feeling lost to the fantasy of what it means to be a published writer, and how the experience of having her book go out of print led to pursuing her dream work....more
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).
An editor’s first look at a writer’s work is in the query letter. Steph Auteri, writing in Ploughshares, explains how writers can improve their introductions, and why it matters when they try to publish.
The best way to make an editor’s life easier is to make their decision to publish or not publish a no-brainer.