Over at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth shares a fantastic long form piece on the rise of the Harlequin romance novel, and how the brand became synonymous with a wildly lucrative if critically dismissed genre. From the original formula for woman-centered, alpha-male page turners to Harlequin’s relentless advertising tactics to the question of exactly how much sex sells best, Faircloth presents a sociological study....more
Posts Tagged: Publishing
For all our worrying about essay-writing robots, it’s easy to overlook the Fordist production models already in place in the publishing industry. Over at Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon considers the implications of literature that is ghostwritten and consumer-driven:
Under automation, fiction loses the power to alter what we think is possible.
Guernica speaks with literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb, who built a career around selling Chad Harbach‘s debut novel The Art of Fielding for a reported $665,000. Since then, he has sold novels like Wolf In White Van and coming later this year, City of Fire, a 900-page tome for a rumored seven-figure sale....more
Many of us choose to pursue MFAs; many of us are also plagued with doubts about the value of a degree in creative writing. Former teacher Ryan Boudinot shares his thoughts about programs, publishing, and the unlikely chance that you’re the Real Deal:
I think the instant validation of our apps is an enemy to producing the kind of writing that takes years to complete… If you’re able to continue writing while embracing the assumption that no one will ever read your work, it will reward you in ways you never imagined.
Television is a great way to sell books. Oprah’s Book Club is the best known example, but Edan Lepucki‘s bestselling debut California certainly owed some of its success to the Colbert Bump. But The Colbert Report has ended, and Jon Stewart, another populist book advocate, is leaving The Daily Show....more
(v.); to think out, devise or invent; to study intently in order to fully comprehend; from the Latin ex (“out of”) + co (“together”) + agitare (“to turn over”)
“Many authors dream of a happy ending in which, having delivered their magnum opus, they sit back and enjoy an endless stream of royalties.
Two years ago, it seemed the publishing industry couldn’t get enough of the XXL novel. But now, the trend may be shifting towards something smaller: the novella. Over at io9, Charlie Jane Andrews speaks with science fiction publisher Tor.com about their list of upcoming novellas:
For our readers, time is the precious commodity they invest in every book they decide to purchase and read.
Prospects for your serialized proto-fictional new generation adaptation of The Hunger Games are bright. As fan fiction solidifies its status as a literary genre in its own right, publishers are catching on:
…what was once viewed as either uncreative, a legal morass of copyright issues, or both, is now seen as a potential savior for a publishing industry still finding its moorings in the age of digital media.
I wonder if readers of Fifty Shades of Grey will now feel uneasy knowing that someone knows exactly which scenes they return to, and reread over and over?
As Francine Prose writes over at the New York Review of Books, new e-reader devices allow e-books retailers to fetch and analyze a user’s reading data....more
Rejection is an essential part of editing and publishing, but also a source of criticism of the industry. Over at Slate, Daniel Menaker comes to the defense of the publishing industry’s gatekeepers, explaining the importance of professionals in guiding the production of literature:
The modern, often online and anonymous, neo-Levellers who object to the “elitism” of publishing arrive at their position from the other side, the populist.
Though copyrights on creative works are automatic, those protections get complicated quickly, especially when it comes to publication. Howard Richard Debs breaks down the basics of copyrights for writers, explaining over at The Review Review some of the elemental concepts like First North American Serial Rights....more
Daniel Handler’s (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) recent racist joke at the National Book Awards exposed an uncomfortable truth about the American publishing industry: its overwhelming whiteness. For the industry to survive, it must embrace diversity. Over at the Guardian, Carole DeSanti points out that regardless of changes in the business of publishing, what matters is the content:
…any gains in the format and pricing wars are going to be wiped out if content is less and less relevant to the way people live, who we are, and what we aspire to be.
Amazon and Hachette have, for now, resolved their dispute. But their protracted battle over pricing has made Hachette’s Chief Executive Michael Pietsch something of a hero to many in the literary community—in Distinction, Pietsch discusses his journey from a small Boston publishing firm to leading the charge against Amazon:
My first job in publishing was as a dogsbody at a small firm in Boston.
Amazon and Hachette appear to have entered into a war of attrition, a battle that Hachette, with a more limited budget, is surely going to lose. Alone, Hachette will fall. News that Simon & Schuster easily signed a deal with Amazon was a major blow—and that might just be exactly what Amazon is counting on, proposes Josh Cook over at Melville House....more
Traditional publishers can’t do what Amazon does; Amazon can’t do what traditional publishers do (and no, the fact that bookstores don’t carry books published by Amazon is not the only reason why this is true, though that’s a subject for another post).
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
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.