Tag Archives: publishing

The Business of Literature

An essay by Robert Nash from The Virginia Quarterly Review:

As technology disrupts the business model of traditional publishers, the industry must imagine new ways of capturing the value of a book.

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Random House and Penguin Are Negotiating a Merger

A big change in the publishing business, from The New York Times:

The potential consolidation comes as traditional publishers try to compete with dominant technology companies like AmazonApple and Google that have gained power in the e-book market. Lower prices offered by retailers like Amazon have put pressure on publishers to adjust their digital book strategy at a time when brick-and-mortar stores have been disappearing.

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Why Writers Disappear

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Hat tip: Instapundit)

How come writers vanished from bookstands? Why would a seemingly successful writer (to a reader) never write another book? Why did series end in the middle even when two more books were planned?


Most readers—and most writers—don’t know the answer. I do.

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An Open Letter to Fiction Writers

From The Huffington Post, by Yael Goldstein— the opening paragraph:

Fellow fiction writers,

Let’s be frank: we’re not the healthiest-minded bunch. If we were we’d spend our days doing something more pleasant than writing fiction. But lately we seem to have taken a turn for the worse. We look out at the shifting landscape of publishing – e-books rising, big publishers quaking – and obsessively ask, both publicly and privately, Is the novel dead? Is it all Fifty Shades of Twilight from here on out? Are we going the way of the poets, soon to be read by only each other?


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Navigating the World of Literary Agents

From The Millions:

If it sounds like I’m saying, “It’s all about who you know,” that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying. You can rail about how unfair that is, and how it makes publishing into an incestuous little club, and to a degree you would be right. But that’s the way the machine is built, people.

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How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read

From Mental Floss:

Half a century before e-books turned publishing upside down, a different format threatened to destroy the industry.

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How Publishing is Rigged

In a piece titled, “People I’ve never laid yes on” from the above named blog, we see another example of how one succeeds in the traditional publishing world: Have the right friends. (Hat tip: Frank Wilson)

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The 10 Biggest Book Deals of All Time

Found here:

Aspiring authors must cringe every time news of a seven-figure book deal hits the news. With print media in dire straits financially, publishers are after the safe bet. They’re willing to cough up millions for the memoirs of a famous public figure or the latest novel from an established literary superstar who they know will sell a million copies, but that means there’s that much less advance money to go around. Nevertheless, huge book deals make the news often enough to keep starry-eyed writers dreaming of that life-changing payday. Here are 10 lucky recipients of the biggest book advances ever reported.

See the list at the top link.

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Politics in Publishing—Who Knew?

A South African writer, David Freer, tells us You so_can_do it. An excerpt:

Which I guess brings me around to publishing. For the last twenty years at least, that has been the land of ‘can’t’. It’s the favorite tune of the legacy gatekeepers, particularly those who want me to fit their mold and sing their song. I know that song. It’s lyrics go ‘people like you, we’d be better off without’, which from their point of view, may well be true. I found it very odd, and of course being a good little sheep who always likes others to think and decide for him, I listened to every word, and gave up any interest in writing.

Or not. I always listen to people who say that, don’t I?

I’ve always avoided bringing politics into my posts, but it seems to me that publishing went wrong when they brought political philosophy into their strategy. The strategy essentially boils down to : You’re inferior. We know what is good for you. Trust us, we (the government) will look after you. Oddly enough every good communist or socialist I ever met (and yes, I have met some earnest good people believing in these philosophies), wanted to _help_ people, but assumed they’d be ones deciding what was good for those (inferior) people. Not them, of course. The first part of the philosophy is often left unstated but, hell, if I’m not inferior, why would ‘we’ know better than ‘me’ what is good for me?

And out of this Nanny-state-in-publishing spilled into a sequence of pro-their-political-outlook (because it is good for you) and anti anything that actually smelled of the individual triumphing, especially without authority helping. The core message, the mantra of ‘nanny’ is just “You CAN’T. We know what is best for you (and for readers) and you CAN’T DO THAT. If you try, it’ll all end in tears. And thus a lot of what they brought out was predictions of the misery those who didn’t sing their song (and march in time to their music) would bring. The BAD people, who weren’t good (the correct kind of) government…

Which, in a nutshell is why books with “Can-do” attitude are out of fashion. (which – as a South African, I was raised to believe was an intrinsic American value. My Dad picked it up from his dealing with ‘Yanks’ in the war. Do you know how weird I found the shattering of this illusion? It’s certainly still true of some… but there is an awful lot of ‘I can’t, nanny must. I’ll be good so she will’, which makes me want to puke in my breakfast.).

I try to avoid politics in my blog also, focus on “books,” and mostly I can do it, but when “politics” is shoved in your face every day, I sometimes wonder if I’m making any headway  suggesting that there’s more to life than one’s personal views on politics.

Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

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Tales of Humor and Blurbs

From the Guardian, Literary legends brought to life in publisher’s archive:

With tales of beers with John Steinbeck at his Nobel prize ceremony and signing up Roald Dahl on a transatlantic ferry, the newly opened archive of the publisher Charles Pick offers a intriguing glimpse into publishing’s golden era.

After he started out as an office boy for Victor Gollancz in 1933, Pick’s 66-year career in publishing saw him discover, nurture and publish some of the biggest names in 20th-century literature, including JD SalingerGraham Greene and Dahl. With a roster including Catherine Cookson, Wilbur Smith, Anita Desai and John Le Carré, Pick had an unerring eye for what the public wanted and formed close relationships with many of his authors.

Read the whole thing.

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