Friday, February 24, 2012

Publishing News

This week's Publishing News, divided between "News" and "Industry Blogs."


Penguin ends its relationship with Overdrive, effectively ending its eLending program with libraries. This leaves Random House as the only one of the Big Six to offer unrestricted lending of its titles for libraries. There will, however, be a price increase.

Barnes & Noble is continuing its boycott against Amazon Publishing, and other publishers join the boycott.

International publishers shut down a site that hosted over 400K pirated eBooks.

The Authors' Guild throws in their official statement on Amazon, noting that Amazon's success isn't a result of positive capitalism and the natural success of a well-thought business strategy, but rather a predatory pricing strategem designed to eliminate fair competition.

QueryTracker posts its Publishing Pulse for 2/17 and 2/24.

Google drops some of its bookstore affiliates who sold Google eBooks. In pre-order sales, hardcover books still trump eBooks. In Canada, Random House takes over McClelland & Stewart, much to the dismay of small publishers. RH has promised to maintain the M&S traditions that have made the historical publishing company a Canadian icon. And Barnes & Noble sales rose in the third fiscal quarter, but the earnings fell due to heavy reinvestment into the digitial world. Seems like a sound investment to me - especially as the Nook is becoming its own source of immense profit and helping B&N stay in the game against Amazon's Kindle. Also contributing to the decline was the switch from only selling new & used textbooks to also providing cheaper rental ones - thank you, B&N!

A recent survy shows that teens are not embracing eBooks. Yet YA eBook sales are booming: "over the recent holiday season Barnes & Noble sold five times as many YA e-titles as print ones online." It's not hurting print sales: sales as a whole are growing, both digital and physical. It probably helps that publishers are aggressively marketing to teens, from offering the first book in a series for free to releasing exclusive short stories in e-format.

Industry Blogs

And one of QueryTracker's bloggers, now a published author, offers her perspective on the myths of the editorial process versus the reality she has now experienced. Also, querying an unlikeable character is difficult, but it can be done. Figure out what makes you like the character enough to write about him, and then include that. Carolyn Kaufman offers advice to Pantsers dealing with writers' block.

Agent Kristen at PubRants warns writers to look for publishers selling books in places they don't have the rights to. If you catch your book being sold internationally and you don't think international rights were part of the deal, tell your agent immediately, because you'll end up not getting money you should have. Why are books showing up in the UK in such a way? Because the UK market is one of the toughest to get into, and publishers are only signing best-sellers. So authors are being brought in through exports (which can get misreported or unreported in the royalty statements), or finding ways around the system.

Rachelle Gardner offers a 3-part series on what we in the publishing industry can learn from Kodak (part 1, part 2, part 3). First off? Don't get stuck in the past. If the market changes, change with it - clinging to the old sales tactics (like trying to make a profit off film in a digital camera economy) will kill us. Secondly, figure out who our customers are. They're not beholden to us - they can get their material elsewhere. So if we want them to come to us, then we have to provide them what they really want. And lastly, be prepared to change. The industry is changing. Start gathering information, research how it's changing, and change with it. Be innovative!

She also offers words of encouragement - don't give up; publishers are still buying new authors! And a list of 13 ways to impress an agent. Most of the basics you already know: research the agent, be professional, know what other books are in your market. But there was one surprise for me: Show videos of yourself talking. Since being able to market your book is important, showing you can speak in/to public is also important. Guest blogger Julie Cantrell follows up with a how-to-make-your-own-book-trailer guide.

Nathan Bransford suggests that we remember not to get too attached to our characters. If we like them too much, we end up losing a chance to make the story better, because we can't kill them off or make them do things we hate. Make your characters ugly; give them real flaws. It makes them better characters. And he reminds us that it's not enough to paint a vivid picture with your words - a book needs a plot, and it needs to move. Good mental pictures alone do not keep readers reading. He also posts This Week in Books for 2/17.

It seems like every book with a young adult protagonist is automatically categorized as YA. But sometimes, it isn't written to be a YA book. A reader asks Jessica Faust how she should choose the genre. Faust answers that if it isn't YA, then it's not YA - in this case, if it's a mystery written for adults, that's the genre, even if the protagonist is young. She answers another reader's questions on whether to include the prologue in a partial request, whether she should double space her selection, and whether or not she should include her age in her query. Simply: Yes, yes, and no. And if the story makes sense without the prologue, consider taking the prologue out entirely.

 Faust also talks about her ideal client: one who communicates! A monthly e-mail giving updates makes her very happy. She also updates her dictionary of publishing terms, and points out the difference between alerting and spamming on Twitter. It's okay to Tweet that your book has just been released; it's not okay to direct Tweet someone with "This book is awesome!" You might recommend a book to your friends this way, but not your own book - that's when it becomes spam.

Rachel Stark on TracChanges reminds us that those of us in the publishing industry are what media giants call "early adopters" - you know that eReader you've had for years and won't put down? Most people just got one. Even if everyone else you know already has one, trust me, the majority of readers are only starting to get them. Remember that the first-comers aren't your only audience.

What news in the publishing industry have you encountered in the past couple of weeks?

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