Friday, July 13, 2012

Publishing news

Last time in the Publishing News series, I put together my post on Thursday and was unable to update Friday, so I missed a few good posts. I'll be adding them in with these two weeks' links.

Industry News

Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other brick and mortar bookstores hold firm in their decision to not carry books published by Amazon, and explain why.

A recent court case could threaten library lending rights for both e-books and physical books, pertaining to books printed outside the US. With many publishing companies outsourcing the actual printing to other countries, this might impair the abilities of libraries to acquire new books. Libraries are asking that the Supreme Court redefine its final ruling, which says "the doctrine of first sale, the provision in the Copyright Act that allows any purchaser of a legal copy of a book or other copyrighted work to sell or lend that copy, applies only to copies manufactured in the United States," to the more specific "manufactured with the lawful authorization of the holder of a work's US copyright," which would not pose the same possible litigation issues.

The Wall Street Journal shares that your e-book is reading you: e-books are used to track reader data, giving publishers an insight into the readers' habits that has never been available before.

The Library Copyright Alliance and the Electronic Frontier Foundation call out the Authors' Guild on the HathiTrust lawsuit. HathiTrust is a digitization collective of research libraries created from the books scanned in the Google books project. The Authors' Guild suit rests on copyright infringement, but according to the LCA and the EFF, the Authors' Guild could have made a motion to have Google stop scanning at any point in the (so far seven-year long) process, but did not. They also consider HathiTrust to be covered under fair use law.
Please correct me if I misunderstand this, but from what I'm getting, basically many university libraries had their books scanned and digitally uploaded during the Google Books project, and the works were 'compiled' in HathiTrust, "a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future" (HathiTrust website). HathiTrust does not display books considered to have active copyright, but it appears the public can browse the site like any regular library catalog. Books with expired copyrights can be viewed in full; for the rest, HathiTrust has a link that finds which libraries have print copies of the book. Universities and students look like they can have full access to any book, copyright or not, for educational purposes.
The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold a hearing on something called the Market Equity Act, which will close the loophole that allows online-only retailers to avoid paying sales tax. The Retail Industry Leaders Association is in favor the MEA (big surprise, right?).

Publishing an e-book? Wish you had an ARC to hand out as promotional material? Check out Author Solutions'  BookStub, which is basically a business card with the book cover on one side and QR code, promotional number (for those of us with "dumbphones"), and downloading instructions for the e-book on the other. Each BookStub is worth one free book.

If you're planning on going with an inspirational publishing house, you should know that HarperCollins has acquired Thomas Nelson, which now gives them control of over 50% of the Christian publishing market.

The DOJ misses the deadline to publish 800 letters on the proposed e-book pricing settlement. With a stack this large, it hasn't been possible to read them all. They expect to have them posted by July 20, but question has arisen as to whether the delay violates the Tumney Act that gives the public the right to weigh in on decisions before the decisions are accepted by court.

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 7/6 and 7/13.

Nathan Bransford posts These Last Few Weeks in Books.

Publisher's Weekly has a great post on the most common errors found when converting PDF files to ePub and why they happen, that also happens to be a positive review of a conversion program called Silk.

Agent Kristen has a series of vlogs, "Fridays with Agent Kristen," addressing issues in writing. Her latest is on prologues and why they frequently do not work.

We all worry about punctuation, but Editor's Blog advises us it's not usually the make-it-or-break-it of a novel. Still, good writing doesn't hurt, and so the blog lists some tricky situations in which "to comma or not to comma" is a legitimate question, as well as their recommendation for each scenario.

Agent Janet Reid answers questions: "Should my synopsis restate the parts stated in my query?" Yes. The two are independent documents and you should not assume that they will both be read. "Should I tell agents I've sent the query letter to other agents?" Not unless the agent requires exclusive queries, and that is fairly rare. Otherwise, agents assume you're sending out multiples of each query letter at a time (personally addressed to each agent, of course, not mass-mailed). "Is it okay to hire a editor if my manuscript is being rejected?" Yes, it's a great idea. Finding a reputable editor to help you improve your manuscript is an expensive investment, though, so start with a good critique group.

Also--and this could get interesting--she has offered to give a reply to all queries she receives once a week for one hour. This is as opposed to a form rejection; the promise doesn't mean feedback. And she asks for only legitimate queries, so if you're not really ready to query or you know she doesn't take your genre, please don't clog the pipelines.

On QueryTracker, Stina Lindenblatt offers ideas to help you find mistakes in your writing. It's hard to find your own faults after months of hard work, love, and sweat; she suggests giving yourself distance. Also, consider listening to your work on audio as opposed to reading it, or reading it backwards, to help yourself find the flaws that need addressing.

Also on QueryTracker, Jane Lebak posts on how redefining the word success can show us we've come further than we think. If making the national bestseller list is your only definition of success, you might always feel inadequate, even if you're making thousands a month from self-publishing.

And Danyelle Leafty posts an excellent when-and-what-stage of website design for authors. When do you begin blogging? While you're writing. Also go ahead and purchase your site name. But you shouldn't worry about writing your "About Me" page until you've sold the book. Post-publication, when it comes out, make sure you keep working on your News section.

Tina Gerow is a published author with a Big Six agency and about 18 novels and stories under her belt. So it's with plenty of authority that she can tell you there is no end to rejection letters: she still faces them even now. It's not personal; it's not you; it's just part of the business. Remember that rejection doesn't stop an author from being successful. Achieving your dreams is worth a little rejection on the way.

Rachelle Gardener offers 6 things to learn from Hemingway: among them, know when to put your work aside; if a story needs more time, then give it more time; and get to know other writers and discuss writing.

Sarah Manguso offers advice to new writers, including living cheaply, investing in your health, not responding to attacks, and slowing down once you've published.

GalleyCat publishes a list of free sites to promote your e-book.