Friday, March 22, 2013

Publishing News

Publishing News for 3/08-3/22/13.

Publishing News

Do you remember last edition, when we talked about Random House's awful terms for the Loveswept, Alibi, Hydra, and Flirt lines? How SFWA and RWA warned their members to avoid/be careful with these lines, and John Scalzi and Victoria Strauss talked about what was wrong with those terms? Well, Random House has been listening to writers, and officially changed their contract terms. Victoria Strauss explains the changes. John Scalzi gives first his immediate thoughts (generally, happy that RH listened and made these changes, but still hesitant over the profit share model); and then reminds readers that the change was a community effort by all writers and writer organizations who stood up for each other, plus RH listening to the community; and suggests we check out agent Evan Gregory's take on royalty-only contracts for a more balanced and informed view on the subject.

(Didn't I say I was going to got popcorn if there were further updates? Yes, I did. Time for more popcorn. Be back in a sec.)

The New York Times talks about the possibility of the resale of digital books, and what it means for the  authors and publishers, and how it would benefit e-retailers, especially Amazon. (I do notice they don't mention anything about natural book degradation, which is usually brought up in conversations: that for a physical used book, there is a noticeable difference in quality between a newer item and an older one; while for an e-book, it's always in "like-new" condition.)

Meanwhile, that Supreme Court lawsuit a while back, where a publisher sued for copyright violation a student who bought books cheap overseas, brought them back to America and sold them for a profit? The judges ruled on the student's side, based on the Right of First Sale Doctrine.

Hardcover sales for 2012 were down as compared to 2011 (surprise?), and Publishers Weekly puts the reason squarely on e-books. They list the best-sellers and how many of each book sold in hardcover. Paperback best-seller sales were also lower (again, thank e-books). Meanwhile, the e-book high-selling list is growing (shocking, in light of previous comments, isn't it?). If you want further proof that people are reading e-books, BookBoon releases a study saying only 15% of American readers don't intend to read at least one e-book in the next 3 years. Only 4.5%, however, intend to read only e-books. This does, however, explain why chain bookstore sales were down 13% in 2012.

And Publishers Weekly did some investigation to estimate how many books it takes to make an Amazon best seller. By their calculations, the top five books sell approximately 1050 books a day across all channels, or about 315 books on just Amazon each day.

Amazon is working to pay its authors more efficiently, speeding up the royalty payment system. Payments for each month should come within 60 days of the end of the month.

A judge denies a delay in the lawsuit against major publishers and Amazon by indie publishers. Indie booksellers assert that Amazon and the publishers created a deal locking books into Kindle devices without making a similar deal with indie booksellers. The goal of the suit is to rid e-books of device-specific DRM so as not to cut the indie booksellers out of the market.

Harcourt and Hachette partner internationally, with Hachette handling sales and orders, and Harcourt filling the orders (this deal does include the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, India, New Zealand, or Australia).

The Random House/Penguin merger has been approved in Australia.

Simon & Schuster will be sharing piracy stats with their authors, so authors can learn how much their books are being pirated.

If blog readers are in a hurry, they can now send a blog to their Kindle to take with them. GalleyCat offers links for creating and adding this button to your blog.

Google's planning on ditching its popular RSS feed (Google Reader). Digg promises to create something to fill the gap.

And Victoria Strauss on Writer Beware warns us about some of the clauses in "e-publisher" Autharium's contract, a "glorified self-publishing service" that takes rights for life-of-copyright like a traditional publishing company, with no reversion clause, no author termination clause (you can take yours stuff down, but they still keep the rights), and including print books and other non-digital sales formats.

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker for 3/15 and 3/22.

Rachelle Gardner talks about the biggest mistake authors make when it comes to making a living off writing: writing just one book.It's writing more books that makes it possible to survive as a writer, with each book bringing in money. She also names 4 reasons an agent might give up on trying to sell a manuscript, such as a lack of current market, or the same fundamental flaws pointed out by several editors.

Kristen Nelson shares the two main reasons she passes on sample pages: no plot catalyst, and no stakes for the main character. She also offers advice for doing first person POV well: don't let the character just sit back and observe; make the character interact with the scene. And she explains what it means for an author to be a "hybrid" author and an agent to be a "hybrid" agent.

The Editors Blog describes the basics of writing a query.

Janet Reid at the Question Emporium answers the question, "Should I mention in the query the manuscript has been professionally edited?" No. No, you should not. She also mentions some query pet peeves, such as writers querying works too short or too long, writers lauding their works as "the best" or "laugh-out-loud," and writers not including titles in the query. And she explains nonfiction queries with a hilarious example of Mallomars bars as studied by far-future civilizations: a nonfiction book must make a new assertion, and the query must state the relevance of this assertion, for it to appeal to an agent.

At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss lauds the new class action lawsuit against PublishAmerica, another noted vanity publisher. Some of the charges included are fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices, and deceptive business acts.

She also shows the sort of e-mail PublishAmerica clients get, which should explain exactly why there's an investigation for a class-action lawsuit against them. What's wrong with this e-mail? Let's start here: You're already published, but PublishAmerica promises to shop your books to around 15 traditional publishers who won't want your book because it's already published; while they offer to shop the books, there's no mention of any having ever been placed; the statement that they'll start working with "ALL your books in earnest" (only after you sign up, which publishing companies should do and still pay you royalties); the dubious math of the "ten times what they'd receive elsewhere" of the so-called discount (really? how'd they calculate that doozy?); most publishing houses work on returnable basis anyway; and if all that weren't enough, the over-the-top bright colors, all caps, random bolding, imperfect grammar, and other obvious marketing ploys should be sufficient to turn you off on their own. (Did I miss anything? No, really, feel free to throw in your own red flags from this ad.)

Stina Lindenblatt talks about copyright laws on QueryTracker. For example, when using a photo in your blog, just citing your source isn't enough to stop you from being sued, and did you know that you can only include up to a line from a song before you're skirting copyright violation territory?

Writers Write offers a list of the jobs with the most psychopaths (+) and fewest psychopaths (-) in them. And it gives us a cheat-sheet timeline on how human bodies decompose, just in case you need to know.

GalleyCat explains how authors should use Tumblr and what writers need to know about Tumblr.

What other major publishing news have you encountered in the past two weeks?


  1. Great info, thanks for sharing. I'll definitely have to bookmark Galleycat :)

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Mark! Yep, Galleycat is a great resource!