The Industry


A great article to add to your weekend reading pile: An interview in Poets & Writers, in which Gabriel Cohen talks to John B. Thompson about this book (titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century) and his views of the publishing industry today.

The article touches on everything from technology to chain stores to the roles of the key players in the industry, but my favorite part was probably the one in which Thompson discusses the technological fallacy, or the assertion that technology—not people—is the driving source of change in the publishing industry. Here’s what Thompson had to say about it:

“What they miss is that publishing is a complex field of actors and players and agents who are human beings actively involved in content—and that readers are human beings who have their own tastes and preferences. Technology isn’t just an independent variable that drives through all that come hell or high water. It’s part of (more…)

I have to be honest: I always breathe a huge sigh of relief when we close our query lines in December. Finally, I think, a chance to catch up! But after a couple of weeks in a query-less world, I get twitchy with anticipation and anxious to dig in once again. Thus, I always approach the re-opening of our query lines with a sense of hope and a certain amount of nervousness. Not unlike, I suppose, many writers who are about to submit their work to agents feel as they pause, scanning their query letter one last time before clicking “send.”pgi0128

As you probably know, we re-opened our query lines last week. Perhaps you’ve just sent out your first-ever round of queries to agents. Or perhaps you’re on your second or third round of queries, having made tweaks and revisions to your query letter and novel based on previous feedback from agents and writers. Whether you’re a first-timer or a veteran, you most likely (more…)

I have at last come around to the beauty of the e-reader.

Nook Ipad 400Back in the long ago of 2008, I bought the first Kindle to use as an aid to reading manuscripts. It was nearly four hundred dollars, which boggles the mind even now. Why? Because Kindle 1 had serious problems: it was a poorly designed, clumsy device with page flip buttons in all sorts of weird places; it had problems with poor contrast and refresh rates on page flips; and it broke just after its year-long warranty expired. The latest iterations look pretty spiffy, but Kindle 1 was so awful and the customer service so terrible that Amazon forever lost my business.

After it broke down, I bought an iPad, but I never really used it for reading books. Wasn’t keen on the iBooks interface, with its silly animated page flips. Wasn’t about to give Amazon the satisfaction of downloading more books to its Kindle app.

Then I went on a work retreat/holiday, and I downloaded some books to the Nook app for the week. I read three of them. And now I don’t want to read books on anything else. In fact, I came home to find four books I’d ordered waiting. I returned them to the seller and downloaded them instead. (more…)

Looking for a little light reading/book chat/way to procrastinate whatever tasks are on your to-do list today? Head on over to the excellent Mother.Write. (Repeat.) blog, where I’ll be answering reader questions about all things books until 5pm. today.

35ce024128a035ee5e120110.LIf you are the sort who, instead of writing your pages, dithers on the web, checking up on the news and reading blogs and watching Orson Welles drunk outtakes, then you may well have seen Jackson Pearce’s screed against book pirates. Some background: She’d tweeted a few days ago that she must subsist off of ramen because she is broke, and meanwhile her books are being downloaded illegally. People responded to the tweet (apparently in support of book piracy—arrrrr!), and she answered those people with this charming video in which she costars with a pirate puppet.

But to my mind, both she and the people she’s answering are missing a bigger question, which is this: If those downloaded copies of the book(s) weren’t available on a pirate board, would the people who download them instead have purchased copies? That is, what is the actual impact of these downloads on sales?

There’s no way to be sure, of course, but I’d argue that the effects are negligible or positive. And that, considering that piracy is unavoidable, best then to (more…)

bookpadMy complaint is a simple one.

Look at the picture there on the right.

See the stack of books to the right? See the stack of books on the iPad? Which one reminds you of the stories still to be read, the books you want to reread; which one literally occupies a space in your conscience (as well as on your bookshelf)?

But in my experience, when I look at my iPad, I don’t see books. I see an iPad. On the device is Middlemarch, a Jonathan Ames novel, a Charlie Huston mystery, a couple of P.G. Wodehouse books, and a half-dozen nonfiction books I thought I wanted to read once upon a time.

This could just be a sad side effect of the way I consume books: (more…)

[Today's post comes via the dizzyingly sharp Jennifer Ung, who once upon a time interned for one of us here at Upstart Crow (albeit at a different company). Jennifer has just returned from a season in England, and we thought her observations on the two markets well worth sharing. Especially fascinating are explanations of how, though united by common language, American and British teens are so different that teen novels in each market don't "translate" to the other.]

jeninlondonI’m an intern.

By MTV-reality-show standards, that probably means that I’m the go-to person for coffee, bagels, and general mind-numbing office work. I entered the interning realm thinking I’d end up doing tedious, unpaid work I didn’t care about but did only for the sake of furthering my barely fledgling career. Much to my complete and utter surprise, every single place I’ve interned at so far has treated me like a princess. And who am I to complain? I love being a princess. Especially one who gains valuable experience in possibly the best industry in the world (!).

Hyperbolic metaphors aside, interning at two literary agencies in New York City has given me valuable insight into this super cool, ultra close-knit community known as children’s books. I particularly fell in love with all things YA. I became the kind of person you’d find staying up all night reading the latest Hunger Games novel (ahem, ican’twaitforaugust!), or stalking the stories in the Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf to discover new debut titles worth reading. I absolutely adored (more…)

I am very excited to invite all Upstart Crow blog readers to a Teen Author event this evening that I’ve helped organize. The reading will feature our very own Yvonne Woon, whose debut novel Dead Beautiful will be published in September.

She will be joined by the fantastic Natalie Standiford (How To Say Goodbye In Robot), Bennett Madison (The Blonde of the Joke), and New York Times bestseller Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall).

Please come to hear these remarkable authors read selections from their novels, talk about their writing processes and their roads to publication, plus their latest projects.

There will be a Q&A session immediately following, as well as an author signing with books available for purchase.

The details are as follows: (more…)

Swoon at Your Own Risk

It’s always cause to celebrate when one of my clients’ books is released into the world.

But it’s extra special exciting to see an author grow. Sydney Salter’s newest book, Swoon At Your Own Risk, is now available from Harcourt. This is Sydney’s third book, and I have worked with her since the beginning of her career. I have watched her develop and grow as a writer, and challenge herself to conquer new literary heights. She is the prime example of why it is important to make each book a brand new adventure.

Here’s a little about the book:

You’d think Polly Martin would have all the answers when it comes to love—after all, her grandmother is the famous syndicated advice columnist Miss Swoon. But after a junior year full of dating disasters, Polly has sworn off boys. This summer, she’s going to focus on herself for once. So Polly is happy when she finds out (more…)

melIf there were a Ten Commandments of Publishing, “Thou Shalt Be Patient” would definitely fall somewhere between “Always Revise, Ye Children” and “Sippeth Much Coffee.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had to say “these things take time” or “we need to be patient” or “hey, what’s over there?” before bolting in the opposite direction over the course of my young career, but it’s been plenty.

Chances are, if you’re going to be serious about getting published, you’re going to be expected to wait at different points: to figure out the plot, to find time to write, to hear back from your critique group, for an agent to respond to you, for the coffee to finish brewing, for revisions to be completed, for an editor to read your manuscript, for an offer to be finalized, for the contract to be negotiated, for the cows to come home, to receive an editor’s notes, for the publishing house to pick the perfect cover, and for the release date to finally arrive. Then you get to start all over (minus some steps, of course, like the cows) for the next book. (more…)

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