Table of Contents
- Trafficking in Publishing’s Commodities
- Commodity Publishing: Faster, Authors, Faster!
- Smashwords & Libraries: Precedent & Product
- Metrics: Balking at BookScan
- Craft: It’s Been Done. And Done.
- Craft: What’s Wrong With Nonfiction
- Craft: Misery & Co.
- Publishing Conferences: Digital Book World
- Other Conferences Ahead, Quickly
- Books: Reading on the Ether
- Last Gas: Oh, Yeah, Those Guys
- Old drivers are trying to find new routes but are too proud to admit they’re lost.
- New hotshots are cutting in, trying to find ways to capitalize on the confusion and get ahead.
- Pundits keep jumping out in front to wave everybody through—”follow me!”—but can only hope nobody realizes they don’t really know the correct turns from their asses.
- All maps were outdated before Borders was forced off the road. Your GPS says nothing but “recalculating.”
- And then there are these cyclists between the company cars, like Copenhagen at 5 p.m., ridden by frequently bellicose self-publishers.
Watch carefully. At times in our publishing gridlock, you can glimpse something akin to “phasing,” a concept familiar to motorists stuck in traffic jams.
Think of cars stopped with their right or left turn indicators on. Blink, blink, blink. Every now and then, those blinks will synchronize for a time.
If you’re willing to set aside some emotional investment and look around, you’ll see several issues sync-ing up around us, and in a pretty romantic way.
Blink, blink, blink. Are you batting your eyelashes at me?
Here’s a new snootful from the sainted John Sargent of Macmillan. Jeanne d’Arc to DoJ haters. David in the Valley of the Bigger Five. We duly Etherized him just before Christmas, you may recall, in Macmillan’s Sargent: ‘In the Land of Giants.’
Now, Sargent is announcing he’ll be distributing English-language lovey-doveys from digital romance publisher Liz Pelletier’s Entangled-ment. Sargent has Entangled even St. Martin’s Press in a plan to bring some of those ebooks to print.
Blink, blink, blink.
Faithful Laura Hazard Owen writes it up, declaring Power of the indie: Macmillan strikes partnerships with e-publisher Entangled in that World War III-size headline font they love at paidContent. (Alas, no fault of Hazard, the site’s new mobile redesign renders the Entangled Publishing’s logo “tangle ublishing.”)Laura Hazard Owen
Entangled is one of a growing number of “boutique” publishers that seek to strike a balance between the freedom of self-publishing and the structure of working with a traditional publisher…Entangled doesn’t offer advances and pays authors royalties higher than what they’d receive from a traditional publisher but lower than they’d get if they self-published.
Have a look. Shirtless men kissing beautiful women. Blink, blink, blink.
E.L.James’s Fifty Shades books sold over 14.4 million prints units, and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books sold over 9.6 million print books. Together, these two authors accounted for over 4 percent of all print sales for the year.
For additional perspective, 2011′s top 15 nonfiction and fiction books combined sold about 18.3 million units; and Collins’ 2012 total is only slightly lower than all the top 15 children’s books in 2011 (which sold roughly 10.2 million books altogether).
Related reading: Deirdre Donahue at USA Today reports that Fifty Shades of Grey gets its hardcover publication on January 29—”just in time for Valentine’s Day,” as Donahue puts it. Somehow, one feels it’s better not to ask.
Donahue also notes “a discreet warning on the back guaranteed to keep little eyes from prying: ‘EROTIC ROMANCE: Mature Audience.’”
Donahue’s story is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ will be published as hardcovers.
And at this writing, Amazon is showing a pre-order price of $50.94, the list being $80.85. Enough to make you blink, blink, blink.
In some related reading to your related reading, Owen has an interesting take on the hardback release:
With their availability in hardcover, 50 Shades will complete an almost entirely reversed traditional publishing cycle. The books started out as Twilight fan fiction posted online. A tiny Australian publisher then released them as ebooks and print-on-demand paperbacks, selling about 250,000 copies. Random House snapped up the rights in a seven-figure deal, rereleased the ebooks and made 50 Shades widely available in paperback for the first time — where it achieved stratospheric success. Finally, a little under a year later, the books will be released in their most expensive format: The hardcover list price is $26.95 per book, USA Today reports (though that will surely be slashed by retailers like Amazon and there will be a three-book bundle for $80.85.
FIFTY SHADES trilogy will be published in hardcover on January 29 — but by Doubleday, not Knopf. http://t.co/WsEXl45s
— Sarah Weinman (@sarahw) January 10, 2013
Then here’s the discerning agent Jason Allen Ashlock of Movable Type Management at DBW’s Expert Publishing Blog with a series of Q&As intended to reveal traditional insiders as ”smart, indefatigable, book-loving people who are doing the very hard work of making the old new again.”
Certainly, there are some who have forgotten, I’m sure, that the majors are peopled with intelligent experts who have an ocean-deep institutional memory for something you’ll now miss if you blink: literature. And yet, even this exercise goes right into our flashing red-light district: more romance.
In his first installment, The Change Agents: Amy Tannenbaum, Ashlock asks the highly regarded Simon & Schuster editor to talk about self-publishing titles with which she has done “some exciting work,” books for which she has given demonstrably successful self-publishing authors traditional contracts.
- Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.
- Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber.
- The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay.
Blink, blink, and blink. We’re sync-ed right up again with more romance. Note that the Atria division is hardly limited to romance, far from it. But these recent selections mentioned by Tannenbaum happen to trend that way.
At this rate, by my calculation, we can expect to do away with men’s shirts in publishing entirely by around May of 2014.
What I’d love to see Ashlock add for his upcoming Q&As with folks inside legacy publishing is a question about whether they got into the business expecting to work in romance.
And by the way, the answer from some industry folks to that question would be yes, and that would be OK. It should go without saying that some people, indeed, are eager and happy to work in romance and its subgenres, and this is fine. I’m not disparaging the choice. What I’m questioning is the prevalence of romance in the business right now.
UPDATE: Jason Ashlock tells us that he accepts our “Ether Challenge” and will indeed be kind enough to ask his interview subjects whether they got into publishing to work in the kind of material they find themselves handling today.
And, of course, this is not the whole story. Read on. And don’t blink.
— Don Linn (@DonLinn) January 9, 2013
We’re indebted now, as we are so frequently, to my colleague, friend, and ridiculously patient host of the Ether, Jane (“not that one the other one”) Friedman.
In Commodity Publishing, Self-Publishing, and The Future of Fiction, she takes on a rather strange and definitely strident call in a subset of the self-publishing genre community. These authors are being encouraged to write fast, write as many books as they can, pile them up as high as possible before even thinking about doing any “platforming,” or promotion or marketing or audience-building. The way forward, in this formulation, is directly into self-publishing.
As Friedman puts it:
Is self-publishing going to become the predominant, preferred, or recommended means for authors to launch their careers?…(The guidance is:) Don’t even bother getting traditionally published. Self-publish first…
- Write a ton of material.
- Publish it yourself on all the digital platforms.
- Repeat as quickly as possible.
- Make a living as a writer.
…I call it commodity publishing. It’s not about art; it’s about product.
You read me above suggesting that Jason Ashlock ask his Q&A subjects about what they got into publishing to do. Here’s Friedman’s way of making that point:
Funny, (publishing is) the business that no one gets into for business reasons. It’s the business that, if you asked its individual participants, would likely prefer to talk about the art or culture of the business, would prefer to make the argument that it focuses on quality work that deserves publication. Yet those with trade experience know how the decisions really get made: based on a profit-and-loss analysis (P&L) and for the benefit of the bottom line.
And, risking the ire of a lot of defensive folks, she writes:
I’m now on the edge of a longstanding argument: whether genre fiction is as ‘good’ as so-called literary fiction.
I’d put the question into this form: are works of literary fiction being airlifted out of the rabble by publishers along with these shirtless-men-kissing-beautiful-women books? If they are, I don’t see them. Do you?
Most literary authors and nonfiction writers I know are not able to pursue this model (commodity self-publishing). They either cannot produce—or would not want to produce—multiple volumes in a few years’ time.
What’s more, if “commodity publishing” seems to run counter to anything other than genre work, it also generally rejects the concept of building an author platform before publishing. This was clear when Friedman, in her update of another piece, How Long Should You Keep Trying To Get Published?, wrote:
If your goal is to bring your work successfully to the marketplace, it’s a waste of time to self-publish that work, regardless of format, if you haven’t yet cultivated an audience for it, or can’t market and promote it effectively through your network.
Dutch trains & busses might not always run on time, but they are ticket-less and have free WiFi! – While German trains & busses run on time.
— Sebastian Posth (@sposth) January 7, 2013
Many writers have responded with sometimes harsh comments, insisting that the kind of preparatory, audience-building marketing Friedman descrfibes is a waste of time.
Just write. Keep writing. More books. Blink, blink, blink.
Friedman also has found the reactions quick and pointed when she writes:
This model doesn’t care about quality. It says: You will get better as you write more, and besides, everyone knows that quality is subjective.
“This model doesn’t care about quality.”
I suspect this model doesn’t care about Jane.
Not all respondents are so dismissive. One commenter named Mira at Passive Voice writes with lovely reserve:
I know this isn’t a popular indie opinion, but I agree with her (Friedman) that the casual approach to quality in the indie publishing community is a huge mistake. It is damaging to indie reputations, and I wish people would re-think it.
A consistent through-line in comments on these posts has to do with a perception by many genre writers of literary fiction as “elitist.” It’s probably not inaccurate to say there’s a chip on the collective shoulder about this, despite the fact that — as Friedman is making clear — literary fiction seems to have a far harder path ahead in an industry that much more readily harvests genre work. Again, these self-publishing channels don’t seem to be the go-to place for publishers to find contract-worthy literary fiction and narrative nonfiction (the latter of which is Friedman’s preferred reading).
And so it is that in the course of Friedman’s posts and in the comments that follow them, that we can see this debate sync-ing up, if just temporarily, like those turn lights in traffic. These are frequently irregular focal points in publishing’s digital dynamic, at the moment aligning with percussive iteration.
Blink 1: There’s the commodity aspect, writing to sell, and in bulk. Writes Friedman:
If you’ve ever walked into certain kinds of used bookshops (especially back before ebooks became prevalent), you’ve seen the racks and racks of mass-market romances and other genre fiction, sold for 25 cents each. A customer might walk in, buy a grocery bag full, walk out, then return the following week for a refill. The new era of self-publishing authors are, by and large, serving these customers.
Blink 2: There’s a growing debate here about the place of non-genre work—as in, does it have a place at all? (Part of this still is affected by a remark of Tim O’Reilly, which I’ve explicated in this edition of the Ether. O’Reilly, himself, has referred folks to it for background on his comment.) As to this question of non-genre work, here’s Friedman:
If traditional publishing declines, will the big corporate houses have the same ability to publish those titles that aren’t destined to be commercial successes, but critical successes?…Can Random House deliver books like the Behind the Beautiful Forevers if they don’t also profit from 50 Shades of Grey?
Blink 3: And can commodity publishing from the “indie” sector sustain the post-digital-transition industry for the long-haul?
This model relies on a readership that consumes books like candy, or readers mostly interested in finding a next read as quickly and cheaply as possible.
As I’ve written before, digital disruption is usually kinder to entertainment than to art, but blink, blink, blink: this alignment of commercial forces—a sea of self-produced romance-dominated content, publishers on the prowl for just such material, and commoditized concepts of fast-churn output—might actually present a much more toxic landscape to more serious work than we’ve seen in the past.
As I’ve written before, I agree with O’Reilly that serious literature can’t expect to be coddled or subsidized in some concept of entitlement. It must stand on its own in the market. But what if the market simply walks away from it?
Is this the industry we want?
Keep your taillights blinking and let’s take the matter to the local library.
This last week, the Douglas County Library (DCL) system announced that they had acquired 10,000 ebook titles from the leading self- and independently-published e-book distributor, Smashwords. At an average of $4.00, this required an expenditure of $40,000 to purchase, not merely license, a large number of ebooks for the readers of Douglas County, nearly doubling the number of titles that DCL owns to 21,000.
There’s no question that Peter Brantley has a lot of positive news to report in his post, Digital Lending, In Agreement. He’s describing the culmination of the deal between Smashwords and Douglas County that, as he writes, was made “through the legal equivalent of a sketch on a cocktail napkin, not a 330-page contract with multiple addenda.”
The most promising aspect of the deal – and one that I hope will set a precedent – is that it was concluded through Smashwords’ acceptance of a simple document, “Statement of Common Understanding for Purchasing Electronic Content.” The keystone clause underpinning the Common Understanding’s resolutions is: “The Library affirms that it will comply with U.S. Copyright Law.”
I’m in agreement with Brantley, and I congratulate Smashwords’ Mark Coker on the mechanism at work here: at a time when so many are struggling to hammer out digital directions for libraries, it’s good to see Smashwords’ Library Direct program roll out.
Brantley notes that a majority of the authors involved have engaged in the program “for library prices at below-market levels,” in line with the theory that library exposure is good for a writer’s business.
Smashwords permits its authors and publishers to set their own library prices using a web-based pricing tool; the majority of its participating authors have opted for library prices at below-market levels, reflecting the premium value they place on library exposure and promotion.
And in line with that blink, blink, blink of industry issues and questions coming together, here are some additional things I’d like to know—not about this praiseworthy and marvelously straightforward contract that Brantley says “does not cover two pages,” but about the content:
- When a self-publishing platform like Smashwords sells 10,000 titles to libraries, what are those titles?
- The Smashwords authors are self-selecting, they decide whether to participate. Do authors of one genre or type of book seem to favor participation more than others?
- Brantley mentions the libraries using “whatever selection criteria they see fit.” Is it possible to know those criteria?
But if the commodity-publishing dynamic holds, then there seems to be a good chance that 10,000 self-published titles are, in major part and maybe predominantly, from romance and other genres. Again, please don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m casting some automatic aspersion on genre work. But how much of it should be a part of a 10,000-book infusion into library collections? And how much of anything else could be available in a deal like this?
What does this inventory do, over time, to the nature of a library’s services? Does the library take over for that bookstore Friedman describes, where you fill up your grocery bag with 25-cents books? I hope we might soon have some information on the kind of content involved in this promising development.
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Related reading: “This is huge news,” writes book developer and author Liz Castro about Smashwords’ call for submissions of EPUB file uploads. This is an alpha testing phase of the capability, called Smashwords Direct. Writes Castro, in Smashwords asks for EPUB files for testing, “The new Smashwords Direct program will allow authors to upload professionally-designed EPUB files and thus give us absolute control over what the EPUB looks like.”
The lady in the seat behind me has a loud-ass ringtone, a yappy dog, *and* is kicking my seat back. She’s a trifecta of air-travel hell.
— Pablo Defendini (@pablod) January 9, 2013
In his analysis mentioned above, James and Collins Drive 2012 Print Sales, Michael Cader is using figures from Nielsen BookScan, a common source in the business. He notes for his readers that Nielsen “tracks print book sales only, at the point of sale.”
Meanwhile, Suw Charman-Anderson at Forbes asks Can Nielsen BookScan Stay Relevant In The Digital Age? The problems aren’t just in BookScan’s print-bound limitations, she writes, but also in disturbing questions about how much of the print market the service actually captures.
Usual assumptions of 70-percent coverage in the States and 95 percent in the UK, she writes, look more like 30 percent or worse to authors Charman-Anderson interviews:
With digital sales gaining in importance and retailers including ebook-leader Amazon declining to report proprietary sales data, Charman-Anderson asks, “How can BookScan hope to stay relevant in an era where accurate data is essential?”
— Emma Bond Gardner (@EmmaBGardner) January 9, 2013
I’ve just encountered a post headlined, “Fifty Shades of Editing.”
Dear Ethernaut, we now can do without any more gimmicky uses of the phrase “Fifty Shades.”
It is not funny. It is not clever. It is not interesting.
The American love of engendering fellow-feeling through the endless repetition of populist phrases is as tedious as it is stunting. Yada. Yada. Yada.
Try thinking for yourself. Originality happens when we stop aping everybody else.
— Colleen Lindsay (@ColleenLindsay) January 11, 2013
How many digital works really need to be the equivalent of 200, 300 print pages or more? I’m talking to you, business books, self-help guides, and a large number of other bloated categories.
Why do we insist on puffing up books so they have a physical presence on the shelf? Borders is gone, B&N is struggling, linear bookstore shelf footage is constantly shrinking and digital continues to grow. As an industry we seemed wedded to the thought that every book has to be a minimum length to be worth a minimum price. That logic goes out the digital window. Spine width has zero impact on ebook discovery.
I’d just finished saying to a friend that too many nonfiction books read like one chapter dragged out into 10 chapters. This is especially true of business books, with which I became painfully familiar for a time when I ran a CNN.com section called “Career.” Almost every book out on one topic or another in business had a single handle, one idea, followed by 210 or so redundant or digressive pages.
The business titles I skim (because most aren’t worth reading) could have been condensed to 20-30 pages max. They’re puffed up, probably by an editor who’s looking for spine width…Unless the author has a real, compelling story to tell that requires all those words I suggest they go as short as possible. I’ll pay you more if you’ll save me time.
@DonLinn I just licked the screen.
— Meredith Hindley (@CapitolClio) January 10, 2013
Such a deal. Would that authors would take Wikert up on it.
He’s taking the Nicholas Carr-Clay Shirky debate about what digitization means for books as a starting point. (We cover it here in Ether for Authors this week at Publishing Perspectives.) And, as Shirky does, Wikert ties his message in to an allusion or two to digitization in music.
Don’t misinterpret the music lesson and assume your next digital step is to sell individual chapters. The real opportunity in publishing is to create more works that are like individual songs, where the message is short and efficient. The former is a weak extension of the current quick-and-dirty print-to-e thinking while the latter requires a digital-first mindset.
So who’s going to take Wikert up on this? Let’s see an author with a good how-to book pare it right down to that one essential idea and…leave it there. Produce it as a short, quick hit, a natively digital expression of efficiency and concision.
Call me when it’s out.
Have a guess whose offices I've just visited? This in their lobby. pic.twitter.com/HTYpQ8qB
— Sam Missingham (@samatlounge) January 10, 2013
The #1 cause of writer discontent is talking to other writers. Ironic! Talking to other writers is also the most helpful way to get support, encouragement, and knowledge about the industry.
In a way, this is pretty wicked stuff, too, in an era in which authors have more ability to talk to each other than ever before. Share, share, share, reach out, reach out, reach out. Everything up to and including your margin notes are supposed to be out there flapping in the social breeze-shooting that’s euphemized these days as “community.”
Nevertheless, a large percentage of the problems writers have are from either
- comparing themselves with other writers, or
- getting inaccurate information from other writers, or
- hanging out in writer loops or chatrooms where discontented writers are venting their woes.
You know where I am, what I want, and who I would choose.
— Paul Bogaards (@paulbogaards) January 10, 2013
In many cases, envy is the problem. It’s debilitating and in the hive it can take on a buzzy life of its own that may, in fact, have nothing to do with reality. Gardner:
It’s crucial to avoid comparison, and set your own yardstick for success. Your path is not going to look like anyone else’s.
So there you go. Permission granted to turn it off. Give the Net a rest. Wave to your buddies and keep moving.
Ebooks remind me much more of the arrival of colour printing than of iPods. New genre, new channels rather than a straight replacement
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) January 10, 2013
This is the first of the major winter conferences of the year and organizers at F+W Media are crowing about big registration numbers, they seem chuffed.
There’s still time to register for the confab, which this year moves to the Hilton New York at
Sixth and West 53rd. Have I mentioned how handy that is to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art between Fifth and Sixth, at 11 West 53rd?
Just in time for our gathering, MoMA has a special showing Edvard Munch’s The Scream—perfect for the industry! the industry!
This is the 1895 version, one of four, and the only one in private hands. It’s being loaned to MoMA for this special showing. Every time I look: metadata.
And hey, don’t come after me about cadging some illegal image of the Munch. This is the cover of MoMA’s book on the piece, from Ann Temkin, the museum’s Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture. A real curator.
It’s the Publishing Innovation Awards, which honor strong work in both ebook and app categories.
I’ll be ably assisted and protected by Anne Kostick, who has chaired DBW’s judging panel for this year’s competition. (She wants to do flamenco, I’m leaning toward tango. We’ll see.)
Each ebook entered into the PIA judging process is given a 13-point “QED” design review to test for readability in multiple formats and on several devices.
Kostick and I will be handing out the13 awards in a special luncheon Wednesday—a hot plated lunch, not something out of a box. Tickets for the luncheon are included with a Total Access Pass registration to DBW. You can also register for it (and other elements of the conference) on this page.
When registering for the conference, you can use my affiliate link to trigger discounts, if you like, or put PORTER into the promotional code box.
The hashtag is #DBW13 for the conference, which is programmed by chair Mike Shatzkin and his associates on the council.
By my count there are just over 50 sessions/events on the two main days of the conference, one busy confab, sure to spark healthy debate and terrific conversations.
F+W chief David Nussbaum opens the scream heard ’round the Hilton at the challenging hour of 8:30 a.m. Eastern / 1330 GMT on Wednesday, and sessions will run both that day and Thursday until shortly before 5 p.m.
@FRANCOMEDIA Observations add up!
— ljndawson (@ljndawson) January 10, 2013
And a tip to those following from afar, stick to the schedule here, and it will help you interpret the tweet storm, which will break up at times into as many as five simultaneous sessions on different topics.
There’s a list of participating companies here, just to give you a sense for the scope of the crowd this year.
Hope to see you there.
— Flat World Knowledge (@flat_world) January 10, 2013
The 14th Annual Winter Conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators is set for February 1-3 in New York.
“This year’s conference features two jam-packed days of inspiration and the latest on what’s happening in the field of children’s literature from top editors, agents, art directors, authors, and illustrators. Make sure you look at the detailed description of each workshop on the Schedule before you select your breakouts.”
Done writing. Fireside nap time.
— Michael Crossan (@MichaelCrossann) January 10, 2013
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You’re welcome to use my code AFFILIATEPA for a discount of $350 on your registration.
WriterCube’s Kristen McLean, co-chair of the all-new confab, has been posting a series of articles this week on what she terms the “topsy turvy” nature of the empowered writer’s process. This involves the very platform-first approach that Jane Friedman was writing about in our section above on commodity publishing, and looks at the question of an author’s place, the function of an author’s brand.
For this strategy to work, you need an identity that is more than just “I’m a writer.” It could be “I write gardening books, I live in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m inspired by nature.” Or “I’m a YA author living in Nashville, and when I’m not scribbling in coffee shops, I’m shooting pool and eating cupcakes.” Or “I’m the top flyfisherman in Montana, and I’m on a mission to teach people to fish without killing themselves. I also love beer.” Whatever it is, you should inject some real authenticity in it, because you’re going to have to walk the walk everyday for the foreseeable future.
As part of her second post (Heading towards…), she has added some interesting input from Mark Ury of Storybird, illustrating a rather agile-like approach to product development that starts with conversation, have a look.
Also at Author (R)ev Day, I’ll be doing an onstage conversation with Grub Street’s Eve Bridburg – named one of Boston’s 50 most powerful women by Boston Magazine — on The Author Blueprint for Success as part of this program, looking forward to it.
In addition, the even features Cory Doctorow, Laura Dawson, Allen Lau, Jesse Potash, Dana Newman, and Jacob Lewis, as well as Peter Armstrong, Tim Sanders, Michael Tamblyn, Rob Eagar, Kate Pullinger, Kat Meyer, and Joe Wikert.
everyone says "live like you are dying," but if I did that I would have like, zero money – and the house would be a mess #doingitwrong
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) January 10, 2013
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O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change (#TOCcon) Conference (February 12-14) in New York City (the Marriott at Times Square).
Use my code AFFILIATEPA to save $350 on any registration package.
At #TOCcon 2013, be sure not to overlook the brace of workshops planned for February 12. While many of us will be involved in Author (R)evolution Day (your pass must include Tuesday), the workshop sessions running all day in parallel are extensive and led by a lot of talent.
Jump in now and rate the semi-finalists for the TOC Startup Showcase — the voting is open only until Friday (January 11). This is the program that gives new ventures in publishing a leg up by showcasing them to the main conference and positioning them to network fast with key players in the industry.
And remember that code AFFILIATEPA will save you $350 on any TOC registration, no matter what package of events you choose, from Author (R)evolution Day only to the entire several days of events.
@Harkaway There should be an app to help us optimise our avatars for a range of visual and/or chemical impairment.
— William Gibson (@GreatDismal) January 10, 2013
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AWP last year drew 10,000 attendees to Chicago, and, per its copy on the site this year, AWP “typically features 550 readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums, as well as hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings.” The program is a service-organization event of campus departments, hence the many (many) readings by faculty members and a frequently less-than-industry-ready approach that worries some of us about real-world training the students may be missing. Not enough Munch screaming, in other words.
Twitter is a black hole to the curious – it sucks you in at every angle.
— Jonny Geller (@JonnyGeller) January 10, 2013
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For an updated list of planned confabs, please see the Publishing Conferences page at porteranderson.com. If you have a publishing conference event coming, please notify me through the contact page at porteranderson.com, and I’ll be happy to consider listing it.
For the first time ever in The Bookseller tomorrow and online we'll be publishing e-book sales volumes for the major bestsellers of 2012
— Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) January 10, 2013
I’m bringing them together in one spot each week, to help you recall and locate them, not as an endorsement. And, needless to say, we lead our list weekly with our Writing on the Ether Sponsors, in gratitude for their support.
Writing on the Ether Sponsors
- The Indie Author Revolution: An Insider’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Dara Beevas
- Grow Your Audience: The Author Platform Starter Kit by Dan Blank
- The Stars Fell Sideways by Cassandra Marshall
- Handmade Memories: Poems and Essays, 1997-2011 by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
- Seasons in Love by Dave Malone
- My Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box by Deirdre Gogarty with Darrelyn Saloom (Glasnevin)
- My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris (Red Season)
- Prophecy, An ARKANE Thriller by J.F. Penn (The Creative Penn)
- The Prodigal Hour by Will Entrekin (Exciting Press)
- Perfect Skin by Nick Earls (Exciting Press)
- Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing by L.L. Barkat (T.S. Poetry Press)
"http://t.co/CTRKCzfs has the biggest selection of outdoor gear… snowboards and skis…" Uhm… Let's talk about your URL.
— Brett Sandusky (@bsandusky) January 9, 2013
- APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki andShawn Welch
- Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
- The Dark Chronicles by Jeremy Duns
- Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland
- Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up by Caren Osten Gerszberg & Leah Odze Epstein
- Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
- Knot What It Seams by Elizabeth Craig
- The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh
- Miserere by Teresa Frohock
- Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris
- The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
- The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
- Pentecost by J.F. Penn
- The Ring Road by Edward Weinman
- Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
- Splintered by A.G. Howard
- Wool by Hugh Howey
— Dan Franklin (@DigitalDanHouse) January 10, 2013
Some 47% of Americans are not routine book buyers. For a commodity that is so cheap, that’s a lamentable figure, but it appears that the publishing community — focused as it is on survival and maintaining what profit there is to be had in this difficult business — has suffered a failure of the imagination (shameful in a business that traffics in creativity) in how to entice readers and turn them into book buyers.
Edward Nawotka, Editor in Chief at Publishing Perspectives, my host for Ether for Authors on Tuesdays, in It’s Time Publishing Tries Something Radical to Entice Readers, has the kind of idea that needs to be mentioned over and over and over before a business like publishing—so busy celebrating its crises—stops to listen.
Let’s start with men.
“Huh?” you ask.
Let’s be honest, it’s not as if books are difficult to come by. Public libraries lend them for free, used bookstores sell them for cheap, and some new grassroots programs like World Book Night are literally sticking some wonderful books into people’s hands for free. What’s more, with the advent of self-publishing, the industry is no longer the ivory tower it once was. The doors are open to all who want to publish a book, a number that (several years ago) was revealed to be approximately 200 million Americans — nearly all of us.
We have a lot of men, you know. Shirtless, kissing beautiful women on romance covers. What if we taught them to read?
Seriously, many of us believe that men, in fact, already read more than they’re given credit for doing, and more than they let on. Not for nothing do they love ereaders and tablets: you can’t tell what they’re reading.
Nawotka has told me of an enviable men’s book club of which he’s a member, it’s been running for many years. In my experience, men read more widely, across more genres, with more open minds, than some folks in our assumption-laden business concede.
My guess is that an overwhelming number of that 47% is male and it seems like a sensible proposition to target the most obvious group we know who don’t regularly buy books and read.
Hard to argue with this supposition. Hard to imagine the potential isn’t there.
I mean, as long as the guys are on the book covers, anyway, why not turn them into readers?
Update: according to my husband the computer programmer, there is no such thing as organic wifi. The restaurant was joking.
— Ginger Clark (@Ginger_Clark) January 10, 2013
Main image / iStockphoto: Chris-Mueller