Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Friday Bits

It's definitely a good news/bad news kind of day.

11/21 Publisher's Lunch reports the grim news that Random House is "freezing all pensions at their current levels and will not give pensions to new employees hired as of January 1, 2009," though "the company will continue to offer matching funds, up to 6 percetn, for 401K plans." (Story is also being reported by the AP).

In the same report under "Today's Meal" however, is the report that Hatchette Book Group employees got news of something to be thankful for, an additional Thanksgiving bonus (in addition to the regular year-end bonus), which celebrates "a spectacular year".

11/20's Pub Lunch reported on the Barnes & Noble financials. In a nutshell: "Even worse than expected". Reported sales were $1.1 billion for their third quarter, and a net loss of $18.4 million. Store sales were down 7.4 percent, though the online sales rose 2%. CEO Steve Riggio said, however, "On a positive note, our gross margins continue to hold up well. We have scrupulously avoiding driving unprofitable top line sales growth with additional coupon promotions and extra discounting. Additionally, the company remains focused on producing cash flow. We are managing our working capital efficiently, which is evident in the reduction of $107 million of inventory compared to last year." (Problem with this, I'm no business woman, but that sounds as though they bought fewer books, no?).

Upcoming retailer news - BAMM reports today, and Borders releases their results on Tuesday, November 25 (after the market closes, those cagey folk!).

11/19's Pub Lunch says that "At current prices, the market value of Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million and Hastings all together is less than $950 million. "


For those of you who want to sharpen your marketing and promotional skills, Author M. J. Rose's Buzz Your Book Class (an 8 year hit with authors that explores the creation and execution of your own marketing plan) is forthcoming. The first 25 registrants only. The 6-week on-line class runs from January 5th to February 2nd, 2009. The link at right will get you there.

Angela Knight's got another sale reported. Her 6th Mageverse novel went to Cindy Hwang at Berkley in a 3-book deal brokered by Roberta Brown of Brown Literary Agency.

Thought I would highlight a few agents who have made recent deals, too. Jennifer Schober of Spencerhill Associates had 2, count-em two, deals mentioned in the trades, and Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary made a romance sale. Check out these mover-and-shaker ladies via the links, stage right!

For some auspicious, yet upbeat news:

The Mystery Writers of America bestowed Grand Master status to James Lee Burke (author of, among other things, the awesome Dave Robicheaux series) and Sue Grafton (author of the perennial favorite Kinsey Milhone alphabetical series).

And for those who may have missed the event (my evening gown was in the cleaners), the National Book Awards were presented on November 19th. And the winners were: Fiction - Peter Matthiessen, SHADOW COUNTRY (Modern Library); Nonfiction - Annette Gordon-Reed, THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO (W. W. Norton & Co.); Young People's Literature - Judy Blundell, WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED (Scholastic) and Poetry - Mark Doty, FIRE TO FIRE: NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS (HarperCollins).

It's always a great day when literature is celebrated!

Have a great weekend, and remember - buy a book. Think of it as royalty karma.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hump Day, Redux (and the hump keeps getting bigger)

Whew. Tough day on the market today. Down over 800 points in 2 days. Wasn't it the Paul Simon song that went, "slip sliding awaaaay"?

Anyway. I'm shaking it off.

Back to the biz of publishing.

From Publishers Weekly (Nov. 17 issue): In addition to the article on cover art in the romance genre, there was a very informative article on the rise and rise and rise of paranormal in YA. In "The Next Dead Thing" the mounting popularity of the genre is examined, in the wake of the Twilight saga. Vampires are still on the scene, claims author Donna Freitas, but all things un-dead are making their presence known. Say, like, zombies. In fact, the many takes on zombies are what seem to be hot hot hot.

Says Senior VP and Associate Publisher for fiction at Harper Collins, Elise Howard says "We are still looking for that perfect zombie property.", while explaining that the "hunger for these novels is still unsatisfied", the fact is that the market is getting more sophisticated in what they want. Because of the glut - the books have to be top notch quality in order to stand out from the rest of the un-dead crowd. The old zombie - rotting flesh and body parts falling off - appealed mostly to the young male reader. But new approaches and titles are changing that. Zombie Blondes, Generation Dead and ghostgirl are some examples. Alessandra Balzer, co-publisher of Balzer & Bray at HarperCollins says "Now that people realize paranormal books are popular, everyone is publishing them. Soon it will be harder to get those books the attention they need, so we have to be really picky about what we publish."

Indeed, other creatures of the night are grabbing their own turf, including ghosts, pixies, weres and demonic creatures, such as The Vours in the recently released The Devouring.

Despite not being able to chart what the future will bring, Bloomsbury's Melanie Cecka said, "If fans are demanding these books, then we want to fulfil the need. But we are all getting more calculated about the books we publish. We are being watchful about what each house is doing, and how to position our authors..."

OT, the best line of the article, however, was that of Children's book buyer Donna Gerardo, who said, "It's pretty sad when the undead are getting better sex than I am."

But everyone agrees that this trend is going to stay strong for a while. The lesson I gleaned from the article? Find the next unique dead thing ... and they will come!

Among the PW reviews were some new names as well as some familiar:

Under Fiction - Karen Rose's Kill For Me (Grand Central; Feb.) - "Rose juggles a large cast, a huge body count and a complex plot with terrifying ease." The Nightingale, debut title from Morgana Gallaway (Kensington) "is a politically inspired romance set in contemporary Iraq." (Feb); St. Martin's Press is releasing Eric Spindler's Breakneck (Jan) but PW finds that "Spindler strays from her comfort zone." Lutishia Lovely's A Preacher's Passion (Kensington/Dafina; Jan) gets this kudo, "Amen to Lovely's hilarious follow-up to Love Like Hallelujah"

Mass Market reviewed The Witch's Grave by Shirley Damsgaard in her supernatural series (Jan), finding a "rather disjointed plot"; The Accidental Sorcerer: Rogue Agent, Book One, K. E. (Karen) Mills (Orbit; Jan) - "Miller's whimsical prose keeps the plot jumping and the readers laughing." And Lone Star Woman by Sadie Callahan - who is really Texas author Jeffrey McClanahan (Signet Eclipse; Jan) gets a great review. PW calls the title "as sizzling romance" and of the author's talent says, "...multifaceted character development, swift pacing and sensuous love scenes set this western romance well above its contemporaries." An impressive review for a male-penned romance offering.

And speaking of the YA paranormal trend, under Children's Fiction - Bones of Faerie by Jannie Lee Simner (Random) earns the debut author "the plotting is strong". Melissa Marr, already established in the YA field, enters into a compilation with other authors in the collection of five original stories - Love Is Hell (HarperTeen; Dec). PW says "consistently supple storytelling will lure readers through all five entries".

PW has 5 romance titles on the harcover list and 9 on the mass market. Romance is still strong, in all its permutations!

The Soapbox endpiece that wraps up the issue is a pithy essay by Stephen Barbara, literary agent and contracts director at Donald Maass Agency, who laments the well-honed query letters that now proliferate, following years of workshops and courses for authors on how to pen them. His problem? "Time was, bad writers wrote bad query letters." He now finds himself sucked into reading a submission with a great query letter, only to discover a dreary to dreadful submission. He concludes, "Nowadays...I figure that my goal is to discover great talent, not run a writer through some Draconian test of his or her ability to follow arcane query-writing guidelines." In other words, to paraphrase the Bard - the book's the thing!

Writer's Digest's Writer's Yearbook 2009 is out and is packed with lots of great intel, including an article (sorry, Mr. Barbara) on how to write (you guessed it) great query letters. This magazine is well worth the cover price of $5.99 for other articles on what agent's hate to find in a first chapter; strategies and advice for quick pitches at conferences; publishing your first book after 50 (which includes an inspiring story of Bangladeshi author, Nirad Chauduri, whose first book was published in 1951 at age 54. His second in 1988 at 90. His third? 1997 - aged 100); the year's wrap-up of the state of the e-book; anatomy of a writer's website; and the piece de resistance of the Yearbook, the wrap-up of 101 Best Websites for Writers.

This year these include selections under General Resources, Creativity, Publishing Resources (check out and,Writing Groups and Communities (, Agent blogs (including the Lori Parker blog I mentioned in an earlier post, as well as, Legal and Business Advice (;, and, Fun Stuff ( and Several Genres (erotica -; horror -; and romance -;

And for anyone looking to broaden their horizons:

For folk in the NYC area, PACE University offers a graduate degree, Master of Science publishing program.

The London Book Fair iwill be held on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, if you happen to be in jolly Old England.

There's the Tools of Change for Publishing TOC Conference, Feb. 9-11, 2009 in New York City.

AND, the big BEA, BookExpo America is also back in the Big Apple, May 28-31st, 2009, at the Jacob Javits Center.

More deals, dealmakers, agent profiles and good stuff to come tomorrow.

Til then, say a prayer, and buy a book.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hump Day News at The Publishing Game

Well, Brian came through with my copy of PW, and there's lots of news, but before that, a few other tidbits.

Daily Variety 11/18 issue reports that the "House of Night" series by P.C. Cast and her daughter Kristin has been optioned for the screen by Producers Michael Birnbaum and Jeremiah Chechik. Birnbaum says of the project: "P.C. and Kristin Cast created a thrilling world that juxtaposes teen drama with supernatural suspense, using the transition from human to vampire as a metaphor for the transition from adolescence to adulthood."

Daily Variety 11/19 reports that Nicholas Sparks' run of great good fortune on the silver screen continues - Warner Bros has cut a "seven-figure deal" for the movie rights to "The Lucky One", his latest bestseller. It will be produced by Denise Di Novi in her 4th Sparks film. He's going to be well-represented on the big screen because his other project, "Dear John", directed by Lasse Hallstrom is also in production for Screen Gems. AND he's "writing a new novel and an accompanying screenplay that is being custom-fit as a star vehicle for Miley Cyrus at Disney".

The 11/19 article also reports that "Lucky" is just one of the titles currently making the rounds, but that the pickings are slim - studios "aren't really biting on books".

Now on to the Publishers Weekly November 17 Romance special issue. This year's coverage on the genre is focused solely on the issue of cover art, in particular the ever-controversial "clinch" cover.

The short article reports:

"A clinch is never passe, but it is always evolving," and "A tastefully done clinch is a must-have for debut authors." These the words of Borders romance buyer Sue Grimshaw.

Vice President and Editorial Director of Avon, Carrie Feron says, "We're pro-clinch at Avon. Clinches are important when readers don't recognize the name of the author, but it doesn't have to be the clinch of 20 years ago."

Jennifer Enderlin, VP and associate publisher at St. Martin's Press weighed in saying that cover art should "be done in a modern way. If you feature a hero and heroine together on a cover, it needs to reflect some equality between the two." and warns further, "avoid at all cost poses where the heroine is bent so far backward she'll be in need of a chiropractor."

The article points out that opinions are rife, particularly on romance blogs, but that there hasn't been a poll to give us definitive proof.

Obviously Sarah Wendell of has an opinion: "Many readers hate it. Hate it." addign "But clinch covers will probably never go away."

Another divergent opinion is that of Kate Smith, founder of, who says that while the clinch is "definitely old fashioned, it exists for a reason. A clinch identifies the genre in a way that leaves no question about what you're getting between the covers." She says some of the readers of her blog say "it provides fules tothe naysayers, the critics of romance who dismiss the genre as fluff..."

But one of the respondents on the Romancing the Blog discussion said, "I've been reading romance for 30 years. The clinch cover is like an old friend."

PW had an interseting comparison of various covers of different publishers and genres and the reasoning for the artwork (no clinches) including what the "message" of the art is intended to convey to the reader, subliminally.

Having read PW cover to cover, I discovered lots of great bits to pass on. So many in fact that I'll do a "Hump Day, Part II" tomorrow, despite the fact that then, well, it won't be hump day anymore!

But a few more bits and bites:

Sara Nelson mentions, the site of Carol Fitzgerald. It's got release info, author interviews, industry stuff and polls, and is basically just a jam-packed site. Check it out (see link at right).

If you have not already heard, Amazon and Penguin are teaming up for a 2nd unpublished novel manuscript Breakthrough Novel Award. More info can be fond on and the grand prize includes a publishing contract with Penguin with - hold onto your hats - a $25,000 advance!

Upcoming releases are reported for perennial favorite, Belva Palin. Crossroads (Random) will be released on November 27. Stocking stuffer, anyone?

Several books have recently been in the news for their homage to Breakfast at Tiffany's. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote's famous work, Vintage is releasing a new edition, which includes as well, the poignant and sweet short story, "A Christmas Memory".

And on November 29, the Kate Jacob's Knit Two, the sequel to Putnam's The Friday Night Knitting Club is released. Take note, too, that TFNKC is being filmed; produced by and starring Julia Roberts.

OK, Folks. Heading out for the night, but I hope you found this post interesting. Tomorrow's part II will include details from Publisher's Lunch and more from PW, including interesting news on the YA paranormal explosion. Gotta love the title of the article by Donna Freitas- "The Next Dead Thing".

Til then!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be The Publishing Game

Welcome to another quiet day in the publishing industry.

Publisher's Lunch advertised the Amazon Kindle Best Seller List, including their "Top Movers & Shakers", with Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton (Berkley) at the #1 spot.

The Google settlement agreement has been given a tentative approval. PL says "Judge John Sprizzo's order was made public yesterday, and he set a June 11 date for a fairness hearing to 'decide if the deal is fair, reasonable and adequate.'"

Given the importance of this copyright milestone for the internet age, I'll try to keep abreast of this case and report the details as it moves forward. Legally, everyone is scrambling to get all they can, or, in the alternative, protect themselves all they can, before the laws get put in place. It's groundbreaking work that is happening here, and, as we saw with the WGA strike against the producers in Hollywood over internet usage of their work, it can have devastating effects. Stay tuned!

Marketing Expert Penny Sansevieri's Book Marketing Expert Newsletter (see link to susbscribe!) has great details on the ins and outs of marketing via the internet, including website, blog, Twitter and social pages. If you have a hankering to keep up to date on a great newsletter with excellent ideas for managing your marketing time and resources, I urge you to subscribe. Additionally,there are free classes to be had on marketing. (nNte that Penny's Red Hot Internet Publicity class is this Thursday, Nov. 20 from 4-5 pm Eastern).

Your sales are your responsibility. Even if you have assistance or guidance from your publisher, be it a traditional publisher with a teensy-weensy budget for your marketing efforts or an e-publisher with no marketing budget, you will be the Main Man on the marketing front. It's up to You!

And if you are thinking that blogging is not worth your time? Guess again.

According to Penny's newsletter of Nov. 13, Technorati's State of the Blogosphere report for 2008 has found that:

Blogs have a total internet audience of 188.9 million; There were 94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of internet users) and 77% of active internet users read blogs.

I found another industry site, Publishing-Industry.Net, that covers publishing in its every permutation, from newspapers to books. It's not an American site, but covers the American publishing industry. Give it a look (though it is heavily business oriented.)

Given the light nature of the fare (blast my PW for always being delivered late by my mailman! I love Brian, he's a very cool dude, but what is he doing with my Magazine!)

But, in order to give you guys a good dose, I'm going to include some other tidbits to make things worth your while.

Did you know that some publishers are now including a new provision in their contracts? As if the rights to your next title weren't enough, they are adding "Non compete" clauses, which would hinder you from plying your writerly trade to other publishers for the duration of the contract.

As with the option for your next title, negotiate this clause, too, should you come across it (and are not able to have it removed, and by all means, ask to have it excluded). Given that the language will probably be broad (which is in the publisher's favor), try to negotiate it to a more specific area. Do you write urban fantasy for the publisher? Negotiate a non-compete ONLY for urban fantasy (leaving you free to peddle your steamy erotica, or your YA, or your romantic suspense, elsewhere). If you are contemplating a contract and do not have an agent, consider employing the services of a publishing attorney (not your Uncle Max who does trusts & estates, or you brother Steve who just graduated from law school). A publishing attorney will be well-versed with the industry standards, what is traditional, what is unusual, and will know how to negotiate any contract to your best interests. If not, consider an option such as the Authors Guild, which, for $90, you can join and get free legal advice. I posted their link earlier on so check them out.

But most of all, you should be as knowledgeable about the law of publishing as you can be, for your own protection and your own benefit. It is not complicated law and there are lots of books out there to give you a leg up when you are holding that precious piece of paper in your hands!

Some titles are: Every Writer's Guide to Copyright and Publishing Law, Third Ed. by Ellen M. Kozak (Henry Holt & Co., 2004); Author A to Z: A Desktop Guide to Writer's Rights and Responsibilities by Randolph/Davis/Dustman/Elia (Capital Books, 2005); and Writer's Guide to COpyright Law: How To Get Your Full Financial Reward and Avoid Pitfalls by How To Books (2006).

And on that note, have a lovely evening.

Monday, November 17, 2008

To Market, To Market ...

A few bits of interesting news via Publisher's Lunch and Publishers' Marketplace daily deals.

Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary agency made a romance deal with Cindy Hwang at Berkley. In case you are not familiar with the agency, check it out (Link to the right). She reps romance of a wide variety.

More news on the agency musical chairs front via Publisher's Lunch:

Jenny Rappaport has separated with her prior partner, Lori Perkins, to start her own literary agency, The Rappaport Agency. She'll specialize in: science fiction and fantasy, YA and romance. The link to the agency site is at right, and check out Jenny's blog to get to know her.

Meanwhile at Lori's establishment, the L. Perkins Agency, they will continue to focus on erotica and chick lit, horror and pop culture, and employee Marsha Philitas has been promoted to Senior Literary Agency. (Lori's Blogger profile link is at right.) You've probably heard of or seen her blog, Agent In The Middle. Check it out!

I'm going to harp for a bit on Publicity/Marketing/Author Promo. It's my blog and its my soapbox, so there.

I've recently seen some discussions on some author loops regarding the RWA "recognition" of publishers, and the RWA imposed standard for an author to achieve PAN status, which is a $1,000 advance or earning of royalties. Debate ensued about the pros and cons of traditional publishers versus E-publishers vis a vis how much money you get from either.

What was missing from the discussion was the acknowledgement that it is going to be the author's job to promote and market her own book. Regardless of publisher, unless you are one of those bestselling types, you're pretty much on your own. In addition to the quality of the book, any title is going to move based on the author's willingness to push/promote/announce it. Don't know much about marketing, beyond post cards and bookmarks, freebie pen giveaways and book trailers?

My one word of advice: LEARN.

The voracious reading public can't buy something they don't know exists.

Make sure you know how a good website works (pretty is not all you need). Make sure you know about compiling a list of contacts. Make sure you're reaching out not just to WRITER communities, but to READING communities. Announcing your book to everyone in RWA is nice, but those folks are busy writing and they'll cheer you on, but you want readers who are going to buy this book, and the next, and the next, .... and so one.

So take some time from your writing life and dedicate it to the art of marketing:

Here are a couple of titles to help:

PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK: An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jacqueline Deval

HOW TO SAY IT: Marketing with New Media by Lena Claxton and Alison Woo (while this book addresses small businesses of all sorts, they specifically state that writers are one of the top types of "small businesses", according to the IRS. So with some focus you can fine-tune the techniques to apply to your writing career.

More on this tomorrow, from the chilly Big Apple.

Friday, November 14, 2008

TGIF - and a little something for the weekend

Lots to get into today (I missed 2 days because of layoffs that were announced out of the blue at my office, and it threw me off my game for a bit):

November 10 Publisher's Weekly:

Scholastic bought out 110 employees who took early retirement, but a small number of employees got laid off.

A very informative article, "Digital Pulse 2008" additionally polled various publishing houses about their thoughts, operations and expectation as far as digital is concerned:

Random House - "Digital and online afford publishers the opportunity to connect more effectively with consumers and, ultimately, to make more and more interesting products." And as far as the future is concerned: "People will read a lot more on devices."

Penguin: "We are still seeing e-books as a rapidly growing area, and the downloadable audio market will continue to open up further in 2009 as new customers recognize its value and potential. Penguin Groups USA's net e-book sales are up 500% over 2007 and we expect e-books to continue to sell strongly." [MY COMMENT - 500% - HOLY COW!]

Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt: "There is no doubt that this is a business that's very quickly arriving." and what might be expected in the next few years: "To put a line in the sand, and just speaking for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I think that over the next two to five years, e-books can come up to 4% or 5% of our total business."

Kensington: "We are looking forward to a time when all of the accounts will accept just the ePub format. We've focused on rmoance and women's fiction titles, as well as gay and lesbian and mystery titles; we're looking forward to braodening our offerings. I think it's safe to say that as we make more new release titles available...the business will probablyd ouble each year for several years."

Macmillan: "We're going to see e-books not just be a sideline. W e'll see more simultaneous publications, more formats..."

Hachette Book Group: "...looking forward to e-ink devices with color screens. W e're excited about the new Sony device", and "Mobile phone distribution: We have worked with Mobipocket for several years, and now with Fictionwise and eReader on iPhone." And they expect in the next five years: "..more interactive types of content."

Under the Reviews, THE TEMPTATION OF THE NIGHT JASMINE by Lauren Willig (Dutton) in her Pink Carnation series gets a lovely review "...another sultry spy tale" and "The author's conflaction of historical fact, quirky observations and nicely rendered rmoances result in an elegant and grandly entertaining book."

Jacqueline Frank's new series debut of the Shadowdwellers , Ecstacy (Zebra)gets a nice nod "This romantic and strongly sexual story between complicated characters is made even richer by an intriguing secondary cast and efficient world building that's familiar without being lazy."

Julia Harper's "hilarious follow-up to 2008's Hot", For the Love of Pete (Grand Central) is reviewed too.

And there are a wealth of non-fiction titles spotlighted in Reviews that may be of interest to authors:

One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Hosuehusbands, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love" (edited by Rebecca Walker, Riverhead Publising, Feb. 09), including essays by authors like Dan Savage, and ZZ Packer.

For history buffs, Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster by the inimitable Alison Weir (Ballantine, Jan. 27, 09)

More history: Banquet at Delmonico's: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America by Barry Werth (Random; Jan. 6, 09)

And for the gruesomely inclined and mystery/crime writers: Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners by ALan Emmins (St. Martin's Dunne, Jan. '09)

Back to my insistence on how important keeping up with the business is, there is a free daily PW newsletter, PW Daily (I'm having trouble finding a working link, but I'm on it for you guys!)

Another source of the business of books: Library Journal, recommended by Jacqueline Deval, author of Publicize Your Book! AN Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves (a marvelous guide, filled with massive amounts of terrific information for handling publicity, whether you've got $1,000 or less to spend, or $10,000 or more). See the link at right to access LJ.

And at Author Buzz you'll find a marketing service if you have the means to utilize their services. Here's from their Publishers Lunch ad: "For less than $1,000 reaches 370,000 readers, 5000 booksellers, and 12,000 librarians. Fr incrementally more add leaders and readers of more than 15,000 bookclubs." They get a rave from Carla Neggers, "Dollar for dollar this is the best marketing tool I've ever used."

OK, folks, I'm going to make this short after all. I'm going to a book launch party for a fellow author - just another way to get out the word about your book! (Pardon the typos and hope you enjoy the intel!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11/11/08: Gird Your Loins, Ladies & Gents - Tough Times Ahead

The word has hit the street. Tough economic times have the publishing industry cringing as they await the holiday season. In USA Today they quote an internal B&N memo by chairman Len Riggio that says the chain is expecting "a terrible holiday season" and "never in all my years as a bookseller have I seen a retail climate as poor as the one we are in.". Publisher's Lunch newsletter, quotes USA Today, says there's more "competition for attention and dollars".
Literary agent Richard Pine says (according to USA) that B&N is limiting its orders "on titles other than the big, sure-thing best sellers".

HarperCollins "reported that fiscal first-quarter operating income had slid to $3 million from $36 million a yer earlier,"

Today reports the grim news that layoffs have already begun. Doubleday made a 10% cut in staff (16 employees) and Rodale a 7% cut (14 employees).

This news comes on the heels of the earlier rumor that Borders was looking for a buyer, and then (as reported last week) informing their distributor that they'd be witholding payment for a certain period of time. Competition from online booksellers and the other discount outlet stores are putting Borders in the hot seat, as the industry watches nervously to see what becomes of the giant.

Beyond the hope of holiday sales, the future looks even grimmer. According to The New York Times, Jamie Raab, Grand Central publisher says, "You know to a certain extent people will be in the stores during the holidays. What will happen once there is no reason to be in the stores?" Although she adds that "A book is still this incredibly lovely, respectable gift, and a lot cheaper than other luxury items".

Times further reports that "royalty advances for so-called midlist authors could come under pressure." and that Christy Fletcher, Manhattan literary agent says "Something may sell for $50,000 that would have sold for $100,000 a year ago."

Others in the industry are taking a more optimistic outlook, however, such as's Carol Fitzgerald, who told USA TODAY: "Books could be one of the few categories that could be even, and even is the new up." And the NY Times pointed out that books can provide an escape from financial misery." And quote Larry Weissman, literary agent, as saying "I think there is a yearning for authenticity out there, and peolpe are going to go back to the things that really matter, and one of those things, I hope, will be reading books."

SO, folks, all we can do is fasten our seatbelts and prepare for the bumpy ride. You can help yourselves survive and with luck thrive, in this recession, however, by making certain that you are taking advantage of your platform, and your business savvy. When publishing budgets tighten, so will marketing budgets. Be prepared to be your own sales agent and learn all you can about the advantageous ways you can promote yourself and your book.

Investigate on-line marketing and a web presence. Some possible sources to help you are GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL by Christina Katz, and her site (see it at right). Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. has several titles FROM BOOK TO BESTSELLER: AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO PUBLICIZING AND MARKETING YOUR BOOK! and RED HOT INTERNET PUBLICITY. Her site is listed on the right as well. I've heard the lady talk and she is excellent.

Besides optimizing your platform and learning how you can market yourself, the last best piece of advice is: Write the absolute best book you can.

Then strap on that kevlar, heft that shield, load that six-gun - and prepare to brazen out these tough times until Happier Days are Here Again!

Good night and (as Edward R. Murrow said) Good Luck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, November 10 - Technology Advances Lead News

NY Times Business Section: Google's officially in the E-publishing game now. The deal reached (Authors Guild v. Google settlement) concerns Google's publishing of electronic versions of out-of-print books, but books that are still under copyright protection. The settlement is subject to the court approval process, which is pending, but it is a harbinger of the varied future of publishing. A particularly salient point is that "Google would share online sales revenue with publishers and authors."

The article examines numerous other new ideas that are being explored by publishers (including e-books on iPhones, for example). In support of the concept that the industry is expanding, technologically, from the tried-and-true print & ship to stores version, the article quotes Eileen Gittins, chief executive of Blurb, a company that aids self-publishers using the internet: "The book business model is under siege, just as the music industry earlier came under siege."

Kindle/Sony Readers/ cell-phone and iPhone "publishing" are just the tip of the technological iceberg and Genevieve Shore, digital director for Penguin in London said in the Times' article "We will have some interesting new business models on the market in 2009."

In fact, the Times reports that while books sales in the US fell 1.5 percent in the first 9 months of this year, e-book wholesale sales are up 55 percent from a year earlier. Look for this to add impetus to the industry's pursuit of electronic delivery methods.

Electronic books have been available for a while, including Project Gutenberg, which makes more than 25,000 books available for download. Their focus, however, is on books whose copyrights have expired, unlike Google, who will be providing titles that still enjoy copyright protection.

This is just one salvo in the war on the traditional paper book. Given the plethora of electronic delivery options, increasingly "green-minded" consumers, and continuing glum fiscal news, look for everyone in the business to invent, explore, expand and promote alternative publishing and distribution of books. Particularly as the legal ramifications are more completely identified, the various parties weigh in, and precedent for these issues are straightened out.

The October 27 edition of PW (which arrived in my mailbox on 11/7), the Deals column highlights new deals for fiction authors Beth Hoffman ("Saving Ceecee Honeycutt - woman's fiction) and William Ryan (The Holy Thief and 2 addtl. titles, historical crime), both by agents at InkWell. Sounds like a "happening" place for authors to be! Check out their website for more details on this agency (see link to the right).

Lots of romance titles got reviewed in the issue, including a great one for Janye Ann Krentz' new HC title, "Running Hot" (Putnam) "The plot is fast, steamy and wildy entertaining..." Also - Meg Cabot's "Ransom My Heart" is an historical romance "...thoroughly enjoyable and funny."

Other general reviews included "Midnight Sins by Cynthia Eden (Kensington/Brava), "Night Shadow" by Cherry Adair (Ballantine). Mass Market reviews of "Untamed", (starred review) Pamela Clare (Leisure) - about this historical they say: "Clare's detailed attention to the history of alliances forged and battles fought near Fort Ticonderoga adds authenticity, and the characters evolve and change with a realism that readers will love"; "Dying for You" Beverly Barton (HQN) "fast pace and hot-tempered romance"; "Wicked is the Night", Catherine Mulvaney (Pocket Star) - "a diverting if pedictable tale"; and "What a Pirate Desires", Michaelle Beattie's debut title (Berkley Sensation) - "This very traditional but fun romance features a feisty heroine, a tortured hero and a sassy parttot, along with strong doses of betrayal, action and plenty of cunning". The number of reviews give romance a nice plug - not always the case in PW which sometimes reviews a mere one or two romance titles.

And the 11/9 Publishers Lunch Deluxe provides details on 12 new deals for romance novels/authors, more than any other genre covered; 11/10 (hooray!).

Lastly, you might wish to consider looking into membership in the Authors Guild. Their membership fee is $90, but they include contract review among their member benefits. Given the diversity of contracts - e-contracts particularly deviate from the old standard publishing contracts - and the recent propensity of publishers to include new provisions, and to change what had been some traditional provisions - for those of us without agents, it is a good source of legal advice that can help you avoid pain, heartache and wasted efforts later. Their link is on the right!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Daily News in the World of the Printed Word

Additional information on the Google/Authors Guild settlement agreement can be found on the Google site dedicated to that (see link to the right).

Also, the Book Rights Registry - provided by Google - will "locate rights holders and collect and maintain rights holders information. The Registry will also disburse all payments generated fromonline access provided by Google. The Registry is open to all rights holders." (PW, 11/3/08)

On the financial front, a gathering storm cloud of badness. The book business - which some forecasts have said might benefit to a certain degree from tough economic times because people who can't afford movies, travel, etc., may instead opt for that least expensive of entertainment types: Books. BUT, according to Publisher's Lunch, and with further discussion and information available on Ed's Rants and Galley Cat, Borders has informed its distributor, IPG, that it will not be paying them for 2 months due to "anticipated excessive returns". IPG is passing on the information to its client publishers, and decisions will apparently be made as to whether or not to continue to ship to the chain.

Certainly the already hot hot hot e-publishing trend is going to pick up speed with the gloomy financial situation as all costs attendant to the traditional paper book will be rising as well. Watch for more traditional publishers to expand their e-publishing operations accordingly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

News From Publisher's Weekly 11/3 Issue

PW is an invaluable resource (an ironic sentiment, I know, given the pricey subscription rate for the publication). However, as this week's issue illustrates, it provides a wealth of up-to-date information that every author needs.

PW reports that the Authors Guild, AAP and Google $125 million preliminary settlement ends 3 years of litigation. And further "providing the broad framework for how books - and their content - will be sold in the digital age."

The agreement "ensures that, the online world books will be discovered and rights holders compensated. The agreement gives authors and publishers two things they want the most: control over what is browsable and control of pricing for in-print copyrighted books."

Additionally, "The settlement also gives Google something it wanted, too, the opportunity to continue to (legally) scan copyrighted works and make them viewable, with the permission of the rights holders. The out-of-court settlement also avoids setting a precedent of what constitutes fair use in the digigal age. Google had contended that its scanning of copyrighted books from which it would show only snippets was fair use, a theory publishers and authors rejected."

This is a very complex issue, and I will do my best to cover it as the settlement details unfold.

Read more about it on the Author's Guild site. Links are included to both the official press release as well as the actual settlement agreement for those so inclined.

Suffice it to say that this is one large first step on the road to recognizing the rights of authors in the world of internet and "e-media". As a new frontier, legally-speaking, it will require much legal action to define and hone the parameters that protect rightsholders by translating copyright issues and fair use issues for the new medium, but also allow business to be conducted without undue restriction.

PW also announces their picks in this issue for Best Books of the Year.

The Mass Market category includes the debut Avon novel of author Jordan Dane, No One Heard Her Scream, savying about the book "tight plotting and smooth prose...a story that appeals to mainstream thriller readers as well as romantic suspense fans". Another high-profile deal was the sale and publishing arrangement of Sherry Thomas' Private Arrangements (Bantam). It comes in for kudos - "Deft plotting and sparkling characterization mark this superior debut historical romance..." The other 3 mentions are Mira's The Face by Angela Hunt, HQN's Deadly Deceptions by Linda Lael Miller and Terry Spear's Sourcebooks' title, "Heart of the Wolf". It was particularly interesting to me that Harlequin had 2 titles receive mention, coming on the heels of last year's Quill Nominee under their Mira imprint, The Kommandant's Girl. For anyone who might think that HQN is all about category, their Mira, Luna and HQN imprints are obviously holding their own in the single title arena.

In the main fiction reviews section, PW gives a nice review to Lora Leigh's upcoming St. Martin's Griffin trade paperback release, Only Pleasure (January 09), saying of her heroine Kia, "a superior heroine; strong, sexy and vulnerable."

In the mass market section, romance received reviews for: Die Before I Wake by Laurie Breton (Mira) (Starred review); Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl (HQN) "winning tale"; Stolen Fury Elisabeth Naughton (Dorchester/Love Spell) "rock-solid debut"; and Warrior of the Highlands by Veronica Wolff (Berkley Sensation) "passionate and magical".

Note, too that Publisher's Weekly Romance issue is November 17 and their Mystery special issue November 24.

Check out the bible of the publishing industry. Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America memberships will both get you a discounted subscription off the $225 cost for a year's supply. ($8.00 per single title copy, but they are not usually available on newsstands).


On the books-to-TV front: Big news for fans of the True Blood series and Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse. A 2nd season's episodes has been ordered by HBO.

Hip Hip Hooray! And pass the red stuff...

I've gotten myself a subscription to Publisher's Marketplace ($20.00 per month). I'll check it out and see what's what. They offer info on deals, agents, editors, lots and lots of blogs and sites to check out as well as a job board. I'll let you know if I think it is worth it.

And anyone can get a free subscription to Publisher's Lunch.

That's all for today.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Secrets of the Book Biz

Welcome, one and all to my first post on my new blog, The Publishing Game. No, I'm not a publishing "insider". I'm not going to have tricks, or dirt, nor can I provide the inside track. So, you ask, what good are you? Aha! What I intend is to provide a clearing house for the information that I gather in my "travels". As a business-minded author of romance and women's fiction, I nose about around this mysterious world. I pick up news and info and rather than keep it all to myself, I'll spread the wealth.

What makes an editor buy a book? Or turn up her nose? Why do some books turn into mega-bestsellers, surprising everyone, author and publisher alike? How do books get to market? What publishers are leading the way with new trends, and which ones are lagging behind? How goes the e-publishing business when compared with traditional? Who's in, who's out, what changes are being implemented that will affect how we authors do business?

And what's up with the agenting world? Who's making the deals, who's hanging out a new shingle and looking for talent?

For those of us breaking out, first-timers or mid-listers, how do our fellow authors score those reading gigs? Where do they come up with the cool and effective marketing tools? How's that internet-thingy work, anyway? Blogs, websites, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, book trailers - what's a technophobe to do in this electronic age of sales and promo?

What's coming down the pike for the book lover? Audio books, e-books, books on your cell phone, new formats, new prices, new imprints. I hope to make this the place to find it all out.

Then there is the fun side of the game - the conferences, contests, winners, losers, movie deals and publicity events.

From the New York Times Book Review, to Publisher's Weekly. Writer's Digest, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Romantic Times, Book and the rest of the people that write about the people who write.

My goal is to gather, like a literary squirrel, all those golden nuggets of publishing goodness, secreting away the interesting bits and tids and provide them to you, along with ideas, advice, gossip, direction and motivation.

Every once in a while, us creative types have to hang up our authors' chapeaux and plunk on our businessman's hats. It's not always fun, but you've got to play nice with the other publishing types, and knowing who they are, what they want, where they work, and how to get to them, can only help smooth the path on your road to literary greatness. So, pull up a chair, hang your hat, and make yourselves at home!