Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And now back to our regularly scheduled program...

With apologies for having been in absentia for the last few days (due to unfortunate familial illnesses over the Thanksgiving holiday), here I am, back in the saddle again, with oodles of news and thoughts on the publishing front.

First up, the Amazon Kindle bestseller list shows that Stephenie Meyer rules - all 4 Twilight titles in the top 10. And despite lukewarm reviews, the film version of Twilight RULES at the box office, racking up a cumulative gross since it's opening day of $119.7 million. According to Daily Variety (11/24/08), "Twilight is a ready-made film franchise, and the opening reps a resounding victory for the relatively new Summit, which didn't even wait for weekend's end before announcing plans for a sequel, 'New Moon' ".

Borders announced their nominees for their 13th Annual Original Voices series in four categories. The fiction nominees are Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles; The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steevn Galloway, The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti; The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry; The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes and The White Tigeter by Aravind Adiga.

But Borders' bad news eclipsed the Voices when they reported on their earnings (fiscal third quarter fell 12.8 at superstores, with Waldenbooks falling less, only 7.7%) (Publisher's Lunch, 11/26/08).

Borders also reported "management is no longer contemplating a transaction to sell the entire company".

In addition to Twilight, upcoming films based on novels abound (due in part to the difficulty coming up with original scripts during the recent WGA strike), including The Reader, starring Kate Winslet, based on Bernard Schlink's novel, Defiance, based on the book, Defiance: The Bieleski Partisans, a non-fic title that will star Liev Schrieber and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, in a less frivolous role; Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter, starring Heather Locklear in the title role; and Daily Variety (12/3/08) reports that Johnny Depp's acquired the film rights to In The Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches.

On the smaller screen, True Blood held it's own and a second season has been ordered. Golden Globe buzz indicates the show is also in the running for nominations, no surprise given the much lauded Alan Ball (he's won the following awards - Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, WGA, DGA, Producers' Guild, BAFTA) is at the helm of the Gothic crowd-pleaser based on Charlaine Harris' titles - which now have reappeared like mushrooms after a rain on all the bestseller lists.

And this brings up the point of the importance of film, television and dramatic rights in your works. In a publishing contract an author should retain these rights or, at the very least, retain no less than 50% of them. If a contract says all these rights go to the publisher or a heavy percentage? Have your agent, or, better yet, an entertainment attorney specializing in publishing, negotiate this so very important provision. This is one of the areas where beaucoup bucks are involved as well as all the stuff down the line - sequels, novelizations of the film, and merchandising.

Recent deals in the romance world have been made by Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Agency, and Kim Whalen at Trident Media Group - get a bit of background on these agents' houses via the links at right.

The November 30 NYT had a thought-provoking editorial by non-fiction author James Gleick (science essayist and author of CHAOS and GENIUS:THE LIFE AND SCIENCE OF RICHARD FEYNMAN) discussed the positive ramifications of the Authors Guild/Google digital settlement. He pointed out that books out of print will be made available to readers, and that e-publishing will continue to grow and expand what readers can tap into, but that the printed book will never go away, because "As a technology, the book is like a hammer. That is to say, it is perfect; a tool ideally suited to its task. Hammers can be tweaked and varied but will never go obsolete...". Good news for us paper book lovers.

On the marketing front, Penny Sansieveri, The Book Marketing Expert discusses ways to get your name out there and attract attention to your blog - including writing articles. There's a million subjects for articles in this naked city. Try your hand at some and get them published, along with links to your blog and website. Try such sites as,, and

And you ARE keeping track of traffic on your blog, right?

If you haven't checked out Penny's site, scroll down for the link and give it a look. Marketing may or may not blow your skirt up, but it's a fact of an author's life that you're going to have to participate in some way, shape or form in today's ever poorer publishing world.

More to come in upcoming posts: a great issue of Writers Digest, the e-publishing future (as seen by yours truly) and the value of putting on your business hat for marketing, promotion, PR and branding purposes.

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