Monday, August 15, 2011

And because I'm a slacker, here is MORE Publishing NEWS!

With the ups and downs of the stock market, the wild weather (here in the NE, anyway with 10 inches of rain on Sunday), and a similar level of upheaval in the publishing industry, here are few new stories to flesh out the day:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White will be transformed into a film directed by Ray Kay, a music video director. (Is it just me or does it seem as though the film biz is betting the farm on YA paranormals?). I have to wonder, though about the choice for screenwriter. Adapting the novel will be Mitch Klebanoff. His credits (as per Variety) include “Beverly Hills Ninja” and “Disorderlies”. Don’t strike me as the kind of film normally pitched to teen women, huh?

When it comes to book-to-film successes/failures, however, count The Help a huge success. In particular the performance of Viola Davis, who (in my opinion) truly carried the movie and anchored it in the bitter reality, particularly in comparison to some of the more light-hearted moments in the film.

Of course, with Harry Potter now wrapped up, the Twilight saga set to take its final bows on screen, and no other series “hot” you can bet your OWN farm that the film folks are scouring the countryside looking for likely candidates to put the ka-ching back in their cinematic coffers.

Also from Variety (a perk of my day job), there was an article that discussed film advertising. For those of you wondering about advertising on-line for your books, note that the film industry spending on internet advertising rose from 89.1 million in 2008, to 115 mill in 2009 and up to 142 million dollars in 2010. So they are obviously thinking it is worth the bucks (though in film they are still far more heavily into TV and print ads). Certainly no one can ever tell you (with any certainty) which advertising works better than another. Really, they can’t. But if every industry, business, arena is heavily into internet? Have their own blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages? Pretty convincing to me that social media is – if it isn’t already – going to be where it’s at to get your message out to the public.

Hot genre watch: While vampires rule the night, lots of different paranormal and supernatural types are seeing press these days. From weres and shifters to demons, gods, fallen angels, wizards and all manner of other, will the publishing trend follow the film trend that is seeing lots and lots of fairy tale retellings and super hero vehicles? There are a few out there, but I’m betting that folks who can find a new twist on a Grimm tale can stand out in the crowd. And seriously, folks, if you want your romance hero alpha, why not give him the power to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Guaranteed to make a heroine’s heart go pit-a-pat, no? What genre(s) are YOU seeing emerge these days?

And speaking of romance genres, the formerly taboo World War II era seems to be slowly, quietly creeping into a bookstore near you. While espionage and military thrillers set in the 2nd World War have always been popular, the success of Pam Jenoff’s The Kommandant’s Girl and her subsequent novels have paved the way for other women’s fiction novels that rely heavily on the romance. After The Postmistress we saw Kristina McMorris’ Letters From Home, Lisbeth Eng’s In The Arms of the Enemy and the popularity of novels like Sarah’s Key, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Soldier’s Wife, and Next To Love among others, along with high-profile non-fiction WWII coverage, could a burgeoning new genre of historical romance be far behind?

There has been some sad news of late, as well, including the recently reported death of Debbie Macomber’s son Dale, and the passing of the luminous L. A. Banks following a valiant battle against cancer. The romance community once again showed their true spirit and organized numerous benefits to help Ms. Banks and her family during a most difficult time.

The mantle of late crime novelist, Robert B. Parker, beloved author of the Spenser and Jessie Stone novels, as well as his western novels will now be borne by other authors picking up the storyteller’s job. Three authors will each carry on a torch of the respective series.

Others who passed away in recent days include sci-fi author William Sleator, fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, and some publishing stalwarts, including 92 year old Ruth Cavin, a 22 year Thomas Dunne veteran, with 900 edited books in her career.

And I just know you're all asking, "So, how’s digital doing?" Publishers Weekly reported that the AAP and Book Industry Study released their comprehensive report that shows e-book sales “across all categories” “accounted for 5.8% of industry revenue”. Because of digital, trade unit sales actually rose. They were “driven by a 215.5% increase in book sales during the period of the study, 2008-2010. Looks healthy to me.

Pretty much the big story of the day, week, month – right now – is self-publishing. It all started with successful authors taking back their back-list rights and self-pubbing older titles. Then came the push with authors self-publishing new titles. And with the uber-deal garnered by million dollar self-publishing phenom Amanda Hocking from a traditional print house, it seems as though every story in every venue is all about self-publishing. Writers Digest had self-pub contests. Barnes & Noble started up Pub It, their self-pub arm. And I’m thinking Smashwords is having a field day with the crowd rushing their virtual doors. When Publishers Weekly took the step to have special issues devoted to coverage and review (for a price) of self-published (or as I’m hearing these days “indie” published) titles I’ve pretty much decided they’ve been anointed as another option for the eager author. The caveat being that if you don’t treat your self-published book like a business endeavor that requires outlay of funds, professional consultation and an acknowledgement that you, no matter how talented you are as a write, cannot do it all and do it all well -- well, you may well be disappointed in the outcome.

And where would the biggest story of the day be without the perennial news topic? In between the publisher and the self-publisher there’s the new “publisher” on the block: Amazon. They’ve begun their genre-specific imprints to publish titles digitally. They started with AmazonEncore, added Montlake Romance, their romance imprint, and their fifth imprint was Thomas & Mercer, a mystery line. Is it just me or is Amazon looking a little bit like the Manchurian Candidate of books? Especially since they are offering a number of their new titles for the Kindle for … get this … free. Not to mention that industry biggie Larry Kirshenbaum opened Amazon’s first NY office. Is that shaking I hear the nervous knocking knees of the big 6?

Well, I’d like to give you a quick list of some of the interesting new releases reviewed by PW, but other than on-line I can’t read them because for some reason my PO isn’t delivering my pricey subscription. 2 weeks and counting. Grrrr.

But on the subscription front, for all you authors out there, especially the folk who attended RWA National in NYC and grabbed a free copy of the Library Journal publication? It’s got a new subscriber discount coupon inside, and having perused this magazine, I can tell you it is a definitely worthwhile investment for keeping up with the industry and one of the pillars of books: Librarians. They buy books, people. Don’t forget them!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Short & Sweet

Class Action suit filed against Apple and numerous "big 6" NYC publishers for the agency model, over the pricing of e-books, claiming Apple & the pubs are "in voilation of a variety of federal and state antitrust laws, the Sherman Act, the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act". I was fairly sure it would only be a matter of time . . .why do I sense Amazon's presence lurking behind the scenes? Being it is a "class action" suit anyone who bought e-books for what they consider to be an unfair price are invited to join in. I sense yet another judicial donneybrook looming.

Valiant author Leslie "L.A." Banks succumed to cancer. Her imagination and beautiful smile and soul will be missed.

Washington Post has eliminated their book editor. The book section will remain, WP says. Oh really? We'll believe it when we see it. I'm holding out faint hope that they do - and that the last bastion of book review in newsprint, the NY Times, doesn't follow suit.

Borders has gotten court approval to auction off their intellectual property. Guess you don't need a shopping bag, huh?

Books A Millions has open arms for Borders employees, an upbeat note for all those ladies and gents now scrounging for work.

The bestseller list game is a wild and wooly one. Every list is put together from different sales sources. USA Today has added Costco book sales to their compilation which also includes Amazon, B&N, BAM, as well as Sony Reader Store and Kobo. Since non-traditional book sellers are the new big thing, it will be interesting to see who follows suit, especially with Borders now out of the picture.

For those romance authors who did not attend RWA's 2011 National Conference in NYC, or who didn't sit in on the Spotlight on Avon, Avon spent the entire session focused on their bright and shiny new e-imprint, Avon Impulse. The digital only line has attracted a lot of attention from would-be authors for Avon, one of the largest publishers of romance among the big traditional houses. Be forewarned however, if you submit to Avon, you will either get a response that they are interested - or you'll get nothing. If they are not interested, there isn't going to be a response at all. This smacks of disrespect, in the publishing business, where I'd like to think we are equal partners in the process. Guess I'm alone in that thought. I've heard rumors of another house doing similar, but haven't gotten a confirm on who that might be.

In addition to Carina Press (HQ digital imprint), and Avon Impulse, Ballantine Dell has an e-imprint launching too. Seems like they've got their finger in the wind and are climbing on the e-book wagon.

"The Help" will be the subject of a court hearing next week when they hear the case of the woman who claims she is the model for the maid in the book. This will be an important case both for authors and the film community - since the movie based on the book opened Wednesday to glowing reviews. Will that mean $ in compensation? Will it mean authors need to be more diligent in disguising those characters drawn from real life? We'll wait and see!

What's the hottest genre going? YA paranormal. Can I borrow somebody's teenager? (Don't rush the podium, parents!).

And speaking of RWA - Romance Writers of America for those unfamiliar with the largest non-profit organization for authors and aspiring authors of romance fiction - the jungle drums are beginning to beat from chapter to chapter and loop to loop with grumbling of dissatisfied members. Rising prices for membership, hints of changes of member status and the ongoing debate over the validity of authors' digital publication are apparently particular bones of contention. Some members are opting to give up their membership in National, despite their fondness for local and on-line chapters, because they simply can't see they are getting their money's worth. With luck RWA will address these concerns, particularly the new President stepping up in October.

Oh, and one last thing. If you have been following the market, it's obvious the world is in flux, financial speaking. But while the publishing industry is watching the numbers crawl downwards for every aspect of print, what's not going down? You got it. Digital.

The numbers are in for e-books: 2010 saw $838 million in sales. And that ain't chump change, folks.

And on a personal note, I'm looking forward to attending the NYC Chapter of RWA's Golden Apple Awards in September. The chapter is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and at the September 15 event we are honoring: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lifetime Achievment Winner (and moving National Conference speaker); Author of the Year, Elizabeth Kerry Mahon, author of "Scandalous Women", Editor of the Year Leah Hultenschmidt of Sourcebooks, Publisher of the Year - Grand Central and Agent of the Year Kate Folkers.