Category : Publishing

  • Brian

    July 29, 2015

    Just Don’t

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    Publishing & Technology: Just Don’t

    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology, at the risk of offending Erin (whose words of wisdom regarding author marketing and social media are far more informative than anything you will read in this post) or Chip (whose posts regarding how to approach an agent are golden) we’ll be talking about the do’s and don’ts of using social media to find, friend, and pitch to agents and editors who you normally would not have general access to. The general gist of this post is, when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of soliciting agents and editors through social media: “Just don’t do it.” If you understand why, without having it explained to you, feel free to stop reading now.

    Believe me I understand the temptation. I spent many years as an author with a day job, searching for a shortcut to the big time. For years I only sent the same handful of literary short stories and novel excerpts to the top five or six magazines in the country. I was encouraged by the personalized rejections I received and redoubled my efforts to make connections with the editors who’d taken the time to scribble a few words of encouragement on their form rejections. (I still have most if not all of these rejections in a file drawer somewhere.) I tried cold calling agencies that represented authors that produced work that I aspired to. I did everything short of moving to New York and physically inserting myself into the literary scene. None of it worked, and in the years since I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for starting with smaller markets and developing my writing as I get published by incrementally larger publishers

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  • Brian

    July 22, 2015

    The Immediate Past or The Distant Future?

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    Publishing & Technology: The Immediate Past or the Distant Future?
    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about innovation in digital publishing (again). This week, like every week, I scoured the internet looking for signs that the publishing revolution that we’ve all heard about for so many years now will feature something beyond digitally delivered versions of print only books (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and again I came up empty-handed. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but the most relevant article I found this week was penned by The Silent History co-creators Eli Horowitz and Russell Quinn in the spring of 2013. For the full article on the Huffington Post site click here.

    I had the good fortune to attend a conversation between Eli Horowitz and Paul Collins (yes, that Paul Collins) not long before this article appeared on the Huffington Post Blog. The conversation was a part of the Transmit Culture lecture series put on by the Master’s Program in Publishing at Portland State University and what was discussed that evening galvanized my growing enthusiasm for pursuing for pursuing a career in publishing. During the conversation Collins and Horowitz discussed The Silent History, its recent launch, and its success (or potential lack thereof) as an experiment in innovative digital publishing at length before finishing the evening with talk of Horowitz’s tenure at McSweeney’s and a Q&A session with the audience. The Silent History is a truly innovative in its scope and unique (thus far) in its level of execution. As Horowitz and Quinn put it, “In the olden days (say, 2009), a few publishers did dip their toes in these waters, experimenting with a few innovative

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  • Brian

    July 15, 2015

    Feast and Famine

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    Publishing & Technology: Feast and Famine

    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about a trend in the publishing industry (among others) toward the expanded utilization of independent contractors, or freelancers. I had intended to spend this week addressing either global publishing trends or talking about the highly comical price ranges that Publishers Marketplace provides on its “Report a Deal” form. But this month’s issue of Publishing Perspectives, the monthly magazine published by the good folks at the Frankfurt Book Fair, has a little article on its very last page by Laura Summers titled “In the Future, Will we all be Freelancers?” and I just can’t stop myself from weighing in on this trend.

    Don’t get me wrong; I always wanted to be a freelancer. I used to dream about it when I worked a corporate job. I put myself through graduate school as a freelance reviewer of reference books and research materials for a publication catering to the needs of college librarians, doing a little web design, and writing for an SEO copywriting specialty company, and I truly did enjoy the freedom that came along with the position. I would roll out of bed at a reasonable hour, shuffle into the kitchen in my pajamas and slippers, put the coffee on, and settle in at the kitchen table to start my work day. If I had a meeting, a class, or an appointment to attend, I would leave the house and my work behind for the necessary time, without having to consider the impact on my nonexistent co-workers or boss and without having to ask for permission. If I felt like taking an afternoon off, or sleeping late on any given day, I

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  • Brian

    July 10, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: Open Access Beyond Academia

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about about the slow, incremental growth of open access monographs in the world of academic publishing and how that business model could maybe have a positive impact on trade publishing in the future. According to a study published in May of this year by Publishers Communication Group (PCG), a marketing and sales consulting firm that exists as a division of the publishers services company Publishing Technology, “publishers and libraries are increasingly experimenting with Open Access (OA) books…with funding derived from a variety of sources including library budgets.” For the entire survey report on the PCG website click here.

    The fact that OA books are slowly gaining in importance in the world of academic publishing, especially in the area of monographs, is not a tremendous surprise, working directly with academics to produce works with an all but guaranteed (if comparatively small) market, effectively cutting out the middleman, seems like a proverbial no-brainer. But, as the report goes on to state, “librarians and publishers perceive the benefits of the OA books movement differently,” with librarians advocating deeper institutional involvement while academic publishers “fear unrealistic funding expectations…vanity publishing, and the inevitability of institutional mandates.” Sound at all familiar? Understandable? I’m sure opinions will vary depending upon perspective. I am left wondering though. Could Open Access book publishing gain any traction in the trade market? And, if so, what would that look like?

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  • Brian

    July 1, 2015

    Publishing and Technology: Talkin’ Bout That Generation (Gap)

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about those pesky Millennials and how they still won’t (or rather just don’t) buy ebooks. This week’s post was touched off by an article by Charlotte Eyre on the website The Bookseller regarding information released in Deloitte’s Media Consumer 2015: The Signal and the Noise report. Though the statistics reported in the document are specific to Deloitte’s research in the United Kingdom, I think it’s safe to make some general extrapolations from the data regarding U.S. consumers.

    The gist of the article on The Bookseller was that, though Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation we’ve seen to date, they are not embracing the ebook (not even as they emerge from their tween years). In fact, it may be a bit of a mistake to market ebooks to this generation at all. And, though most respondents in the Deloitte sample did purchase a book (regardless of format) in the past year, they were least likely to have purchased it in ebook form, and did report that the majority of their media consumption was focused on other non-print media. None of this should come as much of a surprise for anyone who’s been even loosely aware of trends in media consumption and publishing. But, it does point to an area of continuing concern for all of us who make a living off of the written word.

    So, how do you get millennials (and Generation Z – if that’s what we’re really going to call what’s next) to buy books, if not via e-readers? As I’ve mentioned in the past, according to the white paper put out by Thad McElroy of Digital Book World in December of last year on

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  • Brian

    June 25, 2015

    The Sixth Sign of the Amazocalypse…

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    Publishing & Technology: The Sixth Sign of the Amazocalypse

    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about about Amazon’s announcement of their new payment plan for authors. Well actually, it’s not for all authors. In fact it’s not even for all independent authors. In fact it’s only for a small segment of independent authors publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. But, if you didn’t notice, social media lit up like the announcement was the sixth sign of the coming Apocalypse (if you can judge by my feeds, anyway). Much of this has to do with irresponsible reporting. Half of the news sources I looked at prior to writing this post announced the story with a baiting vagueness that made it seem like Amazon was simultaneously devaluing the written word and sucker punching all writers in the gut. If you’d like to read the actual announcement from Amazon click here.

    While I have no desire to wade back into the quagmire of discussing cultural agency and digital self publishing on this blog, I do find it slightly humorous that the folks making the biggest fuss about the announcement (in my feeds, anyway) are my traditionally-published author friends and my small-bookstore-owner friends, while the voices of reason that I read in such places as this Fortune article, arguing for the rightness and fairness of paying authors by words read where the same independent author apologists that seem to come to Amazon’s defense every time the giant gets caught up in a little controversy. Regardless of whether or not Amazon’s switch to paying some authors in a small segment of their self-publishing business by words read is a good thing for culture, business,

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  • Brian

    June 17, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: Open Source Publishing – The Future?

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be discussing free distribution as a marketing strategy and applying the concept of open publishing to literary and genre publishing.

    While making a recent decision regarding which tech conferences I might attend this summer, I found myself reading Cory Doctorow’s bio on the O’Reilly Media SolidCon – Internet of Things conference website. Doctorow will be a featured speaker at the conference and will, no doubt, be wearing his “technology activist” hat during this appearance in San Francisco later this month. Doctorow has a very popular blog and scores of tech publishing credits to his name. For an example of his writing about technology and the internet go to his recent post on internet utopianism on craphound.com.

    What struck me while reading Doctorow’s bio, however, was the following statement: “His novels…are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work.”

    I don’t have access to Doctorow’s sales figures, so I can neither confirm nor deny the claim that this marketing strategy effectively “increases sales.” But, it is an interesting concept. One that almost seems to embrace the intended legacy of the Google Books project, the PWYW (pay what you want) pricing philosophy, and the idea of open source, while taking content marketing to a completely deeper level. I would love to know more about his interaction with Tor surrounding the creation of this marketing strategy and what (if any) concessions Doctorow had to make to get them onboard. It’s challenging to argue against free or low-cost access to content as an audience building

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  • Brian

    June 4, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: Will Facebook Save the Lit Mag Too?

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be looking at the ongoing struggle of literary magazines to remain profitable, a recent development involving the social media giant Facebook and several news publishers, and pondering a future where literary mags may be distributed via social media. As with several of my past posts, this post picks up on my thoughts following the reading of an article posted elsewhere. To read the full article that got me going down this path click the link below to Vindu Goel and Ravi Somaiya’s May 13th New York Times article Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles From News Publishers.
    If you read my bio when I first joined MacGregor Literary you might have noticed that I cut my teeth in publishing by working at the literary journals Portland Review (print and digital) and Unshod Quills (digital only) and the online arts and culture magazine Nailed. I can tell you from firsthand experience that running a literary magazine in more often than not both a labor of love and an act of audacity performed in the face of a variety of woes, chief among them lack of money.

    When I worked on Portland Review as an associate editor during my undergrad years we had a robust subscription base in the thousands and a budget that well covered our printing and distribution costs. When I returned to Portland Review a decade later as Editor-in-Chief we were facing our third straight year of budget cuts and our subscription list had dwindled to a number less than twenty. Without the support of Portland State University, budget cuts and near 100% free student labor notwithstanding, the journal would no longer be in print. This shift

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  • Brian

    May 28, 2015

    China – no longer an emerging market

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    Publishing & Technology: China – no longer an emerging market
    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be looking at China in an effort to debunk some persistent myths about the viability of licensing U.S. titles for Chinese translation while unpacking a few of the items reported by Jim Millot in his Publisher’s Weekly article China at BEA 2015: China Has Ambitious Plans for BEA. To read his article in its entirety please click here.
    When I first set out to establish myself in selling rights for foreign translation, I was warned away from several markets. I was told that certain countries either weren’t “worth my time” or had such rampant ongoing issues that licensing translation rights in such markets was foolish in many cases. China was one such market.

    I found these assertions to be overly simplified, lacking in the nuance afforded by real experience, and unfortunate in a variety of ways that we don’t have the room to go into here.

    I have not been in the business long enough to remember the days before China acceded to the Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the WIPO Copyright Treaty. I cannot say if the sentiments I encountered when I first entered the rights business were holdovers from two decades earlier. Certainly the 2009 formal complaint lodged by the U.S. with the WTO regarding China’s failure to enforce copyright (primarily driven by issues with DVD piracy) didn’t do much to help general feelings in our industry about doing business with Chinese publishers. But if assertions made in a variety of PW articles hold true, that “sales through physical stores (in China) rebounded and online sales continued to rise” in 2014, and “China’s

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  • Brian

    May 21, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: FBP and the Potential Resurrection of the Independent Book Seller

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    brt-headshotBrian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be examining the plight of the independent bookseller, reminiscing about indie bookstores long since gone, and trying to find some hope for the future. For an in-depth examination of the global history, contemporary iterations, and theory and practice of fixed book pricing check out For What It’s Worth: Fixed Book Price in Foreign Book Markets by Moe Nakayama on the Publishing Trends website.

    If you knew me better, you’d know that I make no secret of my love for independent bookstores. I live in Portland, Oregon, home to Powell’s Books, Reading Frenzy, Mother Foucault’s, and a great many other excellent neighborhood and specialty bookstores. I make pilgrimages to bookstores of note whenever I’m in the cities that support them. And. . .I also, somewhat frequently, buy books online from Amazon. I’d prefer not to, but there are times when my schedule can’t argue with convenience and times when my wallet can’t argue with 50% off (and sometimes a great deal more – I’m a bit of a cookbook junkie). But I never feel good about choosing to buy discounted books over the internet because I know that if you can’t get people like me (people who claim to love independent bookstores) to support them, then they are doomed to extinction.

    This is not news: in the years since the dawning of the Information Age the only conventional retail model to suffer greater financial losses than the independent bookstore is the video rental store (record stores may be in a dead heat for second-worst-off with independent booksellers, but for the sake of this post let’s set the widely reported suffering of the music industry aside – if for no other

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