Category : Trends

  • November 6, 2012

    On staying current, book clubs, and drinking juice naked

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    I’ve had people sending me dozens of questions recently, so I thought I’d try to catch up by changing things a bit and offering several short questions and answers. So the next few days of the blog will sort of head in a new direction…

    Someone wrote and noted, “I have a busy life, and I seem to spend much of it in front of my computer. How can I keep up with the industry? What do you fell is worth sacrificing my writing time to follow?”

    My choices may be different from your own, of course, but I subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly (the bible of our industry), and I get Publishers’ Lunch and PW Daily on my screen every day. They offer a summary of news, with links I can go to when I want to find details. (For example, today the Authors Guild asked the government to look into the proposed Penguin/Random House merger, since it turns out there just MAY be a bit of market-cornering going on.) These keep me in touch with the industry. There are a number of blogs I like, but I’ll admit that I tend to look at the blogs of the authors I represent, and I can’t quite keep up with all the good blogs that have been created. Novel Rocket is good because it keeps you on top of a lot of titles. I still read GalleyCat. Most of the publishers have their own company blogs. I like Mike Hyatt’s excellent blog, Salon.com, bookbusinessmag.com, Digital Book World, and I belong to a couple discussion groups to talk about the business and marketing side of publishing. I’ll invite readers to suggest other good industry blogs in the “comments” section…

    Someone wrote and asked, “What can you tell me about audio books? My publisher isn’t interested in producing my books in audio, though they sell well in print. Is there a way to

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  • September 27, 2012

    What do I need to know about writing my memoir?

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    Someone wrote to ask, “So what do we need to keep in mind when creating memoir?”

    Fist, keep in mind there’s a difference between “memoir” and “autobiography.” An autobiography is a straight retelling of one’s life — what happened, what were the events/decisions, what did those result in. A memoir is a more personal narrative of the significant change points in one’s life. It doesn’t have to be linear, whereas an autobiography is almost always linear. And the focus of a memoir can be more on the effects in your personal life — what you were feeling, what you learned, how you changed. The end result is almost always on a catharsis of some kind. So while the goal of autobiography is to get the facts straight, the goal of memoir is something more akin to “revealing myself and my story, in order to reveal principles that will help others live more effectively.” (This isn’t a dictionary definition, it’s a MacGregor Definition.)

    Second, people understand the world best through story, so that’s how you have to think. What are the stories that reveal your life and your character? What stories happened to you that changed you?  You see, if you’re not a celebrity, nobody really cares about your everyday life (and, to tell you the truth, I’ve never cared to read celebrity biographies very much because…well, I don’t care about THEIR everyday life either). If someone wanted to understand my life, to see who I am and why, they wouldn’t care about a cold retelling of the facts. They’d rather hear some of my story — my dad’s conversation with me one morning just before he committed suicide, the person who told me I could write, my success as a writer, my failure as a publisher, my mom’s ugly death, the miracle that occurred in my car, the fact that people have stayed with me when I was a jerk,

    Continue Reading "What do I need to know about writing my memoir?"
  • September 24, 2012

    Should I write my cool personal story?

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    I frequently get proposals telling me about someone’s cool personal story. Right now, I’m looking at a New York cop who busted several organized crime figures, a guy who spent his life in the bush, the child of an on-the-road professional musician, a former Islamic soldier who came to see the world differently, and a very talented poet and songwriter who survived breast cancer. These are all fairly interesting stories, and I doubt very much I’ll take any of them on. Why? Because there’s very little market for personal story books. 

    Here’s what I consider to be a hard truth: You may have led a fascinating life, seen incredible things, and even had miracles happen to you. But in today’s market, there’s not a ton of interest in publishing this information in book form. And while you may not like that truth, the fact is, it’s where we are in today’s publishing economy. No matter how successful these books used to be, or how interesting your story is to you, publishers just aren’t selling enough copies of personal story books to make it worthwhile anymore. 

    I mention this because I’ve been seeing more and more personal story proposals cross my desk. (In hard economic times, MORE people create proposals, apparently thinking they’re going to cash in and make some easy money. Ha!) But right now network television is filled with reality shows — and these are basically personal stories. There are 20 million blogs — many of them people sharing their stories. In fact, the web is filled with people who want to tell the world about their stories. So there are cool personal stories everywhere, and they’re free. And that’s taken away the incentive people have to purchase a personal story book, unless there is a great sense of celebrity or media associated with the book. I represented Lisa Beamer’s post-9/11 memoir, LET’S ROLL, a few years ago,

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  • August 10, 2012

    A guest blog: BookJolt

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    Last week I mentioned Athena Dean, who founded WinePress Publishing. She got in touch with me to tell me what she’s doing these days, and I thought you’d find it interesting. So today’s guest blog comes from Athena, who has helped coach authors through the daunting task of book production, publicity, advertising, and promotions as they try to find success with their self-published books… 

    The Power of Free: Promotion Your Way

    Recently I canvassed some successful authors and learned that one-third of those surveyed absolutely hate promotion. Some called it their biggest frustration as a published author. I don’t blame them. For many, promotion can be a frustrating and a hard-to-measure endeavor — but it’s necessary if a book project is to achieve success. I think Bob Mayer and Jen Talty sum up the importance of promotion in The Shelfless Book: The Complete Digital Author: “Content is King and Promotion is Queen: together they rule the publishing world. Today, you really can’t afford one without the other.”

    Contrary to the experience of many, promotion doesn’t have to be agonizing. Not long ago I got together to brainstorm with a couple of friends of mine—the Miller brothers, whose minds run on wired-to-promote tracks. For years the Miller brothers have dreamed of giving their books away for free in a format that could go viral and create visibility and a platform for their other books. As award-winning Warner Press authors of young adult fiction and technology, as well as design and marketing experts, they are passionate about getting their books—and the books of other authors—in front of the right audiences. My experience as head of a publishing company has been in coaching hundreds of authors through production, publicity, advertising and promoting of their book products. So when Christopher and Allan Miller and I started talking about implementing our ideas about how to make promotion easier for other authors, the light bulb went

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  • February 8, 2012

    All the news that's fit to print…

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    There's always a ton of publishing news going on, and I realize it's tough for most writers to stay on top of it all. The fact is, you DON'T NEED to stay on top of it all. But occasionally it's nice to know what's going on, so you can impress your friends or get girls to notice you at parties. So may I share a handful of things I think you should be aware of?


    1. Barnes & Noble has decided not to carry any books published by Amazon. Books-a-Million made the same decision. That may not be a huge shocker (The Gap doesn't sell clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch), but fascinating none the less, as it sets up a battle between the nation's biggest retailers (and every writer's best supporters). The various sides are turning this into a blood feud. You can read about it here:

    2. And that leads to an interesting discussion on the influence Amazon has in publishing these days. A fascinating story here, on "how Amazon is burning down publishing"…

    3. And our friends at Digital Book World have explored how Barnes & Noble has certain advantages in the book wars:

    4. Meanwhile, over in the UK, there's interesting thinking on the ebook wars:

    5. And back here in the Colonies, somebody noticed that HarperCollins is using the Expresso Machine to make their backlist available:

    6. I found this fascinating — a look at how important covers and complete information are to those who e-publish:

    7. And this gives me hope and makes all the noise of the ebook wars fade away — World Book Night is coming April 25th. If you don't know about it, read this:

    8. This also made me happy — a story about an editor deciding to become an agent:

    9. One of the most intelligent reviews of the current e-book
    Continue Reading "All the news that's fit to print…"
  • January 4, 2012

    What will REALLY happen in 2012?

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    I've been reading a bunch of "2012 Prediction" posts from people, ranging from the insipid ("We're going to see a lot of growth in e-books") to the inane ("I see a huge comeback for westerns"). So if we leave aside the obvious stuff, and throw out the silly predictions, what is likely to happen this year? Here's my best shot at making predictions for publishing in 2012…

    1. The Nook is going to prove wildly popular. I have one, and I love it. The Kindle Fire has too many problems. Realistically, somebody at Google or Facebook, or maybe the Kobe people, will try to horn in on the e-reader market, so we could all be surprised by some cool new device. But Barnes & Noble's Nook is the class of the line right now.

    2. And that means Barnes & Noble will figure out a way to integrate Nook purchases to brick-and-mortar stores. Let's face it: book shopping at B&N is FAR superior to meandering around Amazon. The problem has been figuring out how to monetize that for the store. I think this is the year B&N figures it out, and takes back a bigger chunk of the e-book market.

    3. Additionally, that means B&N and other bookstores become game stores, puzzle centers, curriculum markets, and educational supply houses. It's already happening, and you'll see a huge shift in 2012. 

    4. To keep up, Amazon will not just start their own publishing lines, but will buy some publishing houses. I figure it's inevitable. 

    5. Specifically, I think Amazon starts its own CBA imprint. There's too much money in religious books to not do this. 

    6. The price of e-books will go up. I've done the math, and I can't see publishers keeping a rock-bottom price on e-books. That probably means the reading culture shifts into two broad groups — amateurs and start-ups selling very cheap e-books, and traditional publishers

    Continue Reading "What will REALLY happen in 2012?"
  • January 4, 2012

    What will REALLY happen in 2012?

    by

    I've been reading a bunch of "2012 Prediction" posts from people, ranging from the insipid ("We're going to see a lot of growth in e-books") to the inane ("I see a huge comeback for westerns"). So if we leave aside the obvious stuff, and throw out the silly predictions, what is likely to happen this year? Here's my best shot at making predictions for publishing in 2012…

    1. The Nook is going to prove wildly popular. I have one, and I love it. The Kindle Fire has too many problems. Realistically, somebody at Google or Facebook, or maybe the Kobe people, will try to horn in on the e-reader market, so we could all be surprised by some cool new device. But Barnes & Noble's Nook is the class of the line right now.

    2. And that means Barnes & Noble will figure out a way to integrate Nook purchases to brick-and-mortar stores. Let's face it: book shopping at B&N is FAR superior to meandering around Amazon. The problem has been figuring out how to monetize that for the store. I think this is the year B&N figures it out, and takes back a bigger chunk of the e-book market.

    3. Additionally, that means B&N and other bookstores become game stores, puzzle centers, curriculum markets, and educational supply houses. It's already happening, and you'll see a huge shift in 2012. 

    4. To keep up, Amazon will not just start their own publishing lines, but will buy some publishing houses. I figure it's inevitable. 

    5. Specifically, I think Amazon starts its own CBA imprint. There's too much money in religious books to not do this. 

    6. The price of e-books will go up. I've done the math, and I can't see publishers keeping a rock-bottom price on e-books. That probably means the reading culture shifts into two broad groups — amateurs and start-ups selling very cheap e-books, and traditional publishers

    Continue Reading "What will REALLY happen in 2012?"
  • January 3, 2012

    What's your prediction for publishing in 2012?

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    I've been musing on what I think will happen in publishing this year. A handful of publications have asked me for some sort of prediction (and I swear I don't have the gift of prophecy), so it's forced me to consider the future. Everything I read seems to suggest something along the lines of "e-books, e-books, and more e-books." But I think that's obvious — the equivalent of saying, "The Yankees will play a lot of baseball games this year" or "it will rain a lot in Oregon." 

    Besides the advancement of e-books into our lives, what do you think will really happen this year? What trends? What changes with companies? What changes with finances? What industry changes? 

    Thomas Umstattd, the CEO at Umstattd Media and Author Tech, invited me to participate in a sort of online salon, discussing the changes some of us expect to see. My first thought? I think the major publishing houses will regain control of e-books. 

    2011 has been a boon for self-publishers and e-book publishers. We've seen dozens of new companies created, sometimes by one guy in his spare bedroom. Everyone loved seeing all the new product, and many of the new kids on the block did well. But… that's about to change considerably. The traditional publishing houses may have been late to the party, but they have the money, staff, and marketing & sales know-how to make e-books work. And while they're going to have to change their traditional publishing model a bit, I think they are going to start doing a great job of selling e-books and recapturing the ground that was lost. Look for all the major houses to re-gain control of the e-book wars, and begin shifting their publishing models and their economic plans to better reflect the new world of book commerce. Frankly, I think a lot of the little e-book houses that were fast out of the gate

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  • July 22, 2010

    How to Study the Market

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    Clovis asked, "If you are seeking a market for a particular idea, how do you study the market? What steps are critical in matching the work to the right publisher? How much do you rely on the guidelines, samples, catalogs, etc.? And what other sources are helpful?"

    My answer: If you want to take steps like this , get to know the industry. I can think of a number of things that would help a writer do that…

    1. Read frequently.

    2. Read outside your genre (for example, if you’re a CBA person, read books outside of CBA).

    3. Study the bestseller lists (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, your local newspaper — all have them). Spend time on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com to see what's selling.

    4. Note who publishes the books you read and the books on the bestseller lists. (In case you haven't figured it out, not all publishing houses were created equal.)

    5. Take a look at trade journals to find what's hot/what's not/what's happening. These journals would include Publishers Weekly, the email version of Publishers Daily, maybe Library Journal, or Christian Retailing, or Writers Digest, possibly Bookstore Journal. You may also glean some good information in some entertainment journals.

    6. Keeps tabs on the economic climate of publishing and bookselling. Right now everybody is talking about what bad shape the industry is in… but this year there will probably be more book pages published and sold than ever before in history.

    7. It's important that you study a publisher before sending anything to them. Harvest House may be the right place for your gift book, but it's the wrong place for your commentary on Habakkuk. So go to web sites and read catalogues to figure out who publishes what. If you research the house and its list, you'll be better able to target the right publisher.

    8. Check out market resources like the Writer's

    Continue Reading "How to Study the Market"
  • July 22, 2010

    How to Study the Market

    by

    Clovis asked, "If you are seeking a market for a particular idea, how do you study the market? What steps are critical in matching the work to the right publisher? How much do you rely on the guidelines, samples, catalogs, etc.? And what other sources are helpful?"

    My answer: If you want to take steps like this , get to know the industry. I can think of a number of things that would help a writer do that…

    1. Read frequently.

    2. Read outside your genre (for example, if you’re a CBA person, read books outside of CBA).

    3. Study the bestseller lists (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, your local newspaper — all have them). Spend time on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com to see what's selling.

    4. Note who publishes the books you read and the books on the bestseller lists. (In case you haven't figured it out, not all publishing houses were created equal.)

    5. Take a look at trade journals to find what's hot/what's not/what's happening. These journals would include Publishers Weekly, the email version of Publishers Daily, maybe Library Journal, or Christian Retailing, or Writers Digest, possibly Bookstore Journal. You may also glean some good information in some entertainment journals.

    6. Keeps tabs on the economic climate of publishing and bookselling. Right now everybody is talking about what bad shape the industry is in… but this year there will probably be more book pages published and sold than ever before in history.

    7. It's important that you study a publisher before sending anything to them. Harvest House may be the right place for your gift book, but it's the wrong place for your commentary on Habakkuk. So go to web sites and read catalogues to figure out who publishes what. If you research the house and its list, you'll be better able to target the right publisher.

    8. Check out market resources like the Writer's

    Continue Reading "How to Study the Market"