Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Maui Reunion

STATUS: It’s raining like crazy in NYC right now.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CRUEL TO BE KIND by Letters To Cleo

It might be completely odd to be writing about Hollywood while I’m out here in New York but tonight we did a little Maui Writers Conference reunion at D’Or. Hollywood producer Michael Palmieri was in town and so gathered a bunch of us who connected while out in Hawaii.

It was a small group that also included Jeff Kleinman, Folio; Marcia Markland, Thomas Dunne Books; Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic; and Neil Nyren, Putnam.

What did we talk about?

1. Depressing news from Hollywood that Studios were closing their Indie branches and laying people off. Yuck. Studios are only focused on family films (four quadrant target and yada, yada). Sigh. Also, studios are choosing to make known series (think Desperate Housewives) in local markets with local actors rather than footing the cost to export. This makes a huge difference in earned residuals here in the states.

2. Penguin group is celebrating a record number of bestsellers (38!) and thrilled about the success of HBO’s TRUE BLOOD and Charlaine Harris’s books all landing on the bestseller lists. It helps all the departments when there is big stuff like that going on.

3. Accounts are cutting back their orders across the board. Something like 10% down over last year. Borders significantly (even though they’ve promised to reorder in the near future but who knows if that will happen). Orders are down even for the big name sellers. (Yes, such depressing news makes it that much harder to sell a debut.)

4. Newspaper reviews are disappearing faster than you can say boo and that’s really going to hurt those wonderful literary projects that need the review-attention to really gain momentum. Yes, there are online blogs and review sites but ultimately, they haven’t proven to carry the same weight.

5. Sales of perennial nonfiction projects (history, narrative nonfiction with known journalists) are still selling well. (And as an aside, a lot of editors this week have mentioned that they are still looking for that good memoir—in the adult and children’s world—which was surprising.)

6. Flip flops are not good footwear in New York City (don’t ask, we got sidetracked!)

11 Responses

  1. The Writers Canvas said:

    Hey Kristin,

    Wow. I am completely saddened by 2 points in your blog post. One, the part about Indie branches of major studios closing. I gobble up Indie films more than any other kind. Sad news. A few writer/director Indie acquaintances mentioned big changes were coming for the industry, but I didn’t foresee this!

    Two, your mention that with reduced orders, it’s that much harder to sell a debut book. Sigh. I hope the economy and markets do a turnaround soon. In the meanwhile, I shall focus that much harder on getting that debut book out there!

    Love your blog, keep em coming!


  2. Nancy D'Inzillo said:

    Who exactly do the newspaper reviews carry weight with? The booksellers? It seems that if it mattered much to the audience, more people would be buying the newspapers, wouldn’t they? Or maybe they just figure they can read those same reviews online? I don’t think the readers seem to make the connection that by not buying in print, they are endangering those sources and may lose them online as well as an end result, what with all the cuts going on in the news business and all.

  3. Dal Jeanis said:

    Kristin –

    Could you please fill in that first point a little bit?

    Okay, big studios and “indie branches” in the same sentence temporarily bobbled me. I recovered quickly enough when I realized that big companies always want to control everything and yet pretend not to, for marketing purposes.

    Hopefully this will be a boon to actually independent indies.

    Then “local markets” and “footing the cost to export”. What kind of cost is there to export a movie, that wouldn’t be there anyway? Can they make the whole thing again cheaper than providing voice actors for translation (and still paying U.S. actors royalties)?

    Am I anywhere close?

    Oh, and ditto Kimber An about family films. We’re always looking for a good PG (or low PG-13) film, but there never seem to be any.

  4. ChristaCarol said:

    This *is* depressing news, but I saw it coming. Things will turn around like they always do, it’s just a matter of when. I hope it’s sooner than later.

  5. GutsyWriter said:

    We’re having a heat wave in California right now. It feels like summer again. Sorry about the rain in NY. I wanted to comment on points 5 and 6. I’m so happy to hear editors are looking for that good memoir, and secondly, what a coincidence that you talked about flip-flops.

Denver Skyline Photo © Nathan Forget [Creative Commons] | Site built by Todd Jackson