Pub Rants

Category: publishers weekly

Just recently I was doing an interview with a reporter from  Publishers Weekly and she asked if I found it surprising that the New Adult category had remained hot for so long. Here is my response: 
I don’t find it surprising at all actually. Publishing tends to run hot on trends. Sometimes to the point of saturation.
What indie self publishing authors are doing is writing and releasing a lot of content quickly. They see what works and what doesn’t and they shift course if something is not getting the desired reaction or when something is. They have that flexibility because it’s all digital.
Ten years ago, new adult was “hot” but we called it chick lit and it was less sexual relationship or romance focused. Then that became a dirty word and we had to call it contemporary romance or women’s fiction and age up the protagonists.
That left a hole in the market for a whole lot of readers who loved reading works in that genre but got tired of the same old Sex in the City type story lines.
New adult is the 20-something coming of age and the new novels hitting in this realm are emotionally intense (unlike their chick lit predecessors). Prolific indie authors figured it out pretty quickly that the audience was there and started writing for them. It hasn’t abated because the market is not yet saturated.
One thing about Jasinda Wilder is that she is creating her own niche within what people are calling New Adult. 50 Shades is a story of sexual discovery and awakening. What Jasinda is doing is more Nicholas Sparks. Her stories are about emotional healing and the relationship/romance is part of the healing process in a significant way. Now she is a little stunned at the velocity of the response/sales for Falling Into You.

Because The First Thing That Comes To Mind Is The Size Of The Advance – Not.

STATUS: With New York Publishing shut down, I’m working on a UK contract and catching up on email. I think it’s going to be this way for most of the week.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  HOPE I DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU by Tom Waits

Obviously the Random House – Penguin merger is all the news in the publishing world right now. It’s a big deal. But I read this article in Publishers Weekly and pretty much snorted my tea.

PW makes it sound like an agent’s biggest concern might be the reduction in advance amounts paid for books.

I’m concerned about MANY things that might come about because of the merger but smaller advances is not one of them. It’s not even on my top 10 list of things to be concerned about.

Publishing saw the consolidation of publishing houses into smaller and smaller numbers in the early 90s. That evolved into what had been known as the “Big 6” of the last decade.

It’s now down to the “Big 5” and quite honestly, I don’t see NewsCorp (which owns HarperCollins) settling for the status quo. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the “Big 5” become “4” with two more houses merging in the not-so-distant-future.

Of course this all has to pass anti-trust rulings, etc.

What does fewer publishing houses mean for authors?

That answer is pretty simple. Fewer choices. Less competition. More uniformity of royalty rates (like that hasn’t happened already because houses are already more interested in status quo among themselves rather than actual competition). Narrowed vision of what is the market and what should sell (and they already have tunnel vision as any number of digitally self-published successes have recently proven). More emphasis on commercial blockbusters and less building authors from the mid list.

Getting the picture? Smaller advances? Not a main issue on my radar.

Happy Monday Indeed!

STATUS: Holy cow what a morning!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EVERYTHING SHE WANTS by Wham!

I’m getting no work done because all I’m doing is sitting around and grinning like mad.

Remember back in July when I let y’all in on a little secret about how wonderful my colleague Sara Megibow is?

Well, I’m giddy to report that the baby boy arrived yesterday at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday, November 1, 2009.

Baby Trey is healthy. Sara is doing great. And the new parents are ecstatic and exhausted.

Everything is as it should be!

And if that weren’t news enough, this morning I read about Publishers Weekly choosing SOULLESS as one of their top 100 books for 2009.

And then if that weren’t enough, PW gives PROOF BY SEDUCTION a starred review saying

“Historical romance fans will celebrate Milan’s powerhouse debut, which comes with a full complement of humor, characterization, plot and sheer gutsiness.”

All this and HOTEL being on the NYT trade bestseller list for several weeks now, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. Work? What’s that?

Happy Monday because I’m sure loving it.

PW Survey Says

STATUS: HOTEL moved up to position #21 on the NYT extended hardcover bestseller list. Couldn’t be more thrilled for Jamie. Happy dance at the office this afternoon.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SILK PYJAMAS by Thomas Dolby

Every year PW does an annual job survey. I actually did a search for the 2008 survey results but I’m thinking they haven’t been released yet because the article didn’t pop up.

So the most recent I could find was from 2007. The good majority of editors in New York are women. There are many different theories as to why that is true. Most likely the culprit is starting salary and women are more likely to put up with low salaries at a beginning of a career. There is also a theory that traditionally, men do more “supporting of the household” in our US world so can’t “afford” to enter the field.

I’m not going to touch that gender story but what I can tell you is this. Despite the fact that publishing tends to be, percentage-wise, more heavily slanted towards women employees than men, women editors are still paid less than their male counterparts for equivalent positions. This PW article simply touches the tip of the iceberg (discussing managers vs. editors). The full survey goes into more detail about salaries for equivalent positions.

Folks, gender bias is alive and well in the field of publishing.

However, I don’t think this statistic holds true for women agents…Hence why I’m on this side of the publishing fence.

So PW Hates Your Book

STATUS: I’m really hoping to feel less congested tomorrow.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SEASONS OF LOVE from the musical Rent

No doubt about it. It sucks when you get a negative review from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, or Kirkus. Although from Kirkus, we all kind of expect one since it’s so rare for them to write a good one. It’s almost badge of honor to get a bad review from Kirkus! Means you have arrived in publishing.

By all means, take a moment to be sad. Email close friends so you can get some immediate emotional support.

But don’t bother getting mad; get even.

And the best way to do that is to take the sting out of that bad PW review. You know it’s going to be out there on,, Borders, and your closest large Independent bookstore website. There’s nothing you can do to change that. All those websites will post the big reviews. But you can minimize the impact.


By gathering all the good reviews you can and by getting solid “must read this book” blurbs from well-known authors. Then you bug your editor or in-house publicist to bug their contact over at the main sites to also include all these other good things about your book.

With any luck, these sites will post new info as it comes in and that black eye of a PW review will be lost at the bottom of the page. Even if it’s still there, prominently coming up as the first before all other reviews, at least you have populated that page with all kinds of good stuff that any discerning reader can then weigh and judge if they want to buy the book. The one bad review won’t be center stage.

Action is the best medicine.

The HMH Hold Is Not For Children

STATUS: Happy Turkey Day! I’m out for the rest of the week so back to blogging on Dec. 1.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? GETTING BETTER by The Beatles
(Seriously, this is what is playing currently at the moment…)

As to yesterday’s news….

This morning, I did get a chance to talk to an Editorial Director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s.

She mentioned that the hold did not apply to the children’s division and that she had acquired something just yesterday.

So a little good news on that subject.

As for the hold in the adult realm and how long it will last, I have not uncovered any new information beyond the rumors flying around. If I do discover info from a reliable source, I’ll pass along.

Have a great holiday and see you back here on Monday.

A Hold On Acquisitions

STATUS: Harbinger of bad news I’m afraid.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? O HOLY NIGHT by Paul Potts
(I haven’t transferred the holiday music to the iPod yet but this one was still on there from last December.)

Ack! Computers. I can deal with it. Ack! Publishers. I don’t want to deal with this. This just off the news wires folks. This is the first time I’ve seen this. Now, granted, I’ve only been in publishing for the last 7 years so really, just a baby amount of time, but I’m talking with some agent friends who have been around for a lot longer and it’s the first time they’ve seen this as well.

This might be an interesting ride over the next 6 months…

From Publishers Weekly
Article by Rachel Deahl

[excerpt]It’s been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

Josef Blumenfeld, v-p of communications for HMH, confirmed that the publisher has “temporarily stopped acquiring manuscripts.” The directive was given verbally to a handful of executives and, according to Blumenfeld, is “not a permanent change.” Blumenfeld, who hedged on when the ban might be lifted, said that the right project could still go in front of the editorial review board. He maintained that the decision is less about taking drastic measures than conducting good business.

Here’s the link to the full article.

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books Of the Year

STATUS: Now this is news I could have every Monday Morning!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS by Barenaked Ladies

Just got an early peek at this week’s PW magazine and the Best Books of the Year is their cover story. In PW’s words, “Once again, we take the opportunity near year’s end to review the year in books, highlighting the very best of what American publishing had to offer in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, comics, religion, lifestyle, and children’s.”

And guess what? NLA has a client book on that list!

Huge congrats to Sherry Thomas for her extraordinary debut that made the list (as well as having the cover featured in the article!). PW reviews a lot of books in the course of the year and to be one of five titles to make PW’s list in that category, well, you don’t have to take just my word for it that the novel is good.

Click here to buy.