Go Read This | Meanjin · The best of new writing in Australia · The Changing Face of Publishing Relationships

Just a fascinating piece, well written, considered and also in a sense really critical to understanding the developments in the industry over the last few years and in the next few decades:

If authors are closer to their agents, how does this affect the workings between editor, agent and author? Most editors I spoke with had good relationships with most agents, and they particularly appreciated having an agent around in times of dispute—as a mediator between themselves and the author. Rachel Kahan, senior editor at GP Putnam’s Sons, said, ‘Most agents are pretty good at coming to your aid when you have someone unreasonable.’ Julie Grau told of the time when she had developed such a close relationship with Irish writer Nuala O’Faolain that the author fired her agent. ‘What do I need an agent for?’ O’Faolain had said. Grau told me it was the worst thing that could have happened. ‘The agent was a buffer, she allowed the boundaries to be kept.’ None the less it’s worth nothing that the editor-author relationship continued between Grau and O’Faolain until the writer’s death last year.

via Meanjin · The best of new writing in Australia · The Changing Face of Publishing Relationships.

Go Read This | Upstream and downstream developments crowd publishers’ space – The Shatzkin Files

Nice piece by Mike Shatzkin this:

Well, I said, that would be true, but the problem is you’re going to face a lot more competition. Demand may go up and costs may go down but if supply in competition with publishers’ outputs rises too fast, there could still be a very difficult period in front of the industry’s legacy players.

That is: it could get increasingly difficult to get consumers to give you money.

via Upstream and downstream developments crowd publishers’ space – The Shatzkin Files.

Interesting Link | MPS Limited and The BookMasters Group, Inc. Announce Strategic Partnership

Keep an eye on BookMasters, I get the sense they have the smarts! As for MPS, well there’s much to admire there too!

MPS Limited and The BookMasters Group, Inc. Announce Strategic Partnership MPS Limited and The BookMasters Group, Inc. Announce Strategic Partnership Clients Will Now Be Offered Complete Digital Publishing and Fulfillment Packages Bangalore – MPS Limited, a Macmillan company, and The BookMasters Group, Inc. (BMI) are pleased to announce a strategic partnership that will offer customers the benefits of a combined service across digital publishing, fulfillment, and print and electronic distribution. The partnership allows … Read More

via BookMasters Blog

Go Read This | Review: My Amazon Kindle Single publishing experiment | ZDNet

It is when you think through the simplicity of the actual PUBLISHING process that you realise just HOW Amazon has disintermediated publishers.

Once accepted, it was just a case of writing the book and submitting. The actual file you submit is basically an HTML document that is converted to Amazon’s proprietary format.

Why do an Amazon Kindle book? What appealed to me most about Amazon as a platform is that the process was simple and your work would wind up on multiple devices. The Kindle secret sauce isn’t the e-reading device—it’s the ability to take your content to the iPad, iPhone, Android device, PC, Mac or anywhere else. I’m not a developer and need to hit the broadest point possible.

via Review: My Amazon Kindle Single publishing experiment | ZDNet.

The Differential Rates Of Digital Change Problem

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a shameless plug or not, but it is certainly a plug for a piece I’ve written over on EoinPurcell.com:

These sales are starting, slowly but surely, to leak sales from small markets to large markets. The levels are unquantifiable right now in anything but the most sketchy way, but they are surely growing with each Kindle,  Kobo reader, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone and Android device sold into a small market. The proliferation of devices offering ebooks sold through large market retailers  MUST be driving sales from those markets. When those retailers start sharing their data and how likely is that we will know for sure.

via The Differential Rates Of Digital Change Problem | Eoin Purcell.

Go Read This | Vestron’s Law: The Propensity for Rights to Revert to the Original Publisher « The Scholarly Kitchen

Excellent post by Joe Esposito over at Scholarly Kitchen today on Vestron’s Law. Oddly enough, it touched on ideas and principles I mention in a blog post over on EoinPurcell.com today. Happy timing because Joe’s post gives a much better theoretical foundation to what I am saying than I could have:

Vestron’s Law also accounts for many structural changes in the publishing industry.  During the 1980s, for example, trade book publishers began to talk of “vertical integration,” by which they meant that a hardcover house, which originated titles, should be aligned with a mass market paperback house, which in those days was the key source of publishing revenue; paperback houses licensed rights from hardcover publishers. Thus Random House bought Fawcett hardcover house purchasing a paperback company and New American Library, where I worked at the time, acquired Dutton paperback publisher acquires a hardcover house.  The culmination of this trend came about when Bantam, the leading paperback house, acquired Random House, the leading trade publisher.

via Vestron’s Law: The Propensity for Rights to Revert to the Original Publisher « The Scholarly Kitchen.

A Writer’s Ire Misdirected & An Odd Counterpoint

Transworld Ireland gets quite a battering from Aiden O’Reilly’s 21 December open letter. He lambasted publisher Eoin McHugh* with a wonderfully amusing paragraph:

I decided not to bother sending my manuscript to you. I cannot have any trust that it would get serious attention. I would not fit in among the authors on your list. Even if you decided to publish me, I would not feel comfortable with your publishing house.

Personally I think the target poorly chosen and the tone a little too much for my liking, but I do understand the frustration of writers in Aiden’s position which regardless of my thoughts on the subject he puts well:

I put this question to you: What is your ethos? What is your company’s ethos?

When I go to my local restaurant, the owner tells me he wishes to bring authentic and excellent Indonesian cuisine to Dublin. A building company run by a friend will strive to use Irish materials in an energy-efficient manner. None of them will say: “I need to maximise income for my shareholders in a very difficult market.”

What is your ethos Sir? Do you have any sense of responsibility that you are shaping a new generation of writers?

I see also that you were previously a book buyer at Easons, a company known for playing a role in the literary life of the nation. Was there some sense when Transworld Ireland was set up in 2007, that it should promote new writing that reflects what’s happening in this country? Is there any sense of responsibility for seeking out good writing wherever it may be found?

via The Stoneybatter Files – News.

Oddly enough, I stumbled across another blog today, from a  writer too (one Stephen Leather), with a much different attitude to the world and for his good fortune a better outcome:

Last month I sold 44,334 books on Kindle UK. That’s a lot of books. I don’t know of any Indie author who even comes close to that in the UK. I know that I’m not a true Indie author in that I am also published by one of the best publishing houses around – Hodder and Stoughton. But I have published five books on my own and they are true Indie books.

I know of only one Indie author who sells more than me in the US and that’s paranormal romance writer Amanda Hocking – and she sells more than twice as many as me.

I’m putting my December sales figures onto my blog so that people can see for themselves where my sales are coming from.

In December it was my vampire book Once Bitten that sold best, accounting for 22,607 sales. Interestingly it is my New York serial killer story, The Basement, that is currently selling best – and heading the Kindle UK bestseller list. But in December it was lagging behind Once Bitten with 17,321 sales. For most of December Once Bitten and The Basement were Number 1 and Number 2 in the Kindle UK bestseller list respectively. As of today, it’s The Basement that’s Number 1.

via I Sold 44,334 Kindle Books in December

It is a strange phenomenon in this age of digital books, that authors CAN now serve very large markets with a single account and do darn well out of it.

I’m not saying that Aiden’s solution is to jump on the independent publishing bandwagon, perhaps that’s not his bag and not every independent author will sell such huge numbers, but I am saying that the things he writes about are the frustrations consequential to his choice. Had he chosen to publish independently his frustrations would be different ones, but real nonetheless.

Writing is a frustrating career choice, wether ploughing the traditional route or trying the newer independent forms, but it IS a choice. Commercial publishers, as crass as you might think their list to be, are not the cause of your problems, nor a suitable target for your ire.


*It’d be wise for me to point out that I know Eoin, have met with him on several occasions in both a business and more recreational situations both since he joined Transworld and when he was at Easons and have a lot of respect for him.