Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Prithee, Inform Me: What Interests Ye?

Special announcement! PMN has been shortlisted for Best Publishing/Industry Blog over at Book Blogger Appreciation Week (we got a great button from them, which I'll add to the blog ASAP), so if PMN has been of help to you, I'd be eternally grateful if you'd vote for us! Many thanks in advance. This blog wouldn't be possible without you.

Now, it's been awhile since I've asked you what you'd like me to blog about, so I figure I'll open the gates once more. Do you want to know what I do all day (besides blog, that is)? What the Dan Brown juggernaut (just one week away!) will do to the market? More on e-books? More doom and gloom on the state of the industry?

Prithee, inform me (in the comments)!


  1. More 'behind the scenes' stuff; what happens to a book after acquisition, before publication. All the steps--the pitfalls--the triumphs!

    Any places in the process where the writer can contribute.

    For every book of mine, my editors' have told me, 'sales just loves this one,' this happens to often that I suspect it's just something editors say. But what does 'love' translate into, in terms of selling? Just enthusiasm? How much input does Sales have with titles and covers (I also always hear, 'Sales is really excited about this cover', even when it's horrible)?

    Are there just a few accounts that represent a large portion of sales? To B&N, say, and Borders? Or are those handled regionally? What does a salesperson -do- all day? I've never noticed one visiting an account, and I've spend thousands of hours in bookstores.

  2. If most books don't earn out, how do editors calculate the advance they offer?

  3. More on e-books, the Kindle and Sony Reader. Your take how those things will affect new authors trying to break into the market, how it changes marketing, and the market itself.

    What's your prognosis? How many people besides agents and editors (or others in the publishing industry) actually use Kindles now?

    What about pricing? I admit that I'm reluctant to let go of my paper books, (I'm a romantic,) but if the price were right I would try it out. Right now between the device and the e-books, it's too expensive, but I can't ignore that others are turning to them and as a hopeful author I want to know what this means for my work.

  4. Something on the seasonal swings in publishing; are there better months than others to have a book published, and do some genres do better at certain times of year than others?

  5. Okay I voted, so here's my request: Can you please explain what constitutes a best seller? Does it vary by genre? I.e., YA versus Mystery versus Literary. Also when is the best time of year for agents to try pitching debut authors, especially YA (of course I'll settle for the response: there is no best time of the year to pitch anything -- but isn't that cute of you to hope for a trend, a pattern, anything to make sense of the madness...)

  6. I need help creating a one-page synopsis!

  7. Emily:

    Start with a single paragraph and expand, that's my advice. Otherwise it's too tempting to try to shove everything in. Drop sub-plots. Drop everything but the spine of the story; and remember the only use a one-page synopsis has is to sell someone something.

  8. As someone who will have a novel coming out from a major publisher next year, I'd like to learn more about the things you've seen debut authors do that interested you in their books. What have they done that doomed them?

    How much impact do you think the newbie author can have on the success of a new fiction release? Since we novelists have to keep working on our next book(s) to meet today's brutal delivery schedules we rarely have the luxury of traveling around the country hand selling our books

    So any tips you can share about what kinds of marketing efforts are most likely to earn us more bookstore shelf presence would be greatly appreciated.

  9. I second Ms. brown's request

  10. I know you don't work in the production-side, but I'm curious whether mass-market publishing is using the same ebook product creation methods as higher education publishing. I've been banging the drum on this one a lot but I keep hearing the same things. I'm starting to wonder if it isn't so much misdirection as misapplication. Publishers should be creating ebooks for next-to-nothing (if they are ebooks of traditionally published books) and are doing that in higher education. Are they doing that in fiction markets? If not, why not?

  11. Who drinks more, sales or marketing folks?

  12. Hmmm. I'll take a post on everything everyone's said so far with a steaming side of perspective. Thanks!

    What? That'll be $85.96?! But I only have a twenty!

    How about if I vote? Will that do it? Sweet.

  13. I was happy to cast a vote for you, Eric. This is an interesting & helpful blog. Keep on doing what you're doing. ~ Johanna

  14. Thanks for the questions. Everybody I know, that includes my mother-in-law and my deceased sister, as well as my brother who recently had a stroke, are writing books. That equates to about 235 and 1/2 people in my neighborhood. If that is a qualified equation around the world then millions of people are writing books. It looks to me that bookstores, grocery stores, tourist traps, and even clothing stores are stocking hordes of books that aren't selling. Millions of them, even billions of them.

    My questions are, the book industry must be overwhelmed with trillions of manuscripts that are trashed daily...how many trees were downed to accommodate such trash? And, why, if nobody is buying them anymore? Perhaps the ebook trade with cut the trash in half.


  15. I want the doom and gloom with the light at the end of the tunnel, please.

  16. Hi Eric - more on eBook publishing and the eBook market please. And the topic of self-publishing seemed to light a few sparks (or maybe that was a raging wildfire!). I'd also like to know more about marketing/sales/etc. of literary fiction. Thanks! (And I'm voting for your blog right after I hit "post").

  17. I would love to hear more about what you do.
    Sounds rather like a bar pick-up line. But really, it is interesting. I'll buy you a drink.

    And now I wonder what Laura does...

  18. How many copies does it take now to make the NYT list, based on what you see via BookScan? What about the extended list? Has it changed from, let's say, two years ago?

  19. As a writer whose new book comes out in ten days, I'd like to know more about the meaning of the mythical term "pub date." If you're Dan Brown, I know it means this is the day after the night before people can line up to buy your book. But what if you're anyone else. In my previous experience, the pub date is sometimes the end of the cycle, meaning, if you haven't lined up significant press and sales by now, you're only a month or two away from remainderville.

  20. Whatever happened to this:


  21. Just voted. I'd like to know if there's anything an author can do if they find out their book is due to be released very close to a major blockbuster (eg. Dan Brown) that is likely to suck all the attention and spending money in its direction. Do other book releases tend to drop around times like this, so they don't have to compete?

  22. I hope to have a book coming out, though its still early in the pipeline. Is there any way to find out, or at least get a hint of, which regional salepeople actually read your genre for pleasure? Maybe even which ones actually read youre book, although they couldn't possibly read all the books they are selling.

  23. Thomas,

    The Expresso Book Machine is alive and well and today's Publisher's Lunch reports that a US bookstore is getting ready to install one.

    LightningSource sent out EBM contracts to its publishers a few months ago.

  24. Oh, yes, I third Ms. Brown's request!

    Also, any thoughts on successful marketing techniques by genre? E.g. Middle-grade vs. romance vs. literary fiction...


  25. Already voted for you. ;-)
    Should we do a second round to move you up on the short list?

    About your question, I think the 'Dan Brown juggernaut' is a good idea, since you just covered my other curiosity in the next post.

  26. I actually emailed a question the weekend before last to your gmail address on the sidebar of your blog but I never heard back. I'm curious about the jobs of buyers and whether they exist all over the country or if there are only a few (in NY?) who buy for all the stores in the U.S. (I'm talking the major chains like Barnes and Noble). How might one become a buyer? Thanks!

  27. I hope you are still reading the comments...

    We've heard a lot how publishers nowadays drop an author from their list if the sell-through of the first novel isn't even close of those megafigures sales have been expecting.

    As a reader, not a writer, and as a reader from outside US I'd like to hear how much foreign sales (I think that's the term for you Americans) affects the decision to drop or publish a new title from published author?

    What if the book didn't sold much in US but was a huge hit in Germany? What if the last two titles were doing ok'ish in US but sold relavitely well in Ukraina?

    Is the decision affected by who owns the foreign rights - the original US publisher or the author?

    Thanks for the great blog - it's extremely interesting for me to see what's going on "behind the curtains". As a reader I used to see just the finished product on my local bookstore or library and mostly sighed "Why did they published this?". Now that I've found all the writers-agents-editors-publishers blogs my respect even for the crappiest content is much bigger as I know there has been several eyes/readers and a very complicated process before I see the book.

    Thanks for the blog! I hope you'll continue to have the energy to update it as often as you do!

    A Danish reader

    (btw: wver: proenu - almost pro-education!)