Friday, March 25, 2011

The week that still is.

As many of us gather our bags and begin the pilgrimage to Bologna for next week's Fiera del Libro per Ragazzi, events that I mentioned in a blog earlier this week continue to unfold. Apparently Amanda Hocking has landed at St. Martin's for an advance reported to be over $2 million for her new YA paranormal series. This resets the bar for self-publishing success stories. Good for her!

Closer to home, I'm delighted to report that the SCBWI has granted PAL status to books published by namelos. What this means is that we have been accepted into the community of approved publishers. There was considerable debate because our evaluations-for-a-fee service raised the question of whether or not the authors we publish subsidize their books. The short answer to this question is no, they don't, but it took a lot of effort on all parts to get to that short answer. I'm very grateful to Lin Oliver, Stephen Mooser, and the SCBWI board for their efforts.

Finally, the fourth title on our fledgling list, The Sundown Rule by Wendy Townsend (pub. date March 1, 2011), in addition to the two starred reviews it has already received, garnered a terrific review in Shelf Awareness on Wednesday (here) that concludes "Jean Craighead George fans will be thrilled to discover Wendy Townsend, a writer with a kindred spirit." Can't beat that with a stick!

And so, as the week rushes to a close, I'm off. I'll post if and when I can from Bologna. Ciao!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


When she was a baby,  I called her Wild Belle Hiccup, but now...

So far this week!

For the last couple of years I've given a lot of talks addressing the impact of digital change on the publishing industry. I always say that things are changing very quickly, so quickly that what I say on Monday will be old news on Friday. Well, I was wrong.

Here's what's happened this week. Barry Eisler, author of the enormously successful John Rain series, walked away from a $500,000 two-book deal to self-publish his next book(s). Amanda Hocking, the self-publishing phenomenon, who reportedly has sold some 900,000 books (mostly ebooks) since January, is shopping a four-book series to traditional publishers. Yesterday, a judge rejected the Google Book Settlement. And, according to The New York Times this morning, two major textbook publishers are moving toward enabling textbooks to be downloaded whole or chapter-by-chapter to tablet computers.

Each of these warrants close attention—and all are generating much discussion—but my point here is that it's only Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Make (and Publish) a Book

My 6-year-old granddaughter, Belle, gave me this for my birthday.

how to make a book

1. Sloppy coppy
2. rite
3. dro pickshers
4. dummy (osomy)*
5. read over
6. puplish
7. love the book or don't love the book

*Belle felt that "dummy" was mean and proposed "osomy"—her spelling of "awesome-y"—as an alternative.

She added #7 just for me, because I'm a "puplisher." If there is anything about the whole process that is missing from this list, I don't know what it is.

"love the book or don't love the book" are words to live by.

And that's all she wrote.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And it was good!

Looking back on the day,  it was good. Thank you all.

Enjoy the day!

Today is my 61st birthday and I'm sitting pretty. Thanks to all and sundry for making it so. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Slush is dead

Recently I was on a panel at an SCBWI conference in Austin, Texas. The conference was fabulous! At the end of the day, a panel was convened. Among others on the panel were four senior publishers—not elderly, other than me, but people with a lot of miles on their odometers. The inevitable questions about submissions were raised and apocryphal stories about manuscripts pulled from the slush pile were solicited. Like all apocrypha, there is truth in the stories, but it is buffered by time and tailored to the hopes and dreams of the audience. Although I didn't share mine, I, too, have a few examples that would warm the cockles of an aspiring author's heart. ... A few examples, collected over three and a half decades, out of tens of thousands of unsolicited submissions, a Himalaya of manuscripts.

The anecdotal/apocryphal exceptions prove the rule. Submitting unsolicited manuscripts is not a viable way to get published. It's over people. Don't do it any more. It is a waste of your time. You will grow old waiting for a response, which will often not be forthcoming. So, just stop doing it.

The "unsolicited" barrier is not insurmountable. You need to clear that hurdle; you need to get your manuscript solicited. It's not easy, but it's eminently doable. Go to conferences. Editors and agents who attend are there to find books, and are always open to submissions. Agents are more open than editors, but good agents are almost as hard to find as a publisher. Develop and work your networks. Connections who are connected can connect you. Use your energy, your intelligence, and your time to find connections. Don't put a stamp on an envelope and send it off with a hope and a prayer. You might just as well stuff your manuscript in a bottle and toss it into the ocean.