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Archives: May 2007

Indie Publishing: On the Ropes or On the Rise?

LA Times book man Josh Getlin asks what the Perseus/Avalon deal means for indie publishing, and finds no easy answers. On the one hand, you have Johnny Temple of Akashic Books warning that “when you see the book world conglomeratizing, it can only mean less diversity of voices,” while at the other end of the room, Grove Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin is “very excited… because we now have the opportunity to create the strongest platform for independent publishing that’s ever existed in this country.”

DISCUSS: What do you think? Visit the mediabistro.com bulletin boards and tell us where independent publishing is headed…

“Everything Just Goes Bad… And Worse…”

Barry Yourgrau explains how anxiety generates the comic stories of NASTYbook, in one of a series of YouTube videos shot during an appearance at Anderson’s Bookshop Warehouse in Aurora, Illinois. Yourgrau also read some of his darkly humorous tales to the audience of school teachers and librarians.

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Publicity-Hungry Bookseller Lures AP Reporter to Clearance Sale with Flickering Lights

book-burning-missouri.jog.jpgThings must be awfully slow for AP reporter David Twiddy out in Kansas City, for him to be spending time on Prospero’s Books owner Tom Wayne and his recent book-burning stunt. “This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today,” Wayne announced as he set the first stack of excess inventory on fire outside his shop—or maybe, as he told Twiddy, it’s just “a good excuse for fun.” But the most likely explanation is the one Twiddy offers a few grafs down: “Dozens of other people took advantage of the book-burning, searching through the books waiting to go into the flames for last-minute bargains.”

Somehow, I don’t think this is quite the sort of thing Dana Gioia and the NEA had in mind when they published “Reading at Risk,” which Wayne cites as a justification for destroying his unsold inventory.

Literary Superstar Closer To Greenlight

Australian thriller writer Matthew Reilly updates ABCNews Online on the status of Literary Superstar, the Jenna Elfman-starring TV show about the trials and tribulations of a book publicist. Reilly says the show – which ABC has picked up as a pilot only so far – draws on real-life events to drive the narrative. “Some stories? How about the time our heroine has to publicise her company chairman’s wife’s new book (based on a true occurrence my agent told me about), or her experiences with a bestselling thriller author at a snooty writers festival (also true), or how she sells a book about how to seduce women (not telling),” he said.

Reilly says he and wife Natalie will move to the US in early August and stay as long as the show has life. “It could be eight weeks if only the pilot gets made, three months if we get 13 episodes or a year if we get picked up for a full 22-episode season,” he said.”If the show continues beyond that, we’ll stay there permanently.”

Getting the Comics Out, Large and Small

I’ve been a fan of NYT reporter George Gene Gustines‘s dispatches from the comics sector of the publishing industry for some time now, so I was curious about Saturday’s story on comic-book publishers adapting television production techniques, such as assigning “head writers” and “executive producers” to high-profile titles. The article focuses on TV veterans Paul Dini, who’s leading a cluster of writers on DC‘s Countdown, and Joss Whedon, who’s working on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic marketed to readers as the show’s “eighth season.” But when Gustines gets to Scott Mitchell Rosenberg of Platinum Studios, the story grinds to an uncomfortable halt; Rosenberg describes the role of the “comic runner” as “an entrepreneur who is running a small business” with what Gustines describes as “the ability to get comics from idea to final product regularly.” It’s not quite clear, though, how that job can be distinguished from the traditional role of the comic book editor, except perhaps with greater input into licensing and marketing decisions. (There’s also not nearly enough discussion of DC and Marvel‘s problems with late delivery on top-level books.)

Meanwhile, writer-artist Colleen Doran discusses a much smaller business model on the blog associated with her most famous property, the A Distant Soil graphic novel series. “Most small press comic books get produced as advertisements for the graphic novels,” she reveals. “It’s the graphic novels that make the profits.” But since the comics don’t generate very much profit, and “I am not willing to work six weeks to earn out $200.” Especially when doing so would also cause to her miss out on high-paying gigs for other publishers. Thus, Doran discusses the extent to which publishing ad-supported webcomics might enable her to raise the funds to support herself while working on the next installment of A Distant Soil, along with selling off original artwork on eBay and at comic book conventions. “All money goes into a dedicated interest bearing money market account that is currently earning a good return,” she explains. “When I have enough moolah in the fund to finance one week’s work on the book, I sit down and produce one week’s work. When I have enough moolah for another week, I sit down and produce another week’s work.”

Review Copy Revenue Stream Moves Above Ground

Thanks to a reader tip just before the holiday weekend, we learned that Barbara Passel Franchi, creator of the mystery-themed website Reviewing the Evidence, is selling review copies to make ends meet. She’s got a long list of titles available, with paperbacks for as low as $3 and hardcovers and ARCs going for $10.

michelle-moran.jpgThe only thing remarkable about Franchi’s actions, though, is that she’s being so upfront about the sales, when most reviewers who make a little extra with their reading material either visit their local used bookstores or rely on the semi-anonymity of sites like eBay. And though many authors and publishing insiders profess frustration at such commerce, especially when high-profile books are involved, others have adopted a more laissez-faire attitude towards the situation. When Patricia Wood found an auction featuring a galley of her forthcoming novel, Lottery, for example, she laughed it off: “If you buy this ARC and love my book,” she blogged, “you can send it to me and I will personally sign it!” Michelle Moran (left) actually started bidding on the ARC for her historical novel, Nefertiti, when it popped up online. “The bidding war was short, but in the end, triumphant,” she emailed last week. “Just as I placed my bid for $30 and began feeling really sorry for myself, the auction was canceled.” (The Lottery auction met a similar fate.) So how does Moran feel about the risk of unpolished work floating around the readerly biosphere? “I will now be fanatically editing all passes of my manuscript,” she quips, “especially the first pass that will become the ARC.”

DISCUSS: What’s the right thing to do when it comes to ARCs and review copies?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

The ‘Cats are off to disparate destinations and will return with piping hot publishing news, views and commentary come Tuesday morning – just in time for the regulated madness that is Book Expo America. There is something fitting, or perhaps ironic, of having a long weekend before the biggest industry trade show in America, but whether you’re able to tear yourself away from the BlackBerry or not, enjoy the next few days.

Average American Sequel: “Better and in Heels”

More details on yesterday’s passing reference to Heather McElhatton and The Average American Female…it’ll be coming out quick. Like “winter 2008″ quick, and the first wave of promotional materials is describing it as “a no-holds barred Sarah Silvermanesque retelling of Pride and Prejudice.” HarperPerennial publisher says the book is a natural after the success the imprint had with the viral campaign for Chad Kultgen‘s The Average American Male, and adds, “Part of me is thrilled that we are publishing this—but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want guys to know what we’re thinking.” Unless it’s all a clever attempt into fooling men into thinking this is what women are thinking!

Real-life Abduction Affects UK Novel Promotion Plans

The Bookseller reports that Little, Brown UK has decided to pull publicity for a new fiction title about the abduction of a young girl, in the wake of Madeleine McCann‘s disappearance in Portugal more than three weeks ago. Canadian author Barbara Gowdy‘s planned visit to the UK to promote her new book HELPLESS (which has been out in the US since late March but doesn’t drop till June 7th in the UK) has been canceled, and Little, Brown is also reworking its advertising campaign for the title, which centers around the abduction of a nine-year-old girl.

Little, Brown publicity director Susan de Soissons said the decision was made “out of respect” but stressed the book handled the issue of child abduction “intelligently and sensibly. It wouldn’t be proper to put an author into a position where she would have to discuss a real-life case,” she said, adding that Little, Brown hoped Gowdy would visit the UK next summer for the paperback. If this gambit seems reminiscent of what happened to Chris Cleave a couple of years ago when his debut novel INCENDIARY was released at the same time as the 7/7 London bombings, you’d be correct. What’s surprising to me is that it’s Gowdy’s novel affected and not another Little, Brown title centering around a similar topic in a more overt fashion: Mark Giminez‘s THE ABDUCTION. But in that case, the book’s been out since March and perhaps has had its day in the promotional sun…

A Party Picture with Little or Lots of Explanation

bateman.jpg

This is certainly a case of a party neither GalleyCat was able to attend, what with it being held at Piero & Vasco‘s restaurant in Soho (the London edition) but any party where the author in question poses with a carrot next to his temple had to have been, well, a riot. And indeed, the folks at Book2Book had themselves a jolly good time at the book launch for the newly-rechristened Bateman and his latest comic thriller, I PREDICT A RIOT. So why did Headline decide that “Colin” simply wasn’t cool enough? “‘Bateman’ is clean, simple and direct,” explained editor Martin Fletcher, and they commissioned designer James Edgar to come up with an appropriate design that in Fletcher’s words is “iconic, instantly recognisable and with a touch of humour, something perhaps with the visual impact of the very best graffiti artists, like Banksy.”

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