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Archives: March 2009

Online Marketing Advice from Publishers, Authors, & ‘Cats


Earlier this month, publicist Susannah Greenberg organized a panel discussion about online marketing for publishers and authors, where GalleyCat senior editor Ron Hogan shared the stage with Hachette online marketing director Kelly Leonard, Peter Costanzo of Perseus Books, independent publicist Fauzia Burke, and author Abby Stokes. The event, which was sponsored by the New York chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, swiftly filled the meeting room at the Jefferson Market branch of the NYPL—and Leonard (along with several audience members) extended the conversation into Twitter as well.

Burke’s husband videotaped the discussion, so if you weren’t in the audience, watch the footage. We could tell you about how much useful advice you’ll hear over the course of the hour, but our biases in this regard are fairly obvious.

Amazon CEO to Work in Kentucky Warehouse

amlogo1.gifAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos will spend a week working in one of his Kentucky warehouses, experiencing the day-to-day operations of his sprawling business. Silicon Alley Insider reports: “Local Amazon employees say Bezos is working in the warehouse with the company’s hourly employees to see what they do and hear their comments about their work.”

The news comes on the heels of news that three Amazon distribution centers will be closed. GalleyCat has been tracking the stock performance of the major companies that influence the bookselling business. We created this chart with eight publicly-traded publishing stocks hand-picked by GalleyCat readers–including company name, symbol, current stock price, and price increase or decrease at week’s close.

The McGraw-Hill Co. MHP 24.71 -0.34
Books-A-Million, Inc. BAMM 4.55 0.24
Borders Group, Inc. BGP 0.63 -0.07, Inc. AMZN 70.52 -3.17
Barnes & Noble, Inc. BKS 22.49 -0.96
Wiley John & Sons Inc. JW.A 31.09 -1.29
Scholastic Corporation SCHL 15.64 -0.21
News Corporation NWS 7.95 -0.15

Penguin Reaches out to Literary Bloggers

penguin12.jpgFollowing a contested SXSW Festival panel discussion, Penguin Group USA has invited bloggers to participate in an online forum to “establish clearer ground rules for how we can best work with the blogging community.”

Last week, literary bloggers around the country debated the SXSW Festival’s “New Think for Old Publishers” panel that included Penguin marketing director, John Fagan. Bloomsbury publicity director Peter Miller also answered critics in a post about the Twitter-versy.

Here’s more from Penguin’s invitation: “[We will] create direct lines of access to Penguin’s various marketing and publicity groups. This will not be a conversation about the greater publishing business model (that’s another conversation for others in the industry) but a brass tacks discussion tailored to help us better serve you. Our first forum will be scheduled for the week of April 20 (date to come), and an agenda of subjects for discussion will be forthcoming.” (Via bjmuntain)

Dennis Kucinich Sues Publisher

Courage_to_Survive.jpgOur siblings over at FishbowlDC report that Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D,OH) has sued Phoenix Books and Audio, Inc. over the company’s promotional efforts for his book.

The suit, filed in in Los Angeles Superior Court today, alleges that the company did not provide adequate support for his autobiography, “The Courage to Survive.” The Congressman is seeking compensatory damages, interest, and court fees for the suit.

Here’s more from the filing: “Phoenix has not released any proceeds from the publication, sale, or distribution of the autobiography and refuses to provide the congressman with an accounting of books sold. The publisher made negligible effort to promote the book, with scarce distribution – then did virtually nothing after.”

(Note: The bad blood between Kucinich and Phoenix has bubbled to the public surface before; back in January 2008, we touched upon the book’s low sales, despite claims by Phoenix publisher Michael Viner that he spent about $100,000 promoting the memoir with nearly no help from the author.)

The Part About The Granta Party

Writers from around the world gathered at Idlewild Books in Manhattan last night, toasting the release of Granta 105. As guest mingled among the geographically-shelved books, there was a Roberto Bolaño-themed undercurrent in the literary conversation.

Like any good Bolaño hero, GalleyCat investigated these coincidences, interviewing novelist John Wray, Dallas Morning News Mexico bureau chief Alfredo Corchado, and bookstore owner David Del Vecchio about how “2666″ has influenced their work.

Wray just published his critically-acclaimed “Lowboy,” Corchado is working on a nonfiction book about murder and drugs in Mexico, and Del Vecchio is the owner of Idlewild Books.

The Writing Is Off the Wall

mailgooglecom-300x225.jpgAnybody worried about the death of publishing should spend five minutes reading Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos website. As long as there are readers dedicated enough to inscribe books on their bodies, literature will never fade away.

At Contrariwise, users send in photos of their literary tattoos, and readers vote on their favorites. William Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut are the two most popular authors so far, and some of the ink work is truly beautiful.

Here’s one tattoo quote, pictured above. “My tattoo is from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and it says ‘everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.’ My friend, whom I’ve known for 22 of my 25 years, wrote this in her own handwriting for me. I chose Kurt Vonnegut because he is the most inspirational writer I’ve ever read, and I made it a mission to read everything he’s ever written.” Via OUP Blog)

Amazon Shutters Three U.S. Distribution Centers

amlogo.gifNews broke today that will shutter three distribution centers around the United States, a move that will cut or transfer around 210 jobs within the company.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription only) reports that the warehouses were located in Munster, Indiana; Red Rock, Nevada; and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. A spokesperson said the company restructured thinking about “future growth.”

Here’s more from Bookseller: “The 215 workers at the three warehouses slated for closure will get a minimum of 3 weeks severance pay, according to Amazon spokesperson Patty Smith, who said ‘eligible’ workers will be offered the chance to transfer to other US distribution centers.”

Dispatch from the Twitter Lit Frontier

51gRhP9E+FL._SL500_AA240_.jpgAuthor R. N. Morris made headlines for serializing his novel, “A Gentle Axe,” on Twitter. While Twitter lit has generated reams of trend pieces already, Morris gave readers a glimpse into the experience of publishing work in 140-character bursts.

Morris analyzed the experiment on his website, Roger’s Plog, considering both his critics and his supporters. His link-filled look at Twitter writing can help guide us as we march into the microblogging future.

Here’s an excerpt: “I was interested in how this way of receiving text differs as a reading experience from sitting down and reading a book … I like the way my sentences pop up every hour. It’s interesting for me, as the writer, to see them like that in isolation. They take on, if not a different meaning, then a different power — stranger, more enigmatic.” (Via Digitalist)

Two Literary Reporters Laid-Off at Boston Globe

16172651.JPGMore than 20 Boston Globe staffers have accepted buyouts, including Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Gail Caldwell and publishing reporter David Mehegan.

According to the Boston Herald, the newspaper had hoped 50 employees would accept buyouts, so layoffs may loom in the future.

Here’s Caldwell discussing her work during happier times: about her work: “I love my job. But I am always amazed at the people who say, ‘You mean you get paid to lie around and read novels all day?’ I read differently, obviously, when I am reading for review. I have a marathoner’s pace. I have been doing this for 18 years. So what I usually say when people say that is, ‘It’s like being an English graduate student for the rest of your life. And you have a paper due every Monday.’” (Via Read&Breathe)

New Literary Radio Show Hits the Airwaves


Two bestselling authors with extensive media experience, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Pat Tucker have joined forces to launch From Cover to Cover Literary talk show on Houston Radio Station, KPFT 90.1 FM, on April 22, 2009 from noon to 1p.m. CST.

Both authors of color, Billingsley and Tucker know they’re entering a crowded arena but as they say, “we have a competitive advantage due to our unique media experience as well as our location on an FM station in the 11th largest media market.”

Through the show, the producers will reach out to publishers, booksellers, book clubs, distributors, and others to create a dialog among those directly related to the overall success of a book. Contact Pat for more information.

Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever My Lady and founder of