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Archives: December 2009

The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano by Margarita Engle

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Today’s Featured Book of Color is The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzanao by Margarita Engle.

Cuban poet Juan Francisco Manzano was born into a slave owner’s household in 1797. From the time of his birth, his life was not his own. He was forced to call a woman “Mama,” who wasn’t his real mother. And even though he was not allowed to go to school, he still had a remarkable way with words, and his talent showed through in his poetry.

As a poet slave, Manzano wrote many beautiful poems with haunting imagery to showcase the cruelty he went through as a slave. His poetry would help him out of many punishments and he would perform his poems in front of his mistress’guests. Learn more about Manzano’s rough life with Engle’s free verse book.

Seth Godin: Book Publishing 10 Years in the Future

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A lot has happened in the last 10 years that has changed the book publishing industry dramatically.

It was not that long ago when people said, “Google, who?” Now, Google has become a verb as in “just Google it”. Google, once only a search engine, is poised to partner with book publishers or perhaps one day go head-to-head.

That’s not all. Since the Year 2000, we’ve seen the creation, rise and sometimes fall of Napster, the iPod, the Kindle, and Smashwords. We’ve seen massive lay-offs at major publishing houses and experimental publishing entities created such as Vanguard Press, Open Road Media and HarperStudio that have challenged the way the book business has existed for the last century.

What changes will we see in the next 10 years? What will life be like for the book publishing industry in 2020? In the next series of articles, we will uncover predictions by some of the industry’s most respected and vocal advocates for change.

Read more

April 2009: Top Publishing Stories of the Year

twilight.jpgStephenie Meyer‘s Twilight series scored the biggest headline of April 2009, as the series ruled the top four bestselling books for the first quarter of 2009–16 percent of all books sold during that period.

That same month, Amazon.com bought Lexcycle, the company that made the Stanza Digital Reader AppAIn addition, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced. Creating endless anxiety for publishers, Amazon eBook customers begin to boycott books priced over $9.99. In a calculated response to #queryfail day, hundreds of writers pooled agent complaints in a #agentfail day. Finally, GalleyCat landed in The Wall Street Journal.

Welcome to GalleyCat’s annual year-end roundup of publishing headlines. It’s a chance to celebrate our good news and reflect on our bad news after a long, challenging year for the industry. Visit our Year in Review link to read all about what happened to publishing in 2009. Include your favorite headlines in the comments section…

Novelist Don Belton Murdered

DBelton2_1212694628_1217526874.jpgAuthor and Indiana University assistant professor Don Belton was found murdered yesterday. Police have arrested a 25-year-old suspect.

Belton (pictured, via) wrote the novel “Almost Midnight” and editor of the anthology, “Speak My Name.” You can preview the anthology at Google Books. He had taught courses at University of Michigan, Macalester College and the University of Pennsylvania.

Here’s more about the murder, from the Indy Star: “Bloomington police arrested a man who told police he stabbed Belton because the professor had sexually assaulted him. Belton, 53, an assistant professor of English, was found dead in his kitchen Monday. Michael J. Griffin, 25, Bloomington, is being held without bond in the Monroe County Jail on a charge of murder.” (Via Edward Champion)

Amazon Kindle “Bestseller” Confidential

TheCrossroadsCafe200.jpgThe indie publisher BelleBooks put five backlist titles in the Amazon Kindle store for free, and yesterday, discovered that four of those titles had rocketed to the top ten of the Kindle “bestseller” list.

Although the list changes every hour, as of this writing the highest ranked BelleBooks title was “The Crossroads Cafe” by Deborah Smith, which currently sits at number two on the bestseller list. The others were: “Murder Takes The Cake” by Gayle Trent (#3), “Mossy Creek” by Deborah Smith (#6), “Once Bitten” by Kalayna Price (#9)

In an email interview with GalleyCat, BelleBook’s editorial director (and BelleBooks author) Deborah Smith reported a print sales bump after the freebies: “Print sales for all the free titles have gotten a definite boost from the ebook giveaway, with ‘The Crossroads Cafe’ (a 2006 release) jumping from the lowly six figures into the six-thousands yesterday. So we can see a marked increase in print sales as a result. Print sales of our other titles have also increased at Amazon,” she explained.

Smith added: “We are major proponents of keeping ebook prices at a level that supports authors and publishers without alienating readers, so our participation in the Kindle program is not an endorsement of super-cheap or free ebooks. We believe content deserves a respectful value no matter the format. We placed five titles, mostly backlist, into the giveaway program in hopes of scoring some good PR and attracting new readers to our overall list.”

After the jump, her partner explained how they put books in the Kindle store for free.

Read more

March 2009: Top Publishing Stories of the Year

200px-Chesley_Sullenberger_honored_crop.jpgMarch 2009 opened with a bang as disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich landed a six-figure book deal. In even darker news, the NEA reported that 6.6 Percent of writers and authors were unemployed. The son of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes committed suicide.

In better news, Fictionwise announced that they had sold five million eBooks, another milestone for digital readership. A few agents launched #queryfail day on Twitter, publishing bad query excerpts and dishing out pitching advice in 140-character bursts. The SXSW Festival’s “New Think for Old Publishers” panel discussion generated controversy and dialogue online.

Finally, Captain Chesley Sullenberger scored a $3.2 million two-book deal with HarperCollins’ William Morrow imprint following his Hudson River airplane landing.

Welcome to GalleyCat’s annual year-end roundup of publishing headlines. It’s a chance to celebrate our good news and reflect on our bad news after a long, challenging year for the industry. Visit our Year in Review link to read all about what happened to publishing in 2009. Include your favorite headlines in the comments section…

Turk the Proofreading GalleyCat

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All faithful readers know that this particular GalleyCat editor could use some proofreading help sometimes. We may have found the perfect copy-editor.

Sterling Publishing managing editor Rebecca Maines submitted that picture of her literary pet: Turk the Proofreading Cat. Follow this link to see more pictures of cute publishing pets.

She explained: “What I wasn’t able to capture was the moment after this photo when Turk picked up the pencil between two paws and held it upright as if to mark an error we mere humans had overlooked. When she’s not stealing my pencils, she tries to drink my coffee. Her feline siblings also enjoy helping with editorial work (Simba, for example, oversees my husband’s dissertation research on medieval texts), but Turk is the only one who has visited my office at Sterling to lend her expertise. She is looking forward, however, to spending the holidays on her other favorite activity: undecorating the Christmas tree.”

Welcome to GalleyCat’s annual literary pet parade, a publishing holiday tradition established by former senior editor Ron Hogan during his four-year tenure at this blog. For a few crazy days, GalleyCat readers and their pets rule the blog. Follow this link to read more about the annual photo spread and find out where our former senior editor is headed next.

February 2009: Top Publishing Stories of the Year

M.A. Song Photo.jpgFebruary 2009 brought a fake Twitter feed and a major horror author’s endorsement of a digital reader.

Early that month, a Citi Investment Research analyst made headlines by estimating that Amazon.com (AMZN) had sold 500,000 Kindles. Within days, we interviewed novelist Stephen King at the launch of Kindle 2.

The comic book world celebrated at a sold-out NYC Comic-Con, and GalleyCat scored interviews with publishing innovators about their work in comics, videogames, and graphic novels. In addition, an early Twitter book deal was signed and a fake Maya Angelou Twitter feed was exposed.

February also marked one of publishing’s darkest moments, as HarperCollins shuttered the Collins division. Dubbed the “YouTube for print,” Scribd counted 50 million readers. That same month, Publishers Weekly also launched a page collecting contact information from laid-off publishing employees.

Welcome to GalleyCat’s annual year-end roundup of publishing headlines. It’s a chance to celebrate our good news and reflect on our bad news after a long, challenging year for the industry. Visit our Year in Review link to read all about what happened to publishing in 2009. Include your favorite headlines in the comments section…

NBCC President on Digital Galleys

jane.pngOur sibling blogger eBookNewser tackled one of publishing’s big questions in 2010 today, asking: Should publishers switch to digital galleys?

With digital catalog company like Edelweiss and the digital galley service NetGalley, it’s never been easier for publishers to scrap print review copies in favor of eBook review copies. The eBookNewser post features an interview with National Book Critics Circle President Jane Ciabattari.

Here’s an excerpt: “So far I have resisted electronic galleys, in part because I have a habit of writing notes to myself galleys, noting page numbers for quotations, dog earing pages with critical scenes. I suspect there will soon be a device that will allow me to download e-books in advance for review purposes and still manage to follow my usual process. But it’s not here yet!”

Top Publishing Stories of the Year: January 2009

obama_portrait_146px.jpgJanuary 2009 dawned with a flurry of layoffs and closures around the industry, but a few happy stories broke that cold month as well. An accidental book trailer for an out-of-print book scored 30 million views on YouTube. The iPhone digital reader Stanza counted one million downloads, making headlines for a scrappy start-up.

There was plenty of sad news. Novelist John Updike passed away. Layoffs rocked Publishers Weekly and Criticas magazine closed. Book World, the Washington Post‘s book supplement, ceased stand-alone print publication. Online, the closure of the Ficlets writing site sent waves through the digital writing community.

Finally, booksellers, writers, and this GalleyCat editor attended the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Welcome to GalleyCat’s annual year-end roundup of publishing headlines. It’s a chance to celebrate our good news and reflect on our bad news after a long, challenging year for the industry. Visit our Year in Review link to read all about what happened to publishing in 2009. Include your favorite headlines in the comments section…

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