Nobody Knows Anything (About Publishing)

The title phrase was of course coined by screenwriter William Goldman and refers to the entertainment industry. It is most applicable now to publishing though I thought of calling this blog, There’s Something Happening Here, but then got afraid that ASCAP would come after me.

I’m just an interested bystander, and my theories aren’t worth the paper they aren’t printed on, but I’ve been doing some reading and have listed below some interesting pieces. What’s it mean? Draw your own conclusions and by all means, feel free to drop by and spout off your opinion and relevant links.

Here goes:

Publish or Perish from The New Yorker in which Ken Auletta explains how big publishing is hoping the IPad will break Kindle’s hold on the ebook market and allow publishers to charge print prices for ebooks because of course we all know that that will save the book business. (If you go to The New Yorker’s website you’ll also see lots of blogs, letters and articles on related topics.)

The Rise of Self-Publishing in which The New York Times not only discovers self-publishing, but declares it respectable!  (which means that it’s now officially over.)

Man Bites Dog, no that’s not the name of it, but here’s an article from Publisher’s Weekly explaining why award winning writer John Edgar Wideman decided to publish a story collection on Lulu.

There’s More to Publishing Than Meets the Screen by Jonathan Galassi. The head of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux makes a not so subtle case for why publishers should hold digital rights FOREVER. This was as the youts say a pretty lulz-worthy piece of work and led to many responses including one of my own, though my favorite was by Heather Michon in Open Salon who boiled Galassi’s point down to “There is no “I” in book.”

You could also do worse than check out The Militant Writer blog in which Mary Walters takes a hard look at the industry. One of my favorites from that site is a piece where she blames literary agents for the mess. Some of the more blogactive agents posted replies making the discussion uh spirited.

Happy reading!

(Update:  Not too many comments at this obscure website, but there is an ongoing discussion over on a thread on Authonomy.  Anyone can “listen” in, though you’d need to register on the site to participate.)

5 thoughts on “Nobody Knows Anything (About Publishing)

  1. Marion, I wonder the same thing. With the mass of authors now available because of the economic downturn, and the same turning off people from paying 14 bucks for a paperback or more, there’s an explosion of ebooks out there. Unfortunately, this means tons of crap surrounding stellar books. My big beef is how to get a decent book noticed. I’m sure publishing houses count on the fact
    that quality is hard to get in an ebook. I would love to see ebook sites filter their content, at the very least, for proper spelling and editing, but it seems that most will accept anything as long as it passes through their meatgrinder.

    1. True. You get a lot of crap. There are some review sites out there for independently published print and ebooks. Maybe “real” review sites, newspapers, journals etc. need to start reviewing some independents and taking on the “gatekeeper” role? They might be better at it than agents and big publishing houses who are only interested in making a buck.

  2. Hey Marion, seems like no one knows which way is up in the industry. Maybe that’s why its so hard to get representation? EVeryone’s waiting to find out what the big trends are going to be, or something.

  3. I think too many people love both traditional books and the selectivity of the traditional industry for either to ever completely vanish, but that there’s now a lot of opportunity for a skilled self-marketer who knows how to tap into what the public wants.

    Basically, the publishing world’s holding its breath for the right kind of sellout.

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