So the Huffington Post recently published their list of 100 Game Changers, but to my chagrin, outside of a few reality show stars they didn’t list any authors–or editors or publishing visionaries. I’m hoping to remedy that. Below is my list of Game Changers in the world of publishing. Now, please keep in mind that this is a highly subjective list. There are certainly many more game changers in this industry, and I invite you to add your own game changers in the comments section. There are many brilliant publishing professionals or aspects of the industry that slipped my mind for whatever reason (cough, old age, cough, dementia). So this is about celebrating those who have changed the game, pushed it in a new direction, or added something new and different to the conversation. Again, these are far from the only ‘Game Changers’ in publishing–so hopefully commenters will add their picks to the discourse below.
For years, the literary agent Wylie was known primarily for two things: his nickname (“The Jackal”) and his incredible list of iconic award-winning and bestselling authors including Dave Eggers, Elmore Leonard, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie. This summer, however, Wylie made a different kind news by opening the doors of Odyssey Editions: an independent e-book venture that would publish many of esteemed clients’ backlist titles exclusively on the Kindle. The ensuing furor forced a dialogue about the future of digital rights in an ever-changing landscape. Random House countered by refusing to acquire any new books from Wylie–however a truce was reached in August as Wylie shuttered Odyssey. Still, the controversy over digital rights to works published long before mobile devices were ever conceived rages on–and no doubt more shops like Wylie’s will be coming in the near future.
Davis, who was recently promoted to Publisher of the HarperCollins Amistad imprint and Executive Editor at Ecco, has published an incredibly eclectic range of authors, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward P. Jones, The Pursuit of Happiness by Chris Gardner, controversial ‘Video Vixen’ Karrine Steffans, tennis champion Venus Williams, and media personality Steve Harvey (whose Think Like a Lady, Act Like a Man has spent over 60 weeks on bestseller lists).
J.A. Konrath/Seth Godin/Pete Hamill
In May, Konrath announced he would publish the seventh book in his Jack Daniels mystery series through Amazon Encore. In August, New York Times bestselling author and media guru Seth Godin announced he would no longer publish traditionally, selling his future books via his popular blog and website. In the same month, Little, Brown announced that bestselling author and journalistic icon Pete Hamill would release his next book, They Are Us, a tome about immigration, exclusively in digital. These three authors couldn’t write in more diverse areas, but they collectively represent a shift in the way publishing works: established authors forgoing print for digital. Whether the Konrath/Godin/Hamill model can work as successfully for other authors is to be determine (the first two have substantial direct-to-reader platforms, and Hamill has the backing of a major publishing house), no doubt there will be others following their model–and more traditional publishers experimenting with straight-to-digital books.
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