Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


The First Ultimate Online Book Site Has Arrived! will be the ultimate site for all things literaryThree major publishers…Penquin, Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster…have committed to financing a one-stop book marketing and selling site.

The site will be called and will be operational late this summer.

“The site intends to provide information for all things literary: suggestions on what books to buy, reviews of books, excerpts from books and news about authors. Visitors will also be able to buy books directly from the site or from other retailers and write recommendations and reviews for other readers.”…Julie Bosman , NYTimes.

From Julie Bosman:

Publishers Make a Plan: A ‘One Stop’ Book Site

Publishers have spent a lot of time and money building their own company Web sites with fresh information on their books and authors. The trouble is, very few book buyers visit them.

In search of an alternative, three major publishers said on Friday that they would create a new venture, called, which is expected to make its debut late this summer. The site intends to provide information for all things literary: suggestions on what books to buy, reviews of books, excerpts from books and news about authors. Visitors will also be able to buy books directly from the site or from other retailers and write recommendations and reviews for other readers.

The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group USA and Hachette Book Group — hope the site will become a catch-all destination for readers in the way that music lovers visit for reviews and information. The AOL Huffington Post Media Group will provide advertising sales support and steer traffic to the site through its digital properties.

“There’s a frustration with book consumers that there’s no one-stop shopping when it comes to information about books and authors,” said Carolyn Reidy, the president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster. “We need to try to recreate the discovery of new books that currently happens in the physical environment, but which we don’t believe is currently happening online.”

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Little, Brown Publishing Pushing Newbie Writer!

Going back to basics, including what I consider publishing’s core mission: discovering and marketing new writers, is smart and a welcome breath of fresh air!

Little, Brown publishing company, was founded in 1837 and became a constituent of Hachette Book Group in 2006…

Little, Brown Company has QUITE an interesting history so please visit the link I provided.

Rachel Deahl of Publishers Weekly describes this newbie writer and his book/s and why Little, Brown is big-budgeting this new writer:

A “great old-fashioned publishing job” is how Michael Pietsch described the campaign Little, Brown has launched for the author it’s trying to turn into its latest franchise bestseller: Michael Koryta. Amid the growing cacophony of claims that authors don’t really need publishers anymore—this was the general media’s takeaway from the news that the Andrew Wylie Agency launched a publishing division—Little, Brown’s major investment in a relative unknown (who isn’t writing a YA trilogy) stands as an important reminder that there are still publishers who think they can make money by investing in an author that they simply believe can write.

Koryta (pronounced Kor-ee-ta) was a young (he’s 27) genre thriller writer at St. Martin’s Press until, in a case of serendipity, his editor there turned down a manuscript of his that veered into the supernatural. His agent, David Hale Smith, started shopping the book and it landed at Little, Brown, which signed the author, in 2008 to a three-book deal.

The manuscript that SMP passed on, originally called Lost River, was published as So Cold the River by LB in June. To Koryta’s small fan base, the new book was a noticeable shift. Moving away from the hard-boiled mysteries he wrote at SMP, So Cold the River, which follows a struggling Hollywood director who takes an unorthodox video history assignment in an Indiana town, is a ghost story. While Koryta said a lot of his fans have been focused on the genre shift, LB saw the change in So Cold the River as a chance to launch the publisher’s new talent as if he were a debut author.

Although Koryta’s written five books at SMP—four of them feature the Cleveland PI Lincoln Perry—he’s not well-known outside of the mystery community. He also didn’t head into his LB deal with an impressive sales record. Pietsch said Koryta’s books at SMP never sold much beyond the 5,000-copy mark.

Despite Koryta’s unimpressive sales record, LB has upped its investment in the author. As LB was preparing to publish So Cold the River, book three in Koryta’s contract arrived. (Koryta says 2009, which was the first year he spent as a full-time writer, was unusually productive for him; he estimates he churned out more than 400,000 words.) With two of Koryta’s contracted books ready for market, and a third in good shape, Pietsch decided to sign Koryta to another contract.

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Enhanced E-Books: A Boon for Readers, a Headache for Agents

Sarah Weinman, reporter on the publishing industry for Daily Finance dot com, wrote an interesting article on the perceived complexity of how literary agents will deal with the rights issues of enhanced digital-books and the resulting contracts.

John’s Note: This blogger thinks agents are, indeed, making a mountain out of a digital-book molehill. They should just keep focused on the fact that content is king and the creators of that content are the literary gods and have all rights period. Writers need to contract with agents that get them the best contracts…You know, the contracts that allow them to keep their rights…except for those they wish to sell…at good prices, of course!

Sarah Weinman reports:
For hundreds of thousands of excited customers who pre-ordered Apple’s (AAPL) much-hyped iPad, D-Day (April 3) is drawing near. And as it does, one word we’re hearing a whole lot of lately is “enhanced.” After all, with the price of new electronic books settling north of $9.99, and with book-related applications for mobile devices more popular than games, publishers are convinced they need to add value to make a sale (or lots of sales).

But when the definition of what is a book or an e-book expands to include all manner of enrichment, that also opens the door for an assortment of headaches about rights and contracts — making a complex situation even more fraught. And the prospect of navigating the rights issues of these enhanced e-books is confounding literary agents in New York and London.

David Baldacci, Enriched Edition

One author who already sells novels in massive quantities is the thriller writer David Baldacci, but that isn’t stopping his publisher, Grand Central — a division of Lagardere’s (LGDDY) Hachette Book Group — from tricking out the e-book edition of his new Deliver Us From Evil when it’s released on April 20, along with the hardcover and a standard e-book edition. This “enriched” version will include passages cut from the final text, research photos, an audio interview, and video footage of Baldacci at work, according to the Associated Press — and at $15.99, it will cost a dollar more than the standard text-only e-book. (The price of the enhanced edition will drop to $12.99 after a few months.)

Baldacci thinks the choice is clear: “Based on my hundreds of book tours and thousands of questions we get on our web site, I know that readers are looking for exactly what is on the enriched eBook,” he told publishing blog GalleyCat.

The enhanced Baldacci e-book is one of several projects Hachette will release over the coming weeks, including a NASCAR-oriented app, a synchronized text/audio edition of Michael Connelly’s crime novel Echo Park, and a standalone app version of David Foster Wallace’s thousand-page magnum opus Infinite Jest. “One reason the book is so famous is because of the footnotes,” says Maja Thomas, senior VP of Hachette Digital. “We thought, wouldn’t it be great if, when a footnote appears, there’s a symbol in the e-version of the text, and if you tap on it, you can go right to the footnote, and then tap back into the text at any time.”

Book Buyers and DVD Buyers

A proliferation of enhanced editions poses bigger questions about the market for e-books with extra material. As with DVDs, the idea behind enhanced e-books seems to be that some consumers will prefer the bare-bones edition.

And literary agents on both sides of the Atlantic are gnashing their teeth over the prospect of enhanced e-book editions being a separate right from standard e-books. If standard and enhanced e-books are classified separately, the battle will begin again over whether authors can hang onto those rights — and whether publishers even have the rights to the enhanced editions at all.

British publishing trade magazine The Bookseller outlined the quandary this week. Some publishers, like the independent Canongate, negotiate deals individually. Others, like Hachette’s U.K. arm, prefer to keep all digital rights. But agents are shaking their heads over the idea of equivalency between a text-only e-book and a more sophisticated edition enriched with audio and video.

An enhanced e-book, United Agents’s Jim Gill told The Bookseller, “seems to us an all-encompassing category that some publishers are seeking to throw a rope around at the moment, potentially covering anything from incidental music with an e-book edition or author interviews, right out to highly designed and produced iPhone applications.” His agency, Gill said, would “no sooner naturally sell those rights to a book publisher than we’d sell them film rights.”

Conflicts With Hollywood?

And it’s not just a case of making a mountain out of a digital-book molehill: U.S. agents have similar qualms. One agent familiar with the situation described a Hachette presentation to a consortium of agents last week as a pitch for the publisher getting the full rights to enhanced editions. “Film companies are likely to view these rights as part of the multimedia rights, which they often try to ‘freeze,’ or acquire when they option or purchase film rights,” the agent says. “And so these kinds of books might conflict with a movie deal.”

Hachette’s Thomas doesn’t see a conflict. “All the things we do are based on the book,” she says. “We’re not trying to create characters, scenes — anything that’s beyond the book.” If an author wants to give Hachette additional material, as Baldacci did with maps and locations for Deliver us From Evil, they’re free to do so, she says. “Almost all [our] agents and authors have been absolutely delighted,” Thomas says. “This is not something we charge off into the sunset and do on our own.”

‘Not a Zero-Sum Game’

Brad Inman, CEO of Vook, a San Francisco-based startup that has produced multimedia-enhanced books for such publishers as Atria, doesn’t see this potential conflict as a problem. “Industries going through gut-wrenching change have all kinds of fears,” says Inman, whose company received $2.5 million in seed money late last year. “We have heard this, but it has not stopped anyone from working with us. Only a handful of books are made into movies.”

So far, Vook has concentrated primarily on adapting properties whose rights may not conflict with movie options already in the works: genres like self-help, non-fiction, and novellas by bestselling authors like Anne Rice. “In the end, this is not a problem for us at all,” Inman says. “This is not a zero-sum game. It is about expansive opportunities.”

As publishers invest more time and money to create enhanced editions, the need for specific contractual terms becomes more necessary. And however the discussions go between publishers and agents — and book and film executives — at least there’s a sense that the understandable difficulty could ultimately pay off.


How James Patterson Changed the Publishing World

Whatever you may think of James Patterson as a writer, he has almost single-handedly revolutionized the publishing process. Here’s exactly how he did this per Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times Magazine section

Like most authors, James Patterson started out with one book, released in 1976, that he struggled to get published. It sold about 10,000 copies, a modest, if respectable, showing for a first novel. Last year, an estimated 14 million copies of his books in 38 different languages found their way onto beach blankets, airplanes and nightstands around the world. Patterson may lack the name recognition of a Stephen King, a John Grisham or a Dan Brown, but he outsells them all. Really, it’s not even close. (According to Nielsen BookScan, Grisham’s, King’s and Brown’s combined U.S. sales in recent years still don’t match Patterson’s.) This is partly because Patterson is so prolific: with the help of his stable of co-authors, he published nine original hardcover books in 2009 and will publish at least nine more in 2010.

There are many different ways to catalog Patterson’s staggering success. Here are just a few: Since 2006, one out of every 17 novels bought in the United States was written by James Patterson. He is listed in the latest edition of “Guinness World Records,” published last fall, as the author with the most New York Times best sellers, 45, but that number is already out of date: he now has 51 — 35 of which went to No. 1.

Patterson and his publisher, Little, Brown & Co., a division of the Hachette Book Group, have an unconventional relationship. In addition to his two editors, Patterson has three full-time Hachette employees (plus assistants) devoted exclusively to him: a so-called brand manager who shepherds Patterson’s adult books through the production process, a marketing director for his young-adult titles and a sales manager for all his books. Despite this support staff and his prodigious output, Patterson is intimately involved in the publication of his books. A former ad executive — Patterson ran J. Walter Thompson’s North American branch before becoming a full-time writer in 1996 — he handles all of his own advertising and closely monitors just about every other step of the publication process, from the design of his jackets to the timing of his books’ release to their placement in stores. “Jim is at the very least co-publisher of his own books,” Michael Pietsch, Patterson’s editor and the publisher of Little, Brown, told me.

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