09 February 2012

The Wizard Will See You Now

Last August I joined Rachael Harrie's Third Platform-Building Campaign and met some great people. As a blog addict, being exposed to so many sites was like being joyfully let out of rehab. I followed, I RSS-ed, I stalked, I cheered, I invested emotionally. I also tried to start "bangarang" as a group cheer but that attempt floundered like Spielberg's enthusiasm for Hook 2 so we're gonna need something else. Or we can just golf clap or something.

Rachael is currently throwing together a mini-Campaign, running from February through mid-March, and I'm totally in again. You should join too so we can be friends and hang out virtually. Or just lurk literally. Whichever one you want. Check out the Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign information and then sign up and visit other campaigners!

Some bloggers I want to share with you (from last year's campaign):
Angela Brown | Cynthia Lee | David Powers King | Eliza | Jennifer Pickrell | Lena Corazon | Medeia Sharif | Ozlem Yikici | Susan Kaye Quinn | Shelley Koon | Trisha | Yvie Gonya

And of course, the incomparable Sophia Chang. Please don't overlook her personal campaign against word verification. It's a cause that will help us all.

I just wrapped up How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding, expanded from an article Keith Gessen did for Vanity Fair. It's a quick read and shows a behind the scenes account of how his friend's book, The Art of Fielding, came to life. This isn't a detailed look into the publishing industry and at 17,000+ words and about sixty pages, it's not meant to be. There are a lot of interesting points and takeaway facts though.

Here's how much publishers will pony up for a coveted Barnes & Noble stand-alone table near the front: a high of $35,000 a week. Here's how many galleys for advance marketing distribution is considered a lot: 5,000 copies. A column ad in the Times Book Review can set you back $20,000. Little, Brown and Company's catalogue was seventy or so titles for fall-winter 2011. Hachette's sales force is about fifty people strong. Publishing industry consultant Mike Shatzkin has an interesting blog -- mostly about the rise of digital and e-publishing -- worth checking out.

The craziest tidbit that stuck out to me was how there's only one buyer of literary fiction for all of Barnes & Noble's 700-plus stores. Yes, one ring to rule them all! A single person's tastes dictating what gets picked up and promoted for thousands of readers. Think about that. Conceivably there's also just one person responsible for selecting young adult novels for B&N also. Or maybe there's three? Who knows. The point is that I was surprised at how few decision makers there are.

Now I've read a few books about the industry before but I've always been very aware that the book I'm reading is somewhat dated. For example, Jason Epstein's Book Business: Publishing Past, Present, and Future came out in 2002 and when I read it recently, the information was outdated -- which is no knock against the book, it was just more a time capsule. What I liked about How a Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding was that it was just a few months old. The eBook came out in September 2011 and its insight into the industry was very current.

But why pay $1.99 for essentially just one long form article? Well, it was cheaper than buying the actual magazine itself. Plus, efficiently downloading the eBook onto my Kindle satisfied my instant gratification and if this is going to be the future, why not try it out?