Big Publishing

Pearson to Sell Stake in Penguin Random House

19 January 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Faced with worse-than-expected results in its North American higher education publishing business, Pearson said this morning that it is putting its 47% stake in Penguin Random House up for sale. Pearson has held its share in PRH since it merged Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House in 2013, with Bertelsmann controlling a 53% stake in the giant trade publisher.

Pearson had been expected to sell its stake in PRH at some point, but the announcement of its decision today came as a surprise, as did the reason why it was putting its share on the market: Pearson’s acknowledgement that operating profits for 2016 will be below expectations and it will not hit is goal of £800 million in operating profits for 2018, the year Pearson said it expected its turnaround efforts to start bearing fruit.

Instead, Pearson reported that sales in the North American higher education market in 2016 were much worse than forecast, particularly in the fourth quarter, when revenue dropped 30% compared to the final period of 2015, leading to an 18% decline in the North American higher education group for 2016. Pearson added that while earlier it had anticipated that the North American higher education market would stabilize in 2017, it now expects further revenue declines in the year.

To meet the lower demand, Pearson said it will accelerate a number of efforts to meet the higher demand for digital products and textbook rentals. The company has already eliminated about 4,000 jobs as part of its effort to create a more streamlined company.

. . . .

Following the Pearson announcement, Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Rabe issued a statement saying the company is “open to increasing our stake in Penguin Random House, provided the financial terms are fair.”

. . . .

It is not clear if Bertelsmann would be interested in acquiring the full stake or only part of Pearson’s share of PRH. Pearson said it wants to divest the full stake.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG’s analysis is as follows:

a. Pearson is having big problems in the educational publishing market.

b. Pearson has decided to get out of the trade publishing market.

c. Pearson plans to stay in the educational publishing market

d. As (almost) half-owner of Penguin Random House, Pearson has access to top PRH executives, highly-detailed financial information about PRH, etc., etc.

e. A huge public announcement like Pearson’s would not have been made without Pearson first talking to Bertelsmann, the other half-owner of PRH, since Bertelsmann would be the obvious purchaser.

f. Bertelsmann has access to top PRH executives, highly-detailed financial information about PRH, etc., etc.

g. Bertelsmann is not anxious to pay very much money to own the rest of PRH.

h. PRH is the largest trade publisher in the world.

From these facts, what can we conclude about the insiders’ view of the future of PRH and, by extension, the future of traditional trade publishing?

Happy talk to the public from top executives and the PR departments are one thing. Words are, of course, cheap.

But when one owner of the largest trade publisher in the world wants to sell out and the other owner isn’t particularly anxious to buy, what does that tell us about what smart money thinks about the future of trade publishing?

From the Guardian:

Books world alarmed by Pearson’s sale of stake in Penguin Random House

Authors and staff have reacted cautiously to news that Pearson is to sell its stake in Penguin Random House (PRH), the world’s biggest publisher and home to some of the most successful brands in books, among them Fifty Shades of Grey, Jamie Oliver and The Girl on the Train.

PRH moved quickly to address fears among staff that the sale of the 47% share to German-owned Bertelsmann would affect jobs. In a statement, global chief executive Markus Dohle promised it would be “business as usual for us”. He added: “Both Pearson and Bertelsmann continue to be very supportive of our strategy and our success, and both have been valued shareholders for us.”

. . . .

Authors and staff told the Guardian of fears that the takeover by the German-owned media corporation could lead to further consolidation at the publishing house, which is responsible for one in four books sold and the sale of 800m paper, digital and audiobooks every year.

One bestselling author, who asked not to be named, said the company was “in pretty good shape” but: “You always worry that any added pressure to streamline the business will narrow its publishing focus further.”

Echoing the concerns of other writers the Guardian spoke to, she added: “For any author, you are only as good as your last book, so it’s a worry you could be vulnerable when things like this happen.”

. . . .

Staff remained jumpy, according to insiders. “We knew it was going to happen,” said one senior executive. “But we don’t know what will happen now. Hopefully we will be OK.” Another said: “This sort of thing always makes people nervous, but especially so after what happened.”

Link to the rest at the Guardian

The Trade, Its Resilience, and Its Data

19 January 2017

From Publishing Perspectives:

In its opening on Tuesday, the eighth annual Digital Book World conference in New York City attracted some 650 registrants.

. . . .

[I]t was interesting to hear Macmillan CEO John Sargent say as he opened his keynote that when conference attendees were asked to submit questions ahead of the event, “Oddly enough, almost none of the questions had anything to do with digital—here at Digital Book World.”

This had played into what Sargent wanted to say, however, about the abiding thrust of the industry’s work. While he sees “a bit of hand-wringing, still, on the digital dark side,” seven years into the digital disruption of publishing, “ink-and-paper books continue to be the favorite, not only the way for the population as a whole but for our kids to read.”

In terms of digital sales, Sargent said, “Ebook growth has stopped, and it has stopped before it forced book retailers out of the business, as it did music and video” retailers.

“All this doesn’t mean that we’re through the transition to digital” yet, Sargent cautioned. “And there are certainly many, many dangers ahead.”

What he called “the good news and the bad news” is the rise of the self-publishing sector . . . . It’s growing through Amazon Kindle Unlimited,” he said. “We don’t know how big it is, but we know it’s very big. And what it tells us [is that] there is plenty of reading going on out there.”

. . . .

In listing more hurdles, Sargent said “There are fewer and fewer newspapers out there, and their audiences are shrinking. Discovery is an ever-growing problem. Big titles get bigger, and everything else gets harder and harder to find and sells fewer and fewer copies. Retail power is consolidating.”

But publishing, Sargent said, is an “instinctual business” exemplified that “no algorithm could have predicted that a book by the least popular president of our time, George Bush, would outsell a book by the most popular president of our time, Ronald Reagan. That happened.”

Still, despite the importance of gut instinct, many decisions made in publishing “can be improved,” Sargent said, “by using data, in every aspect of our business from supply chain and workflows to editorial acquisitions.”

Sargent mentioned Macmillan’s acquisition of Pronoun, a self-publishing platform, as a way of getting closer to data-driven decisions and self-publishing. One reason for the acquisition, he said, is to gather data and “insights into the self-publishing model and how it works.”

In an observation on the comparative advantages the industry has over “our friends in Seattle,” he asserted that “as a community, we can do better” in terms of marketing.

But he also conceded that the smartest decisions in that regard haven’t always been on view: “We’ve pissed away millions of dollars over the years on ads on the back page of The New York Times to sell eight more books.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG says a bit of tweaking around the edges won’t save Big Publishing.

Not knowing anything about self-publishing, not only the size of the market but why authors choose that market, would be an unforgivable blind spot in any reality-based industry.

Why are print sales up? Data Guy gives his reason—and it isn’t adult coloring books

18 January 2017

From TeleRead:

Perhaps the reason print book sales are on the rise has nothing to do with coloring books, digital fatigue, the “ebook fad” or book store appeal. Data Guy has offered a different reason based on the data he has scraped for Author Earnings.

To start, independent book store sales are up 5 percent from 2015, but the rest of the brick and mortar stores are down 5 percent, on average. However, the industry is up 15 percent as a whole with the difference coming from Amazon.

Data Guy states that the real reason print sales are up is because a change in how Amazon priced its titles. In 2015, discounts on ebooks for large traditional publishers was eliminated. In turn, Amazon discounted the prices of print books in mid-2015 – and that’s where we see the change in print sales.

To break down the data even further, when Amazon discounted sales in some of the spring and summers months, sale units on print books were up 7 percent. However, when it scaled back its discounts just a few short months later, the overall percentage of unit sales also dropped and at the end of the year, the industry saw an increase of just 3.3 percent from a year before.

Data Guy surmises that the question really shouldn’t be about print vs. digital. People want to read, and they are going to do it in ways that are easiest and convenient for them. This bigger question is brick and mortar vs. online sales. Online sales are ever increasing with Amazon taking the bulk of the sales.

Because we are currently seeing online sales wallop brick and mortar unit sales, he said about two-third of traditionally published adult books are bought online.

Link to the rest at TeleRead and thanks to Nate for the tip.

For the book business, VMI in warehouses might happen before VMI in stores

17 January 2017

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

The sales-and-returns convention by which most books are sold by most publishers to their retail and wholesale accounts is too often described as “consignment”. It actually isn’t. Actual consignment terms would give us a quite different supply chain, and we may be closer than most people imagine to shifting to it.

Although major trade accounts do purchase their stock from publishers with the rights to return unsold stock for full (or nearly full) credit, this is quite different from true consignment in a number of ways.

1. The publisher’s customer is on the hook for at least some freight cost for shipping the goods. Most customers would pay the shipping cost to receive the books in the first place and almost all would pay the cost to send them back.

2. For almost all their customers, the publishers are paid faster than the customer recovers their investment (which would be by selling to the end customer for a retailer or by selling to and then collecting from the next holder of the inventory or a final customer for a wholesaler). So the publisher receives cash which is an actual capital investment by their customer. True consignment would not require that investment.

3. Because the retailer or wholesaler is providing the capital investment for the books on the store or warehouse shelf, the customer decides on prices and quantities. The publisher has to “sell” the customer on parting with some of their limited funds for inventory investment. True “consignment” would see the publisher deliver the inventory (pay the freight) to the customer and, if they subsequently wanted it returned, pay the freight to bring it back. The customer would be responsible for receiving the inventory, shelving it, paying for anything sold or lost, and packing it back up when asked to return it. But it wouldn’t be commercially practical for the account to determine titles and quantities if they were at no risk or penalty for taking in excess stock. Overstocking, which ultimately would require the publisher to overprint and eat inventory on every title, would be routine if the accounts decided what to receive on consignment. If there’s no cost, why should they risk being out of stock?

So, if the terms were “true” consignment, where the inventory risk and investment remained with the publisher, it would also require that the publisher decide on the titles and quantities to be consigned.

. . . .

This is a topic worth considering because we as an industry could be on the cusp of switching to this kind of commercial arrangement. For publishers today there are three major accounts which drive the business for most of them: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram. Amazon has had an “Advantage” program for years that entices smaller publishers to offer consignment terms. Barnes & Noble has, with limited success, been pushing publishers toward consignment inventory in their distribution centers for years. And Ingram already holds a ton of consigned inventory through its largest-in-the-industry distribution business. They are already a very progressive company and would undoubtedly see the benefits of consignment for all their wholesale inventory as well.

. . . .

From the accounts’ (Amazon, B&N, Ingram) perspective, there are two big “risks” in going to consignment and ceding the inventory decisions to publishers. The less expensive one is that they might actually have to physically hold (warehouse, but not invest in) more books to achieve the same sales level. I say “might” because the publisher could conceivably operate with leaner inventory on many of the fastest-moving titles when replenishment inventory can be supplied without the bureaucratic need to get to a buyer and get an order.

The more serious risk would be of not having books that would sell that their own buyers would have put on their shelves. But, of course, any publisher would want to put in the most likely to sell, so as long as the account didn’t totally lose its ability to know what it could sell, that information could find its way to the buying decisions.

This all boils down to the practice of “demand planning”, which could also be called “sales predicting”.

. . . .

For Barnes & Noble, the information the publisher has about its own marketing efforts and how the book is doing in general in reviews and in cyber-discussion — or even how it is selling in other locations in the marketplace — is almost always secondary to internal B&N merchandising information. Is the book on model stock, an automated reorder capability where the sale of a copy triggers replenishment? Is the book displayed prominently in the stores, or, at the other extreme, is it in the stores at all? Is the book distributed across all geographies and store sizes? All of these elements have a big impact on the demand B&N distribution centers will see, whatever the other signals say about a title’s inherent appeal and marketing experience.

. . . .

There are few, if any, publishers today who are equipped to make the decisions to manage consignment inventory effectively at their accounts’ warehouses. But there are compelling reasons for the industry to shift to doing things that way. Fortunately, doing many of the right things will come naturally to the publishers if the tables get turned. It takes instinct more than genius to keep quantities lean if you’re on the hook for the freight in and out and you don’t need anybody’s permission to ship more copies in when they’re needed.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

What the (bleep) just happened to the publishing industry?

17 January 2017

From Blasting News:

Last week, HarperCollins announced that it would halt sales of Monica Crowley’s 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened”, after CNN discovered the author had plagiarized material from numerous columnists and journalists. As a result of the controversy, Crowley announced on Monday that she will not be taking the position she had been offered by President-elect Donald Trump, as strategic communications director of the National Security Council.

. . . .

While Crowley did the right thing by turning down the job offer, she faced a week’s worth of media flagellation for her lapse of judgment. But one question nobody seems to be asking is this– how on earth did a major publishing house like HarperCollins miss not one, not two, but (according to CNN) fifty incidences of plagiarism in a single book?

Let me repeat that. Fifty. As in half of a hundred. As in a pretty darn substantial percentage of the book’s overall word count.

And let me repeat the name of the publisher once again– that’s the illustrious HarperCollins.

. . . .

Surely a company with operations in 18 countries and thousands of employees assigned Crowley an army of proofreaders, fact-checkers and editors. And yet we’re expected to believe that, somewhere along the line, 50 instances of plagiarism escaped everyone’s notice? There is something very, very wrong with that picture and strangest of all is the fact that HarperCollins offered no in-depth explanation– just a short statement that they’re yanking Monica Crowley’s book.

. . . .

Most people don’t realize the grueling labor that goes into writing a book. Actually, the writing itself is the easiest part. It’s what goes on after the publisher decides to accept your manuscript that makes you grind your teeth to powder. My last book took about three months to write, and about fifteen months to produce. It was published by a small publisher, yet I was assigned a proofreader, editor, marketing intern and even a cover designer. Ditto for my first book, put out by an even smaller publisher. If these companies, with one millionth of the resources as a Big Five publisher can spot one case of plagiarism, why can’t HarperCollins spot fifty?

It definitely makes you wonder about the state of the publishing industry.

Link to the rest at Blasting News and thanks to Dave for the tip.

The publishing business is a business

16 January 2017

From USA Today:

Simon & Schuster is publishing a book by Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart News right-wing provocateur, and for that has been roundly cursed by liberals, and accordingly mounted a free speech defense.

Buzzfeed published the dossier of unverified charges against soon-to-be President Trump and was roundly attacked by Trump partisans, and, as well left many journalists, to say the least, uncomfortable. The site took to the talk shows to makes its case for open information.

In a not unrelated development, Facebook, widely criticized for its willing, if unwitting, distribution of fake news, has announced new, if not particularly convincing, measures to develop ways to qualify its content.

The same question is at the heart of each of these media tempests: how much is a publisher responsible for what it publishes?

The traditional view, at least since publishing, in the late Victorian age, became a money-making and therefore respectable industry, is that if you publish it, you own it. You were not only legally responsible for it, but it firmly attached to your reputation. This led to protocols about editing, fact checking, and the development of a long cannon of journalism standards and ethics. It also led to the idea of publishing brands. What you published defined you in the community and in the marketplace.

. . . .

The Yiannopoulos book is a particularly good example of the breakdown of this view. Book imprints were once the staunchest cultural gatekeepers, with issues of taste and sales closely twinned, and with the decision to publish resting, often, on a small group of editors, or even on a single shoulder. You knew who was responsible. But then a massive consolidation of the business occurred, mixing and mashing brands, and, with new financial dictates, in essence, commoditizing books.

Any book that makes financial sense to publish, no matter its nature, will, practically speaking, be published by any publisher. Beyond a book’s financial bona fides, there is no real vetting, or editing, or concerns about taste. Most of the book industry is now a business focused on creating products—often novelty products connected to a celebrity—for specific market segments.

Link to the rest at USA Today and thanks to Andrew for the tip.

You Can Write a Best-Seller and Still Go Broke

10 January 2017

From Slate:

In 2012, a month after the publication of her memoir, Wild [Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail], Cheryl Strayed was on a book tour, soaking up the wonder of her first big success as an author, when her husband texted her to say that their rent check had bounced. “We couldn’t complain to anyone,” Strayed told Manjula Martin, editor of the new anthology Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living: “My book is on the New York Times best-seller list right now and we do not have any money in our checking account.”

Few connections are more mysterious than the one between writing books and making money. Strayed most definitely did make money on Wild, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film with Reese Witherspoon, but she didn’t get her first royalty check for it until 2013, “so it was almost a year before my life actually changed.” Yes, there was that $400,000 advance—an amount to make any aspiring memoirist’s eyes go dreamily unfocused—but Strayed and her husband had run up so much credit card debt that almost all of the money went to paying it off and supporting her family while she finished writing the book. Book advances, which are advances against the royalties that will be earned after the book is published, aren’t forked out in one lump sum, either. The payments come parceled out in (typically) three or four checks paid on signing the contract, on delivery of the manuscript, and on publication. The writer’s literary agent then takes a percentage of that. When Strayed sold her first novel a few years earlier for the seemingly handsome sum of $100,000, the advance amounted to, as she puts it, “about $21,000 a year over the course of four years, and I paid a third of that to the IRS … it was like getting a grant every year for four years. But it wasn’t enough to live off.”

It’s worth leading with all these numbers because, as Scratch repeatedly demonstrates, the nitty-gritty on this stuff is in short supply in the wider writerly imagination, while fantasy, evasion, and envious brooding runneth over. Strayed is among the few prospering contributors to this collection of essays and interviews who speaks so explicitly. (“We’re only hurting ourselves as writers by being so secretive about money,” she told Martin.) Another is Roxane Gay—author, columnist, editor, publisher, professor, public speaker—who reports that she made approximately $150,000 in 2014. That’s a good income by almost any standard, but does it match your sense of Gay’s prominence and productivity? (Surely there are plenty of professors who make that much, or more, from their academic work alone.) Depending on your media diet, Gay may or may not constitute a “famous writer” in your eyes, and depending on how much you think famous writers must earn, her income may strike you as surprisingly modest. Or perhaps this entire topic offends you. There are still a few idealists out there cherishing the belief that writing, as art, mustn’t be contaminated by filthy lucre.

. . . .

If they are novelists (or—God forbid!—poets), they almost always rely on teaching for steady income. What they teach, for the most part, is writing; that is, as none of the contributors has quite the nerve to state baldly, in order to support themselves, they train others to do the work that isn’t providing them with a viable living. At times, the entire fiction-writing profession resembles a pyramid scheme swathed in a dewy mist of romantic yearning. Many of these essays begin with wry descriptions of the author’s youthful madness in moving to New York or throwing away a dependable day job or career path to “be a writer,” a phrase that often connotes earning enough money to live by writing alone. Yet this is never a simple transaction. For authors, money, however obscurely, is always entangled with legitimacy because writers have for centuries equated publication with professional and artistic anointment.

It’s indeed a significant testimonial when someone else wants to invest their own money in a writer’s work, so it’s easy to forget that a publisher is actually the writer’s business partner, not a conferrer of literary worth. In their candid moments, most publishers will admit going into business with writers whose work they regard as subliterary because they believe that they can profit from their books. This is still considered shocking in some unsophisticated quarters, but publishing isn’t literature: Literature is literature. Publishing is a separate, if related enterprise.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Print Book Sales Rose Again in 2016

9 January 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Despite a less-than-ideal environment—no breakout bestsellers on the adult fiction side and a lengthy, brutal election cycle that sucked nearly all of the air out of the cultural conversation—unit sales of print books were up 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Total print unit sales hit 674 million, marking the third-straight year of growth, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 80% of print sales in the U.S.

Most print formats had an outstanding year, with hardcover up 5.4%, trade paperback up 4%, and board books up 7.4%. Mass market has been on the wane since the introduction of e-books, and its slide continued in 2016 with a 7.7% drop in unit sales. Physical audio, where sales were down 13.5% on the year, also took a big hit from digital.

The largest gains came in the adult nonfiction category, where sales were up 6.9% from 2015. Several subcategories posted substantial increases, among them crafts and hobbies, where the adult coloring book boom—though slowing down from 2015’s blitz—continues to have a large impact. The religion and self-help areas also saw boosts, though for different reasons. Several big-name religion authors published new titles last year and racked up six-figure sales (Pope Francis, Lysa Terkeurst, Sarah Young), whereas backlist powered the self-help category: of the top five self-help titles, only one, Angela Duckworth’s Grit, was published in 2016.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Execs foresee leaven 2017

9 January 2017

From The Bookseller:

Book trade executives are optimistic and bullish about 2017, despite the political uncertainty of Brexit, looming European elections and Donald Trump taking up office in the US this month.

Publishing chief executives, leading agents and booksellers have given their predictions for the year ahead, with the overall outlook positive on the back of a second consecutive year of rising print sales.

Opportunities for the trade include an increase in export sales following a decline in the value of the pound, desire to read deeper non-fiction books in a so-called “post-truth world” heralding a “golden era” for the genre and the continuing boom in audio book sales –with Hacehtte UK chief executive Tim Hely Hutchinson predicting a 25% year-on-year growth in the format in 2017.

Ethnic diversity numbers will increase across the industry, foresees Pan Mac c.e.o Anthony Forbes Watson and the trade will then turn its head towards economic diversity in its staff. HarperCollins’ c.e.o Charlie Redmayne believes that the diversity initiatives of 2016 will continue in 2017, “fundamentally changing the look of our industry and the books which we produce – ultimately growing our businesses and making us more relevant to the society in which we live”.

Meanwhile, the perennial quest of how to reach new readers in an unpredictable age will be the focus for Penguin Random House’s chief Tom Weldon.

. . . .

While most are optimistic about the year ahead, there are some who are concerned about its prospects, particularly taking into account wider political events.

“Anyone who is optimistic about a world where a homophobic, racist, lying braggart is the president of the most powerful country in the world, and where Britain deserts its friends and allies in Europe is missing the greater part of their cerebral cortex,” according Profile’s c.e.o Andrew Franklin.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG is not terribly impressed by the methods these experts utilize to forecast future book sales.

Ritually slaughtering an animal and examining its entrails might produce more accurate results.

Most Women In Publishing Don’t Have The Luxury Of Being Unlikable

7 January 2017

From Buzzfeed News:

In 2005, when I was a young publishing assistant, I attended the PEN foundation’s annual gala in New York City, held under the giant whale in the American Museum of Natural History. As I walked into the lobby and took a glass of wine from a passing tray, I tried to tell myself that this situation was normal and all in a day’s work and that I was not awed by any of it, but of course I was mind-blown, starstruck. (It’s funny to remember now that there was a time when being in a room full of famous authors and editors could still thrill and impress me.) I had borrowed a long strapless bridesmaid dress that showed the tattoos on my upper back, and during the cocktail hour before the seated dinner Margaret Atwood came up to me to compliment me on them. In my wildest dreams I had never imagined being in an environment of what seemed to me then like such glamour and elegance. I drank all my wine every time they refilled the glasses, and they refilled the glasses constantly.

Each publisher had been allowed to invite an author, from a list distributed by PEN, to sit at their table. My boss had selected a female author I’d never heard of before, but whose two published novels I’d bought and read in the weeks leading up to the event in order to prepare for the possibility that she might want to, I guess, discuss her work with me. As it turned out, neither I nor anyone else was required to discuss her work, or indeed anything else, with her, because she didn’t talk to us. She wasn’t rude, exactly. She simply participated in conversation at the absolute minimum and didn’t encourage anyone to speak to her more than necessary. She didn’t do any of the things women usually do, that I spend so much of my life doing: try to draw others out in conversation, smile receptively, laugh at jokes or even non-jokes just to show you are listening attentively. She didn’t draw attention to her silence or deliberately snub anyone; she simply wasn’t playing the game. She took a lot of cigarette breaks.

. . . .

When this author rose to national prominence a couple of years later with a long, best-selling, hilarious, and true-seeming book that skewered the mores of several different types of Manhattanites, I thought of that evening. As I read and loved her popular book, I remembered what she’d been like — or, more accurately, how I had no idea what she was like, in spite of having met her. This made me admire her. In a man, of course, the aloof author’s behavior would have been completely unremarkable. I doubt I would have remembered it. In fact, I know I wouldn’t have.

I’ve worked in and around publishing for almost 15 years now; I’ve met countless male writers who are socially careless or even blatantly offensive and who suffer zero professional censure for it. But women don’t often get the luxury of acting that way, not if they want their careers to grow. To be like the female author I met in 2005 seems like it would require constant effort, a policing of the borders of self and persona and maybe also a constitutional immunity to caring what others think of you. In order to be successfully un-nice, an author would have to be so confident in her talent and skill that she was willing to risk alienating influential peers, editors, and agents — not to mention actual readers. To be un-nice might also require her to ignore the very real possibility that her likability will be reflected by her bottom line.

For all authors, and especially for authors who live in the publishing industry’s capital, New York, the continual awareness of a network of traded back pats and favors and blurbs and likes and faves is a background noise that’s hard to ignore, and at times becomes deafening. Authors know we’ll always have to sell another book, and with editors’ and publishers’ hierarchies and jobs constantly in flux, we never know whether the assistant sending a halfway-decent galley for a blurb might one day be the editor who’ll buy our book for six figures.

Link to the rest at Buzzfeed News and thanks to SFR for the tip.

PG says the OP sounds like a good reason for more authors to live in Telluride or Moab.

Next Page »