Curious Rat

A Debut Novelist’s Honest Take on the Publishing Industry →

The Land of Steady Habits author Ted Thompson:

I’ll be honest, I was reluctant to answer this question at first because I confess I’m someone who thinks concentrating too much on the book business can be counterproductive for writers. Going to panels about publishing or subscribing to Publisher’s Lunch (don’t do it!) or obsessively Googling a certain agent can fill you with all kinds of ideas about what you think publishers want, and can distract you from exactly the thing that makes your book good.

But the truth is that much of the experience of publishing a book has surprised me, some of which would probably have been helpful to know. So here’s A List of Things About Publishing I Wish I’d Known.

In all my research on getting an agent and what goes into traditionally publishing a book, I learned, or at least came across much of what Thompson describes. The following passage, however, was refreshing to read:

Though from afar it’s easy to imagine the publishing business as either a collection of jaded gatekeepers who enjoy affirming their superiority by rejecting your work, or as a bunch of crass entertainment execs chasing the next megahit, I’ve been disappointed to find that it’s actually neither. Everyone who I’ve encountered in the book biz — from editorial to sales — seems disarmingly genuine about their love of books, and their jobs are pretty much like everyone else’s in the world, which is to say torn between reconciling their passion with the realities of the market.

Many self-publishing zealots like to paint traditional publishing as a “cartel” and a faceless conglomeration of money-grubbing pencil pushers who see book selling as a means to make a fortune and stiff those actually writing the books. Traditional publishers definitely have a long journey ahead of them to endear themselves to those who’ve abandoned them for greener pastures at Amazon, but while the industry may chew some authors and spit them out into a gooey, exhausted mush of crushed dreams and financial ruin, it’s made up of a ton of people who LOVE books. With a big, fat, sloppy capital L.

Follow any agent on Twitter or talk to someone who works in publishing and they will tell you without a second of hesitation that they adore books. They read for work, but they love what they do. They don’t read a manuscript expecting to shut it down. They want to devour it in one sitting.

I get the frustration at publishers for onerous contract terms and low percentage payouts, but remember—the people acquiring those novels and working directly with the authors? They do it because they love books and they love reading.

Shedworking →

An entire site dedicated to sheds used as workspaces, including Neil Gaiman’s writing shed/gazebo. I don’t care how nerdy it is to love this site, I want a shed that holds more than just my ride-on mower. I want a writing retreat in my backyard.

New Pampers Ad →

Pampers has a new commercial out called “3am” touting its diapers’ super-absorbancy. In the ad, a baby is shown waking up at 3:00 am in an “ordinary diaper” crying and begging to be changed. However, in Pampers, this baby happily sleeps in his own filth all through the night, soaking in his baby juices thanks to the diaper’s ability to retain more liquid than the average diaper.

The commercial really plays on the parent’s emotions. We all want our children to sleep through the night, even if they’re coated in a thick layer of brown baby butter or, at the very least, wallowing in liquid sunshine like a steak marinating in the fridge. Pampers understands a parent’s need for sleep and this approach is extremely smart.

I plan on writing about every Pampers commercial going forward, because nothing is more important to my readers than my announcement of a mega-corporation’s advertisements those same readers will see on TV each day. More importantly, I’ll be providing my own low-level analysis of said commercials, offering nothing more than a basic overview of the ads’ plots, as well as whether they spell huge profits or certain doom for the company.

Hey, did you guys hear Apple has a new commercial out today? Someone should write about that.

The Patents for the First Successful Typewriter →

Dan Piepenbring for The Paris Review:

Notice the absence of 0 and 1; Sholes and his cohort assumed that people would make do with I and O. They also couldn’t be bothered with lowercase letters—the first Sholes model was in a condition of eternal caps lock, doomed to permanent shouting. And yet in another sense Sholes was full of intuition and prescience: purportedly, the first letters he typed on the machine were “WWW.”

German Publishers Going After Amazon →

The New York Times:

German book publishers have filed a complaint with the country’s antitrust authority against Amazon, accusing it of violating competition laws and asking the government to investigate.

The complaint, filed last week, was announced on Tuesday, nearly two months after Amazon began delaying shipments of books from Bonnier, a leading publishing group in Germany, in a dispute over dividing revenue from sales of electronic books. Amazon, the online retailer, is in a similar struggle with Hachette in the United States.

Amazon allegedly controls 70% of the German market for print and ebooks. For comparison, “Amazon is responsible for 78% for Hachette ebook sales in the UK, and 60% in the United States”.