Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The circus act!

Ok, I shall now stand on my head and tap-dance for you. =)

There's a very legitimate complaint on the prior post that I don't say enough about the publishing industry. I want to make it clear that I don't disagree with the anonymous poster at all, and in fact, I respect them for stating their opinion. But at the same time, I'm going to be somewhat snarky, and I want to make it clear that it isn't directed at the poster at all.

Hasn't it ever occurred to people that the publishing industry is boring? It's a business. And by their very nature, businesses are boring. All that financial stuff, the mergers, etc? They bore me to tears. Yeah, you have to keep up-to-date, at times, but I could really care less about it.

So when people want to hear exciting gossip about the publishing industry, I tell them to go read Galleycat. Ron, who runs it, is a good guy, and it's his *job* to collect all the juicy tidbits that litter the publishing industry. There are some, but really, we're a bunch of people who read and write and sell books. Not much to look at here; pass GO, please collect $200.

Yet, somehow, I'm expected to know what's wonderful and cool and new in the publishing industry.

I don't know.

I read Galleycat just like the rest of you. I read PW and I read Publisher's Lunch. I browse the deals on Publisher's Marketplace. That's how I get most of my news.

Ok, so yeah, I get the opportunity to talk to editors. I hear some of the good gossip about agents, but I really don't spend my days doing all of this. I meet with editors to hear what they're looking for, but do you really expect me to pass along that information on a publicly read website? That's like handing candy to my fellow agents. Let them go to lunch and find out on their own. Plus, that way, they get to have some good food too. =)

Want to hear the most interesting publishing thing I've heard lately?

Our electronic intern, Spencer, wanted to know if the scuttlebutt floating around about how Tor will go under because of Robert Jordan's untimely death is true. I don't think so. And that's my professional opinion. The poor man is dead; leave him alone and let him rest in peace, no matter how well his books did. Tor is a viable publishing company, and will do just fine.

Now, if you'd like, I can tap-dance again... =)


David said...

Wow! I hadn't heard that rumor about Tor! I'm going to have send an e-mail to every writer I know, warning them that Tor is about to go under!

Okay, maybe I'll hold off on that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny. I'm the Anon in the previous post whom you are answering. And no, I don't think your post is at all snarky.

I think though, that because you are in the business, you assume the rest of your blog readers are bored by the sameness of your day to day duties, when in reality, writers read publishing blogs to glean what insight they can from this so-called "boring" stuff.

Even posts such as, "I got this great query and here are the three reasons it made me do a double take," or, "I got this query and here's why I ran screaming in the opposite direction" -- to you that's an everyday happening, but writers struggle to come up with queries or pitches, and this info ISN'T boring to US.

Thanks for your reply, BTW...

Jenny Rappaport said...

Hi Anon, that's actually a really interesting point of view that I hadn't thought about before.

Let me see what I can do about that, without using actual queries as an example. Have to think on that one... actually, I have an idea.

Anonymous said...

Different anon poster here...

When it comes to the big bad world of publishing, I'm as clueless as the rest of the newbie population. I'm always looking for new enlightening information, but quite honestly, right now I'd prefer a Zoe update. Please.

Anonymous said...

There are tons of topics that a lot of other bloggers don't post about. You could have a post describing the most prevelant comments you make on your clients' manuscripts before sending them out.

Do you have them mostly fix awkward sentences? Have them round out an underdeveloped character? Request they spruce up the dialogue? Cut some purple prose?

Or when you submit to publishers how do you go about it? Target two or three and see what kind of responses you get? Go broader? does it depend on the book? Does the author have a say? If you send it to two or three initially do you have the author take the comments from the "passing" editors and maybe have the author do a mini-rewrite before trying other publishers?

How many publishers will you send to before the book is considered unsaleable? Do you feel an initially "unsold" book can be revived if you later sell one of the author's other books and they have more of a presence or name in the industry?

If all else fails, you can ask your readers to submit questions, though you might get slammed with them.

Joe said...

You know, saying you COULD care less actually means that you do, indeed, care. The correct phrase is "I couldn't care less." And, yes, I know - everybody does it!

It's just my pet peeve for the day. :)

For whatever it's worth, I agree with you on Tor - I seriously doubt they will go out of business due to the death of one author.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be a reactionary old woman. There are a lot of places on the net to get information about publishing, but Ms Snark never got on my daily reading list because... continually focusing on business makes Jack a dull boy. (It also, from what I've seen, can make Jack rude, demanding and crazy). I like reading Lit Soup because it reminds me that agents are human, as in having lives outside their work. That they're interesting as people and not just for how many books they sell or what advice they have on catching an agent. It's... comforting :) (Well, apart from Zoe being ill)
Kat Allen

Anonymous said...

Yet another anonymous poster...

While I enjoy and appreciate your insights into the world of publishing, I also really like reading about your cat, poop and all, 'cause I just love cats, especially black ones! So please don't stop with the Zoe stories.

Hugs and kisses to Zoe. I hope she feels better soon.

Anonymous said...

You know, this really surprises me. I care A LOT about this industry as a writer. Because it impacts my life. And I don't think I'd want an agent who couldn't care less. I want someone who's as passionate about all of the business as I am.

But at the same time, that's why there are so many aspects to the writer/agent relationship. Because there are authors out there who would read your post and say "that's exactly what I want in an agent!" Thanks for reminding all of us that every agent has their own unique outlook and it's important for authors to find an agent whose outlook meshes with their own.

Katharine said...

Just wanted to reply to that last anonymous comment. (Maybe people have moved on by now. I'm behind on my blog reading.) I had the great opportunity to meet and hang out with Jenny at the James River Writers Conference at the end of September, and I just wanted to say that you may have the wrong impression.

Just because Jenny says she doesn't care about the business doesn't mean she doesn't care about her authors. It seems to be a lengthy and somewhat hideous process to get to that author/agent point where you've found each other. But I could tell from talking to her that Jenny cares a GREAT DEAL about the people she has taken on.

Hey, I'm a teacher. I care enormously about the kids. Not so much about the faculty meetings and the conferences.

Ithaca said...

Late to the parade, but... could I put in a good word for the FT Weekend? I get up on Saturdays in a good mood because it's the day the FT Weekend comes out. Fabulous paper.

The FT has its business section, and then it has a very good arts section, normally with substantial coverage of the art market; what's interesting is that they sell a lot of advertising to galleries and auction houses. I don't suppose the average reader is in a position to buy a Picasso, but people who are in a position to buy a Picasso read the Financial Times. So the question for people who try to make money out of writing is, obviously, what could we do so that we could make $1 million by selling to one buyer rather than hundreds of thousands? Would it help if a writer's laptop, say, were put up for auction each time a book was published? Would it help if we adopted a completely different business model? Museums and galleries sell postcards and catalogues and make money off them, but the works of art are the repository of value - and these, unlike a book, can actually have a higher resale value than they had when first sold. If that model could be made to work, obviously, it would transform the lives of everyone who deals with books - the sale of individual cult objects involves nothing like the overheads which are inseparable from the manufacture, storage and transportation of thousands or millions of replicas, each of which has a potential profit of only a few dollars.

Well, you may feel this is exactly what makes business so boring. The thing I find interesting is that there is an opening for someone to transform the conditions under which writers work, simply by thinking through how the money is made.