Young Publishers Today's Blog

November 20, 2009

Harlequin’s Self Publishing Line: Shot Down by a Shortsighted Industry

There is a poll at the end of this post – vote!

Let’s be honest – self-publishing has always been the red-headed step child of the industry. And even though it has garnered some attention and its unsavory stigma has somewhat lessoned, there are still those that view self-publishing as second rate.

Okay – it is second rate. But occassionally a self-published title gets picked up. In fact, I’m working on one right now.

But it’s when traditional publishers begin to derive a revenue stream from self-publishing that the shit really hits the fan.

Harlequin has started its self-publishing line – Harlequin Horizons to help aspiring romance writers who otherwise would be less likely to…get published.

But Harlequin has pretty much been flayed for this decision. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) has decided to remove the company from its list of publishers eligible for use of RWA-provided conference resources. (In case you were wondering, conferences are a big thing in the romance world). Oh yeah – and the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) have threatened the same thing.

Nora Roberts said – “You’re paying for your ego. That’s fine, dealer’s choice. But it’s a different matter when a big brand publisher uses its name and its resources to sell this as dream fulfillment, advertises it as such while trying to claim it’s not really their brand being used to make money on mss they’ve rejected as not worthy of that brand in the first place.” (If that’s not a run on sentence, I don’t know what is).

Get off of your high white steed Ms. Roberts (and RWA and MWA and any other “blank” WA). GO Harlequin for finding a way to keep up with the times and create a new revenue stream. Because in case others haven’t noticed, the margins in the publishing industry aren’t exactly enormous. And the old publishing model certainly doesn’t work.

But hell, Nora Roberts gets her money in extremely large advances – the type that are sucking the life out of this industry. Maybe if she were to take a higher royalty percentage instead…

The Result – Harlequin is giving the self-publishing line a new name (sans Harlequin).

Do you think Harlequin is selling out by including a self-publishing line, being hypocritical? I want to know! Vote now (and maybe add a comment).



November 19, 2009

Vladimir Nabokov – Covers Redesigned

Filed under: Book Art, Emily — Tags: , , , , — Emily Lyman @ 2:40 pm

I’m trying to get into the habit of keeping up on industry news. While it’s certainly a task that everyone in publishing should do I’m sad to say it is not one of my strengths. Too many good romance novels to read instead.

But I’m proud to say that I was reading Publishers Lunch (yes, while enjoying my lunch) and came across some of the coolest book jackets ever. Thought I’d share.

These 21 covers are designed by 21 different artists and authors, Chip Kidd being one, for Vladimir Nabokov’s backlist . Some are better than others – not everyone can be Chip Kidd.

Nabokov died in 1977, leaving behind an unfinished manuscript, The Original of Laura (Dying is Fun). The reason for the redesign of his backlist is due to the unfinished novel being published posthumously. No, an author was not brought in to finish the work. The editor and agent just published what was already written, only about 9,000 words. Keep in mind that Nabokov order the manuscript be destroyed.

But I digress. Nabokov had a fascination with butterflies so each new cover is made to look like a speciman box – complete with pins and paper cutouts. I love it!  Here is an example of the cover for Ada, or Ardor.  If you want to see more – go to the Wall Street Journal’s slide show.


November 17, 2009

Indie Adventures- Talking Leaves Books

Filed under: Indie Book Stores — Tags: , — kristinaradke @ 6:56 pm

Talking Leaves Books

Buffalo, New York: A city known mostly for losing sports teams, and the home of the infamous chicken wing sauce. More importantly for this post, however, it’s home to a great little independent bookseller, Talking Leaves Books.

This small franchise, consisting of two shops, sits in a busy little college town masquerading as a city. Since 1971, Talking Leaves has served a quaint community that’s reminiscent of Connecticut’s Greenwich, Brooklyn’s Park Slope, and Boston’s Faneuil Hall.

After 4 freezing years in this city as an English Lit undergrad, Talking Leaves Books was my great escape to the exciting world of contemporary writing. Like most indie stores, they lack the endless supply of best selling authors, but make up for it with a selection of hidden treasures, hard-to-find masterpieces, and works that would otherwise fall off your radar. (This is were I discovered the amazing work of Howard Frank Mosher.)

With floor to ceiling shelves lining the walls, table displays, and rotating stands, this store is the embodiment of mom-and-pop shops. But rather than deter the shopper, it draw’s your attention to the store’s true success—the three rows of tabletop books presented to you when first entering the store. There’s a definite sense of trust when perusing the titles laid out, like receiving a grandmother’s favorite recipe: you know it’ll be good because the person recommending it knows just what you like.

Talking Leaves table o' books

So while they may carry a copy or two of the NYT Bestsellers, or the latest vampire craze title, it’s real specialty is leading you to the book you should be reading, not the one Oprah’s reading.

So next time you’re up to see the Falls (American side, of course), think about stopping for some wings, some sponge candy, and a browse through Talking Leaves Books.

*An interesting new addition I discovered this fall was the presence of Indie Bound, “a community-oriented movement [that] brings together booksellers, readers, indie retailers, local business alliances, and anyone else with a passionate belief that healthy local economies help communities thrive.” From the decal at the front window to the customary Bestseller labels, this store screams Indie Bound Supported.

-Lara Selavka

(Quick note… Lara has graciously volunteered to write up various indie bookstores in and around the New York area for us on a more-or-less regular schedule (to be determined based on her own personal schedule)!  Yay!  Thanks, Lara, and we look forward to hearing more about the great indie stores you visit! -Kristina)

November 4, 2009

About Young Publishers Today

Filed under: Emily, Uncategorized — Tags: — Emily Lyman @ 2:44 pm

Finally, read about the authors of this blog!  Go to our YPT PYTs page to find out more about us. 

Our “contact us” page will be coming soon as well.


October 23, 2009

Friday Book Art – Takeshi Ishiguro

Filed under: Book Art, Emily — Tags: , — Emily Lyman @ 11:47 am

 Finally – a coffee table book that can be used in a practicle manner.  Although, really I don’t buy coffee table books for practicality; I buy them because they’re gorgeous.  So maybe a better way to put it is “a coffee table book with a hidden use” or something similar.

Takeshi Ishiguro, a Japanese artist/designer, runs his own studio in Tokyo.  But he doesn’t create just art – he also focuses on conceptual products as well.  In this piece – he combines the two.  And yes, this is now available to purchase.  :) 

The Book of Lights




It’s powered by a low voltage adapter.  Go to Unica for more info.


October 22, 2009

HuffPost Book Section: A Publicist’s Thoughts

Well – I can tell you that there was a ton of buzz about the Huffington Post’s recent book section addition on my floor.  As I work in publicity, you can imagine how all those publicists took the news that a major publicity outlet was going to increase its book coverage.  And then we read Amy Hertz’s (Editor of HuffPost Books) post about how us lowly publicists can achieve a coveted spot for our books. 

She is very adamant that this new section is NOT a book review section.  That was number one on her list. 

Also on her list:

  • We should all blog – publicists, authors, authors’ friends, and especially editors.  We have to prove that we fell in love with this book for a good reason.

I understand that blogging tends to be important (although only if you can create original content).  But, as you know, I can barely keep up with my own personal blogging.  And I guarantee you that I don’t have as much free time at work as I do when I’m off the clock.  If the book is important enough blogging should be part of the publicity campaign – but we deal with so many books at one time.  Right now I’m dealing with 6 books and I am, by far, one of the least busiest people on my team.  One can’t be expected to sustain a blog for each book and really, one post per book won’t make a huge difference.

  • We can ask bloggers to review our books (but, let’s be clear, this is only if “you’re not willing to step out from behind your desk, if you’re not willing to let the world know how you feel personally about the books…).  And if you are going to pitch bloggers don’t send a generic pitch, personalize it – take a lesson from Jonathan Fields.

Uh – yes, I’m insulted.  The fact is: more blog reviews are better than one (even if it is my own blog doing the review).  I know that bloggers don’t respond well to generic pitches from experience.  I’ve done blog outreach and I sat down and personalized every single email.  Well, it was slow, I didn’t have any other books to work on and I’m an assistant.  This is not a practical solution so I would like all bloggers to please check their inflated self worth at the office door.  The following bit is from Jonathan Fields touting the need for personal interaction in today’s social media-evolving world:

When my book, Career Renegade, came out earlier this year… I hand wrote personal notes that were included in nearly every copy that went out. Then, I sent personal e-mails, not anonymous blasts, and DMed most on twitter. And…we only reached out to those I knew would be genuinely interested…

Was that hours of extra work? Yup! Was it worth it? (He goes on to say yes, it’s worth it).

What did I notice most in that paragraph?  The heavy use of “I”.  Of course he’s taking the time to send out personalized notes – it’s HIS book!  Expect it from the authors – not the publicists.  We send out press releases to gauge interest – (and, yes, we really do only send to those people we genuinely believe are interested) – and then we cultivate personal relationships from there.  Read his whole piece, I’m not saying he doesn’t have a point but I do think he’s being overly harsh on publicists.

  • Forget the publication date.

It’s standard practice to time the majority of a book’s publicity around the publication date.  I agree that buzz starts early, especially on the Internet and that it’s good to start pitching even 2 to 4 months out.  This means that publicists will have to get especially creative since most of the time we just don’t have anything to show the media this far out if galleys (advanced reader copies) weren’t made for the title.

  • “Start a conversation with our readers. …whatever you do, speak personally, authentically and from the heart because they can smell an adapted press release a mile away.”

News Flash – every press release I write is from the heart (for the most part).  I will sometimes spend hours, days on a press release making sure that the wording does the book and the author justice, that it truly tells the story and let’s others see why we chose to publish this book in the first place.  What more do you want from me!?  We come up with article and feature ideas, try to bring all the pieces together, make sure the media is happy, our authors are happy, the authors’ partners and friends are happy.  And you tell me it’s not enough?  My blood, sweat and tears go into my job – I love it!  And I’m the first to admit that there are things that could be better and that sometimes I slack on a title, but give me a break, the entire system, as has been suggested, is not broken. 


October 20, 2009

Book Pricing Dilemma

Filed under: Kristina, The Industry — Tags: , , — kristinaradke @ 2:16 pm

What are your thoughts on book pricing?  We all know that Amazon has been selling at a loss, but now Wal-Mart and Target are joining the fray, selling big titles at pre-order discounts below $9.  This isn’t even considering the e-book pricing dilemma… what happens when Amazon doesn’t want to lose money anymore?  Do they up prices for the consumer or make demands of the publishers?

I don’t have any answers to these questions… but I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Leave me comments!!!



Filed under: Emily, Uncategorized — Emily Lyman @ 12:09 pm

Ok – thanks to Kristina for pointing it out.  Yes, we’ve been slacking – and I’m aware that the cardinal rule of blogging is updating, updating, updating. 

So, I’ll apologize now for my lack of posts and promise to get one up soon.



October 19, 2009

Wild Things Review on PompOnline

Filed under: Kristina — Tags: , — kristinaradke @ 11:33 pm

I know, I know… we’re slacking on our posts. But fall is a busy time in publishing!  Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in author interviews, website design, and ad copy.  But last week I did make time to go to a screening of Where The Wild Things Are and wrote it up for Pomp and Circumstance.

See my review here, and get hooked on Pomp.  Rrrraaawwwrrr!


October 16, 2009

Friday Book Art-Cara Barer

Filed under: Book Art, Kristina — kristinaradke @ 1:48 pm
Butterfly, Cara Barer

Butterfly, Cara Barer

Cara Barer (I’d be willing to stake a bet that she’s been nicknamed “Care Bear” at some point in her life… do you think she loves it or hates it?) is today’s featured book artist.  Perhaps it’s cheating to use her right after Robert The… I found them from the same article from The Quarterly Conversation.  But I like her work so much I just couldn’t resist.

Although her website claims she is a photographer (which she certainly is)… She’s a photographer who sculpts books, then takes pictures of them.  Her statment shares how she stumbled upon the idea to give these books a new form (she discovered a copy of the Yellow Pages transformed on the street by weather).  Her own description (from her statement) says, “With the discarded books that I have acquired, I am attempting to blur the line between objects, sculpture, and photography. This project has become a journey that continues to evolve.”

Please take a look at her site (photos can be found under “Portfolio”).  My favorite series is 2006-2007, perhaps because there is more color included.  But all of her work is beautiful!  Here are a couple of my favorites:


Fairy Tale, Cara Barer

Fairy Tale, Cara Barer

I love the suggestion in the title.  What do you see?  I see a gateway in a tree to a secret world.  Or perhaps a princess’s hair.

Wave and Fog, Cara Barer

Wave and Fog, Cara Barer

Another great title.  Did anyone grow up in the foggy northwest?  Reminds me of San Fran in the early morning hours.



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