A Good Article on Fiction Publishing

Discussion in 'Writing' started by KatG, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    I'm doing a new thread for this article because I want people in the Forum to be aware of it. I do not always like Laura Miller at Salon.com when it comes to opinion pieces. However, this publishing article of hers I strongly suggest that everybody here read, all the way through, whether you are writing childrens/YA or not, whether you have any interest in The Hunger Games or not. Because it's going to explain some things to you about fiction publishing and why it works through weird methods. It will explain the chain of reserves of children's publishing through libraries and schools, but there are also exact parallels and factors in adult publishing. The early readers word of mouth is just through different, less numerous channels.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/03/18/the_making_of_a_blockbuster/

    In particular, these quotes:

    The article is factual, accurate and will give you a better idea of how these weird things work, in my opinion.
     
  2. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    And, at the heart of it all, is a very good book without which the rest doesn't work.
     
  3. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    Interesting how the networks play an integral part in selling a story. I don't think that aspect will change, regardless of how the traditional industry answers the challenge of a changing marketplace.

    This is a good reason why attending conventions and getting on blogs is very important in the electronic age.

    Article appreciated, Kat.

    Kerry
     
  4. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

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    I think you're missing the point there a little bit, Kerry, at least the point I was trying to make. The networks that develop are not owned or controlled by publishers. It won't change much despite many changes in the marketplace because readers buy fiction books by word of mouth. That's the reality that all publishers -- electronic, big, small, etc. face. The publishers cannot make their employees enthusiastic about a book -- they hope for in-house buzz, not command it. They hope that Big Mouths will look at, like and talk about the book.

    So you can't "get" on the blogs. The bloggers have to develop an interest in looking at the book, have to like the book and then pass word of mouth on about the book. You can go to a convention and nothing may happen, which is expensive, but that doesn't mean a convention can't get someone interested, leading to word of mouth.

    Christopher Paolini and his parents flogged Eragon by having Paolini go to schools and libraries regionally and put on a reading show and trying to interest librarians, children's bookstores, etc. in the book. Those efforts could have simply flatlined despite the best efforts. But the book connected with kids and others who talk to kids, and they sold 10,000 copies. That and the word of mouth buzz got the big reprint sale, and word of mouth again made the book a success on a wider scale. Amanda Hocking also saw a large uptick of sales on her YA works once a number of bloggers reviewed her books. But she couldn't make those bloggers do it. She could only try to interest them and then hope they'd do positive word of mouth. Once they did, the teens did the rest. Larger publishers can do this on a larger, more global scale. They do know the best people to hit up. But none of it works unless people like a book and talk about it and while children's has a whole other set of channels for this to happen, it works the same in both kids and adult fiction.

    And it's not a matter of the "best" book, since no one agrees what that is. It's a matter of material connecting with readers and there isn't just one sort of material that does this or does this with large groups.
     
  5. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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    To me THERE ISN'T JUST ONE SORT OF MATERIAL is the crucial point. It may be a quirky book outside what even the experts expect beforehand would work.

    An example from films is "Star Wars." It has become such a phenomenon today that few remember the film world before it. The producers who gave George Lucas the budget for it did so reluctantly because they were sure it would fail. But he had been such a success with "American Graffiti" that they were afraid that if they didn't humor him with this "vanity project" that he'd go to someone else with whatever "Graffiti" follow-up he did. It would (they thought) come out, fail, and he would shame-facedly make what they wanted him to make. They were so sure of its failure they let him have the rights for ancillary products: toys, books, t-shirts, etc. A huge multi-billion-dollar mistake.

    Authors cold-bloodedly trying to create a best-seller can't do it. It has to first warm their own blood first. It must obsess you so much you MUST finish writing the book, putting into it all your soul and self. If you don't love your books first it's unlikely anyone else will.
     
  6. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Word of mouth is definitely the best magic.

    Kids (9 & 12 yrs) in my family have been going on and on about The Hunger Games for the last couple of months. Their father (early 40s) couldn't resist knowing what the kids were so turned on about, so he picked up a copy. A few days ago, his jaw had dropped to his chest. He, too, was so blown away.

    So here I am, Sunday afternoon, taking a break... from reading The Hunger Games. It truly is that good. The story is as gripping as an octopus with a bottle of Super Glue, yet it also fulfills Ms. Collins' didactic aims. The kids reading this book will never forget it -- therefore their future political, social and environmental alignments have been deeply influenced.

    Me? Well, I'm right now kind of in the process of recommending it, aren't I? And the origin of the thread that got it going is untraceable.

    --WB