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A Storybook Autumn: Book Publishing in the Fall

September 24, 2009

cover_danbrown_thelostsymbolAs leaves begin to shed their green coats in favor of warm reds, yellows and oranges, the weather cools and the days grow shorter, publishers too are feeling a shift in the season. Fall has traditionally been the most important time of the year, when publishers release some of their biggest and most-anticipated books by authors well-loved and brand new.

This past year and a half has been a difficult time across all sectors, and publishing’s ever-changing landscape has felt oftentimes brutal shifts, from mass layoffs to the closure of publishing and printing houses, the continuing fight over the Google settlement and the struggles of bookstores big and small. Interspersed within this is the consistent re-examination of the industry itself, changing ever-more quickly due to technology, and leaving us wondering how today and tomorrow’s readers will find and share and read their books.

cover_audreyniff_fearfulsymmetryYet the excitement of fall prevails. And this year, some are even calling it a “storybook season.” Joseph Kahn of the Boston Globe notes that “the number of quality novels and story collections coming out this fall compared with last is striking,” reflecting upon this season’s major focus on fictional tomes from big names such as Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and Stephen King’s Under the Dome. At latest counts, The Lost Symbol has already sold over 2 million copies in under two weeks. The focus is not just fictional, however, and popular nonfiction authors and works will be represented in force. But, as happens, fiction garners a more vocal fanbase.

Publishers are counting on this particular fall to help buoy the slumps we’ve all felt. And their efforts are already showing promise: aside from Dan Brown’s record-breaking numbers, bookstores are pre-ordering books in larger quantities in anticipation of readers hungry for something new.

Below are some of the season’s more notable and anticipated titles:

cover_stephenking_underthedomeNotables of the season:

  • Catching Fire by Susanne Collins (9/1)
  • The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (9/8)
  • The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (9/15)
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (9/29)
  • The Wild Things by Dave Eggers (10/1)
  • A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris (10/6)
  • What the Dog Saw by Malcom Gladwell (10/20)
  • Ford County by John Grisham (11/3)
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King (11/10)
  • Too Much Happiness (11/17) by Alice Munro
  • Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton (11/24)

Do you have any books being released this fall that you are excited for—either as a reader, author or publisher? Let us know!

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National Bookstore Day is Coming!

September 21, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2103Publishers Weekly has announced the date of their first annual National Bookstore Day, which will take place on Saturday, November 7, 2009. This special day was designed to to celebrate bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores, but authors can also find ways to contribute. One suggestion is to offer free copies of your book to bookstores for use in promotional giveaways or raffles. If they stock your book, you could mention their bookstore event to your email list. You might also offer to contribute to free workshop or seminar series that your local bookstores might be planning for that day. Email PWEvents@reedbusiness.com for more information and to find other ways you can participate.

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Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

September 18, 2009

This week from September 14 - 18 marks the second year of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, an initiative started by passionate reader and twentysomething blogger Amy Riley, proprietor of the blog My Friend Amy. BBAW is a week devoted to the appreciation of bloggers of all things books, from reviewers to cultural commentators to writers to those blessed with loquacious or taciturn writing style. The winners are chosen by a group of panelists who represent a spectrum of bloggers, readers, and authors.

I have closely followed the awards as they have been announced, and am extremely excited to have discovered a wealth of new blogs devoted to my favorite pastime. Whether a winner or shortlisted, these blogs and sites represent the best of the best in the online publishing world.

If you are an author looking to start or improve your blog, or an enthusiastic reader of books who wants to share your thoughts, or a member of the publishing industry wanting to represent yourself or your company digitally, explore the blogs who were nominated for inspiration and ideas.

To see the complete shortlist for the 2009 BBAW Awards, visit http://bookbloggerappreciationweek.com/index.php/awards/comments/the_2009_bbaw_awards_shortlists/

Wondering about the past blogs who were given awards? For a taste of the variety of blogs that captured attention last year (and in many cases continue to do so this year), look below for the list of last year’s winners by category:

Be sure to check out the big bad book blog's blogroll in the next week or so—we'll be adding new blogs to our list of favorites and recommendations!

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Mom Knows Best: Mom's Choice Awards

September 14, 2009

Weekly Tip 210The submission deadline for the Mom's Choice Awards® is just around the corner, so if you want to get the attention of the parents and educators of the world, listen up!

Authors of parenting guides, children’s books, and young adult novels know how beneficial a publicity campaign that strategically targets women can be. What better way to market your book to moms than to have an official Mom’s seal of approval? The Mom's Choice Awards represent a mark of distinction that parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers trust when selecting quality, family-friendly materials.  Winning a Mom’s Choice Award is not only an honor for an author, but it brings its winners added benefits for their marketing and publicity campaigns, such as product reviews posted to Amazon.com and BN.com, a national media release, cooperative advertising opportunities, promotional opportunities at BookExpo America and ABC Kids Expo, product promotions via the Mom's Choice Awards website, great discounts on radio, television, and print campaigns, and much more!

The entry deadline for this year’s awards is October 1, 2009. All published books with copyright dates of 2007 to 2010 are eligible. Click here for more detailed information and entry guidelines.

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Walk the Line: Seven Guidelines on Genre and Market Trends

September 10, 2009

johnnycashThis article is a tribute to two people: Johnny Cash, who has forever given us a tune by which to walk the line, and to the publishing professionals who deal on a daily basis with the interaction of genre and market. Okay, so it’s a tribute to many, many people.

The question on genre and trends comes down to this: as a first-time author, should I write based on what genres or styles are popular now, or should I create something original and hope it appeals to a large audience?

The frustrating, but generally true, answer is a little of this, a little of that. There are a few guidelines that can assist you in making the choice of what to write, but they are guidelines only. Very few things are hard-and-fast in this industry. But as an unknown writer, consider these things:

  1. Choose one genre. You have a dozen ideas in as many genres? That’s wonderful. Now choose one. Yes, just one. You may not decide which one it is until after writing a couple of books and getting a feel for your style and strengths and even interests. But it is very rare to successfully cross genres, and then only once you’ve established yourself in one. When you query agents or publishers, choose your best writing. Be honest.Read Rachelle Gardner’s “Ask the Agent: Writing in Multiple Genres”: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/02/ask-agent-writing-in-multiple-genres.html
  2. Be passionate about your genre. The last thing you need to do is pick a ‘popular’ genre that you really could care less about and try to write that genre. Readers can sniff out ignorance and apathy from a mile away. Especially if it’s nonfiction, but most certainly in fiction as well. If science-fiction or paranormal romance or political thrillers aren’t your cup of tea, don’t try to write them because they’re ‘hot’ or selling well.Read Alan Rinzler’s “Finding Your Voice”: http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/2009/03/22/ask-the-editor-8-tips-for-finding-your-voice/
  3. Consider your genre’s audience. Even once you have a genre in mind—be it historical romance or urban fantasy or dystopian sci-fi—you haven’t yet cleared the hurdle. You must understand the audience of these types of books. What are they interested in reading within the genre? What do they like and dislike? Do your research: find out their favorite blogs, magazines, websites, TV shows, etc. All will give you ideas for formulating your book to match their expectations.Read through the posts of the Query Shark, who looks first and foremost for who is going to read this book: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
  4. Know the genre of bestsellers, past and present. Take a look at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, as well as bestselling books on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore. A few years worth of data (which can often be found in easy, condensed form) will tell you the current trends, last year’s trends, and so on, and so forth. You need to be knowledgeable about those trends, and once you are, certain patterns will emerge. Some books don’t go out of style, or have metamorphosed over the years but remain essentially the same content.Read Agent Kristin’s “Market Savvy”: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2007/03/market-savvy.html
  5. Target agents or publishers who specialize in your genre. I’ve seen agents and publishers complain about this time and time again: authors who don’t do their research and blindly submit or query to multiple people in hopes of getting a yes. There are people or companies who focus on certain genres. Because they do so, they know more about the market, about how to package and how to sell, and these are your best bets as an unknown author. Read Colleen Lindsay’s “Query Dissection”: http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/08/query-dissection-kelly-gays-better-part.html
  6. What once was, may not be again (for a while). You know what’s hot. Twilight. James Patterson. [Insert celebrity confessional here]. Business books with clever titles by crazy-haired men. But that’s today and today is, especially now, ever-more fluid and changeable when it comes to what genre or style the audience has a taste for. A certain predominant genre will certainly influence the market for a few years, but not forever. Consider that books can take from 12 to 24 months to be published and enter the marketplace, and this is after you’ve found an agent or a publisher. Think about that timeline. Will your book still be timely, relevant, excite peoples’ interest?Read Rachelle Gardner’s “What’s In, What’s Out”: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/search/label/Trends
  7. Be original. The popular saying is that no idea is original, and that may be so. It’s all about execution—especially when you’re writing in a trendy genre, and especially when there may be similarities between storylines, characters, concepts etc. Angst-filled vampire teens? A cook’s experience in France? Freaky economics? Readers don’t want the pale pastiche of a beloved book. They want a familiar subject recreated into something entirely new. And as for creating an original genre—do try to avoid this. It happens very rarely. You’ll find that most of your ideas fit into one particular genre or sub-genre.Read Nathan Bransford’s “On Concepts”: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/04/on-concepts.html

Again, these are only guidelines with which to help you walk the line of the genre you write and the market you write for. You have to find the most comfortable balancing act between the two.

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