Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/19-6/23

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Many major publishers back Greenpeace in their standoff with a logging corporation.

Three textbook publishers have charged Follett with selling counterfeit textbooks. 

Despite potentially losing their funding, the NEA awarded millions of dollars in grants this week

HarperCollins will add over 15,000 ebooks to Hoopla, a digital library platform. 

Pottermore unveiled a Wizarding Book Club

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/12-6/16

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Tracy K. Smith is the new United States Poet Laureate.

Amazon is buying Whole Foods.

The 2017 Big Library Read began this week and will run until the 26th. 

The Lambda Literary Awards were announced on Monday.

David Grossman won the Man Booker International Prize on Wednesday.

Bonus: LeVar Burton will read to us once again on his new podcast.

How Did You Get Into Publishing? A Survey

It’s that time again. Every summer I get a flurry of emails from friends/family/fellow alumni, asking if I can offer their friend/niece/student advice on how to break into the publishing industry. I know I’m not alone in this – in fact, I’m imagining you nodding your head in agreement. You’d think at this point I’d just have a canned response of what to say to folks. And yet, every time I write out a different response depending on the person and their situation, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because my advice changes the more time I spend in this industry and the more people’s stories I hear on how they got into the industry. 

Which got me thinking: I want to know how you got into publishing, and you, and you over there. It’s hard to break into a lot of industries, but publishing seems to be its own brand of tricky. So whether you started out in a totally different field, or you work at a small university press in the Midwest, whether you’re at a literary agency, a publisher, or a publishing-adjacent job (like me), or didn’t imagine yourself working in this industry at all I want to know how you got here. 

Please take this brief survey and encourage your publishing friends to do the same. I’ll report back on the results. 

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/5-6/9

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Overdrive unveils a new cost-per-circulation model for digital library assets.  

Penguin Random House acquired popular literary clothing store Out of Print.

The Kickstarter for The Well-Read Black Girl literary festival was successfully funded.

Bob Dylan gave his Nobel Peace Prize speech in the nick of time. 

Milo Yiannopoulous announced he will be self-publishing his controversial book. 

Trendsetter at BookExpo 2017, Day 1

This year saw the return of BookExpo – now minus the “America” – to New York City from Chicago. It was also my first time at the show, although I’m not new to conferences and conventions: I’ve been going to AWP and BookCon for the last few years. But those are geared to writers and readers, respectively, and as someone relatively new to the industry, I was excited to see how publishers get down.

So on Thursday, I headed over to the Javits Center with a notebook, a phone charger, and some sensible shoes. (I’d already read up on conference advice from other Trendsetter writers.) My goals were pretty modest: to see a few panels, talk to other professionals whose work I admire, and check out some of the nearly 700 exhibitors. If I was lucky, I’d even get a sense of the state of publishing in mid-2017. And no spoilers, but I was lucky.

 Notes from the show

The last conference I’d attended was AWP, which was held in DC just a few weeks after the inauguration and which had an unmistakably defiant vibe. The show floor at BookExpo was much less overtly political, although there were occasional glimmers of current events: a special display for the forthcoming Subway Therapy book invited attendees to add their own Post-It note messages to a temporary wall, and large banners announced that Hillary and Chelsea Clinton would be making appearances at BookExpo and BookCon, respectively.

A survey of the floor revealed that the industry umbrella continues to expand: the booths held a pretty remarkable range of exhibitors, though the majority was publishers. Non-publishers included an array of mostly Chinese and Korean companies offering shipping and printing; wholesalers and used book stores; manufacturers of reading glasses; and a few toy displays, like New York Puzzle Company and DEVAR Augmented Reality. (Delightfully, I also spotted a massage booth.) Some exhibitors blurred the lines between books and other kinds of merchandise: subscription box services like Call Number and Owlcrate include books and book-related items like tea, stickers, and apparel.

How were the books themselves? Plenty of new ideas were on display. One of the stars of the show was This Book Is a Planetarium from Chronicle Books, a pop-up book featuring working tools and toys; the aforementioned planetarium is only one. Macmillan offered a listening station for attendees to sample forthcoming audiobooks, a fast-growing market segment. A number of publishers showcased children’s wares focused on the maker movement and kits for adults interested in all things DIY. For those interested in creating their own literary work, products like Storymatic – half-writing prompt, half-game – drew a steady crowd.

One of the more unexpected exhibitors was Greenpeace, which had come with an art installation. They were at the show to speak out against Resolute Forest Products, a major paper suppliers to many of the publishers gathered here. As one of the men staffing the booth told me, the aims of publishers and the aims of environmentalists are highly compatible; both want to see a thriving future. Greenpeace’s stated goal is not to move away from using paper but to move towards harvesting paper sustainably.

Of course, you can only sight-see for so long. I took in some of the programming, too. Since this was my first Book Expo, I picked events that were broad in appeal so I could see what people across the industry were thinking about.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/29-6/2

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

James Patterson is giving more money to his Holiday Bookseller Bonus Program this year.

Audible created a $5 million fund to commission new work from playwrights.

Amazon will begin working directly with publishers.

An ebook lending program from the Digital Public Library of America launches this fall.

DC’s Busboys and Poets has ended their bookselling partnership with Politics and Prose.

Spotlight on Middle Grade

This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends

* * * 

Young adult literature has been a huge catalyst and money-maker for publishing over the past few years. Beyond the books, the category’s given birth to several multimillion dollar franchises and new Hollywood stars. With all of the glamour and glitz that can come out of the YA world, it’s easy to forget about the rest of children’s literature. No, not board books or picture books: I’m talking about middle grade. According to Nielsen, it’s not the highest-selling segment of the children’s book market, but it’s still pulling big numbers. Middle grade titles contend with the YA stars like John Green and their sales can rival the standard baby-shower gift titles like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Green Eggs and Ham – so it’s time for them to share in the spotlight.


While middle grade is a commonly-used industry term, there doesn’t seem to be one hard and fast definition. Searching for “middle grade” on the Book Industry Study Group yields no direct results. There aren’t any BISAC codes identifying a book as middle grade. (It’s worth noting that YA BISAC codes were only just added in early 2016.) There are BISAC codes for juvenile fiction (ages 0-11, preschool to grade 6) and of course, YA fiction, (ages 12-18, grade 7-12). Given this, one could assume middle grade presumably falls into the juvenile fiction section with perhaps some overlap into the early years of what BISAC considers YA. I asked around for some answers.

Author Alison Cherry, who has written both YA (most recently Look Both Ways) and middle grade (Willows vs. Wolverines) offered some definitions: “The answer I give people who don’t know anything about publishing is ’Appropriate for kids ages 8-12,’ but of course that’s not relevant to a lot of kids—there are ten-year-olds who read tons of YA, and there are six-year-olds who can handle middle grade with no problem.” Going beyond age ranges, she suggested that “one explanation I really like is that MG is often more internally focused—about figuring out who you are and how you relate to your family and friends—and YA is more broadly focused—about figuring out where you fit into the context of the wider world.”

Book Scout for Maria B. Campbell Associates, Rachel Horowitz had a subtly different answer from Cherry’s: “It often seems to be a bit younger, for ages 7-10 rather than 8-12, which is the traditional age group…I just looked at the latest New York Times Bestseller’s List, and for the middle grade bestsellers, there’s a real age range – but I think the sweet spot is really 7-10.”


Whatever their age, middle grade readers are big readers. Nielsen’s 2016 Children’s Book Market Report’s top selling authors of the year were loaded with author names you’d expect to see – Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and John Green. And yet, in the year’s top 5 bestselling authors alone, three are middle grade: Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid series; author of beloved Magic Tree House series, Mary Pope Osborne; and the “Disney Book Group,” with their Descendants series. This isn’t an anomaly, either. Nielsen’s 2015 Children’s Book Market Report had Jeff Kinney and Mary Pope Osborne on that top 20 list, joined by Rachel Renee Russell, author of the Dork Diaries series. The 2014 report shows Kinney & Osborne again, as well as James Patterson with his Middle School Worst Years series. Through 2014-2016 middle grade authors were up against huge media properties like Minecraft, Star Wars and Frozen, as well as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner series, and middle grade maintained a firm hold in children’s book sales.


Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid books are a good example of one of middle grade’s most surprising successes, according to Elise Howard, Editor and Publisher at Algonquin Books for Young Readers. “Humor is the most idiosyncratic and hardest thing to sell,” she said. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which had been serialized online and viewed for free by millions of readers before it appeared in book form, taught everyone in publishing a thing or three about the effect of the internet and ‘free’ on the market for paid work.” Despite humor being tough to nail, there is a definite hunger for it abroad, according to book scout Rachel Horowitz: “Everyone is looking for humor! There were a lot of stories with magical animals this year, an evergreen theme, but people would also like to read something funny.” Interestingly, humor is what author Alison Cherry enjoys so much about the category: “I can get away with writing much goofier situations for middle grade….it’s my favorite part about writing for that age group.”

Another trend in middle grade is serious topics. As Cherry mentioned earlier, middle grade characters are often looking inward, finding out who they are. Horowitz noted some examples of books dealing with these topics that have gone on to be successes: “There have been the pleasant surprises, like how well a book like Wonder, about a disfigured boy mainstreaming into school for the first time, has struck a chord; and George, about a boy who realizes he’s the wrong gender; or Lily and Dunkin’, a wonderful friendship story with a transgender character.” Howard pointed out some additional topics about identity that are growing in popularity: “Although there’s a long way to go to meet readers’ needs in this area, the burgeoning of imprints and auctions for Own Voices fiction suggests that it’s becoming something of a trend.” Howard continued. “It needs now to convert from trend to perennial.” Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/22-5/26

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

After the proposed Trump budget cuts, the National Endowment for the Humanities chair has resigned.

Author of Jesus’ Son and Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson, died yesterday.

Scribd now offers newspaper articles to their subscribers. 

Pottermore partnered with to sell the Harry Potter audiobooks, making them available at indies for the first time.

Amazon’s newest bookstore opened in Midtown Manhattan this week.  


Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/15-5/19

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Harlequin shut down five of its lines.

The American Writers Museum opened this week in Chicago.

In France, the new culture minister is a publisher and the new prime minister writes novels.

Amazon is introducing their own weekly bestseller lists.

Author Laura Kipnis‘s new book about campus sexual politics has drawn a lawsuit.

Trendsetter at the 2017 One Story Debutante Ball

The One Story Debutante Ball is one of the most eagerly-anticipated literary parties in New York. This year’s edition was held on the evening of May 12 at Brooklyn’s Roulette Intermedium, a space friendly to cultural events like this one – though there really isn’t anything else quite like this one.

True to its name, the literary journal One Story publishes one piece at a time, sent out to subscribers every few weeks in small, handsomely-printed booklets. A given writer can only ever appear once. The journal recently celebrated its fifteenth anniversary, and there are now over 225 One Story issues – and, therefore, over 225 One Story authors. Some were already well-known when they joined the roster, but quite a few were just beginning their lives as published writers. Thus the ball, which celebrates the year’s cohort of those who’ve published their first book. Tickets started at $100, though larger donations and corporate sponsorships were welcome: this is the journal’s largest fundraiser of the year.  The guests dressed up accordingly, wearing a striking array of dresses and suits.

I was attending as a volunteer on the rope brigade – more on that later – and arrived early, as the stage lights were being adjusted. The space at Roulette consisted of an open check-in area attached, via double doors, to a dance floor and stage. The dance floor’s decorations were designed and executed by One Story HQ: there were large posters of each book hung from the balconies, as well as banners strung with past issues. From the ceiling hung fairy lights done up to look like clouds and lightning, and along the walls were small tables piled high with the honorees’ books, free for the taking.

(“This is way better than prom,” a fellow volunteer said as we watched the attendees check in at the front table.)

As the evening got underway, it was occasionally difficult to tell who was being celebrated and who was simply celebrating. Trays of hors d’oeuvres circulated as a folk-style four-piece played covers of popular songs. At the bar just outside the dance floor, attendees could pick up a cocktail designed especially for the occasion: it was called “All Is Forgotten” in tribute to Mentor of the Year Lan Samantha Chang’s 2010 novel All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. A few attendees agreed that this was a good name for an alcoholic beverage, period, and it went quickly. The honored guests of the evening mingled with the crowd but were easy to spot, having been given knitted corsages at the door.

Streamers made of One Story issues hung over the dance floor.

Of course, a debutante ball wouldn’t be right without a presentation of the debutantes. About halfway through the party, the honorees were taken to the back of the hall and two lengths of rope were unfurled down the dance floor by volunteers (the aforementioned “rope brigade”), creating an impromptu aisle. The room hushed, though not all at once: “Quiet, debutantes in the back!” One Story co-founder Hannah Tinti ordered.

Once the room was settled, the journal’s other co-founder, Maribeth Batcha, took the microphone to give a few remarks. The ball, held now for eight years in a row, was originally meant to be a playful, bookish spin on an American tradition. However, Batcha said, “each year it becomes a little less cheeky and a little more sacred.”

Then it was time to introduce the debutantes: Sam Allingham, Angelica Baker, Clare Beams, Julie Buntin, Anne Corbitt, Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, Lisa Ko, Emily Ruskovich, and Melissa Yancy. Each was accompanied down the aisle by a beloved mentor, beaming, while co-founder Hannah Tinti and editor-in-chief Patrick Ryan took turns reading the first sentences from their books. Once onstage, the nine writers and their “dates” were corralled together so the photographer could take a few shots – and most of the room seized the opportunity, too. Read More »