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

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/14-7/18

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.

This week, Amazon launched an ebook and audiobook subscription service for Kindle called “Kindle Unlimited.”

Apple will pay $450 million in their ebook settlement.

Booksellers from the famed Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris are raising funds to start an de Selby Press, an independent Irish publisher.

Amazon struck back at France’s new law, which disallowed free shipping on already discounted books, by offering shipping for next to nothing.

Weeks after being purchased by Rowman & Littlefield, Globe Pequot laid off about 25 staffers across different departments.

Bonus videoWeird Al Yankovic restyled “Blurred Lines” into “Word Crimes,” making our inner grammarians rejoice.

Survey: Where Do You Get Your Books?

At Market Partners International, we get books mailed to us from friends in the industry, we have holds at the library, and attend book events, and buy signed copies. We just love to read. If you work in publishing, we’re willing to make an assumption that you like to read, too. You’ve probably got a to-read pile that’s up to your ceiling, or an ereader that’s almost maxed out on space. Or both!  But where do your books come from?

If you work in the publishing industry, we invite you to take this short survey about where your reading materials come from, linked here. It’s completely anonymous, and we’ll post the results here and on our sister site, Publishing Trends.  

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/7-7/11

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.

HarperCollins is now selling print and ebooks directly through their own website.

Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books Division is joining up with romance publisher Omnific to co-publish some titles while Simon & Schuster takes over all distribution.

Amazon made an offer to Hachette authors that they will receive 100% of ebook royalties during their contract negotiations.

Wattpad acquired competitor site Red Room, a site for authors and readers to interact.

Open Road calls HarperCollins’ request for $1.1 million in damages and attorney fees “shocking” regarding Julie of the Wolves, but HarperCollins stands firm.

Book Jobs Not by the Book: Alana Heiss, Partnerships and Content at Oyster

Alana HeissAlana Heiss works on Partnerships & Content at Oyster in New York. After studying literature and philosophy at NYU, she oversaw sales and marketing into Europe for HarperCollins, then moved on to Taschen to manage sales across the east coast of the US. She’s been at Oyster since the app launched in September 2013. 

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted via Derris, the PR company Oyster employs for their public relations.


What was your first exposure to the book business and what were the most important things you gained from it?
My first foray into the business was selling books at a store in New York during undergrad at NYU. By merchandising new releases each week, curating table displays, and recommending titles to anyone who asked for it (even though I usually said “try Jonathan Franzen or Joan Didion” regardless of what they were actually looking for), I got to be very familiar with different publishers’ catalogs and the kinds of books their imprints publish. In turn, that gave me a good understanding of how publishing companies are structured and how they market titles. That was invaluable for the sales jobs that I later had at companies like HarperCollins and Taschen. And having a good working knowledge of publishers’ catalogs has been very helpful at Oyster, where we’re working with over 1,600 unique publishers.

How do you explain your current job to people?
Currently, I’m working on partnerships and content at Oyster, a New York-based startup and the first company to bring the subscription model to books. Oyster is designed specifically for mobile reading—I love how I can binge read Hemingway on my iPhone during my commute or over a drink at a bar, and enjoy that experience as much as flipping through my hard copy of The Goldfinch at home. The product, editorial, design and engineering teams created the best way to read digitally with our app (can I say “best”? I realize I’m biased here, but it’s true). Where I come in is on the content side, bringing publishers on board and thinking about creative ways to showcase their books in our app—all so we can have the strongest library out there and be the best partner for publishers to work with.

In what ways did your previous jobs or internships prepare you for what you do here?
When I started my first full-time publishing job in international sales at HarperCollins, the book world was undergoing a dramatic change. Digital reading was on the rise, foreign markets were becoming serious consumers of English-language books, and all the big publishing houses were reorganizing and going through the growing pains of an industry-wide transition. So I’ve always been thinking, what’s next for books?  What are readers reading, how are they reading, where are they reading, and why? It’s thinking through these questions and talking to other creative and thoughtful people about them that has really prepared me for the work I do at Oyster.

Also, by sending and receiving hundreds (thousands? probably more?) of work-related emails over the years, I’ve learned that you can make someone your friend for life by adding nonsense like this to professional email threads. That is crucial at Oyster, where we believe that humor and a punchline are sacred things. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/30-7/4

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.

World Book Night US announced that it is ceasing operations due to high costs.

French Lawmakers passed what’s being dubbed “The Anti-Amazon Law” which forbids online booksellers to provide discounts higher than 5% to be combined with free shipping.

Barnes & Noble CEO, Mitchell S. Klipper sold close to half of his shares in the company this week.

Author Douglas Preston penned an open letter featuring signatures from many authors slamming Amazon.

Pioneer for diversity in children’s books and previous National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Walter Dean Myers died at 76

For the Love of Lit Mags

If you were to ask me to pinpoint when exactly my career in publishing and writing started, I would immediately think of a very specific room of my high school. Every day at lunch, that English classroom would turn into a small publishing house where my peers and I would read poems and short stories written by our peers and brainstorm how to collect those works into one book. I would play around with page layouts in InDesign and look at art submissions and fundraise so that we could successfully get our materials to the printer at the end of the year. Each lunchtime, I felt like I had found my calling because I was a part of my high school’s literary magazine.

While you may be most familiar with the big names like The Paris Review and Tin House, literary magazines exist everywhere, in every form and format. Especially for the myriad small publications, producing a lit mag is a labor of love. Often these publications work with shoestring budgets, limited distribution channels, and staffs that can range anywhere from one to fifty, with some members being scattered across the globe. Because of this, very few literary magazines can support fulltime employees, making my experience with literary magazines in high school a pretty accurate experience of literary magazines in the real world: in many ways, they are an extracurricular activity.

With little to no pay and sometimes big demands on one’s time and attention, why do young people participate in the literary magazine community? Can working on a lit mag further one’s career? Or is the motivation just in the passion for the work itself? I talked to five young people in the literary (and art) magazine world to get their takes. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/23-6/27

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.

Hachette will buy Perseus Books Group, and in turn, Perseus’ distribution companies will be sold to Ingram.

Barnes and Noble announced this week that it will be splitting their retail and Nook businesses into two separate companies.

The FAA stated that Amazon cannot begin drone delivery service any time soon.

Open Road’s lawyers strike back against HarperCollins in the ongoing copyright case on the ebook of Julie of the Wolves.

An unnamed source from Hachette revealed some of Amazon’s demands during their ongoing contract negotiations.

MFA vs. NYC vs. A Trendsetter Roundtable

When MFA vs. NYC (n+1/Faber and Faber, 2014) first was published, it ruffled some feathers, probably because of the subtitle: The Two Cultures of American Fiction. The collection of essays featured insights from authors who have completed MFAs, those who have not, and pieces from those who work inside the publishing industry. How do these stories stack up? And do MFA graduates and NYC writers really comprise “the two cultures of American fiction?” Your Publishing Trendsetter editors, Kimberly, and Samantha sat down and discussed the book with Livia Nelson, former Trendsetter intern and creator of Yeah Write, a popular resource for young writers.

mfa vs nycKimberly: So I’m curious to start off this discussion of MFA vs. NYC by getting your impressions of the MFA/writing scene before reading the book. Especially for you, Livia, considering you running Yeah Write and advise young writers kind of regularly.

Livia: Sure! So I tell this anecdote over and over again, but when I was a junior in college, I stayed after class to ask my creative writing professor, Randall Kenan, where he’d gotten his MFA. And he said, in his typically frank way, “Nowhere! MFAs are for people who aren’t self-disciplined enough to write. Go be a poor 20-something and travel so that you actually have something to write about.” Now, he started teaching long enough ago that he could get a job that would eventually earn him 6 figures a year (we could look this up because UNC-CH was a state university) without having an MFA. But I didn’t, at the time, plan to teach, so I took those words very much to heart.

Samantha: That’s interesting. I’m not a creative writer, so this isn’t really a dichotomy I’d ever thought much about, though I know plenty of talented writers do not have their MFAs and plenty do have their MFAs. The book put this so-called conflict front and center for me.

Livia: I also graduated with a lot of student loan debt, so MFAs (and grad school in general) seem/seemed like something for rich kids who were struggling to find jobs in this economy and wanted to put off real life, and who had mommies and daddies could foot the bill (can you hear my tone of resentment resounding through? Haha). Before I read the book, I knew that some programs provided funding, but I didn’t know that most of them pretty much cover your expenses.

Samantha: It does seem like a far away dream for young folks just out of undergrad, like many graduate programs.

Kimberly: Yeah, prior to reading this, I was mostly aware of Iowa’s Writer Workshop and maybe a few New York programs. But there’s a lot of different kinds of programs out there, some that I don’t even feel are adequately covered in the book, like low residency programs.

Samantha: There is a lot of experience that isn’t really covered in the book in my opinion, and as I mentioned, I’m not even a writer.

Livia: Yeah, I’m clueless in that sense–how they vary, what different programs offer. I can’t imagine that’s widespread information, or that anyone who isn’t a. applying to programs, or b. teaching in them is fully aware of.

Kimberly: So let’s talk about that for a minute. What exactly did you feel is covered by this book? Like if you could sum the thesis up in a sentence or two?

Livia: That’s a hard one!

Samantha: I’d say, it covers a variety of MFA experiences by writers, and a part of the writing/publishing life in NYC, but does not present the full spectrum, though I don’t think that was its intention. Read More »

Small Press, Not Small Time: A Look at Young People in Small, Indie Publishers

Both Graywolf Press and Little, Brown published books that received Pulitzer Prizes this year. Little, Brown posted a photo of their staff celebration: a seemingly endless sea of glasses of red wine. While there wasn’t any photographic evidence, I imagine Graywolf celebrated similarly. Though, if there had been a photo, there would have only been 12 glasses of wine.

Small presses are just that, small. While the likes of Penguin Random House or HarperCollins can claim thousands of employees and the title of one of the “Big” Five, small presses can have full time staffs as small as 3. What’s it like to work in a small publisher, do much of the same work, just with a reduced staff? And how does one even break into smaller publishing?

akashicSusannah Lawrence, Director of Publicity and Social Media at Akashic Books, got her start in publishing interning for one of the Big Five, but had mixed feelings about the experience: “I got to know some people relatively well, but had no idea what was going on on the other half of the floor… My workspace was cubicle outside of one editor’s office, and I don’t think the editor and I ever exchanged any words.”  Her next publishing internship was at Akashic books, which later transitioned into a full time job. Susannah says that, while she learned a lot at her internship at a larger publisher and had a great experience, she prefers Akashic’s environment which gives her a “hands-on and collaborative” workplace.soho

In contrast, Rudy Martinez, Marketing Manager at Soho Press, didn’t even intend to end up in publishing, but got into it “mostly by accident.” After interning at American Short Fiction magazine, Rudy found himself doing more publishing internships and eventually landing at Soho Press, where he fell in love with the indie press environment so much that he can’t imagine being anywhere else.  “Once I got started, nothing besides an indie press even seemed like an option….I couldn’t imagine working with people I didn’t treat like family or in an office too big for me to just shout a question across a room for an answer.”

Bellevue Literary

Crystal Sikma joined Bellevue Literary Press as a Publishing Assistant after holding different nonprofit jobs, as well as having many outside interests. “I admired the quality of the books that Bellevue Literary Press publishes, so that was my first hint that it’d be a good fit,” she says. “It was clear that I could contribute my website, grant writing, marketing, and copyediting skills in my role; in many ways, the position could be molded to fit me.”

Read More »