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

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 8/21-8/25

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.

The New York Times is revamping its books coverage.

Amazon’s “one-click” patent expires next month.

Cambridge University Press reversed the decision to censor its articles for China Quarterly.

The ongoing ReDigi case raises questions about the possibility of a used ebook market.

The NYT reissued the YA bestseller list after suspicion rose that the top title got there through nefarious means.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 8/14-8/18

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.

HarperCollins Christian Publishing launched their own self-publishing arm

The Larry Ashmead Award was given to Annie Chagnot this week. 

Trump claims Amazon is damaging to retailers. 

A bookstore in Charlottesville, VA vows to stay open amidst the protests.

Author V.E. Schwab spoke out about LGBT parts of her book being censored in Russia. 

How We Got Into Publishing: Survey Results

Sometimes I think folks outside the industry must think there’s some secret trick to break into publishing. In a way, it makes sense. It’s a global business that’s got its American heart in New York City, like some other industries that people and Hollywood movies often laud: fashion, theatre, magazines, and so on. That must be why we all get asked how we got started, or if we could let a friend of a friend pick our brain over a drink or coffee. So at the beginning of the summer, as my inbox was filling up with requests from new graduates to tell them just how I did it, I wanted to know how all of you did it. I made a survey and got 63 responses. (Thank you, survey-takers!)

An important note about my survey: I am not a survey writer. I think this is perhaps the second survey I have ever written in my adult life. Because of this, I made some questions too open-ended, or too open to interpretation, didn’t mark as many questions “must respond” as I should have; as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Be that as it may, there’s still a lot of good things to go through in these responses. (Note: This survey had some branches to it, so not every respondent answered every question. Additionally, I am not analyzing every question in this writeup.)

One of the best aspects of the responses is the range of folks who responded. Respondents ranged in age from 23-61 and their positions ranged from Intern, to Literary Scout, to a Manager of Creative Services. Let’s look at what everyone had to say about their entry into publishing.

To break this graph down into specifics, 41.25% of respondents went directly into publishing after they completed undergrad, 12.7% went to grad school first, 25.4% were in another career track first, and 20.63% were “other.” But as it turns out, a lot of the answers to this question come down to perception.

“Other” respondents were prompted to specify their circumstance. The most popular answers for “other” included working first, then grad school, then publishing. There were also several responses citing publishing summer courses, and/or working in a bookstore. These respondents didn’t consider “retail” or “menial” jobs as an “other career track.” But a lot of the “other” respondents did have what I would personally consider literary minded positions, like the aforementioned bookstore employees, there was a journalist, and someone working at a literary non-profit.

On the other hand, some of those who responded “Other Career Track First” did say that that career was retail, and one said bookstore. (An example of my poor phrasing of the questions, as well as a matter of perception.)  Four respondents in this section indicated that their first career track was literary in some way.

And as for the grad school first folks, 62.5% of respondents did do something literary with their degree. The “Other” respondent got their masters in library science and an MBA.

I asked what previous jobs and/or skills respondents felt made them a good candidate to work in publishing. The overwhelming answer? Internships. Almost 40% of answers listing what made them good candidates said their internships prior to landing their publishing jobs made them good job candidates. The second most commonly listed trait in those responses was writing skills, which was mentioned in 28% of the answers. Third most common answer was loving to read. Just because there were a lot of similarities in responses doesn’t mean the skill sets that bring people into publishing are uniform. Respondents mentioned previous job experience with places like MTV, city planning, a beauty studio, and local lobbyists. Of course, there were entries more along the lines of what one might expect to see: local library experience, journalism, literary magazines, and so forth.

Now, when I asked what made them want to work in publishing, 22 out of 41 respondents wrote out in some way that they simply love books. Not a surprise, since we’re generally considered a group of nerdy readers in this industry. But there were some answers that caught my notice that wasn’t necessarily tied first and foremost into an abiding love of books:

  • “I wanted to work at a company whose mission I believed in – didn’t have to be publishing, but a lot of publishing houses fell into that category for me.”
  • “Honestly I didn’t know what else to do with myself – it was 20 years ago and I was just so tired of music industry stuff that I asked myself what else I liked, and the answer was basically books, because I lived in NYC and film never seemed like a thing real people worked in.”
  • “It seemed more realistic than writing poetry for a living.”
  • “I wanted a stable desk job that would allow me to do some of the things I love–help people improve their writing, write, spec out new series.”

So here we are, from folks who fought tooth and nail to be here because it’s something we are passionate about to folks who just fell into this because it was a stable job. All in all, this survey confirmed what I imagine we’ve all already known: there’s no one right way to get into the industry. Some survey-takers were able to remain unemployed until they landed their first publishing job, while others worked several menial (their word, not mine) jobs until they got a publishing gig. Some worked for years in entirely different fields before simply happening upon a career in books. There are those who got their MFAs in creative writing or even publishing before diving in. The possibilities go on and on. I take comfort in the fact that there’s no “right way” to join our industry. It means we come from a variety of experiences and skills to make up an industry of people with varied skill sets.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 8/7-8/11

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.

Netflix and Barnes & Noble Education both made acquisitions this week. 

Children’s books are addressing the refugee crisis.

LeVar Burton‘s famous catchphrase has landed him in legal trouble.

Amazon told booksellers to speed up their delivery times.

The Dragon Awards have seen two authors withdraw their nominated books.

Bonus: Audible.com and Cesar Millan have launched a series of audiobooks for dogs.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/31-8/4

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.

Macmillan is moving out of the historic Flatiron building

PBS is making a show about beloved American novels

Both playwright Sam Shepard and legendary editor Judith Jones passed away this week.

Immigrant children are writing their own children’s stories to see themselves represented. 

Lawyers for Simon & Schuster are asking that the court drop Milo Yiannopoulos’ case against them. 

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/24-7/28

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.

The longlist for this year’s Booker Prize is out.

Legendary book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down from the New York Times.

In gaming news, George R.R. Martin will contribute to a space-adventure video gamewhile Minecraft is getting its own novel.

Rep. John Lewis became the first sitting politician to win an Eisner Award.

An indie bookseller from Naperville, Illinois is running for Congress.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/17-7/21

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.

There will be two new Harry Potter books released in the fall. 

Keanu Reeves co-founded X Artists’ Books, an art book publisher. 

Amazon rolled out a social network, Spark, which encourages users to shop.

Barbour Publishing is now employee-owned

In an open letter to the World Wide Web Consortium, the International Federation of Library Associations stated that DRM is bad for the internet.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/10-7/14

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.

Denis Johnson will posthumously receive the Prize for American Fiction.

Milo Yiannopoulos has lashed out at reports of low sales.

Pearson sold $1 billion of its stake in Penguin Random House.

Barnes & Noble named Carl Hauch its new Vice President of Stores.

Dana Canedy will be the first woman and first person of color to serve as administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 7/3-7/7

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.

Warner Brothers and the Tolkien estate settled a lawsuit over licensing. 

The Curtis Brown literary agency bought Ed Victor Ltd

Overdrive was rebranded as Overdrive Rakuten.

Christian Stores is launching an online shopping arm

A lost Maurice Sendak book will be published next year

Focus On: Feminist, LGBT, and Black-Owned Bookstores

In the months since the election, a number of bookstores have taken up the activist banner – but they’re far from the first to do so. In fact, booksellers have been doing social justice work for a long time. The 20th century in America saw a boom in stores dedicated to fulfilling and celebrating long-marginalized populations, and the work continues today. So we’ve put together a brief overview of feminist, LGBT, and black-owned bookstores to help you dive into the world of activist bookselling. As the slogan goes, the personal is political – and what’s more personal than a book?

First things first: these communities frequently overlap. For example, a black-owned bookstore might stock feminist writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, bell hooks, and Kimberlé Crenshaw, just as an LGBT bookstore might stock James Baldwin, and a feminist bookstore Octavia Butler.

That said, each community has its own history with literary engagement.  African Americans were denied access to education for generations, making the act of reading itself political. Depicting LGBT lives in art or literature pre-Stonewall usually ran artists and writers directly into one of several morality laws. And when second-wave feminists began doing intense work in the 1960s to organize a nascent movement around their own rights and freedoms, they did a great deal of it through the writing and reading of books and pamphlets.

Activist work wasn’t invented in the 60s and 70s, but that era’s political climate was heavily, and uniquely, influenced by the civil rights movement, the Stonewall Inn riots, and the second wave of feminism. This, plus the opening of a conversation about whiteness and maleness in publishing (a conversation we’re still having today), led to a vast number of new bookstore openings. Marcus Books, the oldest still-operating African American-themed bookstore in the country, has served the Oakland, CA area since 1960. Giovanni’s Room, America’s first gay bookstore, opened in Philadelphia in 1973. And Amazon Bookstore Cooperative (not to be confused with the online superpower!) served Minneapolis from 1970 to 2012 as the first lesbian/feminist bookstore in the United States. Read More »