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

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/26-6/30

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 much criticism, the TSA has abandoned a book-screening pilot program.

Indie publisher Two Dollar Radio is opening a bookstore in Columbus.

Penguin Random House is closing Blue Rider Press, while Crown Publishing Group is launching Currency, a new nonfiction imprint.

Amazon Web Services will soon offer machine translation.

Kids in Fort Lauderdale are getting a book vending machine.

Romance as Resistance in 2017

It used to be I’d read one romance novel a year for my feminist book club. We started this  as a way to cleanse our palates after a particularly harrowing read, and then became a fun February tradition, a way to ease back into our monthly meetings after having a holiday break to read our January selection. This year, after our yearly romance read, I wanted more. I started buying discounted romance ebooks, checking them out from the library, and scouring Goodreads for suggestions on what else to read. I couldn’t really explain it other than reading them made me really happy. To friends, I’d say, “With all that’s going on this year, it’s just like basket of chocolate chip cookies to comfort me.” My best friend – and fellow book club member – was in the same boat. She couldn’t get enough romance either. But it wasn’t just any romances that we wanted to read, it had to be well, feminist romances. So when one of our absolute favorite feminist romance authors, Sarah MacLean, was having an event, we had to go.

Sarah MacLean’s launch party celebrating her newest title, The Day of the Duchess, was at McNally Jackson on June 26, 2017. There were cupcakes. There was wine. There was also a lot of political discussion. In short, this event wasn’t a typical launch party, there were no readings, but instead a lively conversation between authors, followed by audience Q&A and then a signing, all fortified by snacks and drinks. MacLean was joined for a discussion titled Reading Sex: The Power of Romance in 2017 with fellow romance authors Tessa Bailey and Zoraida Córdova and moderated by Eliza Thompson of Cosmopolitan.com.

Tessa Bailey, Sarah MacLean, Zoraida Córdova, and Eliza Thompson in conversation

Bailey, MacLean, Córdova, and Thompson.

Thompson started off the chat with a bang. Why, she asked, do people keep turning to romance after all these years? “I think there’s a lot of hope in romance, and sometimes when the world feels really hopeless you can read a book and go back to this moment where there’s a little bit of light at the end of that tunnel. Especially now, the last year and a half have pretty much been the worst years ever,” Córdova said.

MacLean agreed, but said that there’s another angle to romance that makes it so special and unique: “It’s really nice to see a genre that puts women at the center of the circle, and doesn’t put them there to suffer and die but puts them in the narrative to triumph and live…2017 has become that for me. We just have to triumph and live.” Read More »

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.

WHO’S READING MIDDLE GRADE?

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.”

IMPRESSIVE SALES

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.

TRENDING TOPICS

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 Libro.fm 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.