View Full Version : Books Unbound -- State of Publishing industry

01-22-2009, 07:19 PM
Not much here that's new, I guess, but interesting nevertheless.

Books Unbound (http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1873122,00.html)

Here's a literary parable for the 21st century. Lisa Genova, 38, was a health-care-industry consultant in Belmont, Mass., who wanted to be a novelist, but she couldn't get her book published for love or money. She had a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, but she couldn't get an agent. "I did what you're supposed to do," she says. "I queried literary agents. I went to writers' conferences and tried to network. I e-mailed editors. Nobody wanted it." So Genova paid $450 to a company called iUniverse and published her book, Still Alice, herself.

That was in 2007. By 2008 people were reading Still Alice. Not a lot of people, but a few, and those few were liking it. Genova wound up getting an agent after all--and an offer from Simon & Schuster of just over half a million dollars. Borders and Target chose it for their book clubs. Barnes & Noble made it a Discover pick. On Jan. 25, Still Alice will make its debut on the New York Times best-seller list at No. 5. "So this is extreme to extreme, right?" Genova says. "This time last year, I was selling the book out of the trunk of my car."

01-22-2009, 07:27 PM
Indeed not much new. A few books each year make this kind of end run. I do wonder if thinking a PhD had anything to do with it was part of the difficulty in communicating effectively with agents the first time round. Maybe she had a great book but a terrible query letter.

01-22-2009, 08:00 PM
I have been rejected by forty agents though I think it’s been my query letter. Because one agent read the thing and said the beginning was fantastic. Currently, I'm in re-writes with more sex and action. But when this is done and still no nibbles, self-publishing might be the answer. But why does the publishing elite make you feel like you’ve just cast your pearls to swine.

01-22-2009, 08:02 PM
I think it is just an matter of supply and demand--it is a buyers market. Anyone trying to sell a house now knows the same feeling, even if it is a great house that they built themselves.

aka eraser
01-22-2009, 09:07 PM
Every year a few people get ejected from their vehicles in crashes and don't die. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't wear a seatbelt.

These self/vanity pubbed, rags-to-riches stories are nice to hear but they often do more harm than good - cementing in some newbies' minds the idea that it could just as easily be them and their book next. When the reality is, most self-pubbed books (esp. novels) sell fewer than a couple of hundred copies and the author disappears without leaving a literary ripple.

01-22-2009, 09:34 PM
A few notables make it from the iUniverses of the world to the mainstream, but I don't think it's a watershed year or anything. The traditional publishing model still works, it's the slowing economy in general that's responsible for declines in sales.