Dec 012006

Via Boing Boing, Forbes has a great special report about the book publishing industry, Linked.

Interesting articles include:

Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow on ebooks and free downloads, Giving it Away,

Institute of the Future of the Book’s Ben Vershbow on The Networked Book,

and a sobering piece about Robert Jordan, My Author, My Life, about his recent illness and the response of his fans. I didn’t know he was sick but I’ve always admired the commitment and passion of his fans, online and off. I hope he gets well and finishes his Wheel of Time.

Plus articles on Dave Eggers, Amazon Reviewers, and more. All in all, great book coverage, I’d say cutting-edge even. It’s well worth checking out, especially for anyone jaded with the industry and concerned about the future of books.

  •  December 1, 2006
  •  Posted by at 11:37 am
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  •   Publishing
Dec 012006

I’m blogging Camille

Here’s my excuse for not posting much over the last month!

(and I’ve wanted to post this (O’Reilly) shirt forever)

I’m approaching my second anniversary as Fresh Books and I’ve had a wonderful time. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with a great group of authors and I’ve also benefited greatly from many generous recommendations from current and former clients. Thank you.

Thanks also to the many editors who often bring me great books. It’s appreciated.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas. May we all have a peaceful New Year.

Nov 302006

for retail users. Oh, and the cost will vary depending on which of the four versions you buy.

Volume license users (corporations) may buy Windows today, but I wonder, will they?

Why didn’t Microsoft try to simplify this?

There’s a nice post about this at Monkeybites, Windows Vista is Here! Or Not depending on Who You Are.

November brought us Vista and Zune (Did Microsoft Copy the Wrong iPod?), talk about your anticlimactic product launches.

Thank goodness Gears of War rocks.

  •  November 30, 2006
  •  Posted by at 2:16 pm
  •   Comments Off on Windows Vista Shipped today, November 30 and, er, will ship again on January 30
  •   Computer and Technology Books
Nov 062006

I drove “down the hill” (as we say up here on the hill) to speak at the (for Dummies) Authors’ Unconference on Saturday and wanted to share my brief impressions.

Good: Conference organizer Alan Rubin and crew did a great job of attracting press notice and scheduled numerous author book signings and media events throughout the area.
Bad: The loneliness of the poorly attended book signing.
Ugly: Some signings were scheduled during the panel sessions.

Good: I missed this session, but Wiley execs made a point of showing up in force and sharing lots of info about the Dummies brand and the company in general.
Bad: some of the authors told me that they felt Powerpointed into submission 😉
Ugly: I wasn’t able to stay for the Wiley cocktail party or dinner.

Good: I had fun on the agent’s panel and I hope I gave a few helpful answers (and thanks to Carol McClendon from Waterside who shared the panel with me).
Bad: I rambled before the Q&A came back on track.
Ugly: I didn’t follow my notes at all, here they are —

A good agent can help you to:

– Find books you might not hear about yourself
– Develop your book proposals
– Submit proposals to publishers you can’t approach on your own
– Negotiate your contract
– Choose which books to do
– Manage your schedule
– Manage co-author relationships and contracts
– Coax your publisher on all fronts
– Manage and sell your sub-rights
– Manage your expectations

Good: Authors sharing.
Bad: Maybe too much sharing at some points. It’s wise to be careful in what you say about your publisher (in public).
Ugly: “My last agent thought I was high maintenance.”

Good: Paul Aiken, Executive Director of the Authors Guild, led a great discussion about the Wiley contract.
Bad: Nothing bad here but the ultimate question is “how many Dummies authors does it take to change the Wiley contract?”
Ugly: You could see authors deflate when they understood the difference between “net” and “list” royalties.

The guild discussion was great. It’s too bad that some authors missed it.

Regarding the guild discussion, I am poised somewhere between the idealism of the guild and the realism of an agent who often works with series publishers.

Paul noted that reasonable author contracts create a profit sharing relationship between the author and publisher, and that after all expenses are deducted, in the trade at least, that ideally balances out to around a 50% share of the profit for each side. So far, so good.

But a series publisher often holds substantial (and expensive) assets: trademarks and trade dress, style guidelines and templates, a large editorial machine, existing licensing partners, and hopefully, a successful sales and marketing team. The author may hold fewer cards in this situation, and the publisher itself may have higher costs (editorial development, especially).

If you choose to work with a series that has its own strong brand and infrastructure you become a “franchiser” of sorts (i.e. you “rent” the brand) and it can skew the ultimate deal percentage.

This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to write a series title, not at all. I love series publishing. These books can do very well for their authors, and can help an author to create their own platform and brand that they can leverage into future books, and even at a reduced rate an author may make more money on the series deal. There are plenty of publishers who can publish your book on wedding planning, but there’s only one that can publish Wedding Planning for Dummies.

With any agreement, you need to understand the pros and cons of your contract before you sign it, and it’s equally important to understand and appreciate what your publisher brings to the table. Use the Guild attorneys, use an experienced agent, or hire a publishing attorney, but make sure you understand your contract. Change what you can, live with what you can, and remember that you can always walk if the deal doesn’t work for you. Just make sure you walk for the right reasons.

  •  November 6, 2006
  •  Posted by at 9:14 am
  •   Comments Off on Notes on the for Dummies “Authors’ Unconference”
  •   Contracts, Publishing
Nov 012006

Congratulations to Stephen Olejniczak and Brady Kirby on completing Asterisk for Dummies to be published by Wiley.

Congratulations to Michelle Waitzman on finishing her first book, How to Make Love in a Tent, to be published in the summer of 2007 by Wilderness Press.

Congratulations to Sue Jenkins on finishing her second book, Web Design: The L Line, The Express Line to Learning, to be published by Wiley in February of 2007.

And a big congratulations to Harold Davis who received an 8 out of 10 review of his Google Advertising Tools at Slashdot.

Thanks for working with me!

  •  November 1, 2006
  •  Posted by at 2:47 pm
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  •   Client News
Oct 312006

Time again for Tim O’Reilly’s State of the Computer Book Market Q 3, and it looks like the early gains this year have leveled off. Perhaps worse than that, Tim says —

We suspect that the combination of increasingly sophisticated online information, easier to use Web 2.0 applications, and customer fatigue with new features of overly complex applications, combined with the consolidation of the retail book market, mean that the market will never return to its pre-2000 highs, despite new enthusiasm for Web 2.0 and the technology market in general. In addition, new distribution channels (including downloadable PDFs) are growing up as retailers allocate less space to computer books.

“Will never return?” Pre-2000 numbers were huge compared to today’s market, so I’m sure he’s right, which of course leaves me in a pickle since about half of my business is related to tech titles.

The bottom line for agents as well as authors is that you’ve gotta do more than books, or do more than books in one niche.

As for me, I’m still repping plenty of tech titles but I’m also working on more non-book projects, including documentation deals, white papers, programming gigs, DVDs and more.

I’m also signing a steady stream of general non-fiction. I’m not looking for the long tail but I’m looking for the long score, books that will sell consistently for five or ten years, and books that need to be revised less often.

There are still bestsellers to be had in this tech market, but they’re fewer and farther between.

What will publishers do? Beyond scrabbling for the shelf space that remains, tech publishers are moving online with some alacrity and we’ll see more ebooks from them as well as perhaps more initiatives around online education (note that Hungry Minds pre Wiley acquisition failed at this spectacularly but Thomson picked up and that’s a successful business today).

I also expect that publishers will move sideways and try to extend successful tech brands into other niches, ala the “for Dummies” and the “Complete Idiots” series.

Education, anyone? Test prep? Personal finance? Business? How about health and wellness? There’s a lot of room out there for a motivated publisher.

Oct 202006

Congrats to Fresh Books client Lee Varis and Sybex acquisitions editor Pete Gaughan: Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies has popped up almost immediately on the computer and internet bestseller list at Amazon. It’s at #10 today and in the 200s on the overall Amazon list. Heck, those are almost Scott Kelby numbers.

Amazon numbers are fickle and they don’t mean the world, but this book is a great concept beautifully executed and I’m pleased to see it pop like this.

  •  October 20, 2006
  •  Posted by at 9:27 am
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  •   Client News
Oct 162006

Harold Davis posts awesome images on his Photoblog 2.0 on a daily basis, but this butterfly is truly special. Here’s the original post, Is it Photography?

I asked Harold’s permission to post this photo here. The copyright is all his. (edited after first post)

  •  October 16, 2006
  •  Posted by at 12:18 pm
  •   Comments Off on Harold Davis meets Andy Warhol
  •   Client News
Oct 122006

Congratulations to David Boles and Janna Sweenie on the publication of HandJive: American Sign Language for Real Life, from Barnes and Noble’s Metro imprint. This is not your momma’s ASL book! Look for it at B&Ns everywhere.

Congratulations to Lee Varis on the publication of Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies, from Sybex.

I’m happy to announce that Christipher Matthew Spencer has started a new blog in support of The eBay Entrepreneur. Check it out!

  •  October 12, 2006
  •  Posted by at 10:26 am
  •   Comments Off on Client News and Notes: HandJive, Skin, and the eBay Entrepreneur Blog
  •   Client News