Monday, September 19, 2011

Three Book Publishing Experts Speak Out On Today's Industry

Below are three interviews with publishing experts, from three different perspectives. Please enjoy the variety of voices being shared here:

Interview With Literary Agent Denise Barone
1.      Denise, what is it like to be a literary agent in today’s marketplace?  With the explosion of the internet, and with increasing options available to writers for publication, it does make being a literary agent in today’s marketplace a unique challenge.  I’m still navigating my way through all the different opportunities available to me.

2.      Where is the book industry heading? E-publishing is definitely the wave of the future.  People will still love to visit the brick-and-mortar bookstores—and I’m so sad that Borders has closed—but e-publishing will make it easier for the big publishing companies to remain profitable, and for small, start-up publishing companies to gain a foothold in the publishing world.

3.      What do you love most about being part of the book world? I love to read, I love to write, and I love to edit.

4.      What myths do authors operate under in regards to marketing and publicity? A lot of writers believe they have to do a tremendous amount of promotion, and with Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networks out there, it is reasonably easy to do.  There are conflicting opinions as to how useful promotion really is to a writer’s career, but I do believe it’s best if a writer strikes a balance between making time to write, and making time to actively promote.

5.      What advice do you have for struggling writers? Never give up.

6.      What do you look for in the talent you decide to represent? The voice is key. 

Interview With Malaika Adero, V.P., Senior Editor, Atria Books
1.      What challenges or advantages does the new media landscape pose to authors? New developments in technology always bring new opportunities and challenges. The latest new developments allow for the growth of independent publishing, but requires that long-time publishers re-tool and re-organize how they produce, the services and products they offer, and how to price for success.

2.      What do you love most about being a part of the book publishing industry? I’m passionate about the practice of storytelling, a human impulse that transcends time, geography, culture. I’m in publishing because I’m in the business of helping people to tell their stories, share information, reach audiences, in all forms in every way possible. Beyond the book, I’m also involved in the arts and multimedia.

3.      Where do you feel it is headed? The universe of publishing is huge and diverse, it isn’t collectively going in one direction, but rather many. If you are operate like a dinosaur in these times, you’ll become extinct. If you are flexible, open, willing to make changes, your direction will take you to great places you could not have imagined.

4.      How do you go about making an author’s work better? My role with my authors is to raise questions that will challenge them to take their work to another higher level, to offer options for achieving a particular thing such as structuring a narrative, developing a plot line or character, evoking the senses. Each project is unique and comes with its own set of virtues and problems. I’m suppose to help solve the problems and identify the virtues.

5.      What can publishers do to work more closely with their authors at the editing stage?  Most publishers don’t need advice on how to work with authors more closely, they know that. Where they need help is in identifying who and where the readers are and how to make the books they want to read available.  They offer lack a nuanced understanding of the various groups in this culturally diverse society who read books and produce the talent that write them. Publishers need to understand that without much more diversity in their staffing, they will not be successful in serving a diverse society of readers.

Interview With Andrea Grossman, Founder Of Writers Bloc
1.      You founded writers Bloc 15 years ago – what is it? Writers Bloc is a Los Angeles-based literary series, dedicated to seeing our favorite writers and thinkers engage with other interesting personalities about their work and their ideas.  We embrace pop culture, great literary novelists, politicians and artists-- those who have made a significant contribution to our literary and cultural landscape. Visit our website,, to see what great programs we've done over the last 15 years. 

2.      What challenges or advantages does the new media landscape pose to authors? I can't speak about the challenges or advantages that the new media landscape presents to authors-- but I certainly can and often speak about the new platform and the challenge it poses to me as a literary events producer.  The new calculus is simply that authors see more pre-orders from ebooks than from hardcovers.  I see that fewer authors are traveling, fewer authors travel to the west coast for a variety of reasons-- mostly because their publishers are paying for less in terms of promotional book tours.  The challenge for Writers Bloc is to remind publishers that the public still thrives on personal engagement, and that this engagement starts conversations, and conversations lead to book purchases.

3.      What do you love most about being a part of the book publishing industry? I love reading day and night, and engaging with the individuals who inform my imagination and intellectual life.  Pretty fun.

4.      Where do you feel it is headed? The book industry is headed in a very straight line to ebooks. It's better for the forests, perhaps it's better for the authors and perhaps it's better for the publishers.  It's not better for me as an individual reader; like the rest of the world, I have discovered many of my favorite books on tables and shelves which I've found quite by accident.  Perhaps it was the spine that attracted me, perhaps it was the book sitting next to it-- who knows.  So my goal will be to sort of recapture that serendipity that I enjoyed in bookstores.  And although they're fewer and sometimes farther away, I still spend many hours in whatever local bookstores are left.  While all of these bookstores are disappearing, now would be the best time ever to open a good local store.  

5.      How can writers become better at their craft? Editors help writers become better at their craft. That said, however, we don't worry about an author becoming better at his/her craft: when Writers Bloc hosts an author, that author has reached a level of critical or social acclaim, signifying that the author's work has resonated with the public. Writers Bloc doesn't worry about authors improving their craft-- that's for editors and authors to work out.  

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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