Monthly Archives: September 2013

Harper Lee Reaches Agreement In Lawsuit Against Former Agent

Harper Lee has reached settlement agreements with all parties, including her former agent, Samuel Pinkus, named in a lawsuit over royalties for To Kill A Mockingbird, her attorney, Gloria Phares, confirmed Monday morning.

Phares declined to comment on terms of the settlement, but said dismissal papers in the complaint against Pinkus will be filed soon. On Thursday, papers were filed dismissing the complaints against Leigh Ann Winnick, Pinkus’s wife, and journalist Gerald Posner.

In the lawsuit, Lee sought to recover royalties dating back to 2007, when Pinkus allegedly tricked her into signing over copyright  to her classic novel as she was in an assisted living facility recovering from a stroke. The 87-year-old author regained rights to the novel in 2012, but Pinkus has continued to collect royalties, according to the suit.

In media reports, Vincent Carissimi, a lawyer for Pinkus, also declined to comment on terms of the agreement, saying, “The parties reached a mutually satisfactory resolution and everybody would like at this point to put it behind them.”

New Books by Members

This week’s batch of recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Ascher/Straus, Jamie Blair, Sandra Boynton, Meg Cabot, Carmela LaVigna Coyle, John Cusick, Sheri Fink, Brian Floca, Robert Inman, J R Lankford, Joseph A. Michelli, Tom Miller, Carla Norton, Jeffrey Siger, Susan Sloate, Cornelia Maude Spelman, Stephanie Strickland, and Jesmyn Ward. Titles under the jump.

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Order Confirms Publishers Can Renegotiate Apple Terms on Staggered Schedule; For Macmillan, a Four-Year Wait

As expected, the court has ordered Apple to modify its contracts with the five publisher defendants in the price-fixing case to exclude any restrictions on ebook discounting for at least another two years. After the two-year period, publishers can renegotiate their deals, including adopting agency terms, on a staggered schedule, one every six months.

The schedule corresponds to the order in which the publishers settled with the Justice Department in the case. Hachette will be the first at 24 months “after the Effective Date of the Final Judgment,” according to the order for injunctive relief signed by Judge Denise Cote. HarperCollins comes next, at 30 months. Simon & Schuster comes third, at 36 months. The final two publishers to settle come last, with Penguin at 42 months and Macmillan at 48 months.

That means Macmillan, the first publisher to openly defy Amazon by deciding to sell books on agency terms, will be locked out of using the model for the next four years.

Cote’s written order, set to go into effect on Oct. 5, confirms her comments at a recent court hearing, when she indicated that she would impose an injunction on Apple that was significantly softer than what the DOJ had originally requested. Apple nevertheless said on Friday that it will appeal the injunction .
Under Cote’s order, Apple will be overseen by an external monitor for two years (the DOJ first proposed 10 years), with a one-year extension if the court decides it’s necessary. Terms for selling content other than books won’t be affected. And Apple won’t, as the DOJ proposed, be forced to let other ebook retailers directly link to their own bookstores for in-app purchases without paying a commission.

The injunction may close one chapter in this long, tumultuous period for the publishing industry. But Apple still faces a trial on money damages next spring. And it is appealing not only the injunction, but the judge’s original guilty verdict. So we are far from seeing the end of this.

New Bundling Programs Will Test Book Buyers’ Appetite for Owning Multiple Formats

Do readers really want a print and a digital version of the same book? Enough to pay a bit more or change their buying habits?

Publishers have been kicking around those questions for years, sometimes dabbling with “bundling” different formats of a title.

With Amazon and UK-based Angry Robot Books both poised to start bundling programs,  the idea will for the first time be tested on a larger scale.

As has been widely reported, Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook program will allow buyers of print books (both in the future and dating back to the company’s founding in 1995) to get the electronic version for $2.99, $1.99, or $0.99. Amazon said earlier this week that it is just now starting to talk with publishers about participating, so it’s unclear how many titles will be available for purchase through MatchBook when it begins in October.

Meanwhile, sci-fi publisher Angry Robot is expanding its Clonefiles program–in which consumers who buy a paperback copy from a participating independent bookstore get the ebook version free. The company says the success of the program in the UK encouraged it to launch US Clonefiles. Angry Robot promises to disclose details soon.

For authors, additional ebook royalties from these programs range from nothing to not much. The question is whether such bundling experiments will ultimately lead to happier readers, and what that will mean for book sales.

Sherman Alexie Urges Authors To Become Hand-Selling Superheroes For A Day

Calling on his peers to step up for independent booksellers–“God knows they’ve helped us over the years,” he says–Sherman Alexie has sparked a grassroots movement of authors who will spend Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, working at a local bookstore.

Dubbed “Indies First,” the program began with a letter Alexie sent to a group of authors over the Labor Day weekend.

“Hello, hello, you gorgeous book nerds,

Now is the time to be a superhero for independent bookstores. I want all of us (you and you and especially you) to spend an amazing day hand-selling books at your local independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday (that’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 30 this year, so you know it’s a huge weekend for everyone who, you know, wants to make a living).

Here’s the plan: We book nerds will become booksellers. We will make recommendations. We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends’ books. Maybe you’ll sign and sell books of your own in the process. I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).

In the letter, Alexie (a member of the Authors Guild Council, though his invitation extends to all authors) mentions his recent experience as bookseller-for-a-day at Seattle’s Queen Anne Book Company and says:

“What could be better than spending a day hanging out in your favorite hometown indie, hand- selling books you love to people who will love them too and signing a stack of your own?”

While Alexie urged writers to pick up the phone and call their local bookseller, the ABA is helping organize the movement by posting forms online for authors and booksellers who want to participate.

Authors who have already signed on for Indies First include Laurie King, Paul Fleischman,  Cynthia Lord, Rick Bass, David James Duncan, David Abrams, Shannon Hale and Josh Hanagarne, according to the ABA.

Small Business Saturday has become a key annual event for independent booksellers, a chance to boost both sales and consumer awareness. The ABA’s “Thanks for Shopping Indie” promotion will also launch on Nov. 30.

In actions ranging from the individual (Wiley Cash’s incentive for pre-ordering his new novel from an independent) to the large scale (the Booktalk Nation interview series) authors are finding ways to give back to independent booksellers and educate readers about the importance of shopping at indies. Indie First provides an opportunity for many more authors to do the same.

Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of contests includes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry and all of them have an October 1 deadline.

The American Literary Review is currently accepting submissions for its three Literary Awards: Short Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Poetry. Short fiction entries should not exceed 8,000 words and creative nonfiction should not exceed 6,500 words. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: October 1, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

Alice James Books is currently accepting submissions of poetry manuscripts for the Kinereth Gensler Award. Submissions must be 48-80 pages in length (single spaced). Individual poems from the manuscript may have been previously published, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished. Emerging as well as established poets are encouraged to apply. Entrants must reside in New England, New York, or New Jersey. The winner will receive $2,000, book publication, and distribution through Consortium and will serve a three-year term on the Alice James Books Cooperative Board. Entry fee: $25 for hard copy submission; $30 for online submission. Deadline: October 1, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Boston Review is currently accepting submissions for its Aura Estrada Short Story Contest. Stories should not exceed 5,000 words and must be previously unpublished. The winner will receive $1,500 and publication in the Boston Review. Entry fee: $20 (includes a half year subscription to the journal). Deadline: October 1, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

Zoetrope: All-Story is currently seeking all genres of literary fiction for their Short Fiction Contest. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication on the Zoetrope: All-Story website. Second place will receive $500 and third place will receive $250. Stories must be previously unpublished and cannot exceed 5,000 words. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: October 1, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

Wiley Cash’s Offer Has Readers Asking, ‘Which Way to the Nearest Indie Bookstore?’

Wiley Cash’s second book, This Dark Road to Mercywon’t be published until January. But it already has readers thinking more about their local booksellers, thanks to an incentive he is offering for pre-ordering the novel from an independent.

“What is really cool is that readers have gone on Twitter and Facebook and asked, ‘Can you direct me to an independent bookstore in my area so I can take advantage of this offer?'” Cash said Wednesday.

In a blog post on his website last week, Cash wrote about what indies have meant to him throughout his life as a reader and an author. He also noted how they embraced his 2012 debut novel.

“I was honored that A Land More Kind Than Home was a summer 2012 IndieNext Pick and an Okra Pick of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. I was even more honored that the novel was a 2013 SIBA Book Award Winner for best fiction and a finalist for a 2013 Indies Choice Award from the American Booksellers Association.”

His offer to readers: Email him a scanned receipt showing they’ve bought This Dark Road to Mercy from an independent between now and the novel’s Jan. 28 pub date and he’ll email them “an exclusive excerpt of the novel as well as an unpublished scene from A Land More Kind Than Home.”

During a phone conversation Wednesday, Cash pointed out that the importance of supporting local booksellers may not always be obvious to readers.

“Sometimes they don’t know the difference. They know the difference between shopping at an independent hardware store where you can buy a single nail and shopping at Home Depot, but they might not know the difference between shopping at Malaprop’s in Asheville and shopping at Barnes & Noble.”

That is, until someone like Cash reminds them.

The NY Times on Obstacles First Time Authors Face: ‘There Was Absolutely No Buzz’

Using the case of The Cuckoo’s Calling, The New York Times looks at how tough it is for debut authors to break through, asking why J.K. Rowling’s murder mystery received scant attention when it was published under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

James B. Stewart notes that in the U.S. the now-bestselling book landed reviews only in trade publications before its real author was revealed. He also quotes R.J. Julia’s Roxanne Coady:

“There was absolutely no buzz,” Ms. Coady said. “There was no direct correspondence from the editor or a publicist. We didn’t hear anything from the sales representatives. They’ll usually tell us that there are five to 10 books on their list that we want to make sure you read. They know our customers and what they like, so we trust them. This book wasn’t one of them. I don’t know if we bought any copies. Maybe one.”

To illustrate that debut titles with zealous publisher backing can get attention, Stewart quotes Grove Atlantic president and publisher Morgan Entrekin, who famously shepherded Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain into blockbuster status.

“’There’s no question, if a publisher decides to get behind a book, to invest its publishing capital, to use its traction with the chains, with Amazon, fight for the promotion money to get the book into the front of stores, you can do a lot to bring attention to a worthy first novel,’ he said.”

Entrekin cites Matterhorn, by first-time novelist Karl Marlantes, which he published in 2010, as another success. He says he, “re-edited it, cut 300 pages, got advance quotes from prominent authors, introduced the author to booksellers and hosted a media lunch in Manhattan,” enabling it to sell over 400,000 copies.

Nevertheless, the piece ends on this fatalistic note.

“Mr. Entrekin agreed that many good books don’t achieve the success they deserve. ‘There’s no formula,’ he said. ‘A publisher can only do so much. A book’s fate is ultimately in the hands of the book gods.’”

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

After a night in a Travelodge hotel, a surprising number of people leave a book behind.  In the last 12 months, 22,648 books were found after the guests had gone.

Reasons cited were “finished reading it and left it for others,” “genuinely lost or forgot it” or “got bored.”

The top five forgotten or discarded books were: Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James, Bared to You by Sylvia Day, The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

The above are in good company. Liz Bury in The Guardian, ended her article with: “Surprise entry F. Scott Fitzgerald scrapes in at number 20 with his 1925 novel The Great Gatsby.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s batch of recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Jerold Apps, Ron Barrett, Cynthia Brian, Eileen Christelow, Doreen Cronin, Hedi Enghelberg, Pamela Erens, Jane Feder, Susi Gregg Fowler, Jiri Klobouk, Margaret Harmon, Hal Higdon, Harold Lyon, G. Wayne Miller, James William Potts, Katherine A. Powers, Lan Sluder, David O. Stewart, Stephen White, and Ben H. Winters. Titles below the jump.

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