Archive for September, 2006

Is Chick Lit Over?

September 29, 2006

Will-Write-for-Shoes-coverIt’s a rumor which I hear and read from time to time—that Chick Lit is waning and on the way out. I have no idea where this particular trend is heading but one thing is certain—we can be uncertain. To look for an answer and insight, I’m going to turn again to Will Write For Shoes by Cathy Yardley (since she writes these types of books). Her book is fun to read and loaded with good insight and information. I loved her chapter on outlining and the subhead, “Cathy’s Insane Guide to Outlining.” Just the title gives you a hint at her unconventional (yet working for her) methods.

Toward the end of Yardley’s book, she has a chapter called “Questions I’m Asked All The Time.” Here’s one of those questions: “I read that the chick lit trend is over. Should I even bother writing one?”

I loved Yardley’s answer:

“People who say that the Chick Lit trend is over don’t understand what the genre really is. Chick Lit is a different way of viewing women. (Forgive me while I pull out a soapbox here.) Back in the day, women’s fiction was populated with either glitzy super-bitches a la Dynasty or ideal martyrs dealing with hardship after heartbreak, a la Danielle Steel novels. With Chick Lit, you saw women who were still dealing with hardship, but they weren’t “perfect” about it. They broke down, they cursed, they drank, they hung out with their friends and commiserated. And then they picked up the pieces and —with some hard work, humor, and an unsinkable attitude—they wound up on top.”

“And a lot of readers picked up these books and thought: these women are a lot like me. And consequently read a lot more of them.”

“Chick Lit is a recognition of today’s woman. You see a reflection of the changing roles of women in culture. The issues that Chick Lit addresses are relevant to any woman in today’s society: the fact that the age that most people get married is going up; the fact that women are in upwardly mobile careers and are buying their own houses; the fact that gender roles are changing; and the fact that women still want to get married and have kids, and face their own challenges around that. In addition, Chick Lit often reflects a change in societal structure. Today, most women’s “families” are built around a knot of friends, while their blood families are the source of both love and great tension (elements also covered in Chick Lit novels).”

“I can’t say if “Chick Lit” will continue as a marketing moniker. But relevant women’s stories are always going to thrive, no matter what genre name they’re sold under. Why?”

“Because women read.”

As I’ve written a number of times in these entries, good storytelling will continue and the issues underneath the storytelling in Chick Lit will continue—no matter what it is called in the days ahead. Your challenge is to write relevant and moving stories—and do everything in your power on the journey to learn this skill then practice it daily.

Not Your Typical How-To Book

September 28, 2006

Will-Write-for-Shoes-coverYou have to be a bit careful where you read this how-to book—at least if you are a guy. Otherwise you will raise some questions. It’s a solid pink cover and the title, Will Write for Shoes, How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley. It’s a good book from an experienced author with this genre of fiction. She explains the history of this genre, looks at some of the trends, provides specific insight for writing a chick lit novel, then provides some realistic details about the business aspects of selling such a book (under the heading “The Crapshoot That is Selling Your Novel).

I slipped off the cover when I was reading this book then it appears like a solid black hardcover.  It’s really how I read any hardcover. I hate to mess up the slip on cover so I remove it, read the book, then put it back on the book. It has nothing to do with the appearance of the cover.

Cathy Yardley has some great writing experience and solid teaching for writers of all levels in her book. Here’s a taste of it—and something that will help you even if you aren’t writing chick lit. It will help you for any novel writing. When it comes to creating the premise for your story. Here’s some questions to test your story:

  1. “Why do you want to write this book? What appeals to you about it?
  2. What makes it different from other books you’ve read or heard about?
  3. Who is your main character (or characters)? (You don’t need to know exactly; this is just a preliminary exercise.)
  4. What’s the story question? Why would a reader want to keep reading? What’s at stake?
  5. Do you have a vague idea how it ends?
  6. Do you have a message or theme you want to explore with this book?
  7. What do you want the reader to walk away with after reading this book?” (p. 31–32)

You have to ask the hard questions—to yourself—before you ever think about sending your book to a publisher.  It’s another bit of insight about how to get out of the slush pile and into print.

Do Blogs Turn Into Books?

September 27, 2006

Occasionally someone will ask me if a blog can turn into a book. Yes, it happens from time to time but it is rare. There is a bit of insight into some books which have their roots in blogs in an article from Calvin Reed in the September 25th issue of Publishers Weekly. Read the full article at this link.

Notice focus is going to be one key to whether your blog will become a book or not. Many blogs are all over the map in terms of their actual content. Here’s a paragraph from Reed’s article: “We look for blogs focused on a single issue or theme,” Lasner [Editor in chief of Ig Publishing] said, “rather than just general commentary.” Basing each title on an ongoing single-issue blog serves to build an audience online. “Our marketing doesn’t start from scratch,” explained Lasner. “These bloggers are committed and are going to write about these issues anyway—so promotion doesn’t begin with the book and it won’t end after the book is out.”

It’s some food for thought if you have a long-range plan of turning your blog into a book project.

More Writing Guides

September 25, 2006

In an unusual move for Publishers Weekly, the September 18th issue includes a page about how-to-write books under the heading Writing Guides. I was amused with Bill Goldstein’s first sentence, “Publishers who worry that no one reads books anymore can take solace in the fact that just about everyone wants to write one.” It strikes me as close to the truth from my experience. The article covers some recent and forthcoming books. From my years of reading these books, I know there is a steady stream of these niche books entering the market. I’m a part of it with my Book Proposals That Sell.

Writing-for-the-soul-coverThis PW article includes a snippet of advice from Jerry B. Jenkins, author of 155 books including Writing for the Soul, Instruction and Advice from an Extraordinary Writing Life. For many years, I’ve known Jerry and appreciated him. Writing for the Soul has been on my reading list but I had not opened my book until I saw this article. After hearing Jerry speak about writing a number of times, I knew his book must have much more valuable insight than a sign which says, “The only way to write a book is with seat in chair.”

I will have more to say about Writing for the Soul when I dig into reading it—but for a taste, here’s a brief section on page 91 which is part of a Q & A with Jerry:

You’re an extremely fast writer. Do I have to write fast to succeed?

“No, If you write quickly and your writing looks dashed off, you’ll regret it. Although I write fast (because I think, of my journalism training), I never want my finished product to appear rushed. I care about every word and want that to show. At a certain point, however, reworking something makes it only different, not better. I have friends who struggle over every page. Sometimes they labor for hours on a single paragraph. That doesn’t make them slow writers. They simply take more time up front; my tedious work comes at the other end of the process. I get that first draft down and see it as a hunk of meat to be carved. You have to find what works best for you and stick with that.”

You can see Writing for the Soul is packed with substance.

Wendy Werris’ book, An Alphabetized Life: Living It Up In the Business of Books isn’t a writing guide, but it is related to the book publishing business. Her book doesn’t release until late next month (October) and I have not read it. I was fascinated with the excellent excerpt in today’s Shelf Awareness Newsletter. If you aren’t subscribed to Shelf Awareness, the price is right—free. Make sure you sign up and receive it on a regular basis.

On the Outside Looking In

September 24, 2006

RD-Oct-2006-pageI am continually fascinated with the details of the book publishing business.  In past entries about the writing life, I’ve written about the importance of book titles, why I work at titles and how to try out your title.  A week or so ago, I received and read my October 2006 Reader’s Digest magazine.  On page 24, they highlighted different ways to spend free time and instantly I was drawn to the book category.  They showed the book cover for The Book That Changed My Life, 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them edited by Roxanne J. Coady & Joy Johannessen (Gotham Books). In fact, I’ve scanned this single page from Reader’s Digest so you can see how it appeared. I know the little image in the lower right-hand corner is difficult to see but it talks about the book and includes the release date—October 19, 2006.

I received this book in yesterday’s mail and I plan to read it and write about it in mid-October, when the book should be easy to locate (or you can pre-order it with the link.). Each chapter highlights a different writer and a book which changed their life. I hope you can see why I was drawn to this subject. I know books change lives and I’m always interested in reading more about this topic.

The-Book-That-Changed--65When I went to Amazon, I noticed they have a similar cover but not the final cover. It’s because often publishers design and send these book covers in an early stage to get them into the Amazon system. Each publishing house has different internal deadlines and systems for getting these covers to online bookstores and others. Take a careful look at the Amazon cover.

The image and the main title remains the same: The Book That Changed My Life.

Now take a close look at the subtitle in this image: Discover the Must-Read Books That Transformed 65 Remarkable Authors. The book image on Amazon isn’t the final image but a pre-release book cover. I suspect it was created early in the process—often before the final manuscript arrived at the publishing house. These compilation books are difficult to pull together—especially with a series of bestselling authors like the ones included in this book such as Patricia Cornwell, Nelson DeMille, Dominick Dunne, Linda Fairstein, Frank McCourt and many others.  I have no idea how many authors they asked to contribute but from the finished book (shown in Reader’s Digest and I have one), they received 71 contributors instead of 65.

The-Book-That-Changed--71This additional material called for a change in their subtitle and a higher page count on their finished book.  When I saw that Amazon had the wrong cover, I searched for the finished book cover. I went to Google, selected image and searched for it.  The finished book cover didn’t show up, but I did learn there was another book with the same title (different subtitle) which was released in 2002 and covers National Book Award Winners and Finalists. I could find numerous versions of this other book, The Book That Changed My Life, Interviews with National Book Award Winners and Finalists but Google image didn’t find the image for the cover that I need.

Since I didn’t find what I needed with my search—and since I had a finished book in hand, I scanned my own book cover and you can see this image with the correct subtitle: The Book That Changed My Life, 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them. Reader’s Digest managed to have the correct cover but Amazon has an earlier version.

I have no connection to this publisher so I know nothing about their internal process or when this subtitle changed in the book production process. Because books are produced over a series of months, it could have been in the distant past or in the near past. I do know these subtitles (or other elements of a book) can be changed until the book goes to the printer. Even when a book is at the printer, if something crucial needs changing, it can be changed—right up until the minute the book goes on the press and they begin printing.

Today, you may be wondering how you can get a literary agent or a book editor interested in your book proposal or your book manuscript. You may be on the outside looking in and unsure how to get anyone’s attention. First, recognize the importance of crafting an excellent book proposal and the importance of your book concept and the book title. I’ve been in acquisitions meetings, where the entire room of publishing executives are persuaded about the book and most of this persuasion comes from an attractive title. Everyone knows any book with such a title will be find readers.

Also recognize the importance of fostering and building relationships with editors and other leaders within the publishing house. Often you can build that relationship at a writer’s conference. I understand it’s an investment of time, money and energy to get to these conferences but if you want to get your book idea into the marketplace, you probably need to make this investment.  

If you keep your eyes open, any of us can learn a great deal—even if we are on the outside looking in.

Is It an Opportunity or a Threat?

September 23, 2006

I’ve observed many times that anything new is often downplayed for the opportunity or talked about as a “threat.”  It wasn’t too long ago that some people spoke against the darkness on the Internet. Now there are some dark places—if you want to go there—but there are many positive uses of websites and information online. It can be an opportunity and not a threat.  Your perspective is important.

1001-Ways-to-Market-Your-BoAs I’ve discussed a number of times in these posts, the area of book marketing has little certain about it. One time a publisher or author will attempt something new and it will work like magic catapulting the book on the bestseller list and the minds and hearts of many people. With the next book, they will take exactly the same steps yet with poor sales results.  Repeatedly I’ve seen there isn’t one single magic formula. Yesterday my mail brought the 6th edition of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer. It’s an excellent resource and I’ve read little of it so far. Flipping through the book, I was impressed with the first point of a talk Kremer’s given for over 20 years about marketing books. He says, “90% of marketing efforts are wasted. This is not a bad thing. This insight tells you that you have to keep knocking on doors, making calls, and sending our letters until your target audience answers.” (p. 696–-yes it’s a huge worthwhile resource and I’m eager to read every page in the coming days)

Here’s another example of this principle of perspective. Maybe you’ve heard about the talk among publishers related to some of their galleys getting out before the release date of a book.  Some books are tightly controlled and have “embargo” release dates where booksellers are penalized if they sell books ahead of the date.  I’m sure you’ve read about it for books like a Harry Potter title.  Also I’ve heard about it happening with advance review copies (ARC) or galleys of these high-profile books.  Sometimes there is a great anticipation and almost frenzy for these advance review copies to read them before it hits the market. I’ve heard of some publishers tracing an ARC which has shown up on an eBay auction to the highest bidding person. And the employee is fired for trying to personally profit from that effort.  Yes, it seems extreme but that’s the level of control which happens with some of these books.

In the September 18th issue of Publishers Weekly, Greg Stielstra writes about this issue in the Soapbox column. Greg is the Vice President of marketing for the Christian trade book group at Thomas Nelson Publishers.  I love Greg’s book, Pyromarketing (and if you haven’t done it yet, follow this link to download the audio version of the book). His article, “Don’t Fear eBay” begins, “When Rick Warren announced his “40 Days of Purpose” campaign to Zondervan’s executives in early 2002, they were intrigued and excited. But when he explained that it required them to sell 400,000 copies of The Purpose-Driven Life to churchgoers at $7 per hardcover copy, the blood drained from their faces. “Do what?!” At that price, those sales would mean zero profit. But Warren was able to convince the publisher to go along with the plan—and the “40 Days of Purpose” campaign eventually grew to involve more than 20,000 churches and millions of books. As it turned out, those “unprofitable” copies created an army of customer evangelists whose enthusiastic, word-of-mouth recommendations influenced shoppers who paid retail for the book, eventually pushing total sales past $26 million in three years. The incident was a classic example of a publisher mistaking an opportunity for a threat.” Then he continues talking about whether the eBay auction is a threat or an opportunity.

I love this subtitle for the article in PW, “Stop thinking about eBay as an auction site, and consider what really happens when someone sells a galley on the site.”

Ok, here’s my lesson for you from this information, the next opportunity is up to you. Yes you have to be out in the market submitting your excellent writing and learning your craft. You have to be rejecting rejection and moving ahead, continuing to craft your book proposal and/or query letter.  Create some unusual book and innovatively market it to the audience and put yourself on the bestseller list. 

An impossible dream? I don’t think so. It’s a dream repeated every single day from authors and publishers as their books enter the marketplace.

For Love and Doughnuts

September 22, 2006

How-I-Write-book-coverI’m always interested in how writers take care of themselves and their work habits. Each person is different and has their own routine for tackling the work. As I’ve written in these entries in the past, it’s a matter of balance—delicate balance.  Over the last few days, I’ve been drawing a few insights from novelist Janet Evanovich and her book, How I Write, Secrets of a Bestselling Author. Her humor shows throughout this book but here’s what she says about her workday:

“I drag myself out of bed around 5:00 A.M. and shove myself into the clothes lying on the floor. I eat a boring breakfast of coffee and yogurt. Then I shuffle into the office I share with a really rude parrot. I stare at the computer screen for about four hours, sometimes actually typing some sentences. I chew gum and drink diet soda to keep myself from falling out of my chair in a catatonic stupor. At noon I’m suddenly filled with energy and rush to the refrigerator, hoping a pineapple upside-down cake with lots of whipped cream has mysteriously appeared. Finding none, I make a tuna or peanut butter and olive sandwich. I go back to my office and visualize myself getting exercise. I play an amazing game of mental tennis. In my mind’s eye, I look great in a little tennis dress. Very athletic. When I’m done playing tennis, I stare at the computer screen some more. When nothing appears on the screen, I drive down to the local store and buy a bag of Cheez Doodles. I eat the Cheez Doodles and manage to actually write several pages. When I’m done with the Doodles and the pages, I wander out of my office looking for someone to whine at because I made myself fat. I alternate typing and whining for the rest of the afternoon until about 5:00 when I emerge from my office, once again hoping for pineapple cake.” (p. 194–195)

I believe the part about Cheez Doodles since this food is repeatedly mentioned throughout How I Write.  Next Evanovich answers what her workday is really like: “Okay. When I’m in a book. I like to keep the momentum going, so I usually work an eight-hour day, five days a week. I like to be at my computer by about 5:00 or 5:30 A.M. I stop writing around 2:00 and become a businessperson, answering phone calls, doing mail, and having discussions with my publicist and whatever. I take an hour or two out in the middle of the day for exercise. Five days a week, I work evenings answering mail and having phone meetings with my webmaster daughter, Alex. On weekends I work in the morning, but I use the afternoons and evenings for fun.  That’s generally how it goes unless I’m behind schedule. When I’m up against a deadline, I go continually day and night. And I really need to be left alone to get the job done. Just slide the Snickers bars under the door, thank you.”

Notice that “hour or two” for exercise? She clarifies this statement saying in a later section, “I have a treadmill in my office next to my desk and I run or walk for five-minute intervals to break the monotony of sitting in a chair. I also have an elliptical trainer and I spent forty-five minutes a day on that. It’s in front of a TV because I can’t keep myself going unless I’m watching a movie or listening to music!”

Admittedly writers sit at their desks for hours. I do but one of the keys for my own personal care (and it sounds like the same is working for Janet Evanovich) is to get some exercise.  For a long time, I was trying to do five days a week. I’ve found when I take a day off from exercise, it’s easy to take another day, then another day and before long I’m not exercising—which isn’t good for my stress level nor my physical appearance. I love doughnuts—I rarely eat them but I love them. I’ve always been someone who tracks the world and local news so I combine exercise and news—otherwise I would be sitting and watching the news. In the last few months, I’ve been going over three miles a day on my treadmill averaging 50 minutes. I’ve missed three days over the last month.

Writing anything involved discipline.  No little elves come out at night and write more pages on your book proposal or book manuscript. You have to sit at the keyboard and work at the words. Physical exercise is one more discipline worth the effort and something to fit regularly into your day—at least I fit it into my day. And the doughnuts? I continue to think about them but they aren’t around our house.

Insight for Rewrites

September 21, 2006

How-I-Write-book-coverAs I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m including some insight from Janet Evanovich’s new book, How I Write, Secrets of a Bestselling Author. Fairly untypical for the types of books I read, there are a couple of four-letter words inserted in her book examples yet overall this book contains valuable insight from a bestselling novelist. Today I’m going to include a taste of her information about rewriting.

On p. 116, Ina Yalof (the nonfiction co-author who wrote Evanovich’s book and includes her teaching in gray boxes scattered throughout the book) says, “There are many methods of rewriting. Some authors start their workday by rewriting the pages they wrote the day before. Others stop every fifty to one hundred pages and rewrite them. Some just read through the work from the day before to get a sense of continuity but do nothing until the end. Still others never pick up the earlier work until the book is completed. This is perhaps the best and most efficient way for first-time authors. It also is helpful to wait for several weeks before completing your book and going back to look at it again. You don’t have to wait, of course, but with some time away, the more objective your next look will be. Now you get to view your book through the eyes of a reader, not a writer.”

OK, that was a solid bit of advice about different methods of rewriting your work. Notice what she said about laying it aside to gain objectivity. It’s been true from my personal experience—yet on the next page, Janet Evanovich is asked if she practices this suggestion. “I’d love to set my manuscript aside for a while and then see it with a fresh eye, but I never have the time. I’m a little overcommitted, so I finish a manuscript and then immediately edit it and then edit it again (and yep, sometimes even again). Then it’s off to the publisher, and my editor does her edit.”

There’s a bit of a reality check for you. Bestselling authors have a lot of pressure to produce and some of the work gets more rewrite time and effort in the process than others. It’s how you can explain that some of your favorite authors seem to be a bit off at times—and when this happens I suspect the book has been rushed through the editorial process (to the detriment of the finished book).

Throughout this well-crafted book, Ina Yalof summarizes teaching points and they are set off in gray boxes. In this area of rewriting, the book includes this series of questions for the writer to consider about rewriting called A Rewriting Checklist:

  1. “Did you read your manuscript as if you were seeing it for the first time?
  2. Does your story grab the reader’s interest right away?
  3. Is it clear what the main characters want and what are their motivations?
  4. Is it clear someone or something doesn’t want your main characters to meet their goals?
  5. Will the reader be able to identify with the main characters and care what happens to them?
  6. Is the villain strong enough to give the main characters a true challenge?
  7. Did you edit out all of the parts of your novel that are bogging the story down or are unnecessary, especially in the middle?
  8. Do you need to add a scene to keep the stakes high and the momentum rolling, especially in the middle?
  9. Did you fix bad transitions and descriptive gaps?
  10. Does the dialogue sound realistic?
  11. Does the rhythm of the dialogue suit the character?
  12. Is your ending satisfying to your reader?
  13. Have you edited out words that serve no function? (Don’t use twenty words when five will do.)
  14. Does every sentence move the discussion or the scene forward?
  15. Is every action in keeping with each character’s nature and personality?
  16. Are all of your loose ends tied up at the end of the novel?
  17. Is it clear that the reader knows who is speaking?
  18. If you’re using a real city as your backdrop, did you fact check geographic locations, landmarks, street names, bus routes, etc.?
  19. Did you back up your work on two disks?” ( p. 120–121)

From my perspective, every author should ask these questions to challenge your work before sending it off to your editor or even if you want the editor to consider it. I see so many poorly-crafted query letters, book proposals and manuscripts. If you or any reader will use this checklist to raise the bar of your submissions, then your editor will appreciate the effort.

Story Structure for Novelists

September 20, 2006

How-I-Write-book-coverBestselling novelist Janet Evanovich has a new nonfiction book with a straight-forward title: How I Write, Secrets of a Bestselling Author. It’s always interesting to me when a bestselling novelist takes the time and energy to write one of these books. It reveals their desire to help other writers but also it’s a true labor of love since this type of book will not follow the blockbuster path of their novels. In other words, most of these types of books have modest sales.

Evanovich teamed with nonfiction author Ina Yalof for this book. Throughout the book, Yalof summarizes each section. I enjoyed this book but note it’s a general market book and in the examples from Evanovich’s writings, you may find a page or two which use a some four-letter words maybe not in your working vocabulary. As the author explains about why she writes mysteries saying, “I prefer writing action to relationships, because I suck at internal narrative. I also have more freedom of language with mystery. Okay, so I have a trash mouth. I’m from Jersey, what can I say?” (p. 69) OK, so now you have my single caveat but this book has some great insight for writers and I want to draw to some points from this book over the next couple of days.

When it comes to creating the structure for her stories, Evanovich uses a common screenwriting technique called storyboarding, which was created and fostered in the Walt Disney company among their animators. Here’s what Evanovich says in her new book, “It’s essential in any plot that you know where you’re going. Otherwise, you can paint yourself into a corner. My secret is to use a technique called storyboarding, which is what directors do when they make movies. I have a huge white dry-erase board that hangs on the wall in my office. I’ve already decided who the villain is going to be; I’ve decided what the crime is, and how the book is going to end. So now I map out in a couple of sentences what the physical action is going to be—that is, the action that is going to promote the crime line of the book. Every now and then, I’ll add what is going to happen in Stephanie’s romantic relationship and sketch in the secondary plot information as well. When you look at your storyboard, you can check your time line to be sure things are progressing in the right order. You can also track your character development, even your settings, to make sure everything is in conjunction with everything else and all of these are compatible with the storyline. Storyboarding gives me an overview of my novel.” (p. 85 & 86)

First-time novelists in particular have to have a completed novel before they write a query letter or book proposal and begin marketing. See her statement about writing or painting yourself in a corner? It’s why publishers require first-time novelists to have completed manuscripts—then they have that difficulty licked before the serious consideration gets underway from a publishing house.

Interesting Numbers

September 19, 2006

A number of people new to publishing have never seen Publishers Weekly magazine. At times I will find a few copies of the current issue on Borders or Barnes & Nobles. I’d encourage you to try and find it just to become aware of this trade magazine.

Or if you are at your local library, ask your reference librarian if you can see one of their recent issues. Librarians keep it behind their desk and not out where the public can access it. Why? Because librarians use PW to learn about forthcoming books, read the reviews of books and keep up on what’s happening in the book world.  Each issue of the magazine covers a different type of book. For example, the September 11th issue (the last one that I’ve received in the mail) has a large feature article about the new travel books entitled, ‘Where’s the New There? Travel book publishers have to keep up with changing tastes, Internet chatter and world events to know where to go next.”

I learn a great deal from my Publishers Weekly subscription and I’ve had one for many years. It comes like clockwork once a week and I try to make time almost immediately to read through it. I learn from each issue. 

As general background, you should know publishers tend to keep a lot of number information confidential. Unless you have a remarkable bestseller with soaring numbers, many numbers the publisher doesn’t want the public to know about them.  If you are working on a book proposal and looking for sales numbers related to your competitive titles, it will be a challenge (read difficult) to even find this information.  On occasion you can find it but usually you can’t locate the sales numbers.  Most of Publishers Weekly is about words and rarely they have something about numbers. In the Foreword section of PW, they have a column called By the Numbers. I enjoyed this iUniverse by the numbers article from May 2005.

Thomas-Nelson-logoIn the September 11th issue, they included Thomas Nelson By the Numbers. It’s a pretty amazing set of statistics and I thought you’d like to know about it. Notice how they’ve increased their number of new books released in fiscal 2006 compared to fiscal 2005–-by 50 books. I believe Thomas Nelson is the ninth largest publisher in the world (or so my memory tells me).  Also notice the number of books on their backlist (3,900) and also the percentage of publishing division sales generated from the backlist titles in fiscal 2006 (54%). Also look at the numbers of their accounts—while they have 15,000 retail accounts, they are also working with 18,000 church, school and other accounts.

I found it fascinating insight into one publisher—recognizing that it’s just a snapshot and not a detailed look at the numbers.