Goodreads Ratings and How to Read Them

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Category: The Industry

goodreads Unlike a lot of people in the publishing industry, I regularly review the books I read on Goodreads, and it has sometimes gotten me into trouble. I’ve been a Goodreads member since shortly after it was founded, and I have a lot of friends there whose opinions I follow. And who follow me. Some people in publishing feel no one in our industry should be on Goodreads at all; one editor noted that he won’t buy books from people who have given a negative review to one of his books. Others see it as a betrayal of our small community, that we should all be cheerleaders all the time, and to ever be otherwise is to be an Enemy of Books.

Well, I think that’s a lot of malarky, as Joe Biden might say. Goodreads … [more]

2009 isn’t all that far back, but sometimes it can seem like a lifetime ago.

Lady Gaga was a breakout artist, and Kanye West was stealing Taylor Swift’s microphone. Barack Obama hadn’t yet served a full year—but had already hosted a beer summit. Steve Jobs was alive (if not well), and the iPad hadn’t yet been introduced. Legitimate journalists wrote about things like Farmville and sexting and the Gosselins as though these things were “news.”

And Upstart Crow Literary opened for business. We were four agents who’d met at another, short-lived agency, and we joined forces and announced ourselves that August. So much has happened since! Far too much to adequately cover in this post. So a quick summary with lots of links.

We moved from a PO box to an address on Fifth Avenue; … [more]

So. The new Amazon publishing program.

Lots of folks are taking about this article in the New York Times.

I can see why it’s a very exciting prospect for new writers, or for writers with a lot of talent who have had trouble getting their work noticed under the more traditional model. Heck, it’s obviously exciting for the established–and bestselling–authors who are now publishing with Amazon.

I can’t see why this would make the need for an agent any less important. But obviously I’m quite biased in favor of agents.

I want to write more about it, but in the meantime, I’d like to hear from you.

Writers, both published and unpublished: How do you feel about the new publishing venture from Amazon? Does it change your view of what it means to “get published”? … [more]

A great article to add to your weekend reading pile: An interview in Poets & Writers, in which Gabriel Cohen talks to John B. Thompson about this book (titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century) and his views of the publishing industry today.

The article touches on everything from technology to chain stores to the roles of the key players in the industry, but my favorite part was probably the one in which Thompson discusses the technological fallacy, or the assertion that technology—not people—is the driving source of change in the publishing industry. Here’s what Thompson had to say about it:

“What they miss is that publishing is a complex field of actors and players and agents who are human beings actively involved in content—and that readers are human beings [more]

I have to be honest: I always breathe a huge sigh of relief when we close our query lines in December. Finally, I think, a chance to catch up! But after a couple of weeks in a query-less world, I get twitchy with anticipation and anxious to dig in once again. Thus, I always approach the re-opening of our query lines with a sense of hope and a certain amount of nervousness. Not unlike, I suppose, many writers who are about to submit their work to agents feel as they pause, scanning their query letter one last time before clicking “send.”pgi0128

As you probably know, we re-opened our query lines last week. Perhaps you’ve just sent out your first-ever round of queries to agents. Or perhaps you’re on your second or third round of … [more]

I have at last come around to the beauty of the e-reader.

Nook Ipad 400Back in the long ago of 2008, I bought the first Kindle to use as an aid to reading manuscripts. It was nearly four hundred dollars, which boggles the mind even now. Why? Because Kindle 1 had serious problems: it was a poorly designed, clumsy device with page flip buttons in all sorts of weird places; it had problems with poor contrast and refresh rates on page flips; and it broke just after its year-long warranty expired. The latest iterations look pretty spiffy, but Kindle 1 was so awful and the customer service so terrible that Amazon forever lost my business.

After it broke down, I bought an iPad, but I never really used it for reading books. Wasn’t keen on the … [more]

Looking for a little light reading/book chat/way to procrastinate whatever tasks are on your to-do list today? Head on over to the excellent Mother.Write. (Repeat.) blog, where I’ll be answering reader questions about all things books until 5pm. today.… [more]

35ce024128a035ee5e120110.LIf you are the sort who, instead of writing your pages, dithers on the web, checking up on the news and reading blogs and watching Orson Welles drunk outtakes, then you may well have seen Jackson Pearce’s screed against book pirates. Some background: She’d tweeted a few days ago that she must subsist off of ramen because she is broke, and meanwhile her books are being downloaded illegally. People responded to the tweet (apparently in support of book piracy—arrrrr!), and she answered those people with this charming video in which she costars with a pirate puppet.

But to my mind, both she and the people she’s answering are missing a bigger question, which is this: If those downloaded copies of the book(s) weren’t available on a pirate board, would the people who download … [more]

bookpadMy complaint is a simple one.

Look at the picture there on the right.

See the stack of books to the right? See the stack of books on the iPad? Which one reminds you of the stories still to be read, the books you want to reread; which one literally occupies a space in your conscience (as well as on your bookshelf)?

But in my experience, when I look at my iPad, I don’t see books. I see an iPad. On the device is Middlemarch, a Jonathan Ames novel, a Charlie Huston mystery, a couple of P.G. Wodehouse books, and a half-dozen nonfiction books I thought I wanted to read once upon a time.

This could just be a sad side effect of the way I consume books: … [more]

[Today’s post comes via the dizzyingly sharp Jennifer Ung, who once upon a time interned for one of us here at Upstart Crow (albeit at a different company). Jennifer has just returned from a season in England, and we thought her observations on the two markets well worth sharing. Especially fascinating are explanations of how, though united by common language, American and British teens are so different that teen novels in each market don’t “translate” to the other.]

jeninlondonI’m an intern.

By MTV-reality-show standards, that probably means that I’m the go-to person for coffee, bagels, and general mind-numbing office work. I entered the interning realm thinking I’d end up doing tedious, unpaid work I didn’t care about but did only for the sake of furthering my barely fledgling career. Much to my complete and utter … [more]