Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Publishing Resources: Books

I recently started a publishing lending library at UNP. I'm including fiction about publishing as well as nonfiction about the publishing industry. Here are the books I have so far along with their publishers' descriptions:

Permissions, A Survival Guide by Susan M. Bielstein

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it’s a good bet that at least half of those words relate to the picture’s copyright status. Art historians, artists, and anyone who wants to use the images of others will find themselves awash in byzantine legal terms, constantly evolving copyright law, varying interpretations by museums and estates, and despair over the complexity of the whole situation. Here, on a white—not a high—horse, Susan Bielstein offers her decades of experience as an editor working with illustrated books. In doing so, she unsnarls the threads of permissions that have ensnared scholars, critics, and artists for years. 

Organized as a series of “takes” that range from short sidebars to extended discussions, Permissions, A Survival Guide explores intellectual property law as it pertains to visual imagery. How can you determine whether an artwork is copyrighted? How do you procure a high-quality reproduction of an image? What does “fair use” really mean? Is it ever legitimate to use the work of an artist without permission? Bielstein discusses the many uncertainties that plague writers who work with images in this highly visual age, and she does so based on her years navigating precisely these issues. As an editor who has hired a photographer to shoot an incredibly obscure work in the Italian mountains (a plan that backfired hilariously), who has tried to reason with artists’ estates in languages she doesn’t speak, and who has spent her time in the archival trenches, she offers a snappy and humane guide to this difficult terrain. 

Filled with anecdotes, asides, and real courage, Permissions, A Survival Guide is a unique handbook that anyone working in the visual arts will find invaluable, if not indispensable.

Under the Cover: The Creation, Production, and Reception of a Novel by Clayton Childress

Under the Cover follows the life trajectory of a single work of fiction from its initial inspiration to its reception by reviewers and readers. The subject is Jarrettsville, a historical novel by Cornelia Nixon, which was published in 2009 and based on an actual murder committed by an ancestor of Nixon’s in the postbellum South.

Clayton Childress takes you behind the scenes to examine how Jarrettsville was shepherded across three interdependent fields—authoring, publishing, and reading—and how it was transformed by its journey. Along the way, he covers all aspects of the life of a book, including the author’s creative process, the role of the literary agent, how editors decide which books to acquire, how publishers build lists and distinguish themselves from other publishers, how they sell a book to stores and publicize it, and how authors choose their next projects. Childress looks at how books get selected for the front tables in bookstores, why reviewers and readers can draw such different meanings from the same novel, and how book groups across the country make sense of a novel and what it means to them.

Drawing on original survey data, in-depth interviews, and groundbreaking ethnographic fieldwork, Under the Cover reveals how decisions are made, inequalities are reproduced, and novels are built to travel in the creation, production, and consumption of culture.

Impermanent Blackness: The Making and Unmaking of Interracial Literary Culture in Modern America by Korey Garibaldi

In Impermanent Blackness, Korey Garibaldi explores interracial collaborations in American commercial publishing—authors, agents, and publishers who forged partnerships across racial lines—from the 1910s to the 1960s. Garibaldi shows how aspiring and established Black authors and editors worked closely with white interlocutors to achieve publishing success, often challenging stereotypes and advancing racial pluralism in the process.

Impermanent Blackness explores the complex nature of this almost-forgotten period of interracial publishing by examining key developments, including the mainstream success of African American authors in the 1930s and 1940s, the emergence of multiracial children’s literature, postwar tensions between supporters of racial cosmopolitanism and of “Negro literature,” and the impact of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements on the legacy of interracial literary culture.

By the end of the 1960s, some literary figures once celebrated for pushing the boundaries of what Black writing could be, including the anthologist 
W. S.Braithwaite, the bestselling novelist Frank Yerby, the memoirist Juanita Harrison, and others, were forgotten or criticized as too white. And yet, Garibaldi argues, these figures—at once dreamers and pragmatists—have much to teach us about building an inclusive society. Revisiting their work from a contemporary perspective, Garibaldi breaks new ground in the cultural history of race in the United States.


A Career in Books by Kate Gavino

A Career in Books is a graphic novel for everyone who’s wanted to “work with books” and had NO idea what it entailed. It’s for those who were taken aback by that first paycheck. It’s for those who wanted a literary career even in the face of systemic racism, who dealt with the unique challenges of coming from an immigrant family, and whose group chat is their lifeline.

Shirin, Nina, and Silvia have just gotten their first jobs in publishing, at a University Press, a traditional publisher, and a trust-fund kid’s “indie” publisher, respectively. And it’s . . . great? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ They know they’re paying their dues and the challenges they meet (Shirin’s boss just assumes she knows Cantonese, Nina cannot get promoted by sheer force of will, and Silvia has to deal with daily microaggressions) are just part of “a career in books.” When they meet their elderly neighbor, Veronica Vo, and discover she’s a Booker Prize winner dubbed the “Tampax Tolstoy” by the press, each woman finds a thread of inspiration from Veronica’s life to carry on her own path. And the result is full of twists and revelations that surprise not only the reader but the women themselves.

Charming, wry, and with fantastic black-and-white illustrations, A Career in Books is a modern ode to Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything, and perfect for fans of Good Talk, Younger, and The Bold Type, as readers chart the paths of three Asian-American women trying to break through the world of books with hilarious, incisive, and heartbreaking results.

Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors by Kate Gavino

An irresistible illustrated collection of charming, wise, and hilarious quotations from your favorite authors

Why do we go to book readings? For a chance to see the authors we love come to life off the page, answering our questions and proving to be the brilliant, witty people we catch glimpses of through their work. Illustrator Kate Gavino (author of Sanpaku) captures the wonder of this experience firsthand. At every reading she attends, Kate hand-letters the event’s most memorable quote alongside a charming portrait of the author. In Last Night’s Reading, Kate takes us on her journey through the literary world, sharing illustrated insight from more than one hundred of today’s greatest writers—including Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Lev Grossman, Elizabeth Gilbert, and many more—on topics ranging from friendship and humor to creativity and identity. A celebration of authors, reading, and bookstores, this delightful collection is an advice book like no other and a love letter to the joy of seeing your favorite author up close and personal.

Yellowface by R. F. Kuang

White lies. Dark humor. Deadly consequences… Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American—in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R.F. Kuang, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel. 

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.


So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.


So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.


But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.


With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media. R.F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable. 

What We Talk about When We Talk about Books: The History and Future of Readingby Leah Price

Reports of the death of reading are greatly exaggerated

Do you worry that you've lost patience for anything longer than a tweet? If so, you're not alone. Digital-age pundits warn that as our appetite for books dwindles, so too do the virtues in which printed, bound objects once trained us: the willpower to focus on a sustained argument, the curiosity to look beyond the day's news, the willingness to be alone.The shelves of the world's great libraries, though, tell a more complicated story. Examining the wear and tear on the books that they contain, English professor Leah Price finds scant evidence that a golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers already skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors even forbade the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions.The evidence that books are dying proves even scarcer. In encounters with librarians, booksellers and activists who are reinventing old ways of reading, Price offers fresh hope to bibliophiles and literature lovers alike.

So You Want to Publish a Book? by Anne Trubek

This slim but insightful guide offers concrete, witty advice and information to authors, prospective authors, and those curious about the publishing industry’s inner workings. The chapters are chock full of important advice and information, including:

 - How advances and royalties really work 
 - The surprising methods that actually move books off the shelves
 - The art of pitching to agents 
 - The differences between Big Five and independent presses
 - The ins and outs of distribution, direct sales, and selling through Amazon.

Written by an industry veteran who’s been on both the writing and publishing side, So You Want to Publish a Book? is a refreshing, no-nonsense, and transparent guide to how books get made and sold.

For readers and writers looking for a straightforward guide for publishing, promoting, and selling their work.

Friday, November 29, 2013

SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

"When they finally saw the light, I might even become something of a village heroine, with banquets, etc. held in my honor, with after-dinner speeches by Father, the vicar, the bishop, and, yes, perhaps even by Magistrate Ridley-Smith himself, thanking me for my dogged persistence, and so forth.
     I believe Daffy referred to such an extravagant outpouring of praise as an encomium, and I realized that I had not been given an encomium for a very long while."


"Neither of us spoke a word and we didn’t need to. We stood there clinging to each other like squids, damp, quivering, and unhappy."


"It is not the fault of South Beach that I am a joy-obliterating erotophobe. That it comprises some of my deepest aversions (heat, direct sunlight, and a pervasive sense of fun) while lacking many of my most cherished requirements in a destination (occasional rain, the generally suppressive influence of the superego, and a melancholic populace prone to making monochrome woodcuts of hollow-eyed women sitting disconsolate in shabby rooms with their meager suppers on tin plates before them) is nobody's problem but my own. And it's a problem that I will have to keep to myself this weekend as I work the pool at one of Miami's hiply refurbished art deco hotels—the Hiawatha, let's call it."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm gonna sleep with this under my pillow

Lookee! I had a conversation (well, a Twitter conversation) with Mary Roach! I don't have anything else to say about it. Just wanted to make sure that I kept some proof that it happened.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

So Cold the Winter in Nebraska, I mean the River

Author: Michael Kortya
Title: So Cold the River
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (June 9, 2010)
Format: Kindle Edition

A good twisty story that connects a creepy story from the past with current characters through the paranormal. You will find ESP, possession, and ghosts. The characters are vivid and I liked the main guy a lot. I thought I could tell a bit where things were going, but I liked the trip; there are great descriptions of architecture and setting. There's a nicely drawn older female character. The main guy, a failed movie maker whose marriage is on the rocks, is likeable, too. I thought this was scary enough to be unsettling but not so violent or gross as to be off-putting. A memorable read; I will track down more of this guy's books.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lee Child, Worth Dying For

Author: Lee Child
Title: Worth Dying For
Publisher/format: Delacorte Press, cloth
ISBN: 978-0385344319

I really respect Lee Child for not churning out identical Reacher books each year. This author has taken care to develop his character in interesting ways, and he has also taken him through various psychological twists and turns. The penultimate Reacher book, 61 Hours, ended with a cliffhanger that I wasn't expecting; also, it featured a more broken, uncertain Reacher, and fabulous descriptions of a barren South Dakota winter. Child has stayed in the middle of the country for Worth Dying For: here, he places Reacher in a rural, agricultural area of Nebraska--not near the larger cities of Lincoln/Omaha but somewhere in the west (but not, I think, the Sandhills, because the main occupation of the people is farming).

Child does a great job with the NE landscape, its wideness, starkness, and flatness, and he describes a certain kind of Nebraska woman--older, strong, no-nonsense, modest, conscientious, full of integrity, reserved--perfectly. He describes many of the rest of his Nebraskans as quiet, fairly passive go-along-with-the-flow sorts. (Many Nebraskans do seem this way to others, but I believe that the truth is that once you find the part in the flow that they refuse to go along with [which does, in fact, exist, but which they will not tell you about until you accidentally stumble onto it], they will be shockingly stubborn and unmovable.) Even the Nebraskan evildoers in this book have a certain amount of integrity and civility despite their psychopathic, horrid selves. The culture of civility and refusing to make waves is important in NE, but as I hinted before, not everyone here is as passive as the folks in Reacher's town.

Also suffering from this passivity, sort of, are the ten Cornhusker (I think ten) football players Reacher beats up at one time or another in the course of the book. This is very amusing in some ways, but these could not have been Blackshirts. Note that Child is careful to call them "Cornhuskers," and that the trademarked name for the team is "Huskers." He did not want to run afoul of UNL/trademarking/etc.etc., I bet (or his publisher did not want him to).

Anyway, this book is interesting in that it's kind of humorous in an Elmore Leonard sort of a way--criminals and Reacher showing up at the same time and same place without realizing it; comic timing and quick cuts, etc.etc. The nature of the evildoers is kept uncertain until late on. It is very, very horrible what they are doing--which is pretty shocking to the reader because you've been set up, so to speak, by the Elmore Leonard-type timing/humor, and it kind of falls away very quickly into horribleness. There's something of a revenge scene at the end that shocked me a bit in that it has a civilian being Reacher-like.

Reacher is especially hard and distant and killer-like in this one--scary again, despite the fact that he begins the book injured and presumably psychologically battered. Not much is mentioned about the unresolved cliffhanger from 61 Hours; Child is in no hurry to tell us what happened, and when he does, it's almost off-handedly. This I liked.

Anyway, this was a very satisfactory installment in the Reacher series, and I liked it a lot. My big problem is this: there was no shopping expedition for Reacher. I don't care that there are no stores in the middle of the country. I really, really missed the shopping, and I hope he will get back to it. Those are absolutely my favorite parts of the books.