Friday, October 16, 2009

Day FIVE of Five

For anyone who checked in early, apologies! I set this post to appear at 12:01 AM, but must have missed a step. In any case, welcome!

My last day to post and I'm wondering how to close. With a dramatic moment...or a quiet walk into the sunset? I thought I'd put out a question that has always intrigued me and see what an expert says. Have you ever wondered why a publisher creates a hardback version of a book, followed months or a year later by the paperback? Especially considering that the paperback is less expensive and more often selected by book/reading groups. I posed this question to Brooke Warner, Senior Editor at Seal Press, and her response is very interesting:

This is a great question, certainly one we talk about a lot since Seal used to be an exclusively trade paper house that now publishes at least one hardcover a season. My take on hardcover publishing is that there’s still a belief among publishers, reviewers, and authors themselves that hardcovers have more clout, and will be taken more seriously. My personal opinion is that this is misguided and that it’s the result of hanging on to a model that’s no longer working. For the vast majority of books, it’s not cost effective. It’s also not good for the buying public. However, it used to be that the New York Times and other major media would only review hardcovers. I’m not sure what the statistics are on this today, but it’s still true that hardcover first editions get more attention because of the industry practice of putting the most money behind those books. Publishing in hardcover means that you paid more money for the book and that the author does or should have a platform that can support sales of a hardcover book. Meanwhile, booksellers and distributors are often against hardcovers. We’ve had experiences of our distributor trying to talk us out of doing a book in hardcover. In at least two instances they’ve been successful. They are more difficult to sell through. The only upside is that you can do a strip and rebind, so if a hardcover doesn’t sell well you can literally turn it into a paperback. I would love to see the industry as a whole stop publishing hardcover books. I know that’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s an expensive practice and it would be amazing to just level the playing field and save consumers lots of money at the same time.

I had the pleasure of working with Mary Jo Eustace in the anthology, The Other Woman. Many of you know her story: weeks after they adopted a baby, her actor husband left her for Tori Spelling. For several years, Mary Jo has been hounded by journalists, torn apart in cheesy magazines, and excoriated on talk shows. All the while, she has remained dignified and focused on the well-being of her children. After all of this upheaval, she's written a book and it comes out next week. Divorce Sucks.

Masha Hamilton is more than an exceptional writer. She is also the founder and heart behind the The Afghan Women’s Writing Project, which she created in May 2009. To quote the project's website, this program is "an effort by U.S. women authors and teachers to work with young Afghan women on developing their literary voices in telling their stories." In Afghanistan, women might be permitted to attend school, but higher education is often discouraged. Nevertheless, they persevere, which is why this project is not only reaching out to many women, but Afghan women are reaching right back. Writers and educators volunteer their time to work Outstanding author/teachers volunteer their time on a rotating basis to work online, connecting with women from all parts of the country. I urge you to visit the website and learn about this very important project.

Masha's new novel, 31 Hours, is getting wonderful reviews and you can order it through Kepler's at

This is the end of my week on this blog and I've loved every minute. I hope you've enjoyed the viewpoints about writing, the mention of a few new books, and a smattering of programs and courses. Again, thanks to Kepler's, Aggie Zivaljevic, and Bobbi Emel for the invitation and the continued support...given to me, authors everywhere, and the community. If you'd like to contact me with questions, suggestions, information about my online UCLA writing course, whatever, I can be reached through my website at Just click on Contact and you're there!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Victoria, for mentioning the Afghan Women's Writing Project. Many of these women take unspeakable risks to keep writing, some write without their family's knowledge, some have received death threats. Please take a moment to visit the blog and comment on their work. THANK YOU!