Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 4

 Barnes & Noble Reports Solid Growth 

B&N CEO James Daunt reported in an interview with Publishers Weekly that despite a slow December due to the omicron COVID variant, B&N stores were trending 5%-6% above pre-pandemic 2019 numbers.  Daunt cited two factors that drove increases in overall book sales: backlist sales and BookTok.  BookTok seems to have ignited the interest of young people in books, with teenagers and young adults responding to the recent hashtag-related social media marketing trend.

Daunt also credited the hasty store remodeling that occurred during the pandemic as a source of increased foot traffic and corresponding product sales.  While that effort was done mostly with existing furniture and fixtures, B&N is now taking about 30-40 stores through a more comprehensive remodel, with the plan to update all locations as soon as feasible.

Amazon Shutters

Well, its bookstores, anyway.  Amazon has announced the closing of all...

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What Value Are You Bringing?

Every successful author adds value. They build a bridge to their audience with that value. It’s why we subscribe, follow, and listen to them. Whether it’s purely for entertainment or wisdom or insight, value is what every author has to bring if they want to succeed

That’s why it’s important to stop what you are doing today and ask yourself, “What value am I bringing to my audience?”

This question plays a huge part in determining the felt need for the books you write. The things you feed your audience should be tiny morsels for the main course - your book. Value is what keeps them coming back for more. 

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“The smart author knows that everything begins with delivering value consistently.” 

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Check out this quote from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: “Good marketing can sell once, but only a good product can sell twice. In the long run, your performance reverts...

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The Secret to Becoming a Better Writer

Everyone wants to be a better writer. Even if you’ve crossed that finish line and become a bestselling author, there’s still room for growth. 

As agents, we want writers that care about craft. Your writing matters - the voice, the style…even the punctuation. And while we might not grade you too harshly on that last one, you must show us you care about craft too. 

That’s why we want to share with you the secret to becoming a better writer. 

It’s not a magic trick or a style guide, though the last one will help you. 

It’s not a course or a lecture or a YouTube video. 

It’s like most secrets: It’s very simple. 

The secret to becoming a better writer is to become a reader. 

That’s it. 

Great writers read. They read widely, across genres. We wouldn’t say it’s impossible to be a writer without being a reader, but it sure does make it a lot harder. 

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How to Query an Agent

Ah yes, the query letter. Feared and dreaded by every writer, it’s the magical key to unlocking the door that leads you to a literary agent. There’s a lot of information available on how to query a literary agent, and most of it is useful. Today, we’re going to look at a few pro tips for how to query an agent and unlock that door. 

First, only submit a query letter to an agent you’ve done some research on. Know their name and use it in your letter. Mention a previous book that the agent worked on that you enjoyed, too. Here’s an example: “I enjoyed Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love. I saw your name in the acknowledgments section at the back of the book.” Mentioning past projects is a small thing that goes a long way with agents, and it lets us know you’ve done your homework. 

A query letter should do two things really well: be brief and specific. It needs to be no more than a page long. You’ve only got a...

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How NOT to Connect to an Agent

Literary agents want to discover you. It’s true. You may not believe it, you may be jaded from the umpteenth unanswered query, but we really ARE looking for you.  

As we’ve said before, your success is our success. That's why we want to tell you how NOT to connect with an agent. 

If you don’t want to connect with an agent, send us a query to read your manuscript that’s outside of the genre we work in. That means you haven’t researched what we, as literary agents, are looking for. It’s okay to do a little stalking or research, whichever word you prefer. Every agent has a specific taste for a genre of books.  Sending a literary agent something they aren’t looking for is a great way NOT to connect. 

Here’s another way to NOT connect with a literary agent: Send us an “I’d love to pick your brain” email. Literary agents are busy. We’ve got a full inbox of requests. When it...

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Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 3

David beat Goliath! 

At least in the 4th quarter of 2021. While Amazon’s online sales fell 1% in Q4 of 2021, brick-and-mortar bookstores saw an increase of over 43%. Bookstores finished the year up 28% over 2020—a year when all of the retail sector was up only 19.3%. Though that jump still left bookstores short of pre-pandemic 2019 by 1%.

2021 Corporate Reports 

The 2021 year-end results are rolling in from the Big 5 (or 4, or 3, or whatever it is this week).  

Simon & Schuster continues to increase its resale value – even though they are technically in escrow to Penguin Random House (pending a legal contest from the DoJ). S&S ended 2021 up 10% in sales and a whopping 52% increase in operating income.  

Hachette's parent company, Lagardere, reported a 9.4% revenue increase, with earnings up a phenomenal 42.7%.  Hachette’s US division was up 3.7% for the year. The company is, however, forecasting a flat 2022, as it...

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Do You Want to Grab a Coffee?

Have you ever wanted to have coffee with a literary agent? If you could just get some time around the table with one, you could get all your questions answered, right? 

As literary agents, we get this request a lot. Our hope is to provide you with answers so that you avoid those pitfalls and blind spots that so many amateur writers make. It’s amazing what a short conversation can do. 

And as much as we love coffee and talking about books and publishing, there isn’t enough time in the day to handle all these requests. 

That’s why we want you to join us for our FREE author training: Thursday, Feb 24, at 1 pm PT/3 pm CT"The Secret Path to Getting Published."

This training is for:

  • Authors who dream of being traditionally published
  • Authors who want a substantial publishing deal
  • Authors who are seeking representation from a literary agent
  • Authors who keep getting rejected and don’t know what they are doing wrong
  • Authors...
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Know Rejections

"No" is a one-word sentence. The time-management and relationship gurus of the world often lean on this sentence to convey the power you have in the choices you make. But as writers, we are often on the receiving end of that sentence. 

"No, we are not interested in publishing you."

"No, we are not interested in representing you."

"No, we are not interested in working with you."

One of the biggest differences between amateurs and pros is their relationship with the word NO. A pro knows that a NO isn’t the end of the road - it’s a simple detour in another direction. For the amateur, they let those NOs hold them back from their publishing dreams. 

Writers fear that two-letter word. And with good reason: Rejection plays a big part in publishing. It’s fear of rejection that often keeps us from writing the books we dream of. It’s never submitting our work because we don’t want to receive that NO. 

But what if the problem isn’t...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 2

Industry analysts are expecting a leaner 2022 for book sales, as the publishing industry is expected to cool…but only because 2020 and 2021 were so good!  The basis for that prognostication is mostly because it’s hard to say with a straight face that 2022 could possibly follow those two older siblings with similar results. Also, with the supply chain still stressed and inflation driving up the cost of manufacturing—and hence the price being charged to the reader/consumer, a dip seems inevitable.

Another leading indicator—December 2021 holiday sales—slipped 1.8% lower than 2020’s numbers.  That dip continued into January 2022, with the first full week of the new year coming in at 13.9% below the prior year’s results. The subsequent two weeks were down 3% and 2.6%, respectively.

2021: Another Big Year in [the] Books (pun intended)

For the first time in the 18-year history of NPD/BookScan, the publishing industry saw large sales...

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What Question Are You Asking Yourself?

If you’ve ever spent a Saturday watching or participating in a track and field meet, you’ve probably witnessed someone falling out of the blocks. The sprinter is crouched and ready, head down and waiting for the starting gun . . . And then, the moment arrives and they stumble and fall. 

It’s a tough thing to witness, even tougher to have experienced.

We’ve all been there, right? We're ready to go, the race is ahead of us . . . and we fall out of the gate.

This time of year, “New Year, New You” gets all the hype. Encouragement is abundant for 2022. And who can dismiss a fresh start, especially after the last couple of years? Like the sprinter, maybe you were ready to go, the race ahead of you . . . and then you crashed. 

If that’s you, today is about helping you up after you've broken the promises you made to yourself about your writing goals, your publishing plans, or any other resolutions you’ve made around...

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