June 1 – 15, 2004 Edition

Authorlink Editor

Spots Trends

on New York Visit

NEW YORK, NY/05/26/2004—On one of her periodic trips to New York last week, Authorlink Editor-in-Chief Doris Booth, gathered insights into the latest publishing trends from the more than 25 editors she visited.

Barnes & Noble Publishing editorial director, Stuart Miller, told Authorlink that the publishing division will continue to focus on nonfiction as its primary mission. “We’re not likely to ever complete in the fiction area, nor in the hard-to-crack health market, or in current events. Our focus is on reference books, almanacs, books about writing, and true crime.”

While Barnes & Noble has been in the business of publishing out-of-print books for 20 years, the bookseller and publisher began releasing original trade projects two years ago. Its wholly-owned printing unit, Sterling’s, sells to a wide number of retailers outside the Barnes & Noble chain, creating a more viable market for original projects, Miller said.

Currently, the most popular backlist categories at Barnes & Noble are children’s books, kits, and mind/body/spirit titles.

Almost without exception, major New York houses are putting a stronger emphasis upon their own nonfiction imprints, including Random House, Crown, Warner, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, Carroll & Graf, and St. Martin’s Press, which has just hired Michael Flamini to build a new nonfiction line of history, politics, current affairs, food and travel.

On the fiction side, a number of publishers cited the need for more “chick lit” titles with younger heroines, and deeper, more serious women’s fiction, while Harlequin emphasizes stronger female characters in new lines such as Bombshell. In children’s books, Bloomsbury’s Victoria Arms said she’s looking for unique stories. “No more books about about hair, or farms, or country life—please!” she said.

Growing mid-sized houses, such as Avalon, which owns Carroll & Graf, Marlow, and others, are rising up to compete with larger entities by offering more attractive author advances and by accepting more nonfiction projects on the basis of proposals, as opposed to waiting for books to be completed before acquiring them. The push to shorten the time to market, however, seems to be a top priority not only at smaller houses but large ones as well.

Though there is no shortage of queries and manuscript submissions on their desks, editors agree—nearly across the board—it is tougher than ever to find fresh, truly high-quality works to publish.

Another trend, according to large PR firms such as Goldberg McDuffie, is that more and more authors (and fewer publishers) are funding their own marketing and publicity programs. Such programs can range from $5,000 to $15,000 for a media campaign covering only a few weeks.