If I Were Paula Deen’s Literary Agent

If I Were Paula Deen’s Literary Agent

There has been a great deal written and discussed about television personality and cookbook author, Paula Deen, in the past two weeks. And one of the things I was watching closely was what would happen with her upcoming cookbook with Random House, and how Deen’s literary agent would react.

In spite of how much I hate the N-word, and anything even remotely related to racism, I’ve tried to remain objective while posting about Paula Deen. And this post is strictly about books and publishing and I’m not offering any subjective comments now on Deen’s situation. But since this is a publishing related post and it deals with Deen’s cookbook, I did want to comment on Random House canceling her book.

Random House has canceled the publication of Paula Deen’s upcoming cookbook Paula Deen’s New Testament, as well as four other cookbooks Deen was on contract to write with imprint Ballantine, the publishing house announced in a statement Friday.

Random House was not the first to break ties with Deen, but they certainly did wait until almost the very end to see how things were going to play out. I’ve also read they allegedly may have canceled her books partly because major retail outlets have severed ties with Deen this past week, which basically means they might be worried they won’t have a place to sell the books once they are published. That’s only hearsay, and no one really knows if that’s a fact so I’m not linking to anything related to that. And it doesn’t even make sense to me because I’ve also read that Deen’s unpubbed cookbook rose to number one on Amazon last week because so many people wanted to show their support to Deen. And the fact is that people are supporting her in spite of how many companies are dropping her.

The book was scheduled for release in October, and in recent days pre-orders have raised it to No. 1 on the online bookseller’s sales ranks. Her 2011 cookbook, “Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible,” has risen to the second spot.

As an author, I know that Amazon accounts for a good deal of sales, and if someone can’t get something anywhere else they will go to Amazon…even if it’s a cookbook they can’t buy at Target or Wal-Mart. As a consumer I have done this many, many times when I’ve wanted something badly enough. As far as I know, Amazon has not refused to sell Deen’s books. At least I don’t think they have.

And if I were Paula Deen’s agent I would be looking out for the best interests of my client and doing what is right for my client. That’s what an agent does. I’m speaking strictly from a publishing POV right now. I’ve also been waiting to see what Deen’s agent would say about all this.

“I am confident that these books will be published and that we will have a new publisher,” Deen’s literary agent, Janis Donnaud, told the Associated Press.

Publishing is a business and agents work for/with authors. On a pragmatic level, no one can argue that point. Publishing is also about freedom of speech, whether you agree with what someone says or not. I find everything about what Alec Baldwin says repulsive, but I do think he has the right to say it. Evidently, there are many people who are supporting Deen, people of ALL races, who don’t think she got a fair deal. If that weren’t true the sales ranks on Amazon wouldn’t reflect these amazing numbers. And Deen’s agent can’t ignore that.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Deen’s agent didn’t advise her to self-publish the books. Other literary agents have found ways to work these things out as a partnership of sorts so there’s no conflict of interest. And it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. A publisher has every right to cancel a book if an author is in breach of contract for whatever reason (there are little clauses for things like this). But an author…any author…also has the right to get his/her books out to their readers as well. With all the options out there now for authors and literary agents, I think this might be just one more example in the future of another self-publishing success story.

Random House Announces "Digital Only" Publishing Venture

And they all told me e-books would never go anywhere four years ago. Not Random House exactly, but someone who worked closely with editors at Random House and other large publishers.

And am I glad I didn’t listen to THEM. For those who don’t know, e-publishing was basically being laughed at four years ago on almost all publishing blogs. The mainstream media didn’t even mention it. Digital only was a huge joke. And most of those in trad publishing who didn’t see the trend toward e-books coming must be shocked to see something like this announcement from Random House.

I got this directly from my inbox, from a publishing insider who knows what he’s talking about. I’ve seen it announced in a few other places, so I’m not telling tales out of proverbial school. Basically, it’s nothing new even though they make is sound as if they’ve just invented Hostess Twinkies. They make it sound as if publishing digital only “shorts” is something new, and we all know e-publishers have been doing this for years now.

I’m happy to see that trad publishers like Random House are noticing the shift toward digital books, but I’m also a little annoyed that they will all be moving in on territory smaller e-publishers have pioneered for them. And when I say pioneered I’m not joking around. It’s not easy to stick to something you believe in while all the so-called “professionals” are laughing at you.

So before you jump into buying something from Random House, or any other large publisher, don’t forget all about the smaller e-publishers and authors who’ve been working hard to give you digital only books for the past decade. They knew what you wanted and they gave it to you.

NEW YORK, NY – November 29, 2012: Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of The Random House Publishing Group (RHPG), announced today the launch of three new genre-fiction digital-exclusive imprints: Alibi (mystery/thriller); Hydra (science fiction); Flirt (YA/New Adult) and an expanded list under the recently re-launched Loveswept (romance). A fully-dedicated editorial, marketing, and publicity team will support each publishing program.
The Loveswept publishing program—an imprint comprised of new digital-original and classic romance titles—was re-launched in 2011. Since then, new authors have been acquired and launched under the imprint, and new digital-original titles have been published each month. Building on this success, the digital-only program will be expanded to include the popular mystery/thriller, new adult, and science fiction/fantasy genres.
“There are many readers out there looking for exactly what Loveswept offers—compelling characters and great stories published frequently at an affordable price,” said Centrello. “We are thrilled to expand this program.”

The new imprint program will be overseen by Allison Dobson, Vice President, Digital Publishing Director, working with Scott Shannon, Senior Vice President, Publisher, Digital Content and Matt Schwartz, Vice President, Director of Digital Strategy.

Gina Wachtel, Vice President, Associate Publisher will oversee the editorial team, including Sue Grimshaw, Editor-at-Large, Romance, Randall Klein, Associate Editor, Mystery and Thriller, and Sarah Peed, Associate Editor, Science Fiction and Fantasy.

“As publishing continues to evolve, with more authors finding their first home in digital, our challenge is to create new ways for readers to discover books,” said Dobson. “This dedicated team understands both the content and medium, and can effectively break out authors in the digital space.” For a closer look at this exciting new program, visit http://www.atrandom.com/eoriginals.
RHPG continues to innovate digital publishing with a variety of groundbreaking and successful projects, including the POLITICO Playbook Election eBook series and the enormously successful e-shorts program, featuring bestselling digital e-shorts by Lee Child, Dean Koontz, Karin Slaughter, and many more.

Random House Does Christmas Promo…

I’m posting about this because I think it’s interesting for a couple of reasons. I’ll get into them in a second. But first I do think it’s nice that Random House is doing something for people who are still reading print books. I know a few people who refuse to embrace digital reading and any time a publisher offers an incentive of any kind I’m thrilled for readers.

I read about this in GALLEYCAT, a blog I frequent often.

“This may be the year of the eBook tablet, but Random House doesn’t want shoppers to forget about physical books in physical stores. To prove its loyalty to booksellers, the publisher is running a special promotion this holiday season to make sure that is books are in bookstores quickly.”

I think this is a wonderful idea. But I also find it interesting, considering I just wrote this post about my new tablet earlier this week. Frankly, all I’m seeing are ads for tablets everywhere I look. I even see them being sold in generic drugstores these days. So I’m not quite sure why Random house isn’t offering some kind of huge discount on digital books, too. Maybe they are and I missed it? All I know is the e-books I’ve seen being offered by large publishers range 9.99 and up in price, and I refuse to pay those prices.Like I said, it’s interesting. And I consider myself an objective observer on subjects like this. It’s hard to think otherwise when you’re a writer and your main concern is that people who like to read get the books at the prices they want…digital or print. I love Random House as much as I love the smallest press that publishes only digital books.

““2-Day Transit,” lets indie booksellers order books for their stores with two-day shipping throughout the holiday season. It will work for any Random House title, be it frontlist or backlist.”

I also find this post interesting because I’ve read a lot about whether or not the word “Indie” works for those getting into self-publishing. I know many authors who have self-published books and they refer to themselves as “Indie” authors. But in this post, “Indie” is clearly being used as a name/reference for small “independent” book sellers…which is the way the word has always been used in publishing for as long as I can remember. But that’s changed. And again, I find this interesting and I’m not commenting on it one way or another. The one thing I will comment on is that I find the division between print publishers like Random House and all the new authors (and readers) embracing digital books and self-publishing extremely evident in a passive aggressive way…on both sides.

“The publisher explained how it will work in a press release: Orders received in our system by 3:00 p.m. EST will leave the warehouse no later than the next business day, and ship door-to-door in two days or less from the company’s Westminster and Crawfordsville distribution centers to independent booksellers throughout the country.” The effort runs from now through January 12th.”

I wish Random House well with this promotion. I hope readers who prefer print books and those “Indie” bookshops that need business have an excellent holiday season. Of course no one felt bad when video stores started going out of business. We all just accepted the end of video stores as a fact of life and there was very little emotion shown. It was considered inevitable; it was technology. But it’s different with “Indie” bookshops for some reason.

All I know is I’m thrilled with my two Kobo e-readers and my new Nextbook tablet. In the past two years, since I started reading digital books, I haven’t picked up a print book once. My shopping habits have changed, too. I buy more books; I spend more money. And I’ll be looking forward to the Black Friday weekend promotion happening over at Allromanceebooks.com, which I’ll post about very soon.