Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Monday, June 30, 2008

Karp on Publishing

I first heard about Twelve on an agent's blog last week. She had attended a lecture he gave recently. I went to their website and was thoroughly impressed. The company is called Twelve because they only publish 12 books per year. Each month a new book gets complete dedication from everyone on their staff. If memory serves, I think I read that in the past year, 7 of their 12 books have been NYT bestsellers. Their mission statement aligns completely with my philosophy of writing and publishing. I strongly urge you to read their website. Most of their books are non-fiction, but they do have fiction titles as well. They also commit to an author' s career, not the number of books they can crank out in a year. I just read another blurb from Karp, Twelve's CEO, in Publisher's Lunch. Here it is:

Twelve publisher Jonathan Karp has an essay in the Sunday Washington Post on the state of publishing. He remarks on "the relentless, indiscriminate proliferation" of commercial "ephemera" on the bookshelves" and freely admits "I too have sinned. In weaker moments, I've been seduced by tales of celebrity, money, gossip and scandal." He notes: "Most authors want their work to be accessible to a typical educated reader, so the question really isn't whether the work is highbrow or lowbrow or appeals to the masses or the elites; the question is whether the book is expedient or built to last. Are we going for the quick score or enduring value? Too often, we (publishers and authors) are driven by the same concerns as any commercial enterprise: We are manufacturing products for the moment."

Karp also observes: "I can't prove it empirically, but when I talk to literary agents and fellow publishers, they acknowledge an unarticulated truth about our business: Fewer authors are devoting more than two years to their projects. The system demands more, faster. Conventional wisdom holds that popular novelists should deliver one or two books per year. Nonfiction authors often aren't paid enough to work full-time on a book for more than a year or two." One result: "Journalism has long been regarded as the first rough draft of history; lately, however, books have too easily been thought of as the second rough draft, rather than the final word."

His prediction/hope: "Publishers will be forced to invest in works of quality to maintain their niche. These books will be the one product that only they can deliver better than anyone else.... For publishers, R&D means giving authors the resources to write the best books -- works that will last, because the lasting books will, ultimately, be where the money is."

I couldn't agree more with what he wrote. This debate on whether a person can write and publish more than one book per year has popped up several times recently in other blogs. I am of the opinion that when you go for quantity, you sacrifice quality. I think this is most evident in the arts. While I don't know if my talent for writing is enough to categorize my novel as a quality work, I fully intend to pursue this as if it were true. And I hope (fingers and toes crossed) that when I'm ready to find a publisher, Twelve will accept me as a client. If not, then I'll certainly take whomever will take me, with the caveat that I won't, possibly to my detriment, commit to churning out more than one book per year. And I intend to negotiate strongly for a 2 year interim.

All of this is, of course, pie-in-the-sky, but it's nice to live in an idealist world occasionally.

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