Archives: eBooks

Did you know The Washington Post has its own eBook series published by Diversion Books?

I didn’t, until this superbly succinct page-turner came my way. At just over 100 pages, Steven Levingston, the Post’s nonfiction editor, describes in equally devastating and uplifting detail, a moment in the life of JFK that forever changed him.

Of course, the book is for you to read, but in the meantime, let’s just relish this gorgeous cover. It really says it all, doesn’t it?

TWP epub cover-Kennedy-FINAL

About the Book

A sensitive portrait of how a profound tragedy changed one of America’s most prominent families.

On August 7, 1963, heavily pregnant Jackie Kennedy collapsed, marking the beginning of a harrowing day and a half. The doctors and family went into full emergency mode, including a helicopter ride to a hospital, a scramble by the President to join her from the White House, and a C-section to deliver a baby boy, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, five and a half weeks early with a severe respiratory ailment. The baby was so frail he was immediately baptized.
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Mary

We were thrilled to sit down with Mary Cummings, the Editorial Director of Diversion Books, to pick her brain on what she sees really working in the world of eBooks, and to get her recommendations for authors on best marketing practices for their books.

First, I’m so curious about how you came to naming your company Diversion.

I can take no credit in the naming of Diversion, as it happened well before my time, but we think of “Diversion” in a couple of ways. There’s the book-as-entertainment aspect, as in “this book is a welcome diversion from my busy day,” but also the very real and important distinction of Diversion as a publisher that has “diverted” from the path of traditional publishing insofar as its digital focus and all that comes with it, but has not abandoned the path altogether. In general, we like to think of Diversion as: “traditional approach, digital focus.”

Why publish with Diversion over Amazon?

Do you mean why not self-publish? Well, if you have time, savviness, and energy to put into publishing and promoting your book in an aggressive, ongoing way, then go for it! But even the most successful self-published authors are turning to companies like Diversion because they see value to more hands on deck, a reputable house backing them and enhancing their efforts, and abandoning the more nitty-gritty, technological, metadata-oriented tasks that are in constant need of management for the entire life of the ebook, assuming it is to be successful. Very few authors will be successful just by putting their work out there–it has to be continually nurtured, updated, and attended to on the marketing end.

Do you predict a fadeout of traditional publishers in favor of eBooks? Read more »

When did you begin your writing career?

I began my writing career in 2005, after I was fired from my first job out of college. I started writing for Gay City News and The Villager—mostly covering exotic events (like dog parades) and some local politics, such as the mayoral race. I started at the bottom of the totem pole, picking up whatever stories I could get assigned.

My very first article was in Gay City News—a good friend’s uncle was an editor there and they took a chance on me. In 2008, when I was 26, I was given my first assignment from The Wall Street Journal and later, The New York Times.

How is it you didn’t even go to journalism school? Did that put you at a disadvantage—or an advantage?

I know there are many schools of thought about journalism. There are definitely moments I’ve thought seriously about [going to journalism school], but I thought I would lose momentum. The tradeoff never made sense for me. In journalism, on the ground experience and writing is the best training ground. But let me caveat that with—there are also a whole host of new media skills and a lot of technical things one can learn in journalism school. I kind of see it from both sides, but for me there never seemed to be a right moment to do it. There’s an opportunity cost to going back.

As a 20-Something author, you broke into the business of book publishing fairly early. What do you think it was that landed your proposal an agent, and subsequently a book deal?

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Too Big to Fail?

Will a Random House/Penguin Merger Stave Off the Amazon Threat?

In yet another sign of the major changes happening in the publishing industry, it was announced Monday that Random House and Penguin have agreed to a merger, creating the biggest global, consumer book publisher in the world, controlling over 25% of the market, according to The New York TimesWitty Twitter comments aside (Random Penguins, anyone?), literary agents, authors and other industry professionals have voiced real concerns about the merger: having fewer publishers to submit to, fewer books, lower advances, and jobs in limbo. (This week, Simon & Schuster announced layoffs and a new restructuring plan.) There were even murmurs that come this Wednesday, Murdoch would make a one billion dollar offer for Pearson, Penguin’s parent company, “terrifying agents and authors,” and possibly causing a bidding war with Random House. This never came to pass. Yet.

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It sounds like an oxymoron. But as a follow up to our fairly grim outlook on book advances, I wanted to shine a potential bright light: a possible everybody-wins solution to the financial dilemmas facing both authors and their publishers today.

Last week, I spoke with an internationally published author who came to me with this perspective: “If I could find a major publisher in the U.S., I wouldn’t even require a book advance.”

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There’s a question authors ask, around which there’s alot of hype and not alot of clarity: “What can I expect for my book advance?

It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask an agent after several conversations and a verbally understood agreement of representation; not recommended to ask upon preliminary conversation.

Why should an author be cautioned against asking this question at the get go, however important it is to know?
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Would you choose a literary agent or publisher based on brand name, or based on their knowledge in new media?

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An agent friend recently asked me: “Have you noticed there are a lot more writers out there today? When I was an intern, going through the slush pile every day, there were about fifteen queries a week. Now it’s easily 30-50.”

Her hypothesis proves true. When I Googled “how to publish a book” today, there were 300 million search results. Read more »

“Our government if on the verge of killing competition under the appearance of competition.” –Scott Turow

In the past few weeks, all of publishing on Twitter and in the press, has been buzzing about the DOJ suit against Apple and the top five publishing houses. But here’s something strange: in the 3,130,000 Google results on the topic, I haven’t seen a single, prominent opinion taken by a reader. (We know most consumers continue to buy books, in large part, from Amazon.)

And here’s what’s more remarkable: with the exception of Authors’ Guild Chairman Scott Turow, we haven’t heard anything from the mouths of authors, those whose livelihoods may be the most greatly affected by ambitious new eBook pricing. Though I did see these 5 famous authors take a public stand against all eBooks, according to Techland/TIME Magazine.

A quick synopsis of what’s at stake: Read more »

Online and offline, on Twitter and in conversations with publishers, it’s clear that Amazon is in the hot seat. Granted, where publishing institutions like Random House and brick-and-mortar bookshops are concerned, there’s been heat with Amazon for some time. Increasingly, the publishing industry is making bolder statements, as Scott Turow, head of the Authors Guild did in an op-ed for Bloomberg News last week, calling Amazon “the Darth Vader of the literary world.”

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