Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Publishers Weekly

If you’re a writer, you most likely know about Publishers Weekly, THE magazine about the publishing industry. And if you’ve read this blog or my newsletter, then you also know I’ve often recommended unpublished authors keep up with PW. Either by going to the library and reading it, subscribing, or checking out the online newsletter.

You can keep up with where agents are coming and going in the industry and what is selling and to whom, by whom. In my newsletter, Doing It Write, almost each week, I quote from PW to let my readers know when agents are changing agencies.

Now comes news that Publishers Weekly, part of Reed Business Information, is likely to be sold.

This should be of interest to writers because there has been talk that perhaps PW will become an online-only magazine. This would make it more difficult for writers who can’t afford the print subscription, let alone the online subscription.

Whether it continues to come out in print form or not, it may change in another way that affects writers. If you’re familiar with Publishers Marketplace, then you know that it posts deals. You can see what sells, which agent sold the deal and which editor bought it. If the book is in your genre and sounds similar to yours, then you have a clue that perhaps the agent or editor would also be interested in your book. You can compile your list of possible agents and track if they continue to sell your kind of book. Then you can see what other authors they represent and check out if they are authors you admire. You can find out what the books sold for. Then you can decide if you want to query that agent.

Problem is that some writers don’t do their research. They see that an agent sold a book, any book, and they send an email query. Some agents are not happy, reports Media Bistro.
"Everytime I list a deal on Publishers Marketplace, I get a flurry of really stupid queries from people who are clearly just querying anyone with a live email address." (She claims she isn't alone, and that more and more agents have stopped including their email addresses in deal announcements because of all the useless queries.)

If more agents are unhappy because of this, PW may stop the practice of giving out email addresses. Or they may change who has access to the information.
"What PW has is exclusivity," she says. "If they had a deal database available only to the magazine subscribers, it would be a huge success, because to have a PW subscription means you're not a one-horse operation... I'd love to report deals to the trade only."

And then we’re back again to the high cost of the subscription.

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