Sara Nelson is a vice president, executive editor and special advisor to the publisher at Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins. Before joining the publisher, she was the editorial director for books and Kindle at Amazon, the books editor at O, Oprah’s magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly.
This year at DBW 2017, Sara is part of a session in which she will help provide an inside look at what’s going on at the big publishers.
We spoke with Sara about her DBW session, her career, and what the biggest issues in the industry are.
Your career has been so wide-ranging. From where you sit, what is the state of the industry today?
I think the industry is always in better shape than people inside it tend to believe it is. Publishing has always been difficult, and while it’s undeniable that new technology, the Internet, large retailers and other big, bad boogeymen are putting pressure on the business, they are also helping it in innumerable ways.
Ebooks, for example, are bringing writing to many more readers, but the ebooks themselves bring less profit to the publishers (than traditional hardcovers). So there’s give and take, good and bad.
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The Future is Digital Book Discovery, Not Distracting Gimmicks (Futurebook)
Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine, published a book this year titled The Inevitable. In it he describes a number of ways that future mortals might experience their best-loved products and services. I recommend it. Especially if you’re struggling to align your digital karma with concepts like “filtering,” “becoming,” and “cognifying,” (and if you’re reading this on an iPhone whilst listening to Spotify on the 7.45 to London Bridge, then I’d wager you are).
4 Things You Should Know About Book Review Blogs (Creative Penn)
Reviews are essential for book marketing – they provide social proof that our books are engaging and reader-worthy. They also have an effect on the algorithms on bookseller sites. Book review bloggers provide an essential service for writers looking for reviews. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about approaching these professional readers about your book.
PRH UK Returns to Negotiate New Collective Agreement (Pub Lunch)
After a tumultuous week of stories that do not fully align, Penguin Random House UK and the two unions representing some of their employees are talking again, and reporting progress towards a new agreement.
Realities of Publishing Which I Find Hard to Imagine (BookMachine)
There was recently an article about things that used to be part of a publisher’s day which millennials may find hard to imagine. As a millennial, I don’t necessarily find it difficult to comprehend something I haven’t experienced, and think it’s great how technology has progressed. However, there are a few things which I actually find hard to imagine about publishing, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Germany Expects Record Holiday Book Sales (Pub Perspectives)
With only a few shopping days to Christmas, German booksellers say they’re happy with holiday book sales so far—and there might be even greater things to come.
Iceland’s Jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood (Pub Perspectives)
The Icelandic publishing industry puts a major emphasis on holiday sales, with Jólabókaflóð this year carrying more than 840 titles.