(photo from the New York Public Library. I’m not sure what branch of the library this is, but can everywhere have book balconies? Clearly they are the best kind of balcony.)
A lot of people we talk to about books or jobs or just knowing more about the publishing industry (as it is a vast and also confusing industry) are in a state of ‘what is this industry, I don’t know it yet!’ which is a state we have some difficulty comprehending, because we tend to spend hours every day contemplating the publishing industry (possibly whilst simultaneously doing work, of course).
Why is it important for aspiring authors and publishing employees to know more about the publishing industry? Won’t you learn about it as you go?
Well, yes — but before you get that first book deal, or that first job, wouldn’t it be nice to know what you’re getting into? Wouldn’t you like to know if your boss-to-be is the protagonist of The Devil Wears Prada or if they’ve won the Eric Carle Museum’s award for a lifetime of great mentorship? If you’re really into ‘New Adult,’ wouldn’t it be great to know if the publisher you’re pitching your book to has publicly derided the category? If this paragraph has organizations or terms in it that you’ve never heard before, don’t you want to have an understanding of what they are — before you start interviewing for jobs or pitching books?
So! If you are one of those people who wants to know more about the publishing industry (possibly with an eye to being part of it someday), here’s a quick informational list for you.
Publishers’ Weekly is a publishing industry publication. They just write about publishing. All the time. If you get their daily newsletter, PW Daily, every day, and read it faithfully for a quarter-year, we guarantee you will gain a very reasonable understanding of the publishing industry.
PW also has some specialty e-newsletters just about things like comics, cooking, children’s books, religion, etc. You should consider checking those out, too.
Shelf Awareness is another publishing industry publication, aimed specifically at booksellers. They’re a great resource for you to learn about books that are currently coming out, awards and media that are occurring, and industry news. Their daily newsletter is super, and it’s a good representation of what the outward-facing issues are in the industry right now.
For more-frequent-than-daily updates on the publishing industry, you can check out Media Bistro‘s blog. They’ve got all sorts of information about the inside of the industry — and the outside too; their coverage includes book deals, but also book events, current media, and more.
Are you interested in learning about what books are selling to who? Publisher’s Marketplace is your go-to source for information about book deals — including who’s buying what from which authors and how much they’re paying. This is an especially valuable resource because as an author, you can know that you like a specific publishing house’s output — say, you really like Roaring Brook’s picture books. But there are five editors at Roaring Brook who all acquire picture books — which one is doing the books that are most up your alley?
If you’re interested in comics specifically, The Beat, The Comics Journal, and The Comics Reporter are all blogs that update multiple times a day. Between the three of them, you’ll get a moderately well-rounded sense of the comics industry.