Book News: Book Report for the Week of April 29th on Forces of Geek

Microsoft Invests in Barnes & Noble 
Today it was announced that computer giant Microsoft has invested $300 million in a subsidiary of the Barnes & Noble Nook ereader.  Microsoft will own 17.6% of the Nook subsidiary, valuing it at $1.7 billion.  Unsurprisingly, Barnes & Noble shares are up more than 70% pre-marketing trading, and it seems clear which side Microsoft is taking in the competitive Kindle vs. Nook ereader battle.  Microsoft will also begin providing a Nook application on its new Windows 8 platform.

The final book in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh TrilogyBlackout, is due out May 22 (my birthday!).  Here’s some tidbits on what readers can expect from the book, as well as some fun puzzles to solve from the publisher, Orbit, and a giveaway of all three book in the series from SF Signal.
An interesting article from Quill & Quire discussing some of the more disliked authors in the publishing world, including David McKee and Stephenie Meyer.
Bestselling author Jackie Collins is self-publishing a book, The Bitch, in a new version.  On her website, she talks about why she’s doing this.

Faces of Publishing: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management (May, 2012)

Michelle Brower

Michelle Brower

From Michelle’s Profile page: “I began my career in publishing in 2004 while studying for my Master’s degree in English Literature at New York University, and have been hooked ever since. During that time, I assisted the agents Wendy Sherman and Joelle Delbourgo, and found myself in love with the process of discovering new writers and helping existing writers further their careers. After graduating, I became an agent with Wendy Sherman Associates, and there began representing books in many different areas of fiction and non-fiction. My list includes the authors Rebecca Rasmussen, Tara Conklin, Cassie Alexander, S.G. Browne, Michele Young-Stone, and Julia Wertz just to name a few, and it is equally split between fiction and non-fiction.”

Folio Logo

Alex C. Telander: What was it that made you decide to become an agent, and when did you know?

Michelle Brower: An agent came to my college to speak, and I was totally amazed- you can get paid to read books and talk to people all the time?  I didn’t know for sure that was what I wanted to do, but I got an internship and that sealed the deal.

Alex: How did you become an agent?

Michelle: Oddly enough, I answered an ad on Craigslist for a part-time internship.  Once I started, I didn’t want to stop, and worked my way up to agent within that company.

Alex: What does an ordinary day look like for you?

Michelle: I usually start in the morning answering emails from the night before and returning calls.  I usually have at least a few meetings or phonecalls scheduled every day, and I have lunch with an editor 2 or 3 times a week (sometimes more!).  I often have drinks with an editor after work- really, the only time I have to read or edit happens after work or on the weekends.

Alex: What’s your favorite part about being an agent?

Michelle: The thrill of discovery- nothing beats reading something you love and then helping to get it published.

Alex: What do you not like so much about being an agent?

Michelle: The work is absolutely endless- I never feel caught up.  But honestly, it’s hard to find something to complain about.

Alex: How many clients do you have?  Is this your ideal number, or are you always looking for new authors?

Michelle: I have about 30 authors, but some are more active than others.  I am always looking for new clients, because I love working with good people who have good books, and publishing is a cycle.  Sometimes I’m so busy I couldn’t imagine taking someone new on, and other times I am just hungry to get a new project to work on.

Alex: What are your thoughts on ebooks and the future of publishing?

Michelle: E-books are a big part of the publishing landscape, there’s no doubt about it; since I mostly work with content, to me it’s just another way to read.  Personally, I split my time between physical books and e-books about 50/50.

Alex: What’s your opinion on self-publishing?

Michelle: I think self-publishing is a tricky business; lots of people leap in without a plan, and lots of people know exactly what to do to connect to their audience.  I applaud those who know who their audience is and how they will reach them, and caution those who self-publish just because they’ve been rejected.  Just remember, when you self-publish, you have to learn to be a publisher, not just a writer.

Alex: What’s the best advice you can offer writers looking to get published?

Michelle: Honestly, your book is the key.  If you have a good book, someone will want to publish it.  I so often hear people talking about publishing as if that was their end goal; the end goal should be to write something you are extremely proud of and be able to share it with others.  Also, your first draft is *never* your final draft, so learn to love revising.

Alex: Do you ever have time to read for fun, and if so, what do you like to read?

Michelle: I do!  I make time, even if it means falling behind on my slush, because it’s important to stay enchanted in this business.  There’s nothing I love more than reading a book that I love and that I have absolutely no stake in.  I usually read literary fiction, although I can be easily persuaded to read anything in the crime, horror, or fantasy genres.

Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Michelle: Do you like cookies?  Because I bake them.  And cupcakes, and sometimes fudge.  I dare anyone to give me an excuse to bake a cake.  I also obsessively watch multiple seasons of TV shows (Breaking Bad, anyone?) and travel whenever I can.

Alex: Are you accepting queries right now?  How should writers query you?

Michelle: I am- writers should take a look at foliolit.com, check that I handle their type of book, and send me a query via the query form under my profile with 10 pages in the body.  I do sometimes close myself to queries in order to catch up, but I always will open back up again; just keep an eye on the website for up-to-date information.