Every week we close the print issue of PW with the Soapbox column, a venue that industry people have used this year to sound off on everything from Brexit to Amazon reader reviews to trying to find a literary agent, and more. Here are the ten most popular Soapbox columns from 2016.
10. How the Book Coverage Sausage Gets Made
"They say you don’t want to know how sausage is made. Book coverage is like sausage in that way: better not to know exactly how the gatekeepers of mainstream media choose which books to crown as must-reads each season—just swallow it down with a cold beer and call it a night."
9. When a Bookstore is Also a Safe Haven
"This new world we find ourselves in isn’t a known world. Even after we hear who the bombers or shooters are and what may have motivated them, there is so much left unexplained, so much at once terrifying and puzzling. Where better to go for answers, or, if not answers, shared bewilderment, than to an independent bookstore?"
8. Ever Try to Sell a Book? It's Not Easy
"As an independent book publisher for the past 24 years, I’m often asked to participate in Small Business Saturday, that counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday that encourages holiday shoppers to patronize small and local stores. When I agreed last year to set up at an author fair in a local shopping mall, it seemed like a good idea."
7. What Does Brexit Meat for Publishing?
"No doubt, there are a few people in the book world who voted to leave, but I don’t know who they are. We are a broad-minded bunch, generally speaking. Books make us so. When we land in Beijing, Bologna, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, or Sharjah, we feel part of an international community. So what does Brexit mean for publishing?"
6. 10 (Practically) Cringe-Less Self-Promotion Ideas for Authors
"I’ve made peace with self-promotion as a necessary affliction that perhaps can’t be cured, but most certainly can be treated. When played right, self-promotion can have a resounding ROI—Return on Investment—especially when guided by a few rules."
5. We Regret to Inform You
An author considers the rejection notice as fodder for humor.
4. 40 Reasons to Learn a Dead Language
"I began learning Latin six years ago, as I was approaching the age of 60. My baffled friends understood making the effort to learn a language that would facilitate foreign travel—French, Italian, even Hindi. But Latin? No one anywhere speaks it, and it’s notoriously difficult. To my friends it seemed a lot of effort for something 'useless.' Which is part of why I wanted to learn it."
3. Why Most Amazon Reader Reviews are Worthless
"I’ve been an agent for 40 years. Publishers may not like what I’m about to say, but my observation is that most Amazon and Barnes & Noble reader reviews are either fraudulent or, at best, useless in assessing the true merit of any given title."
2. Trying to Find a Literary Agent is the Worst Thing Ever
"Anyone who’s ever dated regularly, tried to score against LeBron James, or been a transplanted organ knows what it’s like to face rejection. But no one understands the pain of rejection better than a first-time novelist looking for an agent."
1. My Very Rough Two Weeks Working for Barnes & Noble
After a stint in her neighborhood chain bookstore, a publishing professional discovers that you can’t always go home again.