Friday, 18 July 2014

The Publisher Effect

Since becoming a blogger, I've become way more aware of publishers. It's kind of hard not to when you're as deep in it as I've become. And there are certain things I've noticed.

1.) The publisher/imprint a book is released by matters.
2.) There are editors I trust implicitly.
3.) The accessibility of a publishers' ARCs directly effects the books reviewed on this blog and the books I buy.

So, point 3 is kind of obvious, but let's discuss these things, yes? I'll pair 1 and 2 together since they're along the same vein.

The Publisher/Editor Effect

In my years of reading, I've noticed that certain publishers and I...just don't work. I'm not naming names, but I've noticed in particular this one major publisher hasn't put out anything I've really enjoyed, even if in theory I should have. Several of their titles were SO my kind of thing, but nope. Bored. Nothing I can pin point usually, I just had 0 interest while reading.

But I've also noticed that one of their imprints I LOVE. Pretty much everything from that imprint, honestly. The imprint is (to my knowledge) just contemporary stuff. And I've enjoyed their adult titles with no problem. So, I used to be sure it was imprint based, but I'm now wondering if it's just that I don't like their non-contemporary YA. I think I have one of their titles that's contemporary but not from the imprint I love on my TBR, so I'll be able to test that theory at some point in the near-ish future.

On the other hand, some imprints I can really count on for quality stuff, usually because of specific editors. There's the imprint I mentioned above that I obviously can't name. At Harper, I've noticed Greenwillow puts out a TON of amazing fantasy. I haven't read much of it, but I have a lot of it on my TBR because how can I not? I also know that I tend to really enjoy Balzer+Bray titles there, especially those edited by one specific editor. This became especially clear when I got a package of just her books and have loved every single one I picked up so far (one was a late enough release that I haven't picked it up yet). She also recently acquired a title I read on submission when I was interning and LOVED to pieces. I knew while I was reading it that it would be her kind of thing and if my boss couldn't get it, she was definitely the best option. Another editor at Harper did a couple of amazing books and recently switched to another house and has already acquired like three or four titles I instantly added to my TBR because they sound amazing and I trust her.

So clearly, these things matter because editors matter. Something I kind of knew, but has really been hammered home with my internship and these recent thoughts, is that every editor is going to have a different vision for a manuscript. It may not totally change the story, but what you'd get giving the same manuscript to every editor would be SO different and those differences can be huge. They also all have different tastes so maybe the publisher that isn't working for me just has editors with taste that doesn't align with mine as well as it should in theory.

Has anyone else noticed a bias towards certain publishers/imprints/editors?

ARCs Matter

I said in my blogging confessions post last week that I need ARCs to blog, even though I don't really care about release dates in my reviewing/reading schedules. Well, ARCs and egalleys make up most of my TBR at this point, no matter how many books I've bought. And they DO get priority. If I'm in the mood for a certain genre, but not necessarily a certain book, I'm going to look through the ARCs and egalleys I have that fit that need before I even consider the books I've purchased.

So yes, I have ARCs that are rather old. But I have a decent number of purchased books and gifted books that are even older because they get neglected.

But only certain publishers easily give me access to ARCs/egalleys. Others consistently deny me or I just don't have contacts there to get in touch with, so my only chance to pick up any of their titles are at conferences. Even then, as NYCC is one of my main conferences, I don't feel AS big a need to review those titles in a timely fashion since this isn't a professional conference and they're given out to readers, not necessarily bloggers. So, BEA titles and things that come in the mail get priority over those.

Plus, at conferences, I'm going to be most aware of titles from publishers' I get things from. I keep up to date so I know what's available, even though it's less likely I'll grab them at a conference since I can get them through other means. I tend to be semi-aware of the other publishers, but some I just don't hear much about because other bloggers don't get anything from, so I don't even know what to look for or ask about when I do go to conferences and at many I've been to, it's been too busy for me to ask the publicists.

That then effects my book buying. I had been buying pretty freely before, but I'm now very limited and really only want to get things I have a good feeling I'll love, which means sticking to things from the imprints and editors and authors I trust and things I've seen the bloggers I trust love. So it cycles back to relying on mostly things I've gotten as ARCs/been reading for years or friends have gotten as ARCs (and many of them mostly get from the same publishers I do). And now that my budget is REALLY tight, I'll pretty much only be buying books I've already read and loved as ARCs. And what I don't pick up for signings is what gets first priority each year on my Christmas wish list/gift card book buying.

So, not only do ARCs enable me to continue blogging, but they also really effect the material that comes on the blog and on my shelves. I kind of hate admitting they matter that much, but at this point in my life, they do.

Basically, my reading life and this blog depend SO MUCH on things I have no control over. It's all about the publishers and what they want to do and who they hire and if they like me and how they publicize books. Which is the kind of thing that makes me uncomfortable.

I don't know if I'll try to ignore things more or change my reading habits, but it's just something interesting to think about and I wonder if any of you have ever though about all of this as well.

--Julie

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