What Have You Done to Get an Early Look at a Book?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Bribe another word for love

T-shirt available for sale on www.zazzle.com

Literary scouts, as discussed in today’s feature article by Emily Williams, like much of those in the publishing industry, work in mysterious ways. For them, as well as for agents, editors, and almost anyone else in the publishing chain, getting the earliest possible read on a book—whether as a proposal or manuscript—is a key part of becoming a success in the business. The earlier you can act on something that’s hot, the better.

When I was an editor at Publishers Weekly, I was once approached by development director at a major film studio who wanted me to send him a list of starred reviews from the PW database prior to their being released to the public. He needed to know—particularly with genre books—what was likely to be good, but perhaps overlooked. The big stuff, he was already getting. It was the small, quirky, quality stuff he wanted.

I know I never sent him early reviews, as such, but I do know I recommended a handful of titles that I had myself read in advance and was planning on suggesting for stars. He did end up optioning one book that I suggested and, a few days later, a pricey bottle of champagne arrived from Morell & Co. via courier, with a note attached that said “More of the same please.”

I still have that bottle, having never opened it out of a vague sense of guilt at having done something vaguely illicit.

So, the question is: How far have you gone to get an early look at a book? Bribes in the form of fancy lunches? Begging? Favors of another sort?  And, if given the opportunity, what might you do to get your hands on the next Dan Brown/Stephenie Meyer early?

Confess in the comments below or let us know via Twitter using hashtag #ppbonus.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.