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Jason Pinter

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12 Game Changers in Publishing

Posted: 09/15/10 03:55 PM ET

So the Huffington Post recently published their list of 100 Game Changers, but to my chagrin, outside of a few reality show stars they didn't list any authors--or editors or publishing visionaries. I'm hoping to remedy that. Below is my list of Game Changers in the world of publishing. Now, please keep in mind that this is a highly subjective list. There are certainly many more game changers in this industry, and I invite you to add your own game changers in the comments section. There are many brilliant publishing professionals or aspects of the industry that slipped my mind for whatever reason (cough, old age, cough, dementia). So this is about celebrating those who have changed the game, pushed it in a new direction, or added something new and different to the conversation. Again, these are far from the only 'Game Changers' in publishing--so hopefully commenters will add their picks to the discourse below.

Andrew Wylie
For years, the literary agent Wylie was known primarily for two things: his nickname ("The Jackal") and his incredible list of iconic award-winning and bestselling authors including Dave Eggers, Elmore Leonard, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie. This summer, however, Wylie made a different kind news by opening the doors of Odyssey Editions: an independent e-book venture that would publish many of esteemed clients' backlist titles exclusively on the Kindle. The ensuing furor forced a dialogue about the future of digital rights in an ever-changing landscape. Random House countered by refusing to acquire any new books from Wylie--however a truce was reached in August as Wylie shuttered Odyssey. Still, the controversy over digital rights to works published long before mobile devices were ever conceived rages on--and no doubt more shops like Wylie's will be coming in the near future.

Dawn Davis
Davis, who was recently promoted to Publisher of the HarperCollins Amistad imprint and Executive Editor at Ecco, has published an incredibly eclectic range of authors, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward P. Jones, The Pursuit of Happiness by Chris Gardner, controversial 'Video Vixen' Karrine Steffans, tennis champion Venus Williams, and media personality Steve Harvey (whose Think Like a Lady, Act Like a Man has spent over 60 weeks on bestseller lists).

J.A. Konrath/Seth Godin/Pete Hamill
In May, Konrath announced he would publish the seventh book in his Jack Daniels mystery series through Amazon Encore. In August, New York Times bestselling author and media guru Seth Godin announced he would no longer publish traditionally, selling his future books via his popular blog and website. In the same month, Little, Brown announced that bestselling author and journalistic icon Pete Hamill would release his next book, They Are Us, a tome about immigration, exclusively in digital. These three authors couldn't write in more diverse areas, but they collectively represent a shift in the way publishing works: established authors forgoing print for digital. Whether the Konrath/Godin/Hamill model can work as successfully for other authors is to be determine (the first two have substantial direct-to-reader platforms, and Hamill has the backing of a major publishing house), no doubt there will be others following their model--and more traditional publishers experimenting with straight-to-digital books.

Neil Gaiman
Gaiman helped change the way authors interact, as the hugely popular novelist, short story, screenwriter and comics writer has amassed nearly 1.5 million followers on Twitter (more than Kanye West, Ben Stiller, Entertainment Weekly,Russell Brand and Nick Jonas) . Posting frequently (nearly 15,000 tweets thus far) about his books, his personal life, links to blogs and other areas of his own interest, with lots of pictures taken from his daily routine. If Geek is Chic, Gaiman is the literary Anna Wintour.

Jonathan Karp
Karp, who replaced David Rosenthal as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Simon & Schuster, has a track record that would make entire imprints jealous. His resume is practically a literary who's-who: Laura Hillenbrand. Ted Kennedy. Christopher Hitchens. Dave Cullen's Columbine. Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club. Since being installed at S&S, he has binged and purged editorial and publicity talent: gone are Victoria Meyer, Sarah Hochman and Amanda Murray. In are Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Ben Loehnen and Anjali Singh. His unique vision--organize his department into 'teams' with edicated editors, publicists and marketers--represents a departure from the norm. The publishing world eagerly awaits to see how this new vision plays out.

Suzanne Collins
Unlike Bella Swan, Collin's hero, Katniss Everdeen, doesn't need protection from a clan of vampires or werewolves. Deadly whether shooting down fellow competitors with a bow and arrow or trapping her own food to prevent starvation, Katniss's quest to first win the Hunter Games and eventually organize a rebellion to overthrow the evil Capitol has captivated millions of readers worldwide. And with the massive success of the "Twilight" films, competition to direct the "Hunger Games" movie emerged with Gary "Seabiscuit" Ross beating out Oscar-winner Sam Mendes. Both a rollicking, page-turning adventure and frightening dystopian masterpiece, Collins has crafted a captivating trilogy brimming with action, suspense and romance--but fueled by a beating, angry, rebellious heart.

Dorchester Publishing
The mass-market publisher sent a shiver down the spine of traditional publishing when it announced that it would be shuttering its print division and reverting to digital-only publishing. Home to many acclaimed genre writers--including Christine Feehan and Jack Ketchum--the sea change left many authors homeless, and many wondering if Dorchester was merely the first domino to fall. Dorchester author Brian Keene summed it up well in a sad, moving blog post.

Jennifer Weiner/Jodi Picoult
#1 bestselling authors unafraid to take aim at sacred literary cows. What began as a series of tweets soon grew into a meme (#franzenfreude) and culminated a widely-spread and controversial interview on this website, which was then disseminated and dissected, criticized and applauded around the world. Weiner and Picoult dared challenge the literary gods, clamoring for the respect they felt fellow women writers everywhere deserved. Enough echoed their sentiment that these two writers became the de facto megaphone for those who felt women's literature has been disrespected or under-appreciated by the literary establishment.

Jonathan Franzen
Regardless of the furor regarding the media coverage of Freedom, nobody argued that Franzen is a literary genius, one of the most important writers of his, or possibly any other generation. That we are a witness to this is something to cherish.

Ben Greenberg
A Senior Editor at Grand Central Publishing, Greenberg has acquired books by luminaries in media (Joel Stein, Greg Gutfeld), politics (Ron Paul), music (Ozzy Osbourne, Vince Neil, Clarence Clemons), comedy (Zach Galifiniakis, Demitri Martin) religion (Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple), literary mashups (Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), and even professional wrestling (Bret Hart, Mick Foley). Greenberg has his finger directly on the pulse of many different industry veins.

Amy Einhorn
Most editors, when arriving at a new company or starting their own imprint, like to make a splash. Einhorn, formerly Editor-in-Chief of Grand Central (founding their '5 Spot' chick lit imprint) where she published bestselling authors like Amy Sedaris and Robert Hicks, opened Penguin's Amy Einhorn Books with a tsunami. Her first fiction acquisition, a little book called The Help by Kathryn Stockett, just celebrated its 75th week on the New York Times hardcover fiction list. Which means the last week The Help was NOT on the bestseller list was Valentine's Day...2009.

David Thompson
Thompson, co-owner of the renowned Murder by the Book mystery bookstore in Houston and Publisher of the independent crime publisher Busted Flush Press, tragically passed away on September 13th at the age of 38th. While MBTB was one of the country's preeminent independent mystery bookstores, Thompson was also a true entrepreneur, founding Busted Flush Press with the mission to commission original anthologies (Damn Near Dead), reprint old mystery classics (such as early works by Daniel Woodrell and David Handler), and acquire/publish brand new fiction from today's most critically acclaimed crime writers (Tower by Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen). Thompson's unending love and support of books and writers and his innovative spirit will be missed.

JASON PINTER is the bestselling author of five thriller novels (the most recent of which are The Fury and The Darkness), and is an agent with the Waxman Literary Agency. His first novel for young readers, Zeke Bartholomew: Superspy!, will be released in the summer of 2011. Visit him at www.jasonpinter.com or follow him on Twitter.

 
 
 

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