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Too much information

Friday nights are always the same at my house. The ol’ Grizzly Bear and I pop the cork on a bottle of wine, he kicks back in the recliner to watch Monk, and I retreat to my office to do a scan of my publishing industry info sources.

Publisher’s Marketplace offers a daily “Deal Lunch” detailing who got book deals where and for how much. Subscribers can access a huge data base, including info on who agents whom and what they're selling.

Media Bistro’s GalleyCat is an unending fount of delicious industry tidbits.

And then there are industry updates offered by Yahoo News, AP, BBC, NY Times, and I’m sure the list goes on, but that’s about all the information I can stand. It’s important to stay abreast of the biz, but all these abreast implants are overwhelming at times. This is one of those rare cases where there is such a thing as too much information.

It’s frankly depressing to read about a 19-year-old signing a six figure book deal. So much can and does happen in publishing, anecdotes like that really don’t further my knowledge or expertise. They just make me want to spit. Same with sales figures, reviews, and awards. I’m interested as a reader, but little of that PR blather is really relevant to my daily business decision making.

So what about the info that hits closer to home? I made the dreadful mistake of telling a celeb ghostwriting client about the Amazon sales rank on her book page, and her husband checked it practically every fifteen minutes for the next nine months, relentlessly updating her, me, and our editor with emails about it until he reached the end of his puppy run with the editor and she smacked his nose with the email equivalent of a rolled up newspaper. That stupid number is like a rectal thermometer. The little info it provides could be gotten more comfortably and accurately elsewhere.

Staying on top of those industry updates came in handy when I decided to change agents last year. I knew the players. Knowing what’s selling where and what lawsuits are going on helps me better serve my ghostwriting clients. There are many good reasons to stay informed. But there are just as many reasons to roll your eyes and ignore the lion’s share of the chatter.

Whatever's going on in the industry, at the beginning and end of every day, my fortune rises and falls on going on inside my head.


I can relate to the problem of information overload. As great a tool as it is, the 'net slurps up a lot of writing time.

Love BtO's new look!

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