Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Morning Round-up

Baker shrugs off slow economy, turns in big year

Though many publishers have struggled to advance into the headwind that is the current economy, Baker Publishing Group just turned in extremely impressive numbers for their most recent fiscal year (ending April 30th). From this week’s Publishers Weekly:

“Baker Publishing Group reported record results for its fiscal year ending April 30, 2008, with publishing sales up 16%, to $57.9 million. President Dwight Baker emphasized that although sales of its bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven helped the company achieve the gain, "this is much more comprehensive, with growth in all divisions." Revell was up 26 %; Chosen, 25 %; Baker Books, 15 %; Baker Academic, 13 %; Brazos, 10 %, and Bethany House, 9 %. "In just about all channels and all categories we are up," Baker said.”
As PW mentions, blockbuster books like 90 Minutes in Heaven—a title that found its way on just about every bestseller list in the industry--certainly help, but Baker posted gains across just about every imprint they have, which shows a keen eye for building momentum across genres.

Congrats to Dwight Baker and the executive team at Baker Publishing Group for such a strong year. Kudos are also due to Deonne Beron, B.J. Heyboer, Caitlin Mackenzie and the entire publicity team for their savvy promotion of Baker titles.

Writers' League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference schedule announced

This year’s conference features Sara Nelson, Editor-in-Chief of Publishers Weekly, as the keynote speaker, along with editors from Crown, Thomas Dunne, Seal and other top houses, literary agents from Sterling Lord, Triada US, Full Circle Literary Mgmt and other top agencies, as well as a number of aspiring authors. It also features panel discussions on a variety of literary topics, including the one P&P organized, that boasts industry media from Publishers Weekly, Mediabistro’s GalleyCat, The Dallas Morning News, The Austin American Statesmanand KUT, Austin's NPR affiliate.

I don’t know of another conference outside of BEA that puts this many publishing heavyweights in one place. I asked outgoing Executive Director John Pipkin how the conference has attacted such a great group...

"The main reason that the Writers' League of Texas continually attracts top agents and editors to its annual conference has everything to do with the professionalism of the aspiring writers who attend," says Pipkin. "Agents and editors regularly tell us how impressed they are with the level of talent and the quality of writing that they find here in Austin, and this keeps them coming back. The conference has become an important recruitment and networking tool for many agents who are looking for new talent, and we have earned a solid reputation in publishing circles for running a first-class event."
For decades, Austin has been the muse of many a songwriter, launching careers of aspiring artists at South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Already widely renowned for its music scene, it is nice to see Austin's literary prowess starting to get noticed. Thanks to a well-connected writers’ community and a city with a great reputation, publishing insiders around the country are eager to make the trip.

You can view the full schedule here. If you are an author shopping a manuscript that wants face time with some of the industry's top agencies (23 represented at this conference), there is no better place than this event. You can register here.

Live BEA updates coming next week

For those of you sitting out the west coast swing of BEA, in between meetings, panels and cocktail parties I’ll be updating the blog with pics from the event, so keep an eye out for updates…

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