Category Archives: industry

See You at Indie Bookstore Day

We all know how great Record Store Day is, right? Well, Independent Bookstore Day is going to be just like that, but with fewer bearded guys talking about Built to Spill*.

I’ll be at Greenlight’s Photo Booth at 2:00pm. Come say hello! We can compare our book hauls. I have my eye on The Monkey Wrench Gang and NYRB Classics’ The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll.

Indie Bookstore Day at Greenlight


*Just kidding! There will be the exact same amount of bearded guys talking about Built to Spill.


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Two Things for Your #SXSW Monday, Maybe? Why Not?

sxsw-interactive-logoFriends! If you’re down in Austin for South by Southwest Interactive, I’m speaking on a panel with my colleagues Iris Blasi and Jeff Umbro. We’ll be discussing book publishing’s new revenue streams, the unheralded (and essential) parts of the industry, and what writers can do in 2015 for success in 2016, 2017…

Disrupting Innovation: Book Publishing and New Media
5-6pm, Hyatt Regency Austin Texas Ballroom 2-3
208 Barton Springs Rd

And! Thanks to the excellent folks at Chronicle Books, I’m signing copies of Conversation Sparks:

Book Signing, Before the Book Even Comes Out
3:20-3:40pm, Austin Convention Center
500 E Cesar Chavez St, Level 4, just outside of Ballroom G

Words cannot express my terror at this book signing. I’m bringing my sketchpad to distract myself from the sounds of crickets sure to accompany the empty line.

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Let’s Throw a Party

conversation sparks launch party banner

The best parts about finishing Conversation Sparks? Realizing I could plan the launch party. Mark your calendars! This will be a hybrid trivia contest, scavenger hunt, literary mingle, and straight-up party.

Conversation Sparks: Wine, Writers’ Secrets, & the World’s Best Small Talk
Wednesday, April 15th, 7:30pm at Greenlight Bookstore

I’m transforming the bookstore into a social puzzle with trivia, secrets, and prizes hidden among the stacks. (The wine will out in the open.) There will be surprises throughout the night, all ensuring you will leave 8% more interesting and armed with the best conversation starters in the entire world.

Map  |  Facebook Event


And if you’re thinking, “Ryan, I want to pre-order your book before it arrives on April 7th. What should I do?” Glad you asked. I recommend calling your local indie and pre-ordering it through them. (If you have Amazon gift cards, here’s their link.)

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My New Job with BOMB Magazine

bomb magazine coversAfter a summer freelancing with W. W. Norton and finishing up my book with Chronicle (Spring 2015!), I’m thrilled to announce I’ve joined the excellent team at BOMB Magazine. 

I’ll be building on the excellent work by my predecessor Charles Day to expand BOMB‘s digital and physical presence. This means: more events! more experimentation! more everything

While I’m on the subject, here are a few of my favorite BOMB pieces from the last few years:

(You should sign up for their excellent Weekend Reads newsletter as well.)

And if you’d like to destroy my brief spell of inbox zero, my professional email is ryan {at}

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Into the Unknown

I have some exciting job news to share! Or rather, no job news: I’ve recently left Atavist Books to take some time off and re-evaluate my next move. Why? Five reasons:

Is this a financially sound decision? Perhaps not. Will this be personally fulfilling? I think so. As you can guess from the links above, I’ve been casting a critical eye on how I might create more value with my work.

Of course, I’m not spending my days in a bathrobe, binging on HBO GO. My trivia book with Chronicle proceeds apace, and I’m thrilled to be freelancing with W. W. Norton on digital marketing and advertising for Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys. (Read it. It’s great.)

I’m also working on two very exciting large endeavors… which I can’t talk about quite yet. But trust me: exciting. I can talk about Laser Didion, which is coming to BEA on Saturday the 31st. Hit me up for details.

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The PEN World Voices Workshop: n+1’s “How to Do Theory in a Literary Magazine”

There’s an almost sitcom predictability to a group of people debating literary theory. The earnest populist. The contrarian. The grammarian. The blowhard who prefaces every response with a recitation of his CV. The nihilist (last week, the existentialist). The expert in 20th-century Newfoundland lit. 

It’s ripe for satire, and yet I miss it terribly. After several years in the wilds of corporate America, I wondered if I could find a group of like-minded adults without incurring grad-school debt.

The PEN World Voices workshop attempts to answer this question. Around twenty of us gathered in the Public Theatre’s gorgeous library, seated around a large wooden table in leather chairs the color of chocolate: an architect, a Bulgarian professor of literature, a smattering of art critics and graduate students, a few curious readers/writers, even a farmer from Vermont. Who better to moderate than n+1‘s Nikil Saval? The room felt like the fulcrum between the journal’s antipodal “MFA vs. NYC.” And also the kind of room which inspires me to use words like antipodal.

Saval started us off with a brief history of n+1 and their central editorial inquiry: Is there a space between the academy and the world of mainstream journalism to write about literary theory? What would it look like? 

I’m a total sucker for this stuff. There was a pleasant symmetry between n+1‘s mission and the workshop, this search for something between a master’s program and a book reading. Saval handed out a few short texts–Louis Menand on Paul de Man, James Wood on Teju Cole, Mark Greif on exercise–but didn’t insist we read them in full. He didn’t lecture. Even when we slipped from discussing the theory in the texts to reviewing its practice, Saval let the discussion travel its circuitous route. As a nihilist, I don’t know if I would have been so patient. As a New Yorker, I have my fingers crossed PEN creates more workshops like this one.


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Does This Need a Website?

My colleagues in publishing know the scenario. There’s a book everyone in the house is excited about. It lends itself to world-building and digital/interactive material. And there might even be a bit of money in the budget(!). So let’s create a standalone destination site!

Of course, the question rarely asked in these brainstorming meetings: Just because we want to, is it worth the time, money, and resources?

It’s like opening a restaurant: you have to gird yourself for the high rate of failure. Why so high? Let’s define what success means here. It should provide enough value to merit its existence. It should sufficiently entice users to take the next step in reading the book (or watching the movie). It should appeal to strangers as well as the fans who want to share it with their social circles. And its design and UX should reflect the aesthetics and flavor of the book or film. It’s tough.

So a tip of the hat to the people behind Under the Skins digital marketing. They’ve created three austere sites that echo the spirit of the (excellent, must-see) film:   |  |

These hit that sweet spot of pulling from the universe of the film without giving too much away. And, crucial for a film in limited release, they provide plenty of reason for people like me to share with my friends…





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