What Watching Younger Can Teach You About The Publishing Industry

In case you’ve living under a rock for the last four years, TV Land’s hit show, Younger, was just renewed for a seventh season. When 40 year old Liza’s marriage ends, she struggles to find work in the publishing industry. With a daughter in college and bills to pay, decides to lie – get it, Liza lies – about her age. With the help of her oldest friend Maggie, and her years of wisdom, Liza passes as a 26 year old and gets an assistant’s job at Empirical Press.

Set in the New York publishing industry, Younger combines excellent storytelling, a talented cast, and a lot of books. To celebrate the show being renewed for season seven, here are 7 things the Younger TV show taught me about the publishing industry.

1. Print is not dead

Printed books and bookshelves full of your favorite reads are still more trendy than ever. If you need anymore proof, there’s a hot TV show all about books.

Beautiful bookish backdrops

Younger highlights the value of printed books using bookshelves, piles of manuscripts, book readings, signings, book fairs, and countless scenes with characters simply reading books.

Empirical’s offices have elegant shelves displaying classic and modern literature and sets have books on coffee tables and desks. Their Season 7 announcement graphic also has the cast in posing in front of rainbow bookshelves.

You can’t take shelfies with an ePub

The show runners have done an amazing job integrating the online book community into the script. From explaining what a shelfie is to referencing Book Twitter and Bookstagram, Younger is a reminder that book covers can be art.

Younger is a reminder that book covers can be art.

Take a Cassandra Clare cover for instance, though I’ll probably never read any of her books, I would buy them for the cover alone. In fact, I have a number of books bought solely for the covers.

You can’t take create spine poetry with a Kindle. Well, I suppose you can, but it’s not the same.

2. Opening sentences matter

In the episode, “I’m with Stupid”, Liza reads the opening lines from different manuscripts – each more disappointing than the last. She finally stumbles on a captivating manuscript and keeps reading. Publishers and editors receive hundreds of submissions daily. It’s their job to read.

Your book needs to stand out from the very first line.

3. It’s just not Empirical

Branding is important

Publishing houses have brands too. Your book might be amazing, but if it doesn’t match a publisher’s, they probably won’t look at it. In the show’s first season, Kelsey pitches a book based on a popular tumbler feed. The book was trendy, had an existing audience, and with their capable marketing department could sell. Empirical’s publisher, Charles, passed on the book because it wasn’t on brand.

Research before you query

Reading some of the books on a publisher’s roster can help you write compelling query letters – especially if you read books similar to yours.

Scanning through anticipated releases lists on Goodreads is another tactic you can use to identify publishing houses that are interested in books like yours. It might take some time but you’ll spot trends making it easier for you to find a potential fit.

Don’t give up

Sometimes it’s not the book, it’s just the timing. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll notice themes in each year’s anticipated releases list. 2019, for example, is the year for Afrocentric speculative fiction. Earlier this year N.K. Jemesin released a short story collection called “How Long Till Black Future Month” and After all, you wouldn’t want to submit your YA contemporary to Orbit Books, now would you?

Your book might be amazing, but if it doesn’t match a publisher’s, they probably won’t look at it.

There are hundreds more tips and tricks I could mention. Younger is a somewhat exaggerated but fairly realistic look into what it takes for books to be successful in 2019.

What are your favorite bookish movies and series?

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