Publishing Today: A Quiz and Strange Facts Indeed

I’ve just finished my annual trip between houses plus a valuable writer’s conference, but along the way I decided you might enjoy your own, brief trip through the world of publishing. We started with traditional publishers, moved on to small presses, then indie publishing, but today before we tackle publishing and readers, let’s take time for a rest stop.

QuizRemember two weeks ago in my small presses blog I promised a quiz? Don’t you? Subtract one point from your score. It”s time to see if you’ve been paying attention these past weeks of Publishing Today. Here goes:

1–What famous author spurred on the indie publishing movement by publishing a novel in segments on his website and asking readers to send in donations?

  1. Clive Cussler
  2. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  3. Stephen King
  4. Danielle Steele

2–Which of the following is NOT a reason for choosing indie instead of traditional publishing?

  1. Indie publishing gives authors control over content and marketing
  2. An author chooses to write in a less popular genre
  3. An author wants to choose her own deadlines and cover art
  4. Indie publishing is easier and less time consuming

3–A hybrid author is one who:

  1. Drives a car that uses two types of power
  2. Experiments with mixing genres like horror with romance
  3. Holds a day job in addition to writing
  4. Publishes both traditionally and independently

4–The paperback novel was pioneered in:

  1. 1877
  2. 1901
  3. 1935
  4. 1977

5–The term “vanity publishing” means:

  1. The world of beauty or fashion plays heavily into the story
  2. The novel’s major character is a narcissist
  3. The novel is part of a genre that began with Thackeray’s Vanity Fair
  4. The publisher requires money from an author to put his book into print

6–A press is considered small if:

  1. It records sales of less than $50 million
  2. It refuses to publish bestselling authors
  3. It offers authors much smaller royalty rates
  4. It only publishes literary fiction

Enough? You’ll find the correct answers to the quiz at the bottom. But just so you know? Number 4 was a trick question because I never told you the date for the first paperback novel. In fact I only learned it today. However if you guessed 1935, you’re correct. So give yourself a pat on the back and an extra point. A British publisher named Allen Lane pioneered the paperback, and the first American paperbacks appeared in 1939, titles by Shakespeare and Agatha Christie.

Were you surprised it took that long for paperbacks to emerge? Here are more fun facts about publishing.

  • The longest sentence ever printed was in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (most likely NOT in the musical). Care to guess how many words? 823. Word Press likes to complain about the length of my sentences. I’m trying to imagine how much fun WP would have with VH.
  • Do you know which country reads more books per capita than any other? That’s right, it’s not the U.S. The honor goes to Iceland.
  • Have any idea which U.S. president averaged one book a day? Guessed Kennedy? Wilson? Lincoln? Nope. The answer is Theodore Roosevelt, who was truly a fascinating man. Can we say speed reader?
  • Do you know who purchased the world’s most expensive book and what the title was? The purchaser was Bill Gates and the book was Codex Leicester by Da Vinci.

And how about ending a lightweight blog with lightweight author facts?

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lived next door to Mark Twain. I wonder what they talked about?
  • William Burroughs, of Tarzan fame, accidentally shot and killed his common-law wife during a drunken game of William Tell. We can all learn from this.
  • From grim to embarrassing? Alexandre Dumas fought his first duel at age 23. I don’t know if his opponent fell to the ground, but apparently Dumas’s pants did.
  • Detective fiction author Dashiell Hammett was also a private detective assigned to track down a stolen Ferris wheel. Do you suppose there were so many littering the countryside that this was a tough assignment?
  • Agatha Christie called poor Hercule Poirot ‘a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep’. She was probably not alone.
  • Lots more facts where these came from. Visit and find out what word Dr. Seuss included in Hop on Pop to make sure his publisher was paying attention.

I’ll need to re-read this blog on the days when publishing seems no fun at all. How about you?

Meantime I’m enjoying this series, and I hope you are, too. Next week is the final blog on Publishing Today, and it’s all about you, the reader. See you then.

**Answers to the quiz: #1-3; #2-4; #3-4; #4-3; #5-4; #6-1


  1. Pat Kennedy on September 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

    What fun! I actually got 2 right! I guess I will ne d to read more instead of scanning! Thanks Emilie! Keep out brains in gear!

    • Emilie Richards on September 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Quizzes are fun to put together, too. Glad you enjoyed it, and two’s not bad at all!

  2. Royvia on September 13, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Great post.

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