Publishing Asks Why It Is In a Rapidly Descending Handbasket
Yesterday I received a few solicitous inquiries from friends and/or fans asking if Wednesday’s massive publishing industry torpedoing (chronicled here by Andrew Wheeler) had somehow sucked me into its briny wake. The answer, in brief, is no. I’m fine, my books under contract are fine, and while I’m as concerned as anyone would be about their chosen industry going all explody around them, for various reasons I’m personally well-positioned to get through this stuff reasonably well. So: No worries here. I appreciate the concern.
That said, these are gruesome times for publishing, and a lot of folks are not as well-positioned as I am. Imprints have vaporized, layoffs have begun, and it’s better-than-even odds that a number of authors and books are going to get shaved off of publishing lists. 2009 is also likely to be a singularly lousy time to be an aspiring debut author, as publishing houses consolidate their lists and focus their resources on established avenues (i.e., spend their money on people who are already bestsellers) rather than seeking out new folks. Basically, life’s gonna suck in publishing for the next year or possibly two.
You ask: What can I do to help things suck less? Well, in a larger, overarching sense, there’s not much you can do — publishing isn’t the only industry that’s hurting at the moment, as you might be aware, should you keep track of the news. We’ve all got to get through this crap together. In the smaller, more immediate sense, however, there sure is something you can do: Buy some damn books.
Fortunately, this advice is well-timed: Books are inexpensive yet valued objects, which means that they make lovely gifts for whatever holiday festivities you subscribe to this time of year. Now is a fine time to introduce friends and loved ones to some of your favorite authors — and in doing so, you’re boosting that author’s sales, which will make his or her publisher marginally less liable to dump their shivering ass onto the street. You’re giving a gift a loved one will appreciate, you’re doing your favorite authors a favor, and you’re doing your part to keep editors and publishers from hurling themselves out of high-rise windows. Truly, everybody wins.
So, go: Make this a bookish holiday season. You know you want to anyway. I, my fellow authors and a grateful publishing industry thank you in advance for your cooperation, and for your seasonal purchases.