Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Big Black Wednesday

Lest anyone think I'm an ostrich or a Pollyanna, yes I do know the bad news that's come out of the publishing industry in the last weeks:

1. Random House's restructure

2. Simon & Schuster layoffs

3. bad third quarter sales reports

4. Harcourt putting a freeze on submission (note--I'd heard Harcourt was having problems for a long time, so that one didn't surprise me).

I like to keep this blog upbeat and positive, but let me get this out of my system:

It sucks! It sucks! It sucks!

Ooo, that felt good. Anyway, I've come across a couple of takes on what's going on that lend some hope:

Neilson Bookscan reports positive increase in book sales in November, up from Nov. 2007.

A look at Random House's restructure by an agent (and former RH editor).

Then just for a downer:

I read last night on the NPR website a bookstore owner saying she will probably order fewer books, and books she would have done a smaller buy on, she'll pass on altogether (unless there's buzz about the book, then it will get ordered).

Arghhhhh!!! If all booksellers don't order the book, how will there be buzz about it?????

What's an author to do?

How I defeat the gloom and doom.

1. I recognized I can't do much about it (breathe, breathe, let it go).

2. I think of myself as a storyteller, not a novelist.

The method of getting stories into the hands of readers might change. But that doesn't matter to me. I will continue to tell stories whether people read them in print novels, on their Kindles, iPhones, e-Readers, or watch them on television screens. I might have to change my method of writing and getting the stories out there, but I still have stories I can tell, and I will continue to tell them.

But right now, there's gonna be no room for slackers. Not that there ever really was, but I'm feeling the pressure doubled to write something GOOD and more importantly, something SELLABLE.

That means, we can't be lesser clones of the bestsellers, and we can't write books that appeal to only twelve people. We have to be good and innovative, connect with our readers, and carve out a niche for ourselves--and at the same time give the editors something they can sell to reluctant booksellers.

This is a time of change, folks. It's real, it happens, it will happen again.

How will you meet the challenge?