So you can read my books

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


If you're looking for my entry for the QUERY BLOGFEST hosted by Jodi Henry :

{Anne Gallagher of PIEDMONT WRITER has put up a link to a post everyone who plans to write a query MUST READ : }

Does Publishing have a future? Do we as unknown writers?

Why is this such a big topic?

Why do bloggers and twitterers go on about how publishing may be doomed?

Because it hits to the core of who we are as a society.

We live and die by the printed word.

Communities change because of what has been written, and if Aldous Huxley is to be believed, society will suffer tremendously without it.

Nearly every day I read of another magazine or newspaper that is folding,

closing its doors and giving up the ghost of publishing.

Is this signaling the chaos before the end?

I'm an optimist for the publishing industry.

A pessimist for what lies ahead for struggling writers

Let me explain. Consider how many books are printed every single year.

In 2005 (the most recent year data was collected for),

there were 206,000 new titles, while the US saw 172,000.

That’s titles, not the actual number of books.

Say there was an average of 10,000 books printed per each title. (Probably a conservative estimate.)

That would mean at least 3,780,000,000 physical, paper books were printed. This is only new titles that were introduced that year.

How many of those books hit the NYTimes bestseller list?

How many sold their entire first print run?

How many made back the money that was spent on their physical production?

Not all of them.

Nor even most of them.

It’s relatively few that ever make it big.

The publishers know not every book produced will succeed.

But now in these dark economic times for publishing, it is very likely

that they will ask themselves,

"Why not save money and precious resources for most (if not all) of the titles that don’t have as much chance for immediate success?"

Translation :

the purchasing agents will slam shut the gates on most of the books brought to them by agents.

Those agents, in turn, will reject nearly every query sent them by unknowns.

So, yes, publishing will have a future. We, as unknown authors, may very well not.

What do you think?



  1. Hi,

    Great points in the scheme sll things publising.

    More and more pubs are opening their electronic windows and looking out on the big wide world of the unpubbed! Why?

    To have big named writers is a must: big returns gauranteed! But in all retail business there are middle-of-the-road shelf fillers and loss leaders (give-a-ways). One sees (2 for 1 deals all the time in supermarkets, and that same strategy has come to bookstores (online/offline).

    Publishers have to have cheap new work: meaning cheap new authors = small advances - none in cases of e-book deals!

    A cheap deal athor may miraculously turn into a golden nugget for both sides of the coin: great all round.

    Middle of the road deals are the backbone of publishing (genre authors with consistent following): tick-over and two-way profit makers.

    The big names take most of the credit and most of the money, and a straight win profit.

    Celebrities bios/novels are the risk factor, the take a chance books: sometimes they're winners more often than not losers on second books. They can drain the coffers fast on advertising promos and if no decent return on sales the cheap authors suffer the consequences.

    There are few geese authors laying golden egg books, and of those that are pubs are out to secure rights on them before an agent gets a look-in! A signed contract is that, signed. An agent after that cannot undo a dumb deal. But that said, agents are harder to acquire than pubs, and after all, what are they but middle men pecking away at author income alongside the tax man! ;)

    You takes your choice to sit on agent doorsteps or hammer on publisher doors: either way it's your choice and destiny will have a hand in your future as a writer.


  2. Umm, sorry about missing letters: most of my keys are blind from overusage!

  3. I dare say small press publishing or self-publishing may be the way to keep the gate open for a lot of the discouraged. Where there's a will, there's a way.

  4. ...cutting to the grit and grime of the matter, I daresay our only inlet may very well be by way of small presses and indie-publishers. I spent nearly a half dozen years receiving those rejection letters from the literary giants...armed with an agent. Eventually went on my own, narrowed my list to smaller presses...and boom, contract signed. It's not Disney Land, but it will get my story published, and from there...who knows. It's about believing in what we as writers have created...and pursuing the dream in any way possible:)
    Great post as always,

  5. Unknowns may have a more diffiuclt time finding their work accepted with larger publishers--as if it wasn't already difficult enough--but smaller publishing houses do offer an outlet.

    In the end, publishing is a business and if a small publisher, or large one, thinks the work will sell, they'll snap it up.

  6. Well, I am trying not to stress out about it too much. I don't see a lot of "new" writers out there being tested, but I do see them. And I have interviewed them. If I think about the future too much, I'll shut down as a writer. I can't have that happen. There will be window for me to crawl through if I keep moving forward. That's all I have control over.

  7. I choose to be optimistic and hope that between the love for printed words and the success of e-publishing that we WILL still have a future. It just may be different that what we originally envisioned.

  8. I think it's definitely a conservative time for traditional publishing. I keep hoping there might be some system that rises up -- a quality control 'stamp of approval' type system for books that may not have 'home run' written all over them, but are really GREAT books. A writer's guild and anonymous review type process... because the gap will probably be filled with self-publishing, but there NEEDS to be a means to distinguish the great from the 'should not have published yet'.

  9. I definitely saw a post-apocalyptic warzone, littered with demolished books and broken dreams as I was reading your post.

    No industry is safe in these hard times. But even if the publishing world starts to close in, even if it's harder and harder (if not almost impossible) to make the writer's hope real, that's no reason to not write.

    As long as there are people, there will be stories. And someone has to write them. :)

  10. Are you sure you don't want the prize? You can have an Amazon Voucher if you'd prefer, then I'd only need to give you the code.

  11. You just spoke the truth! I know many publishers who aren't accepting new work, and the whole industry has changed over the past ten years. They want the best sellers, the sure-hits, the celebrities, because the mid-list and below books don't make money.
    Ironically, only one out of ten 'best sellers' is really a best seller and makes money. Talk about throwing spaghetti on the wall!
    Yes, the industry is changing and fewere titles will come from the big boys - but there's still more options for writers today than ever before.

  12. Hi Mr. Doom and Gloom, LOL
    It IS true that the market is tightening. Publishers are not immune to the changing economy. All the more reason to polish, polish, polish those mss before they get out the door to the agents--our queries too!! (And yes, I've gotten full requests from not-as-tidy queries too, but I think we need to shine as much as we can so we're not closing any doors unnecessarily.)

  13. Yes, I've got plenty of other things to worry about as a writer rather than if the publishing biz will detonate (which it won't because there will always be writers and readers). Besides, those big-name talents were unknowns at one point.

  14. It is only profitable to put celebrity books on book shelves (Barnes & Noble and Walmart)now. All other books are POD (print on demand) and shopped on the internet.

    That is why I still enjoy buying books at a used bookstore. I like the variety and to open a paperback and read a few pages before I buy my science fiction.

    Avid book buyers use their Kindle, and are not going back. But, that is a good thing for new authors. Today may be a time of change and uncertainty for the big East Coast publishers, but today is also the best time ever to be a new author because the old gatekeepers of what gets published have been pushed aside, and good riddance.

  15. It is the authors that have a future. The established publishers haven't. Which is great!