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Sep 2, 2010

Reading Revolution, Ongoing

Here's what Lori Perkins wrote to a new horror writer who has an agent but still hasn't been able to find a publisher:

"Print publishing is in turmoil right now. Leisure Books has effectively gone out of the print business, and B&N and Borders are having extreme financial difficulties. Mass market sales are suffering during the recession and horror is mass market. It's also summer. So, in all likelihood nothing is happening and nothing will be happening soon. I think it's almost impossible to place a first horror novel right now in print.... I do think epub is probably the way to go for horror right now."

According to CJ Cherryh, it's not just newbies, but even established writers who are hurting in this market. For those of you who don't know, she, Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher have an online of their own to keep their backlist available, called Closed Circle. More and more authors are doing this, and it's one of the things I hope to talk about in this series. CJ told me:

Income from backlists has gone from handsome to practically non-existent in a handful of years, so a lot of writers are really hurting. Those of us who formed Closed Circle (which is just us!) each have different problems with today's market, but it's not the publishers' fault, except that an industry that used to seal a deal with a handshake and operated on Victorian transport notions suddenly found itself in the computer age, and faced with business school graduates that view books the same as cans of tomato soup---a buyer can get a book in production killed. Literally killed. That's what publishers are up against, and since oil companies bought up the publishing houses, nobody upstairs cares. What have you done for me lately is the theme, and publishers are book people who are agonizing over the situation as much as the writers. And you can quote that on the blog, if you like. [Thanks! - TM]

The NY houses aren't the enemy: they're in the same foxhole. But little houses may have to save the books the NY houses would love to publish if they could get it past the Committee. I could tell you endless stories, but they all boil down to exactly what you said: readers and writers and publishers need to grab hold of the internet and use it aggressively, to promote new books, to help sift the do-reads, and to keep bread on the table of those who give readers the good stuff. What worries me is that editorial experience is just as threatened as the good writers are.

Agreed. Most editors I know love books. Otherwise, believe me, they would have become doctors like their mothers wanted.


Nicole said...

I do believe e-books and 'real' books can live in harmony ;p But it's going to take a major overhaul!

Elliot Grace said...

...books will never go by the wayside, but when purchasing a novel can be as easy as a point and click on one's e-reader, well...

Brad Jaeger said...

Mockingjay sold nearly half a million copies in the first week.