Monday, December 08, 2008

Publishing biz bailout

Has everyone been reading the paper, listening to the news and the online reports about the publishing biz?

My publisher, Harcourt, now merged with Houghton Mifflin to be Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has a six month moratorium on buying new manuscripts. Whoa, Nellie,

There's been a shake-up at Random House, too.

Publishing has been circling the drain for some time and the gurgles are becoming louder.

All this talk of bailouts--what about publishing? In my view, books are more important than cars and lots and lots of people are employed in the publishing industry. Why aren't publishers going to Washington?

Maybe I just don't understand politics. If I were a publisher, that's where I'd be headed.

New books are more important (to me) than new cars.

An editor came on my show last year and said too many books were being published, but how could publishers stop publishing--it's what they do: publish books.

If anything should slow down, it should be self-published books. Except for a rare few, I would venture to say no one reads self-published books, except family and close friends. I'm harsh, I know.

Yet, I'm still cranking, making progress on the umpteenth revision of my novel. I can't stop because publishing looks dismal. When I'm writing, I keep those dire reports away.

When I was pushing ahead with Pen on Fire, agents told me writing books didn't sell. Lots and lots of days and nights, sitting alone, being anti-social, writing and wondering if I would ever see the fruits of my labor. I'm here to say it was worth it. A pretty good deal, and a book that's in the 7th printing.

Writers write. What a cliche that's become. And yet it's so very true. You've got to have hope. Writers are a hopeful lot. Without hope, you would put down your pen, close up your computer, and do something else.

Meanwhile, is anybody talking publishing biz bailout, and if not, why not?


Anonymous said...

To continue my harangue - The publishers have subscribed to the theory that if you throw enough of "it" against the wall, some of it will stick. The big box booksellers welcomed them with open arms and why not. If it doesn't sell in two hours they get to send it all back.
Everybody wants their share of the profit without taking their share of the risk. Literature isn't a commodity.

Anonymous said...

I think that these changes are simply that - changes. I just came out of eight months of a graduate program in publishing, and while the giants are failing, I think there is a lot of room for small publishing companies to grow and new companies to start.

Nobody needs the giant publishers - it's not like they publish the interesting books anyways!

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous - if I knew who you are and had two bits I'd buy you a cup of champagne or, at least, sparkling wine.