That’s what my agent said this past week. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
No, it’s not hype! Hype is defined as, “exaggeration to an extreme; over the top; bordering on outrageous.” (Source: John Earle’s “Dictionary of the Moment.” I use that at my convenience to back up any questionable definition I want to use at the time.)
He (my agent, for those of you with a short attention span) elaborated that the larger publishers are buying fiction mostly from established authors. They are also buying non-fiction (mostly how-to books).
Where does that leave all of us GREAT writers with potential to become “established authors,” if only given a shot? I’ll tell you where it leaves us.
It leaves us waiting patiently for the next rejection letter. But with HOPE (“That which springs eternal;” same source as above) that somewhere out there a publisher is willing to concede that this new manuscript CHERISH IS THE WORD by an unknown might actually earn a profit. It’s fun to read. It’ll create a following. Hey, this author might become the next “established” one!
Ah, Hope! Without You, where would we be?
Anyway, all that to say this: In the past year or so I’ve traveled quite a bit (by my standards) for business. No, not the writing business—my day job! I’m a Human Resources Manager, remember?
I’ve flown from South Texas to L.A. (twice), San Diego, Dallas, Louisville, Albuquerque, and Chicago. One of the tings I do during a flight is see what people are reading. Try it the next time you’re walking the plane’s center aisle to the rest room in the back. Just walk slowly and glance from side to side. Pretend you’re looking out the window, if somebody gives you that “What are YOU looking at?” look.
It’s hard to catch the titles of some books, but others are obvious. According to my informal survey (CAUTION: these results are not scientific and may not be truly representative... There, feel better? An official disclaimer!), many of those books are from authors I’ve never heard of.
Question: Where are these travelers finding these books by other-than-established writers?
Is there a secret source out there that we don’t know about? Are these “P.O.D.” (Publish—or Print—On Demand) books? Are they from a local library?
Ah, there’s a point! I use my local library a lot. I usually stop for a while in front of their “New Releases” section near the front door. Yeah, there are always recent books in there by “established” authors. But there are always “first time” books as well.
Yes, I know; that means those books were bought by a publisher two years ago, because it takes that long to get a book out the door and promoted so libraries will buy copies. But I borrow and read mostly those first-time efforts. A lot of them I like. I will then note the author’s name and look for a second book by him/her.
But darn it, those books are getting bought (by libraries, at least) and read. And by other people than just me—they ALL have multiple “due date” stickers on the cover.
I know, I know; library sales do not generate enough $$ to make it worth a publisher’s while to invest in buying and printing and promoting a book. And maybe our society is shifting sufficiently (check out that sillibance, will ya) in its leisure-time habits that reading print novels is easing into a long-term or permanent decline.
If so, this will be yet another trend or opportunity that I have attempted to become a part of too late. I’m still hoping (here’s Hope again!) that, if the above decline be true, it’ll be slow enough that we’ll have at least several decades ahead before all the print publishers go out of business or shift their production to some new, popular, iPod form of electronic fiction delivery method.
Hey, I listen to recorded books on long road trips when I’m driving. I’m not against alternative delivery methods. I’d just like some of MY fiction to be made commercially available to consumers in whatever format is popular.
Is that asking too much? (That was rhetorical. No answer required) (Yes, you nit-pickers, I realize those sentences were redundant.)
Thank God for Hope!