Monday, October 20, 2008

Baby, It's Going to Be Cold Outside in Book Publishing

So says an article in The New York Observer, in reference to the state of publishing. One of my grad students sent this to me. Things were hard enough for the hordes of aspiring writers working so hard to make it. No doubt about it, the nearish-future is gonna be tough for them, and by the time the dust clears the industry might look quite different. Or am I wrong?

The article is here.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous stephe said...

*wondering if I should cut my wrists now, or wait*

Ugh.

I wonder what an even deeper look would reveal, when it comes down to specific genres...

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Erika Hamerquist said...

I actually hope you're right, because I'd sure like to see some changes. For instance, I think it would be cool if writers could abandon the time-consuming and expensive ordeal of sending their work out to overwhelmed editors and agents who will reject it 99.9% of the time, and instead put their submissions into a big searchable database (think Elfwood). Then the agents and editors (and readers) could come to THEM, and search for work that meets their specific guidelines or tastes by keying in an array of taglines, like "YA*Fantasy*Dragons" or "experimental*GLBT*humor*" etc. and then checking out the synopses and sample chapters. Agents or editors who like what they see could then do whatever it is they do, but on the other hand, ordinary bookworms like me who don't really need or care for a publishing house picking and choosing what I get to read could contact the writer directly and see about buying an electronic or POD version of the whole story. That way a writer's work could have a life even if it doesn't get picked up by a "real" publisher. And we readers won't get stuck with political and celebrity memoirs and poorly written-by-big-name trash. I think this would reduce the angst connected with writing, and not just for the writers; agents and editors would be able to relax and enjoy themselves, too. It's my theory that human beings have an atavistic dread of being importuned (the mighty hunter can only support so many, after all), so it's really no wonder agents and editors --- and established writers --- can get a little uptight dealing with the endless siege of wannabes. But some of those wannabes are writing what I wannaread, damn it!

9:49 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Stephe,

Leave those wrists alone!

Erika,

I don't have any idea if what you've just suggested is likely, but I do bet the future includes changes on that scale - or substantial additions to norms we've gotten used to.

7:11 PM  

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