Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Ellen Hart writes:

When my second book came out, I did a signing at the Upper Midwest Booksellers Association annual convention. I was assigned a helper by my press, a young man who worked for a book distributor. While we were getting set up, I asked him if he’d ever thought about writing.

No way “Yes,” he said, “I have. But that was before I became part of the book industry. Now, when I sit down to write, I start thinking about who would buy the book, who would read it, how difficult it would be to find a publisher--and it stops me cold.”

I can’t tell you how much that saddened me. At the time I thought to myself, why doesn’t he just ignore it? But now, I find myself in a similar position.

Wed Burning Question How about you? I think we can all agree that the book industry has never been in more chaos. Do you like to know what’s happening? Do you stay connected through PW, Publisher’s Lunch, various blogs, or is it ultimately just a distraction?


Steph Damore said...

I try and stay connected through the various channels, but sometimes reality can be a real creativity killer. When outlining a novel I think about the publishing details, but when it comes to writing, I write the story that I want to read. It's definitely a balancing act.

Tina said...

For me, writing and publishing feel like such separate endeavors, even though I know they use both parts of my brain. Each has its joys, each its tediums. I try to focus on the part I enjoy about each -- creative flow, learning new things -- and take the rest like necessary medicine.

Esri Rose said...

Industry news: 50% distraction, 50% necessary info to have. 95% depressing.

Regarding the chaos: I've read letters and essays by Twain, Wodehouse and Thurber, and the conflict in interest between artists and publishers isn't new. What is new is that writers are complaining AS business people. I've been reading a lot of industry blogs, particularly about ebooks, and many authors are bitter about the perceived refusal by publishers to respond to market demands. Fingers in ears, publishers sing a little song about the bad economy, to cover the racket of readers who want more choices in both form and content.

There's opportunity in the chaos. For the first time, we have access to technology that allows authors to bypass traditional publishing routes, and many authors are ganging together to make it happen. Whether the experience will elevate or humble probably depends on the individual and a good dose of luck. In that way, nothing has changed.