Thomas Nelson started all the whispering with the announcement that they would be publishing more copies of fewer books. With less shelf space available in the big chain stores and less money for producing books that might only sell a few thousand copies, TN is banking on the proven moneymakers. Times are hard everywhere; the big publishing houses are not immune to cutbacks. A few months ago my publisher told us there would be fewer books published in '08. We didn't think it was anything more than the usual belt-tightening of a weak economy. But when Thomas Nelson announces the same strategy, well, let's just say, it doesn't bode well for the industry.
So what's a little known writer who doesn't earn six-figure advances or see print runs in the 100 thousands, to do? Panic!
No, no, let's not have anyone going off the deep end. Things aren't that bad, yet.
Most of my writer friends are still unpublished or published through small presses--like me--or are of the lower to midlist variety. How do we keep our careers from tanking when all we hear are cutbacks, fewer releases, smaller print runs, and spending the money on the proven moneymakers?
Every Sunday my pastor preaches that now is not the time to fear. God knew before the foundation of the earth that the oil companies would decide around 2004 to take us by the throats and raise oil prices from less than $20 a barrel where they had been hovering for almost a century to well over $120 in a few short years. He knew the recession was coming, and he knows just how bad it's going to get.
I don't want to turn this into a sermon so I'll stop with that line of thought. Just know, dear writer, that everything is under control. It always has been and always will be. All we can do is be obedient to our calling--whether God mandated or not--and let the industry and whatever else is in charge take care of the details.
It has never been more important to submit a perfect manuscript. Don't assume an editor will fix all your mistakes. They have enough work to do. Don't assume the sheer brilliance of your writing will speak for you. There are plenty of brilliant writers out there who haven't gotten a contract. You must stand out.
Make your work shine. Think outside the box in terms of marketing. Keep writing. Keep growing in the craft and don't despair over the economy. People have always looked for escapism, especially in toughest economic times. There will always be a market for good books. Who says you can't write one?
Fasten your rear to the chair and don't worry about if what you're writing will sell. Just write it. Let tomorrow worry about itself.