Friday, August 14, 2009

Q & A 172

Is this year as tough as it feels like it is with respect to publishing? Getting published? Becoming represented? I haven't really gone out on the trying-for-representation/publication limb too much yet, so before I do more, I'd like your opinion. Is this year a washout anyway? Are applicable publishing credits something that would actually help? Are some genres not selling, so don't shoot your own ass trying? That kinda thing would be nice to hear about.

My opinion isn't worth the electrons it's printed on, but let's look at it logically. This is the perfect time to submit: If you get rejected, you can blame it on the economy instead of feeling like a failure.

When the economy is bad for certain businesses, they cut back on expenses to try and prevent their stock value from plummeting. They lay off workers. Those people who lose their jobs or who fear they will, spend less money. This affects other businesses, so they lay off workers. And so on. What was I talking about?

The US economy is recovering. If you sank $100,000 into Barnes and Noble stock on March 6 when it was 15.23 a share, and sold it June 2, when it was 26.96, you made over 77,000 dollars in three months. Minus short-term-gain taxes and brokerage fees.

Now, let's get to your questions. Agents make money when books are selling. If publishers put projects on hold because of bad times, it might get harder for agents to place books. If less money is coming in, some agents will say, Screw this, I can make more money selling meat door-to-door. The rest will either say, I can make more money if I take on new clients, or Why should I bother to take on new clients? Those in the latter camp probably have web sites that make it known they aren't accepting clients.

Keep in mind that if you start shopping your book to agents today, it could easily be a couple years before you hold a copy in your hand. So to some extent, agents and publishers have to make decisions based on what will be happening in two years. If the economy will be booming in two years, booksellers and publishers have to get the ball rolling now or they won't have new and exciting merchandise when they need it.

Impressive credits won't sell crappy writing (unless they're so impressive you're famous) but if someone's on the fence about whether to ask for pages, the fact you've been published by the Paris Review or Rolling Stone or Asimov's might work to your advantage. I wouldn't hold off on submitting my novel while waiting to get published in a few magazines, however. That can take forever too.

I see no reason the economy would affect one genre and not others. There are always genres that aren't selling well, but who knows what will be selling well in two years? Besides romance, of course.

You have nothing to lose by submitting now. It's only after your fingers release the envelope containing your pages into the slot at the post office that it occurs to you what's clearly wrong with your submission, so getting a few out of the way now will pay off later.


Rick Daley said...

So what you're saying is that we really should have bought Barnes & Noble stock, right?

_*Rachel*_ said...

Either that, or submit a good novel and who cares about the economy? Quality trumps all, I hope.

Of course, that may end up being bad for me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it takes forever for anything to get into print, so if the project is 'finished' you might as well sub it around and see what happens.

Also, that time lag is why writing current teen-slang, techno-gadgets, and fashions into your novel is not necessary: they won't be so current in 3 or 5 years when the public finally sees your great work.

Anonymous said...

I've heard no one's taking looks at literary fiction. Even agents who state they're interested - aren't.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Let the thing sit for 30 years and you'll have a perfectly researched historical fiction!

Chris Eldin said...

LOL!! THis cracked me up: This is the perfect time to submit: If you get rejected, you can blame it on the economy instead of feeling like a failure.

btw, what other stock picks do you have?