Thursday, November 20, 2008

Evidence that the recession is biting publishers

Evidence that the recession is biting publishers: a new rejection letter today for my latest novel We Can Improve On You, begins, as always, by praising it - "a really interesting and provocative idea, and very clever", then goes on to say "We are being quite careful about what we acquire at the moment, as we are to put more effort and financial investment behind fewer books", which the editor admits is "depressing to hear, I know, but essential in the current trading conditions".

Anecdotal evidence from other writers suggests a similar trend is occurring elsewhere.

Rejection letters come in many forms, but few as bizare as another I received this week - from an agent, who wrote that despite thinking "both these books could well be published" ... "I just feel that your connection with cyberspace would fall on ignorant and rather unreceptive ears!"

This means that an agent for children's literature is admitting she feels unqualified to market material the content of which is key to the experience of many kids today - social networking sites and the like. This is also, alas, not uncommon - many agents of maturing years began their career in a former time when publishing was a more genteel profession.

One feels that the publishing world is moving so fast that agents are struggling and most writers have a diminishing chance. The pyramid of the 'pyramid model', whereby only a few authors receive most of the marketing, is becoming narrower at the base: you either write fully commercial best-sellers that will ship by the barrel-load in Tesco's or don't get published at all.