Wednesday

Where Have All the Titles Gone

There's an old (to me) folk-ish song that the Kingston Trio sings where they wonder where all the flowers have gone. In the song you learn that the flowers have gone to young girls who give them to young boys who turn into soldiers and then die in combat. I know it. It's a happy, upbeat song.

But it got me wondering, where have all the titles gone? Because of the recession, book patrons have cut their spending, bookstores have cut their inventory, and so presses (including our own) are reducing the number of books we put out a year. We're dropping our original hardcovers down from 5 that come out this year to 3 definite hardcovers. Now we have more than 3 books coming out next year, but many of those are coming out as paperback. It's what the chains want, and they are what sells better.

So, what are agents and authors doing with these extra manuscripts? Since fewer books are being acquired right now, are people just holding on to them until the market turns around?

I once read how a big name author (I won't say which one) experienced a period where he/she wasn't being offered the advances he/she and his/her agent felt he/she warranted due to a downswing in the economy. Instead of selling the books, he/she chose to hold onto them and resubmit to different publishers when the market picked back up.

What do you think about doing something like that? Would you? I'm curious to see how the recession is affecting authors. I know how it's affecting publishers, but what about you? Feel free to comment and discuss in the comment field below.

7 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

When I'm a big name author, I'll come back and recomment. :)

beth said...

I'd like to say that all I care about publication is getting my work out there, but I'm not sure if more mercenary motivations might crop up when the actual publication comes. Because, you know, I'm sure I'll be the next JK Rowling and buy a castle with my advance :)

Paul West said...

I don't care what the economy is doing. I'd be excited to just have my novel published. After I've pubbed a few more, maybe I can go back and have a second or even third run with the first novel.

gabe said...

'Where have all the flowers gone?' is a bittersweet song. 'Where have all the titles gone?' is just bitter - no sweetness at all. At least not for struggling authors like me.

Terra Dawn said...

Hmm...as a first time author, I would probably take my agent's advice and get the work published. If I were to become a larger name in the publishing world, then I would hold out for the higher advances.

Kristi Holl said...

It would depend on how much the advance was lower, I think. And how badly I needed the money right away... One nice thing about being in the business for many years is realizing that phases come and go, publishing scares rarely materialize, trends (what's popular) go in cycles, etc. If you have a chance to read really old copies of Writer's Digest or famous writers' memoirs, it's almost funny to hear them giving the same gloomy predictions that we read about today. A lot of time it does pay to be patient and wait for the cycle to move on.
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid

The Buried Editor said...

Of course, the author I was thinking of was not trying to publish his/her first book. Often to just break in, an author is forced to accept a lower advance than an established author would be offered.

And forecasters tend to be extremely gloomy or extremely optimistic. They never seem to do anything in the middle. So, the recession and slow down in acquisition probably isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be.