Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Six years ago I wrote the following blog. I had to laugh when I reread it. What is the saying? “Everything that goes ’round, comes ’round.” I had to laugh listening to the comments I’ve heard lately from editors. One editor told me she “needs to buy.” And for fiction? Did you get the feeling from the ACFW that publishers were looking hard for great stories? Let me just let you read this “old” blog because everything old is new again. 🙂
Good news! We are going to reap the results of a pent-up buying demand on the part of publishers. They have been very conservative, very risk-averse for quite some time. Some publishers cut their lists a couple of years ago, causing an overstock of contracted books. All of that– cutting and overstock– is drawing to a close.
When I was in the toy industry, one retailer used to say, “You can’t sell from an empty shelf” each time she placed her hefty order. Wise words. Every business needs to have great product. We agents have attended a number of different meetings when publishing representatives offered variations of, “We’re going to publish fewer books but put more behind the books we do publish. Fewer books but bigger sales for those books.”
When we hear that, it takes everything we’ve got not to snicker. As if a publisher could predict which books would break out and only publish those “big” books. We all pride ourselves on our gut instincts but the only way to really identify a bestseller is to get the book out there and see what it does. In the old days, when I created a collection of dolls, I knew there would be A-level sellers, B-level sellers and C-level sellers. It didn’t matter how good the collection, you never got all As because people have to make choices. There’s only so much buzz. If I had nine editions of dolls, one would be an immediate sell-out– impossible to buy even on the secondary market– two more would be As, two or three would be Bs and the rest Cs. If, instead of nine dolls in a line, I said I would only make the three As, guess what I would get? One A, one B and one C. It’s just the nature of merchandising.
If my retailer friend were to advise publishers she would say, “You can’t sell from an empty catalog.”
So how is that good news? Publishers buying. Two important words. We’re seeing an uptick in publishers buying. My own 2010 book sales to publishers were up 23% over my already very ambitious goal. [2016 is not so bad either. Our fearless leader has almost doubled her year’s goal and it is only August!) This year is already looking to be strong for all of us at Books & Such. We keep saying the market is sluggish and we know that to be true at retail but we’re not seeing that with sales to publishers. They are buying.
If you are a writer with books to sell, this is a good thing. I’m hoping we’ll see publishers begin to add to their catalogs. The only way to discover more bestsellers is to develop a broader offering. The more gallons of milk in the tank, the more cream that will rise to the top, right?
So, that’s the end of my good news for this week. The demise of the publishing industry has been greatly exaggerated. And I think the chances of you becoming a published author have never been better.
Your turn: So what do you think? Do you think it’s time to roll up your sleeves and keep pursuing your dreams?