Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Whenever I’m on the faculty of the Mount Hermon Writers Conference, I’m always on the lookout for a chance to chat with editors about how their publishing houses are doing. I’m usually surprised by a thing or two in these conversation.
Here’s what I heard at the conference that could be instructive for you. Most of these changes reflect the way the economic downturn has touched publishing. (I might add at this point that the downturn is past tense for publishers; they’ve made their adjustments.)
- Most publishers have lowered the amount of advances they can provide. Sales are down 30% post-economic downturn, and that means advance must be lowered as well.
- Smaller marketing budgets.
- Looking for authors who really understand how to use social networking to sell books and to build brand, not just to report what they ate for dinner.
- Opportunities for books that were unlikely to make money but seemed important to present to readers no longer exist in most publishing houses.
- “Risk averse” pretty much depicts every publisher’s stance.
- Looking for authors who put money and creativity into their marketing ideas.
- Publishing committees use the Internet during the meeting and are fact-checking what proposals state. So when you proclaim you have a certain number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, those numbers are readily available. So be honest! Also, your web site needs to be in tiptop shape because it’s one of the first places the committee will go online.
- Most editors look at the writing first before they read the proposal–that’s for nonfiction as well as fiction. Yeah! Writing still bears a lot of weight on the decisions publisher’s make.
- Your marketing plan, which you included in your proposal, is considered part of your contract with the publisher; so you better be able to deliver what you promise.
- To be a success in the eyes of your publisher, all you need is an upward trajectory of sales, not a huge climb in sales with each release.
- Editors still love good writing and have a sense of sponsoring in-house each project they take on. They use words such as “It [a project] is my baby,” “I want to fall in love with a manuscript.”
So now, talk back to me. What’s your response to the info you’ve just read? What’s news to you? What’s old hat? What scares you? What challenges you?