This is the question I’m getting over and over again from my authors. COVID-19 has changed everything. How is this going to affect us? What’s going to happen to publishing?
The short answer is: Nobody knows. But there are a few truths we can point to.
First, people are going to continue to read. If you’re a writer, keep doing what you do, because we need you.
Second, publishing has already survived pandemics, recessions, the Great Depression, two world wars, the advent of television, the growth of the Internet, and the proliferation of ways to entertain ourselves. Publishing has changed with the times and will continue to do so. My best guess is that books will still be published and people will continue to read them.
In the short term, there may be fallout. Some independent bookstores, which have thankfully been doing well lately, might not survive. That would be a big loss. (You can help by supporting your local indie right now!)
Book sales are down. There will be trickle-down effects on everyone in the book business—bookstores, publishers, agents and authors. Things might be rough for a while. But recessions are always followed by recovery.
The worst thing we can do is give in to panic and fear. Be a discerning consumer of media. Recognize fear-mongering when you see it. The NY Times had a headline about publishing’s “newly ominous future.” See that for what it is: a scare tactic designed to get clicks.
Will things be tougher in publishing for the foreseeable future? I assume so. Is this the final death knell for books? Most definitely not.
Writers: keep writing! Keep working toward publishing. The nice thing is that you don’t have to rely on the major publishers in order to get your words in front of people—there are practically unlimited ways to do that nowadays.
As a writer, how are you coping today?