My dearest Suzy-kins,
I just knew you would love Antonio! Not only is he gorgeous but can you believe he's a sweetheart too? Since I rarely leave my office for lunch, he's taken to bringing me back a coffee--just the way I like it (lots of soy milk, a bit of cream, no sugar)--when he goes out for his lunch. As it turns out, his limited English does not seem to limit his lunch dates... If it's true that 50% of succeeding in the world of publishing is who you know, Antonio is well on his way; at this rate, he'll know every female in publishing within 25 blocks of us by the fall.
Speaking of dates, I went out this past Monday with Nandi--surely you remember him? The handsome Indian man I met amidst the clementine landslide disaster at my corner fruit & veg stand? Anyway, he proved to be as charming over a glass of red wine as in the face of certain citrus calamity. The only drawback is that when the topic turned to books, as it always does with me, he confided that his favorite genre is.......... paranormal romance. You can only imagine my surprise, Suzy dear. Not only is it unusual to meet a self-confessed male fan, but I really thought that the genre was on its way out. Apparently, I was wrong. I've since chatted with Zia (my dear fire-tressed, Harvard-educated, editor-goddess friend) who says that the paranormal romance submissions are coming in "hotter and heavier than ever" and despite the economic climate, the genre is still pulling in some respectable dollar figures. I guess when you're worried about your job, your chid's college tuitin, flocks of birds colliding with planes over the Hudson river, a bit of vampire necking goes a long way towards taking your mind off it all.
Speaking of, please tell everyone back home--particularly Aunt Mayble Sue Jean and Cousin Ruby Jo--not to worry about me. Yes, our company did let go of a whole bunch of people last month across all of our US operations, but I was fortunate enough not to be one of those. I think--unless things get significantly worse--my job is relatively secure. The way I see it, it's people exactly like me that these companies need to hold on to: people who have been around for a few years and know the ropes but whose salaries are still pretty modest. All in all, I guess, I'm a pretty cheap hire. I think our company is weathering the storm as best as I could hope; For the most part, upper management is simply battening down the hatches for what looks like what may be several months or even a year or two of shrunken profits. Except for the layoffs, most of the measures make a lot of sense: We're significantly decreasing advertising dollars and what few ads we do take in print and online venues are very carefully and strategically placed. We no longer have pizza at our Tuesday bestseller meetings. A limit has been imposed on lunches charges to the company (although really, is it such a hardship to spend less than $40 per person for lunch?) Even the layoffs resulted from some extremely practical restructuring of a few select divisions. From what I can tell, one could say that the economic crisis has simply become the impetus for publishers like mine to put into effect some intelligent business decisions that probably should have been made years ago.
On the other hand, that may be too rosy a picture for the industry as a whole. There are indeed some publishers who are having serious problems. On top of the dramatically decreased book sales, there are rumors flying that Borders may be gone by year's end--which would be a real travesty for the whole book industry--in my opinion. To be sure, different publishers are dealing in different ways: some have significant decreased their number of acquisitions (books bought from agents/authors for publication), others have laid off many employees, and still others have shut down smaller, less profitable imprints. In their own way, each publishing house is trying to make budgets stretch, publish books as efficiently as possible, and put money where it's going to really count--behind best-selling authors, trendy genres, and can't-fail new books and projects.
That being said, let me repeat, don't worry about me Suzy, dear. The publishing industry won't fold any time soon (Kindle and economic crisis or no) and I will be writing you many more missives in the months to come.
All my love to you and Chloe,
(Ms.) Sally S.
P.S. Did you buy ever buy Chloe that pink leather collar we saw last summer? It would look so adorable on her golden curls.