Monday, January 19, 2009

If You Wanna Sell Your Book, You're Gonna Have to Bite Me

From the desk of Ms. Spitfire

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.


Chris Eldin said...

Good morning everyone!!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

I love this post. It packs a lot of information....

Please drop in and chat with Ms. Spitfire!


Sam said...

Interesting and informative. I am part owner in a small e-book publishing company, (Calderwood Books) and we're actually seeing growing sales. I'm wondering if people aren't forsaking paper for pixels in order to save money (and trees - isn't that nice?) I will be watching the trends carefully. Humor is now our best-seller. A sure sign of a morose market, lol.

So...How was the date other than the paranormal romance surprise?

Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Susanna said...

Oh cuz, I have been just bitin' my nails over this whole economic nonsense. Sugar, you know how I worry about you. I'm just about as relieved as I can be knowing you are doin' fine. Why, truth be told, I can't imagine you in any other business.

Do you recall when we set up that lil ol lemonade stand when we were kids? I wanted to sell cookies with the lemonade, but no, you insisted on selling books.

My goodness, here comes my precious Chloe lookin' for her mornin' walk. I did buy her that adorable collar - but wouldn't ya know it - cousin Bo Billy Bob Jethrow done stole it right off her neck last week. Said it was too pretty for a dog and then put it on his own neck. Well, I was like to throttle him but you know that boy just ain't right in the head.

I'll stop back in to visit soon and send word to the family that your doin' just fine,

Anonymous said...

Yes, publishers - like everyone else - have less to spend. From my own experience (since I was a new author and never particularly trendy - except for my shoes), it seems the more you do for your book, the more your publisher will do for you (even with all the budget cuts).

Barrie said...

Ms. Spitfire, from your lips to God's ears! Thanks for all the info.

Chelle Cordero said...

Great post and lots of solid info and realistic encouragement about the book industry.

I've seen a lot of downsizing int he industry over the last few years. What I've also seen is a need for flexibility and alternative thinking.

New writers can still "break into" the field. Novelists, for instance, have to realize that they should include small press and e-book publishers in the list of queries.

Queen of the Road is right - "it seems the more you do for your book, the more your publisher will do for you". Authors also have to be willing to work as part of a team when it comes to marketing their books.

Thanks again for a terrific post.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm reading a vampire book now, but it's got the old fashioned down and dirty vamps. No sexy vamps here. Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson.

laughingwolf said...

wb sally :D

if 'borders' closes, is it just copying what the bush admin is doing with what used to be the world's longest undefended border? :(

love me some paranormal romance, vamp or otherworldlywise ;)

peggy said...

so, my humorist look at vampires might just fly..hmmm better get back to writing. I know Count Leslium hopes I just stop before he ends up living in a cardboard box again.
I love all the info I learn here and of course because you all crack me up :)

Antonio said...

Hi! Izza me Antonio!

I amma smiling because I just return from lunch. It was a good. Today I haffa lunch with Julie anda Sophie anda Maria anda Veronica anda Samantha anda Jamie anda Bethany anda Linda anda Amy. We talk a lot about publishing and they want to see me work! I amma happy for this!

Antonio said...

Oops! Izza me Antonio again!

I forgot Simone anda Rachel anda Candace they were at lunch with me today also. So sorry.

Antonio said...

Anda Carmen! I cannot a forget a Carmen. She izza very nice.

peggy said...

Antonio, sounds like your quite the admired fellow and had a great lunch LOL..

Chris Eldin said...

Antonio! One of them is my baby sis!


I love learning from authors from all over the publishing industry. There's always a different insight offered.

Thanks for popping in! Keep 'em coming....

Catherine Bybee said...

*snicker* It looks like I've found yet another place to spend hours online. LOL.

Does Antionio do house calls?

McKoala said...

This is hilarious. And informative. Ideal, really.

Miss Susanna said...

Dearest Sally,

I'm near about out of breath after the walk Chloe took me on. Dear girl got whiff of a bunny and off she went.

Does my heart good to see so many folks out here chit chattin' and commenting. Even before Antonio showed up too. Such a nice young man.

I got to thinking for a spell about Nandi and his fondness for Vampire Romances. Do be careful around him, won't you dear?

Aunt Maybel Sue Jean wants to know if you ever run into the likes of Billy Ray Cirus? I told her of course that was just plain silly, but you know how she gets, so I promised to ask.

Sending you hugs and warm wishes dear,



Anonymous said...


I had forgotten about our lemonade stand!! I only wish it were as easy to market big commercial books as it was to foist 50 cent paperbacks off on your neighbors.

Please tell Aunt Maybe Sue Jean that I have yet to meet Billy R.C. but that I did pass Julianne Moore in a revolving door a few months ago and that redhead from 'Sex in the City' over fruit at Fairway last summer. She was surprisingly rude, though, when I said a polite hello. I don't believe Aunt MSJ would have approved.

Give my love to all--it's a cold and blustery day here in NYC--and I will certainly answer as many of your fabulous questions as I can in my next letter home.

(Ms.) Sally S.

P.S. I will be careful of vampire love lovers. He IS handsome, however, and I do love Indian. ;-)

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

cindy said...

love ms sally and her entire posse! <3

Kitten said...

Borders gone by year's end?!?! NOOOOOO!!!

Robin B. said...

Wow. Borders gone by year's end.

I don't know, though. I loved all the independent bookstores that used to be out there. I cherish the ones that still are, and at the same time, I love walking in a Barnes & Noble.