Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Is it worth it?

A new winter coat and shoes for the wife.

I'll stop there. Robert Wyatt or Elvis Costello I am not. I read a post yesterday that didn't so much as depress me, but made me wonder if the direction I and no doubt others are taking is right.

The post in question was discussing the current state of publishing. It said that publishers (i.e. mainstream publishers) are currently only really interested in books they know will sell over 50,000 copies. That certainly would explain the lack of new writers the big publishers are publishing. I don't know if this link will work properly or not, but of the 538 best new sellers on amazon, only 1 is humour. And of the crime thrillers I bet none of their hardboiled main characters have diabetic pony's, dual personalities or fixations with smoked herring.

What genres would sell so many for a new author? Mainstream thrillers (anything to do with Terrorism or Afghanistan seems popular at the moment), ripoffs of proven subject matter (I'm thinking all those Da Vinci style books), chick-lit (no chance) and whatever they reckon will be in fashion next year.

So, do you play the game to get known? Or write what you want in the hope they'll change their policy and open the floodgates soon? Am I being ignorant in thinking that my non-specific genre comedy spy thriller or failed contract killer turned wide boy books are going to make a publisher say, scrap everything else, we were wrong, this will sell millions. It's very unlikely, isn't it?

The other options are smaller publishers. Little or no advertising budgets will unfortunately in this world mean little sales. The print runs won't be big enough for them to discount heavily or supply The Works and other cheap sellers at 3 for a fiver prices. The final option, Self Publishing. Not really much you can say about that is there. At one time I was all for it, but someone talked me out of it. Again, it's the advertising budget and inability to price low that makes this not really an option.

I guess it's all about building a following, isn't it? Without something substantial to read, your following won't get large enough for a big publisher to publish. The smaller publisher route could help build that following over a series of books.

Either that, or play the game. Write want they're looking for. Or, just sell it yourself and make a few quid.

Anyway, cheer up, here's a picture of a haggis, neeps and tatty pie.


Col Bury said...

Well that was thoroughly depressing, Charlie! But, I guess, the truth often is...
What did make me smile was the site of the plate in the photo - identical to the one I licked clean after dinner last Sunday at me mum's!

Sonic the Hedge said...

Thanks Col,
I'm not normally this depressing, honest. The publishing industry's changing rapidly, I think maybe faster than they like. Guess we'll have to wait and see what emerges from it in a year or two.
The plate belongs to work, can't remember where we got them from.

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