Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Keeps Me Up At Night

There are authors in this world who understand the publishing business. They follow Publishers Weekly, know which editors have been promoted, which have moved to a different house, and which have left to become agents. These are the people who have 'dream' agents and editors because they carefully research each, looking for the best fit. They know the market, where their books fit in the market, and, in general, what's going on.

I'm not one of these people. At first it was just sheer ignorance--I didn't know what I was doing, and approached procuring an agent in the same way I would pepper the side of a barn with buckshot after a long night drinking (not that I would do that). I had good reasons for doing this--in addition to being clueless, I was mothering a two year old boy, starting a new job, and learning how to write books. I did not have time to internalize the world of publishing.

But I'm farther along that curve now. I've reached the point where I should know which editors are a good fit for me (luckily, I'm all good in the agent department!). So what's my excuse?

I've chosen to engage in a profession that is undergoing massive, fundamental changes. The authorial path I want--a major publisher putting out paperback books on a regular schedule that are available in bookstores--is disappearing faster than the rain forest in Brazil. This sysmic changing upsets my stomach and grates my nerves until I've worked myself into a first-class tizzy and my husband (God love the man) no longer wants to put up with me.

Case in point: In August--less than 24 days--of this year alone, things have gone haywire. On August 3rd, Barnes and Noble put itself up for sale after bleeding too much red ink. Okay, that officially gave me indigestion.

But then it got worse, as horror author Brian Keene summed up in his blog. Three days after B&N put themselves up for sale, Dorchester went 'all e-book.' However, it appears that, in fact, the publisher is in a death spiral. They let go of all but one person on their editorial staff.

I think I had a book under consideration at Dorchester once. This took the indigestion B&N started and led to a series of vivid, disturbing nightmares, some of which included me living in a box under a bridge and writing stories in the dirt.

Yes, I should know more about the publishing industry. But I'm raising a five year old now (Good heavens, where has the time gone? And when will I break through?), in addition to working three other paying part-time jobs, and taking care of the house and the marriage and the extended family and all that stuff we call 'life.' I do not have the time, energy, or inclination to spend sleepless nights worrying about the publishing world and what my place in it will be.

So I choose to remain clueless. And the only things that keep me up at night are chatty characters and obstinate kindergarteners. It's better this way.

Trust me.


Kaki said...

Great attitude, Sarah. Besides, the publishing industry will do what it will do whether you know about it or not. You have no control over it, so don't waste time worrying about it. Your job is to live life and write books. Trust your agent to take care of the rest. It's sort of like global warming--is it real? Is it not? If you're worried about it, skip a trip to Starbucks and shoot a cow. Then get back to writing.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Kaki--Skip a trip to Starbucks and shoot a cow--the only thing that would have made that statement any more perfect would have been the word "hork".