Friday, December 5, 2008

What's It All Mean?

It's not pretty in the publishing world right now. Economic woes have wreaked havoc on a number of publishing houses. Recent announcements included:

Simon and Schuster cut 35 employees
Thomas Nelson cut 54 employees
Random House cut some of its top people and also announced it was restructuring
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt let its publisher go--and and other changes have been reported.
Border's stock price fell under $1.

You can't help but feel badly for those folks who have lost jobs. But I think most professional writers also wonder: What does this mean for me? If publishing houses are letting employees go, they are probably tightening there belts other ways too. (Pardon the cliche.)

One writer I know had a contract, signed, sealed and delivered. Recently, his publisher decided to cut expenses by limiting the number of books they planned to publish. So, they eliminated 200 authors. He was one of them. A contract doesn't always equal a finished product. Not ever--and certainly not in this sagging economy.

So, what's a writer to do? Quit? Wait until the economy is booming again?

I think lean times like these will weed the "players" from the professionals. The "one day I'd like to write a book" folks from the day-in-day-out, gonna make it happen in spite of the odds writers.

That doesn't mean that real writers won't face some harsh realities, like my writing buddy did when he lost his contract. But that won't stop him from writing and submitting and staying with his craft.

In times like these, publishers aren't going to risk their limited bugets. We'll have to work harder--write more, write well--and give editors and publishers our absolute best. And if it comes with an established author platform, all the better.

But more on the next week.

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