Friday, November 18, 2011

Gloom and Doom

There are some very gloomy people in publishing at the moment. Over here, the bookshop shelves are creaking with heavyweight tomes, bought at great expense, publishers crossing their fingers and hoping that Christmas will see a boost in sales. Early indications, and it is very early, is that it won't. The whole publishing industry is in a fret.

I have a copy edited manuscript to go through, my own heavyweight tome (I'll be releasing three books next year, in various formats, of which more anon) so an in depth discussion of what's going on/what's going wrong will have to wait for another day. Into what kind of market they'll be released is anyone's guess. I'll also be releasing some self-published ebooks to test that particular stretch of water. I may be naive, but I still think there's place for both print and ebooks to co-exist, and that authors should choose whichever way to the market suits them best, according to the book they've written. One of my forthcoming books, a guide on how to be a detective like Sherlock Holmes for 9-12 year-olds, is hardly suited to an ebook only release (though it's interactive, and the art is so jawdroppingly good, it'll be great on an Ipad) given most kids don't have a Kindle. Yet.

Which reminds me, I got a new phone the other week. I've been travelling to and from the British Library on crowded tubes alot recently, so I downloaded a book to the phone, which has a pretty big screen. Hardly revolutionary I know, but it was for me. It was a very satisfying experience, and allowed me to get even more reading in, snatching a few pages here and there.

I still have a nagging suspicion though that the publishing industry is hardly helping itself at the moment, either through lame decisions, or clinging to the old, outmoded way of doing things. This vituperative letter, brave, stupid, whatever it may be, raises some interesting questions, and is worthy of discussion. The tone is a wee bit hysterical, to say the least, and the language industrial (consider that a warning) but some of the issues raised are valid ones, not least those levelled at the glacial pace at which the industry still moves. I think every published author will nod their head when Marshall tees off about the ludicrous length of time it takes publishers to pay people.

I have to say, while I know of many authors who've written excoriating accounts of their times with publishers who have rejected or jilted them, this is the first time I've seen an author have a go at his publishers before the book is even published.

Hope you enjoy.


Dan - Friday


  1. My, my have you ever been busy! Can't wait to read your Holmes book which at the 9-12 year-old level should not be difficult for me to follow.

    Nor was the "vituperative" letter. I'm sure it's going to make the rounds of the publishing world and might even become a cult classic. So, too, might the posted comments accompanying the piece. They appear to be spinning into some sort of group therapy session involving, at times, contributors from the reading level of your new book.

  2. Yes they are quite interesting - I have to say, despite the validity of some of his arguments, I don't think I'll be queuing up to buy his book, should it ever be released. There's a lot to be said for the elegant, concise rant rather than the rambling sweary one..

  3. That seems to be the expected general consensus of those to whom I forwarded your link, including some on the publishing side of the table who see his points as accurate. As I listen to many of the youthful advocates out there today pressing for all sorts of appealing causes, what strikes me is their common failing. They don't grasp quite yet that the tone of their arguments is often more important than the substance. In time I'm certain they will learn and go on to be MPs or Congressmen.

  4. Great news, Dan -- three books, and I assume some of them will be ebooks. If not, why not?

    The letter is, I think, the work of an overexcited person in manic phase. He could have dealt with all his real complaints in one-third the words and at a much lower temperature, and it would probably have gotten him the attention he seems to need. Of COURSE the traditional business model is broken, of COURSE it takes a ridiculous amount of time to get a book out, and of COURSE it's a hurry-up-and-wait process. He could have improved his treatment by the company with a much more temperate letter delivered through normal channels.

    But it's a great read.

  5. I am looking for fans of new authors that are open to issuing reviews of mystery / thrillers and crime stories. My book, available at Amazon and Smashwords is