A Tale of Two Cities famously begins: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Today, that’s true of publishing.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s the worst, unrelentingly: that’s largely what has been reported in the mainstream media. The Big Six, already a small group of powerful publishers who control most of what hits the bookstore shelves in this country, has become, through mergers, only the Big Five. And for these publishers, you can’t even appeal directly to them to get your book published — you need a literary agent, and competition for agents is so fierce that people spend months, even years, working toward securing one. Speaking of bookstores, there’s only one major bookstore chain left in the whole country, and thousands of books a year vie for shelf space, meaning that even if you get a book placed there, if it doesn’t quickly become a bestseller, it won’t stay long.
Today’s book world is a tough world with lots of rules, official and unofficial (never call an agent on the phone!) It may seem hopeless.
But! Today is also the best of times. Why? [Read more…]