Is the Publishing Industry in the Toilet?
Why you might want to wait on your publishing dreams... And what to do in the meantime.
For writing links and resources, scroll down.
Make the baby before you buy the house?
New listings are at a record low, which is driving up the prices. Competition is fierce, and houses are going for waaaay over asking price. My brother and sister-in-law have put offers on four houses and been out-bid every time. Their landlord told them they have to be out of their rental by the end of April, so they are moving in with my mom until they can manage to buy a house.
I’m worried they might settle for something that isn’t a good fit because they’re so desperate to buy right now.
I gently suggested maybe they could find another place to rent and wait a year or two to buy a house. Hopefully, by then, the real estate market will be less crazy.
“We want to start a family, and we want to buy a house before we do that,” my brother explained.
“You could make the baby before you buy the house,” I suggested. That’s what my husband and I did. People live in apartments with babies all the time.
But I know how they feel. They want to check this big life event off their to-do list before moving on to the next one. They want to feel like they’ve accomplished something.
It’s similar to a feeling a lot of writers are currently having…
Why you might want to wait on your publishing house dreams…
The publishing industry is also insane right now. Publishing houses are acquiring fewer books, and when they do they’re more often going for sure-bets, like celebrity authors instead of debuts.
Editors are leaving the industry and not being replaced, which means there are fewer editors to whom agents can pitch. Agents are also leaving, and those still here are taking on fewer new clients. And I haven’t even mentioned the supply chain issues; paper shortages and print-run problems are actually worse than in 2021.
All of this means it’s currently incredibly hard for writers to find an agent and incredibly hard for debut authors to land a book deal.
Competition is fierce, agents’ inboxes are flooded, and if you’re a querying author who has gotten a full manuscript request, you’re doing better than most.
But don’t take my word for it…
I’m seeing a lot of people on Twitter saying they have decided to give up on getting an agent and “just self-publish.” Self-publishing can be a great option for those who intentionally choose it, but I worry some writers are settling for self-publishing because they’re so desperate to publish right now.
Trust me, I know how they feel. Like my brother and sister-in-law, they want to check off this big writer-life event. They want to feel like they’ve accomplished something.
In conclusion, now is a great time to start writing a book!
Wait, are you kidding, Eva? You just got finished telling me the publishing industry is in the toilet.
Just hear me out, okay? Now is not a fantastic time to be querying a novel or trying to get a book deal. That seems abundantly clear. But it’s a great time to start writing a new novel or memoir.
Writing a book takes time. Your first draft will likely take anywhere from three months to two years. Then you need to let it sit for a while before you do a revision, which will take another three months to two years. You’ll need to get beta readers and critique partners before doing a third round of revisions.
So we’re looking at a minimum of two years from starting the novel to being ready to query agents. Two years at the very least. At which time, I truly hope, the publishing industry will be more hospitable to writers.
Yes, it’s a terrible time to query the book(s) you’ve already written. But it’s a wonderful time to write something new. Why? Because you can take your sweet old time! No need to rush to get your book ready to pitch. You don’t want to be in the query trenches right now anyway. Instead, relax and write.
Take your time making your book the very best it can be, and in a few years, when it’s ready, the publishing industry will (we hope!) be in a better place to receive it.
How to get started writing a novel…
Okay, Eva, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to write a novel. I have some great ideas and this character who’s begging to be put to paper. But whoa, writing a whole book. That seems daunting… how do I even start?
I’m so glad you asked! My next virtual course is going to be Getting Started on Your Novel (or Memoir). The first lesson will be emailed to my paid subscribers on May 21. I’ll be sending an email soon(ish) with more details, but you can read about the course here.
Writing News & Links
It’s not too late to do the Cultivating a Regular Writing Practice email course! Paid subscribers to my newsletter will have access to all four lessons of this course, no matter when you sign up. This do-it-on-your-own-time course will help you create a writing routine that works for you and keeps you writing regularly for the long-term. This is a great course to take in preparation for my next one: Getting Started on Your Novel.
I just found out about the very cool writer-voted Fiction and Poetry Prize from Sixfold. Enter your short story or poetry for $5 by April 23. Then, for each of three rounds, you will read, comment, and vote on six randomly assigned manuscripts in your genre. Your writing might be getting judged, but you get to do the judging, too. You’ll end up with tons of feedback on your work, and the highest-voted manuscript in each genre wins $1000. Top 15 short stories and top 30 sets of poems are published. I love everything about this; what a great idea!
The Craft Literary Short Fiction Prize will be handing out $2,800 in awards. Deadline May 1, $20 submission fee.
The querying trenches are rough right now, and Twitter pitch parties ain’t what they used to be, but still, as I always say, it doesn’t hurt to try. So mark your calendar for these upcoming spring Twitter pitch parties. And be sure to read my article 13 Things to Know About Twitter Pitch Events.
Looking to work on your manuscript with a writing mentor? The Rogue Mentor mentee submissions will be open from April 22-25.
Finally! After years of virtual conferences, we’re starting to see some in-person ones. Check out these upcoming summer conferences:
Chesapeake Writers’ Conference: June 19-25 at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. A week of craft talks, lectures, panel discussions, readings, and daily workshops in fiction, poetry, songwriting, or creative nonfiction.
Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference: August 18-21 in Franklin, Tennessee. This conferences brings together forensic experts, writers, and fans of crime and thriller literature. They also offer discounts and scholarships.
For more writing conferences, check out this list.
NYC Midnight hosts a range of storytelling challenges throughout the year. I have done several of these and always been pleasantly surprised by what I come up with when the pressure is on. Not gonna lie, these challenges are pricey, but they’re a lot of fun.
Globe Soup offers a variety of contests, both free and paid, throughout the year. Their current contests are:
This year the Writing Day Workshop “How to Get Published” Conferences will be held virtually. I attended one of these conferences in person a few years ago in Philadelphia, and I thought it was fantastic. I can’t vouch for the virtual version, but there are some benefits: recorded classes, no travel expenses, attend in your comfy pants. Plus, you can sign up for Zoom pitch sessions with agents for $29 a piece. Check out the upcoming conferences (and remember, anyone can attend from anywhere; just keep the time zone in mind).
Philadelphia Writing Workshop: May 6-7, 2022
Chicago Writing Workshop: June 10-11, 2022
Live in the DC area? Mark your calendar for the FREE Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21. A celebration of books, writers, and literary excellence with workshops, speakers, a children’s village, and more!
That’s all for now. What are your thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry?