Tuesday, December 16, 2008

oh just shut the fuck up already

Galley Cat posts an email from: "A publishing veteran with more than a decade of experience" with a bleak assessment of the industry's future, starting with the premise that Borders might go out of business next year. If that happens, she says, "most author advances will radically decline because there will not be enough books sold at one major retailer and the independents to make today's typical advances earn out." And it only gets worse from there:


Well I have more than a decade of experience in publishing. In fact I have almost two. And I've got one thing to say to this: shut the fuck up already.

Anyone who really thinks "publishing has been about egos, advances, slights, agents and hurtful gossip—instead of books" really should be in another line of work.

I do have this to add though: This view of publishing doesn't reflect ANY of my experiences. No it's not all sweetness and light, peaches and cream. Yes I have some serious complaints about things that have happened to my authors. Yes, I think some decisions made by publishers were clearly wrong wrong wrong, but I certainly don't see it as malevolent ego.

If you've worked for ten years in an industry you don't value or respect, with people you find distasteful, that says more about you than it does about the industry.

So take a piece of advice from me: quit your job. Leave the work to those of us who love this damn industry more than we should, despite its myriad flaws, against all odds and really for no good reason.

Shut up and get out.

33 comments:

Crimogenic said...

Janet,

This so-called publishing veteran sounds like a nutcase to me. What's the purpose of her rant? Publishing is going through a painful period, and hopefully at the end of this period we'll have a leaner, more competitive publishing model. This all reminds me of my day job: the company I work for is struggling to because more competitive and efficient, but there are people within the company that are downright belligerent about change. So much, that these people are nasty and aggressive to everyone else and they're trying to block change at every angle. People like that (my co-workers) and this publishing veteran would rather sing the Doom Song than shut up and help improve the system.

Justus M. Bowman said...

The title of this blog post surprised me, so I rapidly clicked the feed in Outlook (something to be said for "hooks"). The program died and had to be restarted twice. Unfortunately, that's a true story.

Janet, I now know to stay on your happy side as much as possible. If your words can kill Outlook, what chance do I have?

clindsay said...

What Janet said. 100%.

A.S. King said...

Reason #8065438

Daisy Whitney said...

Hear, hear! Another good post after your the sky is not falling one. People, the world keeps turning!

Susan Adrian said...

Thank you. Negativity brings everybody down with you. Yay you for fighting back!

the blueblog said...

Hi Janet

First time comment - long time reader, and sorry it doesn't say more of interest, except

AMEN

Anthony

Ryan Field said...

Bravo!!

Sharon Gerlach said...

Splendid! I love it when someone speaks her mind bluntly.

I write because I have to (hard-wired in me.) I want to be published because it's an excellent side benefit (what the hell else am I going to do with these MSS cluttering up my flash drive?). I want to be read because I want to entertain, not to have the spotlight on me (the spotlight is on my characters and plotline). But I'd write regardless, even if no one read me or published me.

I don't think Galley Cat "gets" the whole writer mindset at all.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Okay, all together now...

I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company, grow apple trees, honey bees, and snow white turtle doves...

Good, good, keep goin'...

I'd like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love... da doo ta do, da doo ta do, ta doo to doo ta daa...

Haste yee back ;-)

Janet Reid said...

Sharon, the guys at Galley Cat DO get the writer mindset (they're all writers, just for starters!)

The email was from someone in the industry.

Galley Cat just posted it.

Since I'm buddies with the 'Cats, I want to clear up any misapprehension about who I'm telling to STFU.

Fred Limberg said...

Hiya Janet,

I allowed Mrs. Fish Guy to convince me to go Christmas shopping with her on Saturday. It wasn't an extensive trip but in all our travels that day the most crowded, nowhere to park, shoulder to shoulder shopping and snooping, and by far the most 'beg pardons' was at BORDERS BOOKS!

People looked at me kind of funny when I let out a whoop.

Best of Christmas to you,

FTFG

Sean Ferrell said...

Soooo... I should stop my revisions?!?

Jaye Wells said...

*snort*

BTW my word verification is "leachme"." Indeed.

Merry Monteleone said...

Have I told you lately that I love you? I may have to change my genre just so I can query you.

Thank you for that.

Penfold Spindle said...

The truth hurts. I agree with most of what is said by this person. It's on the mark. It's true. It's time for a change.

Janet, you've thrown a temper tantrum, but you haven't refuted a word she wrote.

Melinda Szymanik said...

so how does the Borders on shakey ground and 40% book return rate thing fit with the new non-returnable book buying deal between HarperCollins and Borders I just read about on Nathan Bransfords blog?

Melinda

billkirkwrites said...

O...M...G... I've been looking for the "f" word for weeks to use in some dialogue I've been struggling with. Couldn't find it anywhere---even totally forgot how to spell it.

So, of course I couldn't look it up in the dictionary. I mean how am I supposed to find a word in Webster when I don't even know how to spell it? But everyone probably know how that goes.

Let's face it, you just don't see THAT "f" word any more, what with all the frigging, flipping, freaking, fugging, forking and fudging being tossed about. It's refreshing to know the original is still part of the vernacular.

Anonymous said...

Things are tough. Perhaps not to the degree of the ten year vet. She seems to have tilted over to armaggedon mode. She sounds burned out. Much of what she said is spot on. And much is overwrought caca.

JenWriter said...

*claps!*

Janet, it felt so good to hear you say this.

pjd said...

The wonderful thing about our market system is that when one model ceases to work, people find other ways to serve the demand.

If big publishers and bookstores and distributors do end up failing, it will not mean the death of books, if the buying public continue to demand books. Railing about the coming failure of an industry is shouting into a hurricane. I can't think of any industry that changed its fundamental model when someone said it was arrogant.

It is far more productive to pay attention and adapt to the shifting environment than it is to rant and rave about how the environment has a lot of gall shifting.

Liz said...

I think I love you.

I have real passion for my work (lawyer). I get deals done. I help people achieve their dreams and their visions and I'm damn good at it. People love to hate lawyers. Whatever. I love what I do. I've traveled to countries where the rule of law is a joke and business success is about greasing the right palms more than your own merit. It stinks. I have the same passion for writing. It scares the hell out of me because it's the hardest thing I've ever tried to do, and I've given birth to two kids and love them until my heart breaks. Every day. Writing is harder. Thank you for being in this industry and bringing what you bring to it.

FIONA said...

My DH works for a large medical system in MN. His organization, and most of the others here, have had layoffs of about 7% in the past two months.

My point is that these layoffs are not confined to one industry. Wouldn't you rather be in publishing than the auto industry? People are still buying books.

The economy is awful. People are scared. The sky is NOT falling, but it is raining awfully hard.

Let's all huddle together under Janet's umbrella and keep warm.

M. G. Tarquini said...

You're so cool.

JKB said...

My thoughts exactly.

You quite, quite rock.

Rachelle said...

Janet, thanks for this. I, too, love this industry, and love books, against all reason and sometimes against my better judgment. Despite being lumped in with those who are apparently responsible for the demise of publishing (I'm a literary agent), my love hasn't diminished and I'll continue doing what I do: helping writers get their books into the hands of eager readers. If this ship is goin' down, I'm goin' down with it.

MJRose said...

I'm with you Janet. Thanks for saying it. Storytelling isn't going anywhere. Neither is the need for education. The delivery system might change... they were telling stories around the campfires in caves and they will be telling them on Mars when we are living there.

Margaret Yang said...

Hit 'em with the clue-by-four, Janet!

And then hit them again for me.

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

I just read this now. I really hope you are right and that they are wrong.

The Borders I hang out here does NOT look like it's going out of business. There are always people buying books and DVDs, so... I really don't know why they think that.

the economy is so bad, it's really sad and scary.

blogless troll said...

I heard Borders was supposed to go out of business last year. And also the year before that. Even if it does, so what? Like others have said, if people still want to buy books someone will sell them.

Sharon Gerlach said...

Gothca, Janet. So sorry--that's what I get when I try to read and comment when I'm taking 8,000 phone calls. I will try to be better. ;-)

s.w. vaughn said...

Sweeet! GalleyCat quoted me! *G*

freddie said...

As long as Borders charges $3 for a small cup of foam, they'll be fine. ; )