Chip MacGregor

June 23, 2012

Should a writer wait for better times?


Lisa wrote to ask this: “With today’s publishing economy taking a downturn, would you recommend writers, especially new writers, wait for better times to approach you with a proposal?”

I am SO tempted to say, “No, I recommend they call another agent.” But I won’t because people keep accusing me of being snarky.

Um… Lisa, for all the talk of the national debt and the mortgage crisis and government bailouts ruining our economy over the past few years, people still seem to be buying books. In fact, for all the gloom expressed about publishing, there were more new books offered the last couple of years than ever before. And there are more readers in the world than ever before. So sure, I think some publishers are a bit scared (everybody has been retrenching and rethinking the business), and most are reviewing their practices to see how to reshape things in the light of ebooks and free content on the web. But I can guarantee you every publisher is looking for a GREAT idea, expressed through GREAT writing, by an author with a GREAT platform.

Sop if you have all of those pieces in place, don’t wait. If you don’t have all those pieces… well, you probably aren’t ready anyway. But if you have a solid manuscript, and you’ve worked to make it as strong as possible, and you can demonstrate a way to help promote your book to your potential readers, then you should start approaching editors and agents. Don’t wait for the economy to get better. That may or may not happen (does anyone think Obama understands sound fiscal policy? does anyone think Romney has the answer?). But here’s what WILL happen: publishers will acquire, edit, produce, market, and sell a boatload of new books.

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  • Ruth A. Douthitt says:

    I think you can be just a little snarky at times. But hey, that’s YOU. We wouldn’t have you any other way, Chip!

    I believe people want an escape during hard times. Movie goers broke box office records with The Godfather, JAWS, STAR WARS, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind during the economic hard times of the 1970s. Books are an excellent way to escape troubles too! 

    You are correct in that publishers are looking for that next GREAT book. That’s why writers should be writing. People are still reading books of all kinds.

    Thanks for the encouragement to keep keeping on!

  • Peter DeHaan says:

    Great post!

    I’d also like to point out that when the overall economy improves, there’s no guarantee that interest in books will track with it.

    (Is is a bad thing to be snarky?)

  • sally apokedak says:

    What an encouraging post. And…PW came out with children’s book sales figures and hardback e-book sales are both up over last year. 

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