Chip MacGregor

February 4, 2013

What's going on in the world of publishing?


I normally just offer advice about publishing careers on this blog, but occasionally I feel a need to mention things happening that everyone in the industry is talking about. So let’s digress today on a couple quick items…

1. The 2012 numbers are in, and they’re interesting… There were only three adult fiction titles last year that sold more than a million copies, and they were all written by E.L. James. (Soft core porn rules, apparently.) Those were also the only “romance” novels that hit the million mark. There were four children’s fiction titles that sold more than a million copies, and three of them were written by Suzanne Collins. (Hunger Games also rule — the fourth was the most recent Diary of a Wimpy Kid Who Would’ve Quickly Been Killed In The Hunger Games.) There were no nonfiction titles that hit the magic number (NO EASY DAY came very close), nor cookbooks, biographies, sci-fi novels, business titles… Not even a memoir. I’m still waiting for all the final numbers to show up, but it looks like this will be the smallest number of million-sellers we’ve had in years.

2. And yet… book sales are doing fine. One study showed they were down 4% in 2012, another that they were up a bit more than 1%. Either way, overall book sales are holding fairly steady. There are more readers than ever before, and there are more books being produced than ever before — the numbers are just more spread out, with the vast quantities of ebooks now being offered at Amazon and B& So take heart — it’s still a great time to be a writer. We read all the time — on our Nooks & Kindles, on our laptops & Smartphones, on our email and web accounts. Don’t believe the gloomy people who keep preaching The End Of Publishing As We Know It.

3. I have now had more than a hundred emails from people concerning my recent post about Jerry Jenkins starting a self-publishing venture. They all come in one of three categories: (a) I was right to defend Mr Jenkins for doing this; (b) I’m a jerk for allowing Mr Jenkins to fool me; or (c) I’m usually a snarky jerk anyway, and who am I to criticize people for saying rude things? I don’t delete anyone’s comments unless they are racist or libelous, so feel free to weigh in. Personally, I’m leaning toward (c), above.

4. I rarely mention this sort of thing, but if you’re the praying sort, please keep in mind one literary agent, Lee Hough. He wrote people this weekend to say that his brain tumor has returned. Lee is a good friend and a great agent, and we’re all pulling for him.

5. As noted last week, I’m going to speak at the Nashville Writers University on Saturday, Feb 23. It’s a one-day event, with an intensive agenda:

-I’ll speak on “creating your long-term publishing strategy.”
-Dan Merril, from The Propellor Group, will talk about script-writing and screenplays.
-Larry Carpenter, the longtime boss at Spring Arbor and Ingram and now consultant to authors and publisher, will talk about self-publishing.
-Michelle Borquez, author and entrepreneur, will teach “building a platform around your concept.”
-And I’ll be talking about book proposals and the secret to success.
Again, this is a strong group — everybody has ties to both publishing and marketing, and all have had a lot of success in the industry. (I think at one point or another, each person has served as a publisher, and they all bring years of experience to the group.)
I’m looking forward to it, since I’ve largely stayed away from conferences the past couple years, and I love talking to authors about proposals and strategy. So you’re invited. Every participant gets face time with me (as well as the other instructors), so we’ll be reviewing proposals and talking about next steps in a one-on-one setting. That means space is limited to just 30 people.
The event is at the Aloft Hotel in Cool Springs, just south of downtown Nashville. The cost is $199 and includes lunch. (If you’re coming from out of town, they’re offering a $99 room rate for the participants.) You can find out all you need to know at
Would love to have you come and introduce yourself to me.
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