Since the week of workshops and deadlines has me wrapped up more than I expected, not quite done with the next Sacred Cows.
Yesterday, Kris and I were getting a laugh from a great song by new artist Sara Bareilles called “King of Anything.” You can find it at iTunes right here. At least listen to the chorus. And listen to it with agents in mind. I’m fairly certain, not 100%, but fairly certain she was writing the song about a bad relationship. But wow does it fit a bad agent relationship PERFECTLY.
On another topic:
Two nights ago about 14 professional writers got together in a room and we had a five hour discussion on ebooks. Even though I was the leader of the discussion, I learned a bunch and came away buzzing yet again. I won’t begin to talk about all the stuff here. But just let me say it’s a great time to be a professional fiction writer. Sure, things are changing faster than many can keep up with, but that’s exciting and with many of the changes, the mess that the agent system has become slowly loses its grasp on the business.
Someone asked me if I see agents surviving the changes. I said “Sure, some of them. The ones that have a good business model, who don’t read slush, who give added value to their clients in sales and contacts, who understand their clients and don’t try to control them or take care of them or tell them what to write.”
But my belief is that the agent model that so many of my posts have focused on will be gone. The publishers will have taken back over the slush piles in one form or another, and new forms of agents will emerge.
Also a new form of scam agent will emerge, so caution folks. Get control of your money and except for education, money flows to the writer. Again, never let anyone touch your money first.
Will book publishing in paper form be around in twenty years? Of course. In fact, there will be more books being published in paper. But the publishers will have changed. A large number of small presses will be flourishing, combing electronic and paper publishing. Larger publishers will be following the same model, combining paper and electronic publishing. Mass market paperbacks will be a thing of the past in twenty years, trade paperbacks will be standard, with hardbacks still being premium books.
But major New York publishers have a pretty hard turning or tipping point coming with all their contracts, labor unions, high overhead, the return system, and warehouses and shipping costs. When books go to 25% electronic in sales, the weight of the costs of each paper book will drive the price point too high and force even more of an change. Some publishers already see this coming and are doing their best to move, but the union contracts, high overhead, and returns systems pretty much has the big publishers caught in a nasty trap.
This all is going to take time to work through the system and in this day of instant fear and communication, we’ll see a lot of “the sky is falling” stuff. But nothing is falling, it’s changing. And the changes are fantastic for writers.
Stay on top of it is my suggestion. Ignore doom and gloom and just watch and move with the system. Learn the business, expect no one to take care of you, and keep having fun.
Now yet another topic:
I just got a very sad phone call from a friend who lost a cat today. Made me very sad, since we have lost five cats and gave another away in the last year. Two went from just old age, great old ladies names Willow and The Goddess. We put down another from sickness named Ezri. She was a powerful cat. When we had the full compound up here, we were always rescuing cats. Ezri was the last non rescue cat we had. The three we have left inside are all rescues.
But we also had two outdoor cats up until a week or so ago. Yellow Kitty and Rufus. Yellow Kitty was a wild male I managed to pet after two years and Rufus was a neighbor’s cat who left them for us. Both slept on our front porch in shelters and would have nothing to do with coming inside. Of course feeding cats outside brings raccoons and I was close friends with two and their yearly kittens. This year mom had four kittens. The raccoons and cats were buddies and even would eat from the same bowl.
Then one day the hilltop was silent. Both cats and all raccoons were gone. Something had taken them all. No signs of any of them. No signs of life at all.
So this last year we have lost five cats. We’re down to the three inside. In this big house, often hours will go by and I don’t see a cat. I can’t imagine being without cats around, but wow it is tough when we lose them. And my friend this morning was very sad, as he should be.
So if you have cats, give them a hug, enjoy their company while they let you, because they will move on faster than you want them to.