Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Because The First Thing That Comes To Mind Is The Size Of The Advance – Not.

STATUS: With New York Publishing shut down, I’m working on a UK contract and catching up on email. I think it’s going to be this way for most of the week.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  HOPE I DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU by Tom Waits

Obviously the Random House – Penguin merger is all the news in the publishing world right now. It’s a big deal. But I read this article in Publishers Weekly and pretty much snorted my tea.

PW makes it sound like an agent’s biggest concern might be the reduction in advance amounts paid for books.

I’m concerned about MANY things that might come about because of the merger but smaller advances is not one of them. It’s not even on my top 10 list of things to be concerned about.

Publishing saw the consolidation of publishing houses into smaller and smaller numbers in the early 90s. That evolved into what had been known as the “Big 6” of the last decade.

It’s now down to the “Big 5” and quite honestly, I don’t see NewsCorp (which owns HarperCollins) settling for the status quo. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the “Big 5” become “4” with two more houses merging in the not-so-distant-future.

Of course this all has to pass anti-trust rulings, etc.

What does fewer publishing houses mean for authors?

That answer is pretty simple. Fewer choices. Less competition. More uniformity of royalty rates (like that hasn’t happened already because houses are already more interested in status quo among themselves rather than actual competition). Narrowed vision of what is the market and what should sell (and they already have tunnel vision as any number of digitally self-published successes have recently proven). More emphasis on commercial blockbusters and less building authors from the mid list.

Getting the picture? Smaller advances? Not a main issue on my radar.

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6 Responses

  1. Renee Pace said:

    I think this will have an impact on Canadian authors who relied on Penguin Canada as a source for new Canadian authors. On the other side, as an Indie author, I think this just shows the trend for more authors having control from the get-go and deciding to try it on their own.

  2. Tiana Smith said:

    Fewer choices and less competition – sounds like it probably isn’t the best thing for authors. Maybe it won’t impact readers as much though … hard to tell, since I haven’t done much digging into this yet. You’re right though – the advance isn’t as important I don’t think.

  3. Angela Brown said:

    News of the Penguin/Random House merger was interesting to digest when it was announced. It’s also interesting to see what various outlets are touting as the big concerns. Glad to see where your concerns are…less “show me the money” and more “show me longevity”.

  4. Ann Stewart said:

    I was never interested in e-publishing until some other writers I’ve talked to said that the best thing with e-publishing is there are stellar authors getting out there who normally wouldn’t because of the gatekeepers at these big publishing houses. I’m starting to wonder if they’re so desperate to maintain their control that their losing more and more. Will be interesting to see what comes of all of this.

  5. Bruniinha said:

    KRISTA writes: What are some of the most comomn problems you see in the manuscripts you request?Oh in the fulls? Hmm… just not being good enough, I guess. Lots of times the first 10 or 30 or 50 pages have clearly been workshopped to a high sheen, and then you get halfway through the manuscript and it is a hot mess. It is pretty easy to START a good book… it is kind of tough to write one all the way through to a good finish! 🙂

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