I have sat down over the last few weeks and tried to write post after post about publishing. And have come up with nothing to say, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it's not really you guys--I'm still dealing with the situation in my family and it's eating up a large amount of my brainpower.
But secondly, there's not much to talk about, unless you'd like me to whip out the old doom and gloom schpiel again. Sales are down. Publishers are still buying sure bets only. I'm doing my damnedest to sell books, and being reassured that I'm not the only one who's having trouble selling great novels right now. I'm being extremely picky about who I take on as new clients, as a result, at least until the economy brightens up a bit. Cash flow is down for everyone.
But then, there still has to be a reason we do this, right? There has to be a reason why I work everyday, why I read manuscripts, why I work my butt off, literally, to sell domestic, foreign, and film rights. And it's not because of the money because while that would be nice, agents aren't rich people.
And then I read this article in the NY Times, and I realized that, of course, there's a reason I do this.
It's simply because I love books.
I cannot conceive of a world without books. I cannot conceive of children growing up and not loving books as much as I did. I cannot conceive of a publishing industry that doesn't love books as much as I do.
And you may call me idealistic--but here's the thing.
Publishing is definitely a business, but it's a business that has its roots in people who absolutely love books. They could just as easily be making widgets, but they choose to help make books. They manage the contracts. They edit the manuscripts. They design the covers. They balance the ledgers in the accounting department. They are the CEOs. They are the fresh-out-of-college interns. They are the typesetters, the booksellers, the librarians, the agents, the authors, the editors, and anyone who has ever opened a book and found themselves lost in a story.
We read because we need to believe that life is different, whether better or worse, and that we can experience that difference through a book. We read because it makes us human. We are human because we read.
And we are all involved in this crazy business of making and selling and producing books, for better or worse, because we love them. It may change drastically in the years or decades to come, but it will always be rooted in a love of the written word, whether for art or for profit. That's good enough for me.
(If there are any other publishing topics you'd like me to speak about, leave a note in the comments. I'll be at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in September, and will be looking forward to seeing book-people and talking shop.)