Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Reason

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.)


Richmond Writer said...

Very inspiring post. I no longer write fantasy but I enjoy your blog because every once in a while you'll post something like this. Thank you.

Robert W. Leonard said...

I think you spend too much time worrying about us readers! We understand that people have it hard at times. And we come here for words of wisdom, or to laugh, or both. Family should always come first though. Thanks for taking a few minutes to explain not only why you've been busy, but some refreshing words that a lot of people in the industry wanted to hear right now.

BTW, I think it's hilarious that my word verification was dismiss today. :)

Cantrell said...


I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on digital publishing and how that might change the industry in the future. First, do you love digital books as much as physical books? And second, if publishers don't have to print thousands of copies in the future, do you think that will change who/what they bet on?

SM Blooding said...

You sound a little drained. I agree with Robert. Instead of worrying about what we, the reader, want to hear, maybe it would be just good to ramble.

You could post...blabbering nothing-ness, and we'd STILL read it. Ummm...maybe a nice, blabbering (I love this word today) post of the life of an agent. It can be therapudic and funny, for us and you. Take the emotional stress, wrap a fine line of fiction around it, and serve it with a side of humor.

ryan field said...

Sometimes the blog posts just don't flow. I know the feeling.

And then family stuff can really throw you.

I actually like when you post about personal things, and when you post your opinions. I remember one post that you probably wouldn't even remember, but while I was writing something last month I kept thinking, "Okay, Jenny wouldn't go for this. Change it."

And you wrote another post about characters with fundamental flaws that I never forget when I'm writing. These little things sink in sometimes.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Do I really sound a bit drained? =)

Madison L. Edgar said...

I got the impression you might be a bit drained... compared to your previous posts, at least.

SM Blooding: I love your post! You are absolutely right too. Sometimes, it's refreshing just to pop onto an agent blogs and realize agents are people too :-) They're struggling with getting our work out there just as we are!

Jenny, I truly appreciate your concern for us writers. Sometimes, (after receiving rejection after rejection), it's nice to realize some agents actually DO care!

SM Blooding said...

You know how you say something and then as soon as it comes out of your mouth, or you hit send, you realize that it came out ALL wrong? *clucks tongue* I didn't mean it in a BAD way. Just that...oh, good grief! It was a sentiment of concern.

I'm handing over the shovel now.

David R. Slayton said...

Hang in there, Jenny. I'm hearing from a lot of writer friends that we're all a bit drained on the process right now. You're not alone.

jmartinlibrarian said...

Thank you for this great post. As a book pushing librarian, I say Amen.
As for post ideas? What about something on copyright. What pitfalls do writers need to avoid in using quotes, lyrics, etc. from other authors?