Publishing, Covid and Recession: Have Your Plans Changed?

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gothicangel

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So, I was listening to a podcast a few days ago talking about how much slower in the publishing world right now, even though Oct 1st will see almost 600 books (lockdown backlog) being released. And it made me think right now (and the foreseeable future) would be a bad time to be submitting.

I've been writing my current WIP since Dec/Jan (4th book I've written but yet to be published) and I also work full-time and doing a part-time degree, which has always been my priority, but hopeful of getting a finished draft by the end of the year. When I started writing I made a deal that it was all right not to be completing drafts in a matter of months but to take it more slowly (which also allows me to cogitate more, especially when I'm at work bored). But this podcast, I think, has allowed myself the permission to say its all right to take two years to write a manuscript that is sellable.

Is anyone else doing something similar, maybe putting their books through another polish while things settle down further?
 

Filigree

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So far (fingers crossed) the non-writing day job is still going on & paying well, so I don't have a pressing financial need to publish. I'm polishing some mms for the next few months with the aim of self-pub. Since most of my fiction is related, and two works have been published with a small press, I have nothing worth querying an agent or large publisher.
 

Elle.

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You have to bear in mind that books bought by publishers now are not likely to be published until 2022. Two years would be submitting in 2023 and if taken by an agent and then a publisher then you would have a look at publication until late 2024 or 2025. Things are still happening despite the covid situation. My agent has sold 4 debuts to big 5 publishers during lockdown, so deals are still happening.
 

ChaseJxyz

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People are still buying books of all sorts. Self help, how-to guides, religious books and kids books are selling well. Upper-ed textbooks are selling like normal. The two places that are hurting are some other kinds of nonfiction and K-12 textbooks. And libraries of all sorts (no one on campus so no need to spend on academic libraries, local budgets are going to be hurting bad so libraries are going to see cuts). Now, HOW people are buying books is shifting (not every local bookstore has an online presence or is comfortable doing stuff like curbside pickup)(mobile use is higher than ever) and there is some shift in WHAT people are buying, but I highly doubt you (or anyone on this forum) are writing a biology textbook for 5th graders or solely for libraries to purchase.

As long as people want to consume new books, they're going to keep making new books. And as others have said, the timetables of things are so far out it's not going to be a big issue. Everyone has shifted to working at home or remotely so the publishers are well equipped to keep putting out new titles. The only hiccups would be marketing (no IRL events) and supply chain issues such as if, oh I don't know, Ingram had a severe understaffing issue because of COVID for a period of a few weeks so they're not able to ship out as many books to various sellers, which causes the sellers to cancel orders because they don't have the product to fulfill those orders, then that's a big mess everyone has to clean up with upset customers and upset people in your own warehouse. But that's a "let's burn that bridge when we get to it" sort of situation that we all hope we don't have to deal with.
 

gothicangel

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People are still buying books of all sorts. Self help, how-to guides, religious books and kids books are selling well. Upper-ed textbooks are selling like normal. The two places that are hurting are some other kinds of nonfiction and K-12 textbooks. And libraries of all sorts (no one on campus so no need to spend on academic libraries, local budgets are going to be hurting bad so libraries are going to see cuts). Now, HOW people are buying books is shifting (not every local bookstore has an online presence or is comfortable doing stuff like curbside pickup)(mobile use is higher than ever) and there is some shift in WHAT people are buying, but I highly doubt you (or anyone on this forum) are writing a biology textbook for 5th graders or solely for libraries to purchase.

An interesting consequence of lockdown in the UK was that Waterstones (one of the few high street book chains left here) saw sales rise more than 300%. Which is seen as a kick-back against Amazon.
 

CathleenT

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I don't worry about publisher schedules, and most self-pubbed books sell online copies, so I don't think our market has been impacted much, except that Kindle Unlimited seems to be even more of a thing than it used to be.

The hardest part for me has been fighting depression. I'm still moving forward--slowly--but it's like swimming through Jello. Fortunately (?!), I've got plenty of experience in dealing with this, so I know that I'll ultimately feel better if I don't let dark feelings win. But suicide rates have spiked, so I know I'm not alone in having trouble.

Do you know people even have abbreviations for all this...stuff? WROL (without rule of law), TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), etc. Nobody really knows what's going to happen--or if they do, they certainly aren't putting it out there for anyone to read. But if you log onto youtube, and you have any history of checking sites for canning and homesteading, it's hard to avoid all the people who seem to think they know exactly how awful this whole situation is going to get.

So, the biggest struggle I have is thinking that perhaps faerie tales where the plucky hero wins the day are irrelevant. They never felt like it to me--I read LOTR during my darkest times. But perhaps enough other people feel that way. It certainly seems that muckraking--on both sides--is far more popular right now. People have become downright vicious if you don't agree with them. And the world seems like it's becoming ever more violent.

I'm still editing, and I plan to publish two books this year. I just don't know if it matters enough to me to keep doing it after that. And that's a struggle I'm not sure how to resolve. My current plan is to just keep moving forward as best I can and hope it matters.
 
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ChaseJxyz

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In the US (and other countries, too, idk if this ever spread to the UK) Amazon was re-prioritizing shipments from their warehouses, so only "necessities" were going out (like cleaning supplies and toilet paper n stuff) while non-essentials (like books) were de-prioritized and took weeks to get out; they also limited the new product that Fulfilled by Amazon sellers could send to their warehouses, so non-essentials (like books) weren't being restocked. The vast majority of online shopper journeys start on Amazon (let's be honest, they usually have the most complete product details pages of any site) and some % goes elsewhere, but I imagine it was an even higher % once people saw the super-long wait times. Add to that the increase in sales sites saw because shoppers couldn't go to their fave IRL store for whatever reason means pretty much everyone had an increase since the start of quarantine/lockdown. eBay was hurting, tho, since so many of their sellers are small guys and they couldn't go to the post office every day anymore to send out deliveries (and now things are even worse with the post office, which is a big partner w/eBay)

All this is my day job so I know Way Too Much about how the sales side of things. Powell's said they're not going to sell on Amazon anymore which good for them, we need more sellers to get off the Amazon marketplace. Amazon is not very friendly and simply does not care about issues like counterfeit books.
 

lizmonster

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The podcast I was listening to said that agents were prioritising existing clients (more so than usual), while debuts are still being bought it is being done more cautiously.

I'm not sure what this means, exactly, since I never had the impression acquisitions editors were ever prone to recklessness.

If it's suggesting it's harder to sell as a debut than as an exisiting author...that would surprise me a little, given the marketing cachet of being a debut.
 

mccardey

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The podcast I was listening to said that agents were prioritising existing clients (more so than usual), while debuts are still being bought it is being done more cautiously.

I'm also surprised at this, because of what LizMonster said. Debut authors (with good books) are gold - as ever.

Unless the comparison was with known best-sellers or celeb-writers, it seems odd. But then, I'm neither podcast nor agent ;)
 

Harlequin

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By a bit more cautiously I mean that you are perhaps likely to get a smaller advance or and advance broken up into more portions, or a deal for a single book rather than series.

That is what my agent warned me of before we went on submission in mid July a few weeks ago.
 

lizmonster

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By a bit more cautiously I mean that you are perhaps likely to get a smaller advance or and advance broken up into more portions, or a deal for a single book rather than series.

Goodness gracious. I'd be happy with any of this. I'd've been happy with it even before the pandemic.
 

Laurel

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My personal experience has been that publishing has slowed down. I don't have any real stats to back that up, but EVERYTHING seems to be taking longer: submissions, contracts, releases, etc.

But even though publishing seems to have slowed, it definitely hasn't stopped. I wouldn't advise putting off submissions. You just have to be even more patient than normal. (I say that as a very impatient person.)
 

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