“I’m just a big wolf. Stupid, brutish and vicious,” said Rolf. “There’s nothing to understand.”
“I thought you were,” admitted Liss. “But I’ve changed my mind.”
“Women do that all the time,” said Rolf dismissively.
“And it’s no use baiting me. I’ve got that figured too now. You do it every time I ask questions you don’t want to answer.”
Rolf grinned. “Yes, but most people don’t notice. They’re too busy taking the bait.” (HOW MUCH FOR JUST THE CRAZY UNCLE – current WIP)
I was amused to see agents from the Red Sofa Literary Agency resign because the boss had to tweet that she could see looters from her office window, attacking a gas station, and was calling the cops (why tweet this, you may wonder? I certainly did). Three agents virtue-signaled their support for ‘protestors’ who vandalize, loot and as often as not set on fire that which they can’t carry away. Now, gasoline being a trifle flammable and just occasionally used for arson, not more 90% of the time, and as the
rioters… demonstrators don’t seem to worry about checking out who owns the business or who loses their job or who might be in the building… or whether they were killing grandma (last week’s you can’t have more than 1.5 people in an assembly corona virus prevention hysteria). Because this happened in the NYC publishing and literary bubble, this was followed by a STASI style admission of guilt and confession by the owner. Not that it’ll do her any good, mind you. She’s still off to Gulag.
Like the ‘protestors’ who went from screaming ‘F… the police!’ to ‘Call the police!’ when chased by a man with a chainsaw, I suspect that that NY traditional publishing will only come to appreciate those they abused and vilified, when they actually need them themselves. The possibility of a gasoline fire roasting her and destroying her office seemed to at least temporarily induce rationality into one part of the traditional publishing establishment. Trad Pub is dire strife unless of course some useful looter steals a lot of books or burns down brick and mortar stores, because the number of returns (Books are typically sold as sale or return, with bookstores getting their money back – usually for just returning the cover). With lockdown (if only they’d known they could just call themselves a protest book-store and have as many customers as they could get) there is a lot of unsold inventory, coming into that ‘returns’ bill. Publishers have been laying off future coders. Printers, paper producers and distributors all seem in trouble, several circling the drain.
Interesting times indeed. Probably not when you want to be invested in publishing, or brick-and-mortar bookstores. Possibly not in digital publishing either, because there are storm clouds all over, and unexpected collateral damage is always out there. But for many of us in this as a profession, or possible profession… this is where we are. If you’re in trad publishing you’re stuck between pleasing NYC publishing and pleasing an increasingly irritable and worried-about-their-future customer body. I know: for years pleasing the latter has been very near irrelevant to trad authors: after all, if you don’t get through the starting gate, you’re not in the race. But… like the agent with looters and the possibility of arson on her doorstep, or the people with a chainsaw behind them… if things do (as seems very likely) get worse in publishing, expect it to be, as always, the author’s fault. You want to avoid that trap if you can.
If – as seems plausible given that history is full of comparable cases, the protests become more violent, the vast silent public will turn steadily against them. It’s either that, or, if it gets public support – open revolution… which is also not much of a time and place for anyone to sell books. Either way is lose: lose. The pay Danegelt scenario (besides the obvious problem) they’re playing for – probably isn’t going to work when money is tight and the population in general is struggling. Historically, that’s when ordinary people get really angry with those demanding anything. Which leaves the ‘fade away as people lose interest’ option… possibly the best for NYC Trad pub. It might happen.
The best advice I can give to anyone in trad is to keep your head down (hard because loud virtue signaling is a job-requirement) or to get pseudonym going as an indy, or both.
The rest of us (and that’s me too) can at least choose either not to be on that side or to least keep our heads down.
Interesting times. Lots of baits.
You can take them, or keep writing.