As a short-story writer and aspiring novelist who has been trying, without any measurable level of success, for the last roughly eighteen months to get the attention of a literary agent and/or small/independent publisher, I am a subscriber to and loyal reader of Publishers Lunch.
This is a daily (more or less) email that is free and is packed with news to make a writer:
A) Jealous - There is a section called "Deal News" that is, well, exactly what you would think. It gives details on some of the contracts that have been signed for work to be published, as well as the agent(s) involved in many cases.
B) Informed - There is a section that deals with trends in the marketplace. Unfortunately in this economy, more often than not the news is bad. Bookstores that have been around for decades closing, pubishing houses consolidating, you know the drill.
C) More informed - There is a "People" section that details the comings and goings at publishing houses, literary agencies, the big bookselling chains, etc.
If you're like me and you are trying to get your foot in the publishing door in order to kick it open and you haven't yet subscribed, you might want to reconsider. I've learned a lot since I started reading my daily "Lunch," and it has two really cool things going for it.
1) It only takes a couple of minutes to read, especially since you can scan through the stuff you don't care about and only concentrate on what you are interested in, and
2) It's FREE!
If you're interested in subscribing, just follow this link.
Anyway, I mention all of this because included in today's issue of Publishers Lunch is the "Good News, Bad News" (at least for me) that I mentioned in the title to this post.
The Good News: From the Wall Street Journal comes news that some Borders superstores in Michigan have "created expanded sections...focused on teen shoppers, providing graphic novels, fantasy and young-adult books together along with non-book merchandise focused on teens, and expects to roll-out the concept throughout nearly all of their superstores nationwide in August."
Great news for anyone who looks at the BIG PICTURE! If the printed word is not to simply survive but to flourish in the coming decades, it is critical to get and keep the attention of the youngest readers. I'm not even fifty years old yet, but I remember a time when the only real competition for reading a book on a rainy day was television - and we only got four channels, even though I grew up just thirty miles outside Boston!
Now there is HDTV with limitless channels to pick from, there are video games so real you might think you stepped inside a movie set, there are CD's and DVD's and iPods and iPhones and Blackberries and...well, you get the idea. So devoting more space to teen books and merchandise can only be a good sign for everyone who wants their words to be read.
The Bad News: I don't write young adult books! From my (strictly selfish) perspective, a much better plan for Borders and every bookstore would be to expand the spaces in their stores devoted to the categories of Thrillers/Suspense/Horror Fiction. Then, more books in these genre would be required, leading to more opportunities for, well, you know, me.
But anyway, I like to think it's a reason for optimism that the biggest corporate chains are opting to try to develop the interest of the people who might make or break the literary world over the next half-century or more, as all of the changes that are coming in the world of publishing begin to take place. They wouldn't be doing it if they didn't think they could make money at it, which I view as a good sign for authors everywhere...