Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brave New (Publishing) World

After a little summer break the blog chain is back (and better than ever with several new members - check the links in my sidebar to see the new line-up) and Sandra decided to start things up with a question that looks at the business side of writing.

Have the recent changes in the publishing industry affected your writing plans/career? If so, how?

So here's the thing, if you've read my last few posts here (Quick recap for those not interested in scrolling: found an agent, book sold to HarperTeen) then you might have guessed that for me personally, well I'm currently feeling pretty good about the publishing industry and my place in it.

However, that doesn't mean I'm just gonna sit back and say, "I cannot let my artistic brain be bothered with all this business side of things" because that would be kind of stupid, and generally I try to avoid being kind of stupid.

With the rise of e-books, the growing numbers of people choosing self-publishing, and Borders going under - the publishing industry is definitely in flux right now. Nothing is certain, and that's kind of scary. But let's face it, in life nothing is ever certain.

Five years ago had I had just moved to Knoxville with my husband, and I was having a really hard time finding a job. Being a book-lover I decided to apply at my local Borders store. They called me in to interview for a position in their cafe. Three managers interviewed me for this position that paid minimum wage plus tips, and during the interview one of the questions they asked was, "Where did you see yourself in five years?"

I don't have the best poker face, so they probably caught a hint of my inner-thoughts of, "Seriously? You're kidding, right?" Eventually I think I bs'd something or other about wanting a job where I could continuously grow and learn.

I didn't get the job, and now that there no longer is a Borders I can say that it was probably for the best. But I still have to wonder what my interviewers would've said if they'd been given the five year question. Did they see themselves at Borders? Did they have the slightest inkling that it would end up sinking faster than the Titanic?

I'm guessing they didn't. How could they have, and how can anyone else really know where the next five or ten or fifteen years will take us?

This doesn't mean we can't have goals, or make plans, because we can and we should. My goal was to find an agent and get published. And now that I've reached those goals, I'm setting new ones for myself. Maybe the changes in publishing will make some of those goals easier to reach, maybe it will make them harder - only time will tell. But in the meantime, I'm gonna continue working towards them no matter what next week's headlines may read.

All right that's enough from me. To continue following along with the blog chain check out Matt's blog before mine and directly Katrina after.

I'm also posting today over at Pots 'n Pens so make sure to head over there for a little chicken soup for the writer's soul.


  1. I wonder if it's possible to plan for uncertainty.

    Congrats again on your book deal!

  2. First off, congrats on your book deal! Harper Teen! Wow!

    Second, what kind of an answer did the Border's people really expect from you? Yeah, in five years I'll be perfectly happy putzing around selling coffee to shmoes... *insert eye-roll here*

    Third, I love this post because it just shows that no matter how prepared you may be for whatever the publishing industry throws at you, there will always be surprises. So you have to be flexible.

  3. Hah! That is a pretty interesting question for an interview for an entry level position. I wonder how seriously they took it?

    Anyway, personally I intend to still try to get published traditionally if I can, but I think there are some very exciting (and sometimes terrifying) things going on in the publishing industry. We'll see where it all ends up taking us.

    And congrats on your deal, Kate!

  4. Wandered over from Matt's. So much to consider during these uncertain times. But I keep thinking that even though there are tons of books being written and published, readers keep needing more.

  5. Hi, Kate--congrats on your sale to Harper. A colleague of mine read your ms. and said it was fab! I'm a fellow (former) Western NYer, so when I heard you were from upstate NY, I had to check out your blog! I look forward to picking up a galley of your book.

    Wendy Loggia, Delacorte Press/RH

  6. Sandra - My plan for uncertainty is to expect the unexpected;)

    Tere- LOL, your interview answer is exactly what I was thinking!

    Matt - I still think there is much to be said for traditional publishing - good luck getting there!

    Donna - Thanks for visiting! And as a reader I agree - I am always looking for that next great read.

    Wendy - Thanks so much for the congrats and for stopping by - always good to connect with another WNY'er:)

  7. Huge congrats on your agent and sale! Sounds like it happened ideally for you, which is so wonderful! I love to see hard work pay off for writers.

    I like your attitude about the turbulent world of publishing. It's just like anything else in life and we really can't know what's up next. But we can make goals and work toward them, readjusting as we go.

    Wise words! Off to read Cole's!

  8. Hi, Kate! *waves*

    Congrats on your sale!! Like Katrina, I love seeing writers accomplish their goals!

    And yes, I share your attitude toward the publishing industry. Sometimes, it feels like the safest net one could land on, but then there are those other times when you fall and fall. Oh, and fall some more :) Either way, it's all about keeping your chin up.

    Excellent post!

  9. LOL I hate those interview questions. I always want to say "well I definitely don't want to still be working for you!" but I don't think they'd look to favorably on that LOL

    Congrats on your sale!!!!

  10. Major congrats on the agent and the book sell.

    Yes, nobody can live in a bubble simply because they're with a traditional publisher. You always have to keep up-to-date with things.

  11. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x

  12. What a thought provoking post, Kate! Nothing like the downfall of a major corporation to make the possibilities within a five year time span so evident!

  13. So sad (and a little scary) about Borders! Great post!

    And congratulations on your book deal! :)

  14. I'm abysmally late, but this is a great post. It sounds to me like you're well aware of what the implications are for both sides of the fence and embrace them both when necessary or appropriate. That's about all we can do these days anyway. Nice job!

  15. Whoa, whoa, whoa!!!! To Harper TEEN!!!!! EEEk! That is completely awesome!!!! CONGRATS, girl! Now I must go read your call story. *grin*

  16. First off: CONGRATULATIONS!

    Second, I think you can plan for uncertainty. It's kind of like a road trip. You know you want to get to New York. Maybe your route changes along the way, but your goal remains the same.

    Great post!