What to DO With the Publishing Research?

News, trends, and the future of publishing
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Elizabeth Poole
Posts: 21
Joined: February 6th, 2010, 10:46 am

What to DO With the Publishing Research?

Post by Elizabeth Poole » April 17th, 2010, 10:33 am

This is a potentially stupid question, but my mom always told me there are no stupid questions, just stupid people…Err, I mean, anyway…moving on.

Like a good little author, I have been keeping up on the publishing industry news. I read Nathan’s blog all the time, I read Galleycat, I subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly, and so on. Nathan had a great link to a blog article on Why (Some) Authors Fail, by Penny C. Sansevieri. This is a wonderful article and you should read it if you haven’t yet.

Ms. Sansevieri also extolled the virtues of understanding how publishing work, in and out of your genre. Now, while I might not be an expert on publishing, I think I have a pretty good handle on the current state of affairs.

My potentially stupid question is: What do I DO with all of this knowledge?

Let me explain. I write urban fantasy. This is a good news/bad news situation for me. The good news is that fantasy is hot right now, but the bad news is it might be a fading trend by the time I finish revision, get an agent, get a book deal, and have my book published.

Knowing that, common sense would say to avoid fantasy.

BUT we as authors are also told to write what we love. Which is what I am doing. Every one of my WIP is urban fantasy. For me, there’s no escaping it. I will have to just suck it up if my genre’s glutted by the time I hit the scene.

That being said, I am not sure exactly what else I am supposed to do with the knowledge of the publishing industry. Is it just for me to know that I might have a hard time getting a book deal, depending on timing? Or are there some other nuggets of wisdom that I should be gleaning from the publishing news I receive?

I’ve heard it suggested that authors should read Publisher’s Weekly, to see what’s selling and what’s not. What are we supposed to do with that knowledge then? It’s generally considered a bad idea to chase trends, so other than my edification, and possible conversational starters with estranged relatives (“You know, Paranormal YA is all the rage right now.”), is there something else I can do with this knowledge? Some other benefit I can gain from it?

Sorry if I am rambling. I just feel like I am missing something really obvious. Maybe Nathan *coughcough* could do a post on how to use your publishing knowledge.
Proud owner of a Plot Wolverine


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marilyn peake
Posts: 304
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 4:29 pm

Re: What to DO With the Publishing Research?

Post by marilyn peake » April 17th, 2010, 2:04 pm


I’ve reached the same point as you. I read news and blogs and Twitter feeds about the publishing industry every day. I finally realized that I just need to write the best novels and short stories I can possibly write and then tap into all the information I have about the publishing industry in order to try to get an agent and a publishing deal. Knowing how extraordinarily hard it is to get published and that indie presses are now very much respected (an indie novel even won a Pulitzer Prize this year!), I’m willing to publish again through indie press if I can’t get an agent. For me, the most important goal is to write really good fiction.

Right now, an anthology in which I have a short story published http://www.marilynpeake.com/twistedtails4.html is a Finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards in the same category as some other very impressive anthologies http://www.bookoftheyearawards.com/fina ... nthologies , including AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES edited by Peter Straub http://www.amazon.com/American-Fantasti ... -1-catcorr . On the Internet, I see quite a bit of PR for Peter Straub’s anthology. Do I wish the indie press anthology in which my short story is published had advertising money behind it? Absolutely. But, no matter what, it means a great deal to me to have one of my short stories make Finalist in the same category as many well-known writers.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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Bryan Russell/Ink
Posts: 430
Joined: December 20th, 2009, 10:44 pm

Re: What to DO With the Publishing Research?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » April 17th, 2010, 2:44 pm

I agree with Marilyn. I don't think the publishing research is really about the writing. It's about what happens after the writing, or alongside the writing. It's about the business of writing, not the writing itself. And I think it's really helpful to know about that business if you want to be a part of it. But I don't think it really has much to do with the actual writing. You write the stories that call out to you to be written. And then you try to find a home for them, and that's where the publishing knowledge helps (along with all the stuff that comes up after a home is found).

But the writing itself is about you and the story. Sit down, write it. Clear your head of the rest and focus on the task at hand. I don't think much of the other stuff is relevant, beyond the basics of genres and forms and knowing your story might have an audience. So, for me, I'd just say file all that information away for when you need it. Somewhere down the road you probably will. But the story always comes first.

The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

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