A little perspective on recessions

Boarding
Snowboader image by Davide Fioraso

I’ve been a little tardy writing and blogging this week because my remunerative clients have all come at once screaming for work to be done by Christmas. Ah, the joys of self-employment! However, mustn’t grumble. Work is good. If it wasn’t for the last recession then I wouldn’t be in this position to fund my writing ambitions now, and this recession might just be the making of many a debut author’s ambitions. How so? Let me explain: it’s all a matter of perspective.

In 2001 the dot com crash directly affected my own line of business, while most other professions were spared. I lost my job that year, so I know how recessions can bite. I decided that was the time to finally set-up on my own as I had thought of doing for a long time. It would also give me the chance to write the novel. It took a good year to establish my client list, but now those clients are paying off when times are tougher for others and a permanent job might not seem so permanent anyway.

The point of all this? Out of disaster springs new opportunities. When DARPA revoked funding for military IT projects back in the ’70s, those talented researchers dispersed. Some set up companies, and the whole disaster gave birth to Silicon Valley, including today’s big success stories like Microsoft, Apple, et al.

So apply this to what is happening now in publishing and what it might mean for debut authors. Last week, many publishing jobs were lost. Debut authors (like myself) initially fear this will mean less opportunities for our books and perhaps lowers advances. Well, some of those masterless publishers and editors will no doubt now be thinking (as I did in 2001) this is the kick in the pants to do what they’ve long thought of – start up their own businesses. In an industry where jobs are scarce, self-employment becomes a necessity. Some might change career, others will become agents, or even set up new publishing houses. The necessary agile practices of newer, smaller, and leaner publishing houses will challenge the ingrained practices of the older, larger publishing giants and perhaps one day surpass them. But they need one thing to do this. You’ve guessed it — novels! Our novels.

In assembling my list of agents for submissions, I always tried to include agents that were new to agenting, or recently moved agency, because that means they are looking to build their author list. The chances of getting taken on are significantly higher with such a person. A relocated, experienced agent with a history of previous deals and lots of publishing contacts is, of course, preferable to a green agent. The agent who first requested a reading of Broken Evolution was a newly moved (but experienced) agent. So, debut authors, keep a keen eye out in next years Writer’s Yearbook for new publishers/agents and agents on the move. They’ll be looking for their own, new, big names, while the old fusty publishing giants will be focussing on wringing the most cash out of their bestselling authors and less likely to take a chance on new talent.

Recessionary times — as at any time — can present opportunities as well as obstacles. It’s all a matter of your perspective on it.

Meanwhile, the new story plays in my mind. I’m looking forward to writing the snowboarding sequence!

2 comments December 12th, 2008

Hard Times in Publishing

Today I got the first rejection letter to show the economic recession card. If agents and publishers are more focussed on keeping their current writers’ business in this economic environment, then they’re less likely to punt on new writers. So they say. In truth, new writers are essential to the publishing business, to drive new sales. They will always stump up for what they feel is the right proposition.

What really worries me about it, is that this recession has changed tastes. Who would even believe an international espionage thriller in a world where airlines are going out of business, and the villian people fear most is the faceless one stealing away your job? I can only hope the dish I serve suits people’s taste for escapism in this climate.

I persevere. We all persevere.

Add comment November 14th, 2008


Blog | About | 

Broken Evolution

Follow brendancody on Twitter

Subscribe

Calendar

January 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Posts by Month

Posts by Category