Thursday, December 4, 2008


Publishing, like all spectrums of the economy, is going through a painful transition. Yesterday's NY Times article made many of us aware of what might only be the beginning of this publishing shakeout.

While I would never stick my head in the sand and pollyanna my way through life, I believe that the economy is cyclical and some day, hopefully sooner than later, the economy will be on the upswing. In the meantime, if we all keep writing, drawing, painting, and creating we will have a wonderful arsenal of work that children will cherish.

12/3/08 Thank you Agent Colleen Lindsay for giving us a little history and telling us, "Don't Panic".

12/3/08 Thank you Author/Illustrator/Poet Douglas Florian for your wise words in yesterday's comments:

The demographics are down for the picture book crowd, and the publishers are tightening their belts, so I think authors and illustrators have to put in extra time and energy to create something truly original.

12/04/08 Thank you Agent Janet Reid for assuring us that The Sky Isn't Falling.

12/4/08 Thank you Agent Kristin Nelson for Let There Be Light and What's Hot.

12/4/08 Thank you to The Rejecter for telling us not to hold off on submissions if your work is polished and ready for publication.

12/5/08 Thank you Agent Jennifer Jackson for telling us Not to Slack Off Now.

Thank you Agent Rachelle Gardner for Responding to the Difficult Economy and offering not only your own opinion but asking 5 other wonderful agents their opinions on 12/8/08 and for More Wise Words from Agents. 12/11/08

12/11/08 Thank you Agent Holly Root for Sky Unfallen.

12/12/08 Thank you Agent Sarah Davies for Yes We Can.

12/15/08 Thank you Agent Assistant Tracy Marchini for Just Keep Swinging.

12/16/08 Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News tells us that library use is skyrocketing and the public expresses their need for libraries in this video clip.

12/20/08 Thank you Kristin Nelson for your positive outlook for 2009.
In her newsletter linked above, Kristin's says:
...Still, despite all the news, I just concluded a new deal for one of my authors just this week. I just sold a film option for a client whose book has been out for more than a year. I’m still excited to read sample pages–looking for a new author whose career I can launch.

Many editors have told me they are happy to receive submissions from me–in all the genres we represent. Books will still sell. It might take more time. It might be for less money. It might be after an editor-directed revision. But they will still sell.

24/7 Thank you Verla Kay for giving writers, illustrators, editors and agents a place to gather, share, commiserate and celebrate.

12/22/08 Thank you S&S CEO Caroly Reidy for her annual letter to her employees where she notes that S&S PUBLISHING IS FUNDAMENTALLY STRONG. As noted on PW, despite the difficult economy the company’s “publishing programs are fundamentally strong, [and] our operations run efficiently.” She pointed to a record number of bestsellers in the year, a number of award-winning titles and breakout years for several authors including Brad Thor and Kathy Reichs. Reidy also said S&S was successful in ramping up its digital efforts, noting that e-book sales nearly “quadrupled” in 2008 with its e-book library now at about 10,000 titles. The company also opened its digital studio in the year which will help feed new features to the S&S Web site, which will be relaunched in January. The site, Reidy said, will offer “visitors a multitude of new and exciting ways to find out about our books, stay connected to their favorite authors, share their enthusiasm with fellow readers, and remain engaged with our content before, during, and after reading our books.”

The development of the site is in keeping with S&S’s highest priority Reidy noted--finding ways to serve authors, reach readers and create new revenue streams. She said the uncertainty in the business and economy provides a chance to “take chances and embrace risk,” in order to drive S&S forward.

12/20/08 Thank you GalleyCat for keeping us writers in the know and reporting that S&S and Random House have quadrupled their digital sales of books. Sell books, sell!

12/31/08 Thank you Editor Alan Rinzler for your post, ARE PUBLISHERS STILL ACQUIRING BOOKS? THE ANSWER IS YES.


1/6/09 Thank you Agent Rachelle Gardner for encouraging us, even in these tough economic times, in her post DON'T GIVE UP YOUR DREAM.

1/7/09 Thank you Little Brown Editor Alvina Ling for your glorious words of encouragement sent via the Highlights Foundation's Chautauqua 25th Anniversary Writer's Workshop Faculty Update. If this doesn't KEEP YOU WRITING, nothing will. Alvina writes:

"Some people have a ton of natural talent, and some not as much. But I honestly believe in the power of hard work and drive. I've certainly read my share of manuscripts that I felt were so far from publishable that I was tempted to tell the writer to give up. But I will never, ever, ever do that, partially because I just don't have the right to do that—this is such a subjective business—and writing that I might think is bad, another editor might really love. But also, I'll never ever tell anyone to give up because I've seen writers improve so dramatically through hard work, research, and honing their craft. We all have to start somewhere. Each thing you write is a stepping stone—a step closer to the finish line.

"As Julie Andrews said, 'Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth.' We've all heard the stories before. Dr. Seuss's first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was said to have been rejected by 28 editors before finding a home at Random House. According to Internet sources, anywhere from 'several' to eight or twelve U.K. publishers turned down Harry Potter before Bloomsbury offered a contract. And Kate DiCamillo suffered through 470 rejection letters before Because of Winn-Dixie was published. What if any of these authors had stopped trying? If your goal is to be published, think of everything you do now as a step closer to your goal. If you write one book that doesn't seem to be working, move on to your next book—not every book you write will or should be published. Life is a journey, and so is your path to publication. Enjoy yourself along the way."

1/12/09 Thank you Publishers Weekly for reporting that Children's books proved to be one of the most recession-resistant segments of the book biz.

1/13/09 Thank you Harold Underdown for providing historic perspective and a review of current economic conditions in the publishing industry, and for your words "From turmoil comes opportunity" in your blog post Working in Children's Books and the Recession of 2008-2009.

1/23/09 Thank you Kristin Nelson for sharing what Hyperion is looking for right now--GIRLS MG!

2/11/09 Thank you FinePrint Literary Management Agent Colleen Lindsay for your positive words in these confusing times. The Swivet: Publishing and the Art of Patience.

Keep Writing! Keep Creating! Keep Dreaming!

*Modified to add*

I will be updating this post as I find more posts/interviews/etc.

Please see Editor Moonrat's November 6th post C[r]ash Flow (or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing) to understand what triggered the recent avalanche of bad news in our industry. Thank you Moonrat for assuring us that that this is not the "death of publishing" and for inspiring us to BUY BOOKS NOW!

As for me, I believe a positive attitude is the only way to approach dire times. What's the alternative?

We are writers/illustrators/editors/agents. That's who we are and that's who we will continue to be. Right now the timing is, well.....not good. But with time, timing changes:)


  1. Thanks, Jill for your positive attitude. And you're right, it is cyclical; it's bound to get better.

  2. Thanks, Jill for reminding us that it's not all that bad!

    All the best,

  3. Excellent advice! And as SOON as I am done with my blog roll I'll be back to writing!

  4. Love the glass is half-full mentality


  5. Jill, I just found your blog. Lots of great information here.Thanks for reminding us to stay positive.

  6. Beverley, Lori, Elise, Kim and Linda--thanks for stopping by.

    We have to stay positive....what's the alternative?

    We are writers/illustrators/editors/agents. That's who we are and that's who we will continue to be. Right now the timing is, well....not good. But timing changes with time:)

  7. Yay, Jill! Thanks for the positive post. I'm sending my readers your way.


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  9. Debbie aka Inkygirl - so glad the post is helpful.

    We are all in this together and we will all survive together:)

    Thanks for the link from your blog. I can't wait to meet your readers.

  10. Thanks Cyn and Debbie for linking to my post.

    FYI - I've added dates to the links so readers can find newer posts.

  11. Beth,
    Glad you've found KEEP WRITING helpful and thanks for linking to my post.
    Have a great vacation:)

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  13. Samantha, thanks for linking to my post:)



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