Greetings, and apologies for the long time between blog entries. Where does the time go?
I think I have been a bit depressed lately. 2015 was a very good year for my company. So far, 2016 hasn't been great. I had three books on the spring list, and none of them have hit. It's hard for me not to take this personally, since I have to advocate to get them to the contract stage, and then I edit them with my own red pencil (so to speak). So far, there's been very little traction. One of my favorites, and (objectively speaking) the best of the three, missed reviews in a couple of the key journals. I can't even tell you how painful that is. I want to grab people by the collar and shake them, but their jobs aren't easy. It's just the biz, folks. We have good seasons and bad seasons, and one of the benefits of working for this smaller press is that the owners are devoted to keeping it going over the long haul, meaning they ride out the ebbs and flows instead of panicking about shareholders, firing everyone in sight, and cancelling contracts.
Unfortunately, this only makes me feel worse about not having delivered good- or excellent-sellers. Maybe things will pick up later this year. It does happen; I believe Anita Diamant's The Red Tent was basically ignored for the first year after its publication, and then became a massive best-seller. Hope springs eternal.
In other news, you may be interested to know that I and the two other senior editors here have made the decision to reject, instantly, any manuscript that comes to us with the word GIRL in the title. This is an irrational business, and while I do pride myself on being a rational person, it's time to take a stand. GONE GIRL was 2012; GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was 2008. It's time for us to move on and stop trying to clone past successes by treating readers like idiots who think the word GIRL in a title signifies a fabulous, can't-put-it-down, amazingly perfect book with an amazing perfectly ending that you just can't believe!!! Over lunch we decided that, just as the media made a decision not to cover Paris Hilton back in her heyday, we are drawing a similar line in the sand with GIRLS. Maybe that means we won't get the next best-seller. Fine.
I'm having trouble getting excited about any submissions these days. Everything seems so blah. I keep thinking, "This sounds stupid," or "This has been done a million times," "You've got to be kidding me," and "You're serious--you're really submitting this to me, with a typo in the first line?" This too shall pass. One of my colleagues thinks people/agents who would have submitted to us in the past are just bypassing us straight for the vanity-publishing route. Who can blame them, with Amazon implying that they (the writers) will make millions by doing so--as long as they invest in Amazon marketing campaigns?
Speaking of which--Amazon has now imposed a 4% annual fee on all sales through our distributor, to cover its "marketing costs." Next step: We sign over the deeds to all of our houses, plus the lives of our first-born, to feed the Amazonian beast.
I was going to review a few recent books (not mysteries), but I think I'll save that for next time.
Yours in mysteriousness,