RARA-AVIS: Re: state of NY publishing

From: New Pulp Press (bassoffj@gmail.com)
Date: 12 Nov 2009

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    It is certainly true that the chasm between the "stars" and the midlist writers is getting wider and wider, but I think that there are also some positive trends in the publishing world. Although it is often derided, the advent of Print-on-Demand technology has started to change the rules of publishing and will continue to do so in the future. And I think that it is a good thing. The basic idea of POD technology is that a publisher is now able to print out a single copy when a single book is ordered (and get it distributed), as opposed to printing 5,000 copies and sitting on 2,000 of them. This does a couple of things: 1) It reduces the start-up capital necessary to start a publishing company and 2) It reduces the risk, allowing small and midsized presses to "take a chance" on a writer that would have otherwise been seen as not commercially viable. In other words, even if the book bombs, the publisher didn't waste any capital in printing unsold books. And isn't that lack of risk-taking one of the big problems in major publishing? It is a business and publishers determine what to print and market based on what they think well sell the most copies, not on what is the most innovative or well-written. Sometimes quality and commercial appeal meet, but not always.

    I feel proud to join a growing number of small presses that are committed to giving voice to writers who would have otherwise been ignored. While it is true that neither New Pulp Press nor our authors are getting rich, we are following in a grand tradition of using ingenuity and technology to skirt the corporations who seem to have a strangle hold on the industry. And despite the rash of complaints about how many terrible books are out there, I have actually been amazed by how many GREAT submissions we receive every week. I am very excited that we will soon be introducing the world to such innovative voices as Lynn Kostoff, L.V Rautenbaumgrabner (yes, a pen name), Jonathan Woods, Pete Risley, as well as reissuing pulp classics by such names as Gil Brewer, Lionel White, Day Keene, and Charles Williams. Hope may be dwindling in some publishing circles, but innovative people are still ready to battle. (Cue the opening chords to "God Bless America")

    Jon Bassoff New Pulp Press

    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "davezeltserman" <Dave.Zeltserman@...> wrote:
    > I'm renaming Juri's posts on buzz and Declan's plight into one about the current state of publishing, which is bleak, partly because of the economy and massive changes on the horizon that has them scared, but also because of the direction they've been heading towards on their own volition. Last March two new crime novels came out from first time authors--Mixed Blood by Roger Smith and Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. I've since become friends with Roger, but when I read it and posted about it here I didn't know the guy, and it was one of the most exciting and absorbing crime novels I've read in years, and other crime enthusiasts I've talked to who've read it (except for one fellow rara avian who usually has excellent taste) have felt the same way. I didn't think Beat the Reaper was in the same class, and I think the majority of rara avians (and other readers) who read both books would agree. Yet Beat the Reaper, because of the 1.5 mil advance to the author, was deemed by the industry a big book and got all the attention and promotion, while a much worthier book got ignored. More and more publishing is becoming a star system, where the 0.01% of the writers deemed stars (either bestsellers or the occasional new authors publishers decided in their infinite wisdom to make a big bet on) get 99.99% percent of the money, promotion and attention. This is an exaggeration, but not by that much. Almost any new writer starting off today in the NY midlist has little chance of seeing their 3rd books published by NY. I think this problem is systemic for our whole society where the gulf between celebrities and everyone else grows ever wider, but I think this about kills the midlist.
    > Fortunately there are bastions of sanity still left in place like Serpent's Tail, SoHo Press, Bitter Lemon, Quercus, and other independent publishers, but any new writer picked up by NY now has the odds stacked steeply against them. As I said before, writers like Lehane, Connelly, Pelecanos, Ellroy, would not have survived past their 1st or 2nd books if they were starting out today as opposed to 10+ years ago.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 12 Nov 2009 EST