“Black Wednesday” in Publishing: How does if affect you?

The news is everywhere, and it’s grim. Yesterday, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publisher and v-p Becky Saletan quit abruptly. Today, more firings and layoffs at HMH, Simon and Schuster, and elsewhere were announced, as was a massive restructuring at Random House, affecting a complex web of imprints.

Oh yeah — and locally, poor forecasts for Alaska tourism may affect regional publishing this year.

The trade blogs carry plenty of details for those of you wanting to know more than I’ve linked above, but what I’m wondering is this: How does this affect you personally, as a writer or a reader?

What are you hearing from agents and other writers?

Is there a silver lining to this gloom — such as new motivation to revise and polish while the publishing world reorganizes?

If you’re a new author or were just preparing to submit (as I was — with a draft of a new novel underway), will you hold off or proceed as usual?

Will big trouble at big houses yield any opportunities for smaller houses or new technologies?

5 thoughts on ““Black Wednesday” in Publishing: How does if affect you?”

  1. Stop despairing. I have your answer… well, an answer. Back when I did my brief stint at Harry W Schwartz (bookstore in Milwaukee), David Schwartz
    would lead an orientation for new booksellers where he would expose a little of the shop history.
    Founded in 1927 – think: Great Depression – one thing kept them
    afloat. Porn. Yep. Apparently porn, aka erotica (which is what they called it) was just as important as bread. The business stayed afloat and, as you know, is still there today.

    So instead of wondering what we can do, just like in cooking, don’t hold back the spice.


    rose aka bikegirl

  2. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Just the use of that four-letter word (the p word) will probably lead more visitors, via search engines, to this site. They may be disappointed.

    Thanks for the advice, Rose!

  3. and more site visits means more people will find out about your book and become curious about that one scene where… ah, they’ll just have to get the book.

  4. By the way, wasn’t Rebecca your editor at one time? I remember getting to meet her in Homer, and she was very encouraging and helpful, even offering to take a closer look at my book proposal and give me feedback (of course, soon after she was promoted to publisher, so there went that opportunity). She really struck me as someone I would have loved to work with. Hopefully she’ll turn up at another good publishing house soon.

  5. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Yes, indeed. Becky was my editor, and also the editor of Alaska writer Jill Fredston. I have no inside knowledge of what happened when she quit — or where she’ll turn up next — but I’m guessing that part of the mis-fit between her and HMH was that she was a huge advocate for writers. She was always enthusiastic about discovering new talent, and willing to put in an amazing number of hours to help guide and improve a manuscript. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to work with her again, but I sure hope so.

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