Wednesday, January 23, 2013


From: nathaniel stuart

"[…] The true dinosaurs of the new age are authors. Once happily enclosed in the 'stables' of publishers willing to nurture and develop their talent, even if they never wrote a major bestseller, droves of so-called 'mid-list' authors now find themselves roaming among the ever-present throng of wannabes flogging unpublished work in an indifferent market. And that throng is most likely to produce tomorrow’s bestsellers, even if they begin life as obscure, self-published digital texts that, only after they find a following, are taken up and heavily marketed to mainstream prominence by major publishing houses.
     Many mid-list authors have fallen victim to increasingly sophisticated, widely available sales data, according to agents and publishers. Publishers can now assess every author’s lifelong sales thanks to such services as Nielsen Bookscan in the United States and BookNet Canada.
     And once reduced to pure numbers, those track records determine the fate of proven writers looking for cash advances to begin their next books. 'Everybody knows the numbers now,' Toronto literary agent Denise Bukowski said in an interview. 'You can’t lie about the numbers.' Retailers don’t order books from authors whose previous work sold indifferently, she added, so publishers respond by cutting them loose.
     The upheaval is such that an author like Dan Brown 'would never get published now, because his first three books sold nothing,' Bukowski said. But as everybody knows, Brown’s fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, has sold more than 80-million copies.
     Even when they agree to publish the fourth book of a mid-list author, publishers today hedge their bets by paying minimal advances based on past sales of the author’s work. In that respect, Bukowski said, it is better to be a beginner. 'At least a first novelist doesn’t have a track record,' Bukowski said."
— John Barber, The Globe and Mail
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