About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the vagaries of life

This is the week when the TV networks are announcing their fall schedules, and it's always interesting to see what does and doesn't get picked up.

Like, over on Fox, the Simpsons gets 6.3 million viewers last week, 24 gets 8+ million. The Simpsons is coming back next year, and 24 is not. And you could find conundrums like that up and down the scheduling announcements.

Well, it's a lot like that in book publishing sometimes. There are the numbers where nobody will want you and the numbers where everyone will want you, and then there are the numbers in between where life isn't fair. Where this author selling 12,000 copies in paperback gets dumped while that author who is selling 9,000 copies gets to return for another day.

There's one big difference in publishing, which is that demographics aren't as important to we book people, while in TV it can be much nicer to have 3 million views of 8 that are those hard to find younger viewers than to have 1.2 million younger viewers from a 9 million audience.

But a lot of the reasons for this can be very similar. Is one series on a growth curve, while another series is on the downward path? Can you buy that next book for the 9K selling author for $5500 while the author selling 12K is getting a much bigger advance that you can't as easily cut? Do you have a relationship in the one instance that might be important to you while you really don't care so much about your relationship with the other guy?

A lot of it is about the numbers. But it's never all or only about...

1 comment:

Kyle White said...

Very interesting comparison of the T.V. industry vs. publishing. Your comments prove what we writers often hear: that publishing is subjective. I think rejections might be easier to swallow if they were based on ratings or other numbers, instead of an editor/agent/publisher's bad mood that day.