With the ongoing news of the major publishing houses cleaning house, most recently Harper Collins, and all the restructuring, what personal changes have you seen as either an author or publisher?
Would love to hear your personal stories from the trenches.

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I've heard that a couple of big name authors here in Minnesota are extremely frustrated with their editors and publishers because they have to keep churning out virtually the same book over and over again. Would the public quit buying their books if they changed or would the public actually embrace something different from these authors?
Certainly the authors I'm referring to, or any author for that matter, can write whatever they want. And they're free to shop their work around to anyone they want as well. But they're under a lot of pressure from their current editors and publishers to produce a book with the same character over and over again because it sells and the public is waiting for the next installment. That's probably a dilemma most writers would love to have. But I might get bored writing about the same character in every book, too. That's why we see some authors trying to establish completely new characters because they get tired of writing 20 books with the same protagonist. And with the publisher expecting a new book every year, it doesn't give most authors much spare time to focus on writing something new and different. A Minnesota author I know has published a half dozen books that have sold well, one was a million seller, but he couldn't find an editor or publisher for his last book because his protagonist was very unusual and no one was willing to take a chance. He ended up with a small Minnesota publisher. When PW gave his book a good review, suddenly all the publishers who had rejected the book in hardcover, wanted paperback rights. Sometimes it's a crap shoot, even for an established writer.
Well, clearly it works both ways. Both publisher and agent are going to be pushing to continue the best-selling model. Sometimes contractual obligations force the author to comply. However, he can also sell (perhaps for less money and to another publisher) books he had never expected to publish until his success with the other book. This, I think, happened with Alexander McCall Smith, for example.
Well stated, I.J.

BTW. Linton mentioned Steven King. I recall that in his best selling novel, "Misery" King wrote about a fiction writer who got fed up cranking out books about Misery and decided to kill her off. Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie knows what happened the writer. I think King was, in his own special way, making a statement about the publishing business.
No less than James Patterson said he was being forced to write only his style of of mystery/thrillers. In an interview earlier this summer he told his publisher he wanted to write something entirely different--including the possibility of a children's boo--and his publisher openly wondered if anyone would buy it.
Conan Doyle comes to mind; he was so desperate to be done with Holmes and get back to his true love--historical novels--that he killed him off in "The Adventure of the Final Problem." After great public outcry and the offer of big advances from his publisher--combined with piss-poor sales of the historical pieces--Conan Doyle was "forced" to revive Holmes for another lengthy run. I'm also reminded of a friend of mine--a much celebrated literary writer of color--whose editor flatly rejected his first novel (part of a two-book, collection/novel deal) because it was about white people; not the novel his audience wanted, he was told. So there's all kinds of weird pressure on writers from various quarters--none of it new, really.
Most of us want to write for money--but when you get the success of a James Patterson, I don't think money comes into the equation. Sometimes you want to write to please yourself and to explore new realms. And publishers, agents, being who they are, really are afraid of change.
I'm not quite sure I understand the Patterson example. Just what is forcing him to write what his publisher wants? Even if he's under contract, he surely is wealthy enough to buy himself out.
The issue is Pressure. Pressure by a publisher over the idea an established author would think of trying something totally different. Yes, Patterson or any one, for that matter, could go to a smaller publisher to get this new concept out. But, on the other hand, could he? Would trying something different--and assuming both contracted publishing house and contracted agent were against this move--not put the brakes on a prospective author?
I think what actually happens is that Patterson's publisher is so happy with him that they'll publish anything he writes. And Patterson can go to another big house if he wants to. I do hope he's not whining that the publisher forces him to write crap.
Folks: James Patterson has published many non-thriller books, both fiction and nonfiction, and they've all been successful. So, really, he's not relevant here.


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