As Senior vice president, publisher and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam's Sons, how would you describe the current state of the publishing industry? The news all seems pretty grim from where some of us sit--book sales down, advances drying up, booksellers disappearing, industry layoffs, etc. In your view, where are we now, and where are we likely to be in five years, say?

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If you're happy with the offer, that's what counts. My circumstances are a little different, and in my case it makes sense to wait a bit, so that's what I'm doing.
I think that's a very smart way to think about it, Karen.
Congratulations, by the way, Karen. That's great news--and I agree with Jude that in your case it sounds like you're doing exactly the right thing.
Congrats, Karen.
I find myself wondering if the difference here is between fiction and non-fiction... i.e., Jon is talking about pitching proposals for books that aren't yet written (which I understand is more typical of non-fiction) and others are talking about selling already-written works (typical of fiction -- ?)

For me, if I have a finished manuscript, I can't imagine not sending it out, regardless of the financial environment. However, if it's a book I'm only considering writing, I can definitely see holding off in favor of something more lucrative, assuming I have more than one ideological iron in the fire.

Interesting thread.

Bingo, Minerva. I think you've got it exactly right.
Woo hoo! Score one for the newbie. :)

Established authors (sometimes newbs, but not very often) can sell fiction on proposal--usually with a detailed synopsis and the first couple of chapters.

But what I gather from Jon's comment to Neil is that he has an offer from his current publisher for the next two books in his series. That's different from a proposal, really.


I understand better what you're doing now. It's more of a negotiating strategy (being willing to walk away from the table if the terms aren't right) than a sandbagging thing. Right? You're hoping to get a better offer from your current--or a different--publisher when the restructering etc., settles down a bit?

That's right. I should've just come out and said so; my fault for being coy.
Jude -- I was referring to myself as the newbie (here in Crimespace), not Jon. Just wanted to clear that up... MK
I'm not saying publishing's dead--I'm saying that right now, at least in my little corner of the biz, there's not a lot of money. Publishers are playing it very, very tight. I'm content to wait and see how things look in a few months, when people aren't in such a panic. I don't think I'm losing anything by doing so, and in the meantime I can work on other stuff, or play golf, or go to the park with my son.

That's right. I should've just come out and said so; my fault for being coy.

In that case, then, I would probably do the same thing.

Although, a bird in the hand...

I don't know. I would probably keep thinking about a literary genius like James Lee Burke going thirteen years between hardcover deals. What a nightmare.

But I admire you for having the cojones to walk away from the table if the terms don't suit your needs.


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