Monday morning musings

The caffeine is slowly, oh-so-slowly starting to wind its way through my veins and life is gradually returning to my body. The morning paper has been read and email has been looked at. Thus starts the morning blog crawl before getting to work.

The first thing to catch my eye is notice that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be filing bankruptcy. For those familiar with HMH, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. They have been deep in debt. What does surprise me some is that the debt restructuring will not mean any layoffs. HMH also announced at all vendors will be paid. Here’s hoping they can do as they say but I’m not holding my breath.

Be sure to check out the comments to the post as well. They will give you a good idea about the split in thought about the future not only of HMH, but of legacy publishing in general.

Next up is the news, a bit belated, that Simon & Schuster is resurrecting Pocket Star. The former mmpb imprint will be e-book only.  It will, according to S&S, publish both established and new authors. The Pocket Star website promises “exclusive eBooks from best selling and debut authors”. What they don’t say — at least what I didn’t find — was any statement saying they were going to do away with the dreaded DRM.

Again, take a look at the comments following the PW link. Folks are more and more vocal about how it is past time for legacy publishers to break away from the traditional business plan, especially regarding royalties.

Nathan Bransford has an interesting post about the challenges facing publishing these days. He does make one comment that, to me, shows one of the issues with legacy publishing right now. When he talks about agents, he comments, “And even in an era where agents aren’t the gatekeepers to the literary world, they’ll still have a role.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of an agent being the gatekeeper has always troubled me. It shows just how the role of publishers and editors has changed over the last decade or so. When you used to talk about gatekeepers, you talked about editors. Sure, some still talk that way, but let’s be honest here, folks. It’s harder to get an agent for most writers than it is to find a publisher. I know authors who have published a number of books, all of which have sold well, who still can’t get an agent. Why? Because these new gatekeepers don’t like the genre these authors write in or don’t like their politics. Of course, the same publishers who have ceded their gatekeeping responsibilities to agents have also given up most editorial duties to them as well.

Sarah A. Hoyt has a great post this morning on how one author is completely in the wind when it comes to understanding the difference between writers who self-publish or go with small presses to release their e-books and those “real” authors who spend years just researching their books. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for non-fiction writers who are worried about how the increasing popularity of e-books will impact their careers. But, instead of wringing their hands and crying about how it just isn’t fair, they should be exploring just what the new tech will allow them to do.

Finally, for the really good news. Kris Rush is back online after dealing with the attacks on her websites. Check it out, catch up on what you missed.

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