Sunday, December 26, 2010

Know the Industry?

Authors are told to 'learn the industry'. If you can't actually work in the publishing industry, then you're supposed to study the trade magazines, and learn what you can that way. As far as I can figure out, "trade magazines" for the "publishing industry" equals Publisher's Weekly. At least, that's the only magazine dealing with the publishing industry that I can find at the Omaha Public Libraries, and I can't imagine any other place in this berg more likely to have such magazines.

Anyway, for some time now, I have dutifully made my way to the library on a particular day of the week, just to read the most recent issue of Publisher's Weekly. Well, the most recent they have available; by the time they get it processed and ready for use, it's a month old. So by the time I read about an 'up-coming' book signing or fair, it's already gone by.

What am I looking for as I read this magazine? Nobody ever explained that to me, except for a blanket statement, like, "Oh, you know, what editor is moving where, what agent is selling manuscripts like hot cakes." These days, does that knowledge do me any good? Seems to me I don't need to know the latest editor at Penguin or DAW, or wherever, because you don't submit directly to the big publishers anymore; most of them no longer have slush piles. They expect agents to do their first reading for them.

And even if you can figure out which agent is selling manuscripts 'like hotcakes', that agent is probably too busy to take on another client, so what does that get you?

So, I'm reading, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for. Is there a Cliff Notes for this magazine, something to point out the important bits?

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