The announcement about the shuttering of the last Border Stores (399), the remerchanding of all Indigo, Chapters, Coles stores in Canada by downsizing signficantly space for the display of books in favor or more games, toys, and what not, and the fact -so far- that ebook sales/revenue are not benefiting every category of books being published in a major way - point solidly to the need for authors as the suppliers of the written word to look for new business practices and relationships from the book publishing community in Canada for sure.
The reality is there are fewer bookstores to be counted on to display, promote books and fewer who are what are called full-line stores that primarily only sell books. That reality is not going to get better. As a published author or one who aspires to be one you need to understand that book publishers generally will ---
a. Not be acquiring books at the same rate in almost any category as compared to prior years.
b. Not be willing to pay Advances against future royalties at even the same level as early 2009. While Royalty percentages may stay the same the net sales threshold where they will go up are likely to be set higher on the bar as compared to the past.
c. Like any business (yes folks..it is a business) the executives or owners in charge will likely, if they have not already started, cut-back on their costs of operations with the risk this will affect sales, marketing, and promotion.
d. While publishing books is a business of what I like to call intelligent and experienced risk the current conditions will force a more conservative attitude towards the degree of risk to be taken. This will also affect acquisition practices.
So...what to do? Some thoughts to consider...
1. Don't diminish your enthusiam and intent to work on a credible book project as a published or unpublished author. Keep the fire in your belly to succeed.
2. Whether you have an acceptable Liteary Agent or prefer to do market yourself recognize the realities I've alluded to. Believe me...they are real.
3. Very seriously examine your ability to reduce some of the financial risk on the part of potential/existing book publishing partners. For example non-fiction authors could tap into their market relationships and help the prospective or exisitng pulisher make pre-printing sales for your book..thus reducing the financial risk for the print run and other costs. Fiction writers may have similar opportunities and/ or have the ability, on their own, to market the title through their own website, reading clubs, speaking engagements, use for charitable fund raisers, and so on.
Not all of these suggestions may be possible but the point is to recognize the principle - authors need to work more closely with publishers on the business realities that exist and not leave the risk solely to them.
4. Come up with a hybrid of self-publshing by developing a proposal that works for you in sharing some of the risk with a regular trade book publisher you are ok to deal with. That hybrid could include committing to buying books off the print run; providing leads to sell your book before it is printed; absorbing the cost of editing or the cover or both; or other ways you would see thatmight make sense.
I also suggest that your literary agent needs to be polled to determine how he/she can help out...somehow.
All of these comments may rock the boat of convention and tradition ...and if it does then....good...since it is all meant to better our industry and help give it long life.