Saturday, July 21, 2007

The End Of The Phenomenon

Today is officially a Harry Potter themed day. Deranged parents permit their offspring to don fancy dress and pretend to be some favorite character from the books penned by J.K. Rowling. Long lines snake through book shops, people sit up half the night reading, and some of the more savvy turn to the last chapter and settle things before bed.

Publishers watch the end of the line pick up copies of the seventh in a series and bid the readers a fond farewell. They didn't know this would happen when the first book was laid out on tables and shelves. They don't know why exactly this happened, that there would be such an enormous surge of buying and profits stretching lazily across the bottom line. The big houses wipe away collective tears of sorrow, knowing that because of all they do not know, they cannot easily replicate the success of Harry Potter.

Simple tales of good and evil, mixed in with highly imaginative characters and scenery....that's about all that it is. Well written, but not in some fancy, highly literate "I'm so smart and you're too dense to understand my prose' type of word-play.

Gamblers know the odds and play accordingly. Publishers, on the other hand, can't quite read the hand they've been dealt. As a business model, it's not the sort of thing you'd want to invest your pension in, but what a wretched world it would be if they ceased to exist.



You've summed it up very nicely, especially in regard to the publishing houses and their bureaucratic ignorance. It's always nice (if depressingly rare) to discover a well-written, interesting blog. Best of luck with the novel.

O hAnnrachainn said...

Thanks for the support. I'm working on a sixth manuscript right now, while shopping two others, and I've given up on selling the ones I've posted on the blog.

Do you think the publishing houses will actually try to use focus groups like other corporations, or are they entirely too fossilized to change?


I think the publishing houses, much like the music industry, are largely in denial and clinging desperately to a dying business structure. The ship is slowly sinking, but they don't want to deal with it until the water is going up their noses.

Heavy-handed metaphors aside, focus groups are an excellent idea and I wish they'd take that advice. You'd think sheer greed would be enough incentive for publishers to listen to the readers.

My, that reads bitterly, doesn't it? Hmmm....

O hAnnrachainn said...

Sweeter words were never spoken -- I don't see bitterness. Just a bit of harsh reality.

Do you think it would help any if the executives or the acquisition department got out of New York City to see what the rest of the world is interested in?


Sorry about the slow response; I've been visiting family for a couple of days.

Getting the execs out of NY is an hilarious idea. I'd love to have one of them in servitude to me for a month. I'd make him sleep on the floor of my shabby apartment, accompany me to my mind-numbing job, help me mow the yard and scrub my bathroom. And I would delight in telling him that the nearest Starbucks is over fifty miles away. Horror, to be sure.

After the first day, when he started begging me to set him free, I would inform him that his request must be submitted, double-spaced, in Egyptian heiroglyphics, printed on freshly-skinned buffalo hide, and delivered to me on a fuchsia silk pillow, decorated with marshmallows roasted over an open fire.

Of course, after he did all this, I would throw his request in a corner and ignore it for the entire month.

Finally, with one day to go in his servitude, I would grab his frayed lapels and say, "WRITERS ARE PEOPLE. GO HOME AND DO GOOD THINGS."

I might be joking about all that.

O hAnnrachainn said...

Of course you are...only joking.

I'm not so sure that a publishing executive could survive outside of its natural habitat. Likely to curl up and die, or flop around a bit before expiring for want of Manhattan.