Last week I wrote a bit about simultaneously being in school and being on deadline. A couple of curious readers wondered why I am in school at all, given that I already have a publishing contract in hand and can devote myself fulltime to the best job in the world, right now, without the daily struggle to do both at the same time?
The big reason? Publishing is a freakishly uncertain business.
I am a beneficiary of the swing of the pendulum, having a good historical romance ready to shop just as editors are looking for historicals again. Some years back historical westerns went as dead as peace in the Middle East. An author like Lorraine Heath, who made her name writing western historicals, had to switch to European historicals. Then the whole historicals subgenre went down the toilet, and a number of historical authors had to switch to writing contemporary romances if they wanted to stay published.
The same is happening to contemporary single-title romances now. An author from my local group told me that things are just dreadful for straight contemporaries, that the market is glutted and that USA Today best-selling authors couldn’t get their contracts renewed.
Now I, like everyone else, plan to be so big that these market fluctuations wouldn’t affect me. People still bought Lisa Kleypas when historicals were in the dumps. People would still buy Susan Elizabeth Phillips even if they skipped over every other contemporary title out there.
But even big authors with loyal fan bases aren’t immune to the vagaries of fate. Take two of my favorite authors, Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory. Laura Kinsale went seven years between the publications of her last two books, because she simply had to take time off to recharge her muse. Judith Ivory hasn’t come out with a new book in three years. I waylaid her agent at RWA nationals in Atlanta. He had no more information to give than that she’s been having severe back problems.
When my agent says, “I think you’ll have a long career in publishing,” that is her opinion and my fondest hope. But as predictions go, it is writ on water. Anything, absolutely anything, could happen. I might never be a practicing CPA, but you bet I’ll still sit through the CPA exams because I want to have something other than good old housewifery to fall back upon should the fecal matter hit that oscillating mechanical device on the ceiling.
Sorry for the late post. Had a test yesterday afternoon so was studying all day for it. Started this post on the bus ride back home and then, wouldn’t you know it, got sidetracked by my tax textbook. Bet you never knew corporate taxation was so un-put-downable. Nerds write the hottest romances, yeah!