Tough Times in the Publishing Industry

Image from Pixabay

We live in unsettling times, not just because of the pandemic and climate change devastation, although they certainly play key roles. Lately, much has been written about the uncertainty and new challenges facing the publishing industry. By publishing industry, I mean indie and traditionally published authors, publishing houses of all sizes, distributors, and bookstores.

An article from IG Wealth Management, which focuses on the situation here in Canada, reports that supply shortages in paper, ink, and glue have hampered the ability to make books. Also, what used to take weeks to produce and ship now takes months and at a much higher cost.

One result of the shortages is that successful books which have sold out aren’t getting their second print runs. Nor are new releases being shipped in time for the Christmas market. Transportation challenges, which you’re likely aware of, further diminish the prospect of full shelves.

This means that bookstores, distributors, publishers, and authors are not going to make the money they would have under normal conditions. If you’d like to know more from the perspective of well-known Canadian publisher, Dundurn Press, please read the important article HERE.

As a geographically large country with a small publishing community stretched thousands of miles apart, distribution has long been a challenge for Canadian bookstores, but as this article clearly shows, things have become much worse and aren’t likely to improve quickly.

Another article from Friesen Press, which addresses some American issues, also stresses the lack of supplies, right down to printing plates. As stated in this article, paper production was becoming a major problem before COVID, as a significant number of paper mills have shut down in the U.S. over the last 5 to 10 years. Things have now reached a point where paper is being rationed to publishers. You can read more HERE.

The last print run I did was just over a year ago, when I had 100 copies printed of The Opposite of Dark locally. There were no issues with shortages at that time, but I wonder if this is still the case.

These challenges now force publishers, large and small, to be even more careful about releasing new books and assessing print-run size. What hasn’t been said yet, but which I sense from anecdotal information, is that publishers, and perhaps agents, are far less likely to take on new authors right now.

Of course, I know of a number of Canadian mystery authors who are releasing their latest titles this fall, but they signed their contracts a while ago and their publishers likely know how many books they can reasonably expect to sell in various formats.

A new author trying to break into the market is a huge uncertainty. Think about it. Even if publishers come across a fantastic author with a surefire blockbuster, how will they print enough copies to meet the demand? And what will they have to charge for those books to break even?

Some of you might think, well ebooks and audible books can step up, and I agree. But based on articles I’ve read (and I’m sure some of you have seen them) over the past couple of years, print still sells, especially at Christmas. It’ll be interesting to see what the stats show for 2021 and 2022.

Writers have had to endure a variety of challenges for many decades, but we keep creating and find ways to adapt under changing conditions. We might not have enough paper, ink, glue, or truck drivers, but we have plenty of ideas about how we can pivot and perhaps even help make things better.

Thanks to author Julie Ferguson, for forwarding me the IG Wealth Management and giving me the idea for this important topic.

How Do You Feel About Black Friday?

As many of you know, I do a fair number of discounted book promotion events throughout the year. It’s part of a two-year long experiment to figure out if they’re worthwhile for me, especially since I don’t use Facebook, BookBub, or Amazon ads, as of yet.

As the year draws to a close, it seems logical to step things up before 2022 begins and I turn my attention to other projects. So, starting today, and going for only five days, my second Casey Holland mystery, Deadly Accusations, is on sale for $.99 till Nov. 30. This is another BookFunnel event, however, you can order directly through Amazon, Apple, Barns & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. For those of you who’d like to use BookFunnel (no signup is required for this event), you can find the link HERE.

The banner created by the organizer calls it a Black Friday sale, which I wasn’t expecting, but as I’ve found over recent days, many authors and publishing services are jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon. My inbox is filled with deals from ProWrite, Reedsy, BookBaby, and several others targeting authors looking for images, writing tools, and other techie apps.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the Black Friday label. While it used to be exciting, I think the varnish has worn off, and I’ve never been much of a shopper anyway.

I’m curious, do you take advantage of Black Friday sales, especially when it comes to books, writing tools, or discounted courses, etc.? Do you think Black Friday holds the same appeal as it did a decade ago, or do you think this sale is more important than ever, not only for authors, but for businesses’ survival? If you don’t take part as an author with books to sell, do you fear missing out on great opportunities? For me, that’s a small yes, as I’m only doing one thing this week. I’ve always had trouble with the think big or go home concept. 😊

Deadly Accusations can also be ordered through the links below:

Amazon booklinker: myBook.to/DeadlyAccusations

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/deadly-accusations-1

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/deadly-accusations/id1166038139

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deadly-accusations-debra-purdy-kong/1109129841?ean=2940153520209

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=vyEvEAAAQBAJ

Horrific Weather and Writing Events Reminder

Once again, here in British Columbia we’ve been hit with devastating weather events, only instead of forest fires and extraordinary heat, it’s an atmospheric river resulting in massive flooding. I’m safe and dry where I am, as are most of my friends and colleagues in the interior. A few, however, live in danger zones, and I’m hoping they’re safe.

Sadly, there’ve been deaths from the mudslides that literally swept vehicles off the road. I can’t begin to describe the amount of property damage and lost livestock this week. The entire city of Merritt was evacuated and extensive damage has occurred in Princeton, Abbotsford, and other areas as well. As of Wednesday, our province is in a state of emergency, and travelling out of Metro Vancouver east isn’t happening right now. Gas is running low in some communities, and food shelves are emptying as the trucks can’t get through.

Like last year, although for different reasons, we’re advised not to travel, which suits me fine. I’m on a week’s holiday from babysitting, so I’ve been catching up on editing projects and other things. We’ll see what happens next week.

Meanwhile just a reminder that our Authors in Conversation talk is today, Nov. 18 at 7:00 pm PST. Our topic is strong female lead characters. You can watch it live on the 18th HERE.

Also, the BookFunnel ebook freebies is still going strong, offering free crime fiction, many of them cozies, until Dec. 13. You can find the link HERE

Meanwhile, I hope you are all safe in your respective areas. I know that communities just below the U.S. border are also struggling, and I fear there is more to come.

Fun Events Coming Up!

Last month, I was deciding what, if any, marketing I’d do for the rest of 2021. But I found myself invited to a couple of events and wound up signing up for others. This week’s focus is on two of them.

First up is a BookFunnel promotion offering free crime fiction, many of them cozies, that starts today and runs until Dec. 13. I’m offering the first book in my Casey Holland series, The Opposite of Dark, free this month. There are more than 50+ authors participating and from what I’ve glimpsed, there’s quite a different selection from other promotions I’ve taken part in. BookFunnel asks you to subscribe to their newsletter in order to get the free books but, of course, you’re not obligated to stay subscribed. If interested, check out the link HERE:

From Nov. 12 – Dec. 13

In last week’s blog, I discussed some of the work I’ve had the privilege to read during our local creative writing workshops. I’m thrilled to announce that one of those writers acquired an agent, who found a publisher for her debut novel, A Conspiracy of Mothers. This incredible story is set in the U.S. and in Cape Town, South Africa, just as apartheid is about to end. It is a story of redemption and family dysfunction at a tumultuous, politically charged time in that country. Colleen is from Cape Town and is an exquisite writer. You can find an Amazon link to her book HERE:

To my delight, she’s invited me to take part in a panel discussion on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 pm, PST. Our topic is strong female leader characters. You’ll be able to watch it live on the 18th at this LINK. I imagine it will be up for a while after that.

Clearing Out Information Overload

The other night, I was browsing through one of my bookmarked file folders on publishing and marketing. It was a shock to find nearly 200 articles going back to 2013 and I wound up deleting plenty. Some links no longer worked. Some of the information had been saved more than once at different time periods, and some was simply irrelevant now.

A number of how-to articles bragged about how easy it is to self-publish. Hmm. While writing and producing a book might not be rocket science for some, it’s incredibly challenging for others. For me, production is a months-long process that requires a lot of attention to detail.

I was also struck by the contradiction in marketing strategies. Again, many of the articles and blogs made their ‘5 steps to successful marketing’ sound simple. Some articles recommended getting on as many platforms as possible. Others said don’t bother with social media at all, just create a website and a mail list. As I write this, I’m still trying to sort through the articles which resonate with my current needs.

One thing is clear. The number of how-to articles on self-publishing and marketing articles is mind boggling. If authors are confused and overwhelmed, I get it. Because I have a clear understanding of my objectives, my budget, and the time it takes me to write, produce and market a book, I’ve also become more realistic and less patient with the ‘5 easy steps to self-publishing’ guides.

I imagine many of you are inundated with information on social media or blogs popping into your inbox. I’d love to know if you find any publishing or marketing articles that have been especially useful for you. Or are you paring down like I am?

Making the Most of Writing Time

Before, I get to today’s post, October’s mystery sales promotion is half over. If you haven’t had a chance, please take a moment to browse through a diverse roster of mysteries and thrillers. The $.99 sale for my books, Knock Knock and The Blade Man ends on the 31st. You can find the link HERE.

I have the entire week off from babysitting fourteen-month-old Ellie. At our Thanksgiving dinner last weekend, she discovered a love of pie, especially with a tiny bit of whipped cream on the side. She literally vibrated with excitement after her mom placed the spoon in her mouth. As you’ll see from the photo, meals are generally happy occasions.

Loves her scrambled eggs and veggies

I find myself with plenty of extra writing time this week. One of my ongoing challenges is to write and edit more efficiently, so I’ve implemented a strategy that’s worked before. First, I gave some thought to the projects I want to work on.

These days, it’s three novels. The urban fantasy is currently under weekly critiquing and my Casey Holland novella is nearly ready for beta readers. After working on notes, character profiles, and an outline, I’ve also started writing the first draft of a paranormal mystery.

Each project is given one hour during the day, give or take. After the first hour of work on a book, I stop for exercise. After the second hour on a different project, I stop for lunch. After lunch, I work on the third, and so far. If I want to work longer I can, or I can switch to marketing tasks.

This strategy works well if I don’t have appointments or other commitments, but because I find it tiring, I use this approach in spurts rather than month after month. I’ve always found that working on the same project all day, even with breaks, doesn’t always bring clarity, focus, or new ideas to the page.

On Monday, I’ll be back with Ellie for the next three days and feeling like I’ve accomplished a lot. 🙂

October Sale for Crime Fiction Fans!

I’m delighted to be taking part in a sales promotion event this month, featuring suspense and thriller novels.

5th in series

Two ebooks in my Casey Holland mystery series, Knock Knock (#5) and The Blade Man (#6), are on sale for $.99 each. You can find the link to the promo event HERE:

For those of you who enjoy crime fiction with an edge, this is a great opportunity to stock up on your fall and winter reading.

6th in series

Prices vary among the 60+ plus titles available, and I’m finding plenty of intriguing reads to choose from.

If you have any problem with the link, please let me know. Thanks for your support. We all appreciate it!

The I-Think-I-Can Approach

Planted in April 2021

A story starts with an idea, like a flower starts with a seed. It’s planted. It germinates.

As with a book or the sunflower that just bloomed in my garden four days ago, it can take a while. Weeks. Months. Even years. The process is often unpredictable.

But one day, something starts to happen. Something fresh pokes through the many thoughts, or the dirt in the ground, and you’ve begun.

The journey isn’t easy. There are periods when nothing seems to be happening. This is because you can’t truly see what’s percolating in your subconscious, or what’s going on underground. Self-doubt creeps in. Maybe unintentional neglect. Or impatient waiting for some sign of progress.

Through the period of early growth, there are setbacks and obstacles. Illness, emergencies, accidents, or natural intervention. For my sunflower it was a summer of heat domes, toxic smoky air, and water from a hose rather rather than thirst-quenching rain.

Time passes. Obstacles fade. Dry toxicity turns into breathable air. Thoughts begin to gel. The story is making sense now, and then it really takes off. One day you look up and the stem is strong and two feet tall. A bud appears. The logical sequence to an approaching climax.

Finally, one day, you spot a vibrant little flower peering down at you, and you realize it’s survived a pretty long journey. Sure, the surrounding vines and tree are stronger and larger, but my sunflower stands just as proud, basking in the light of day.

May everything you create and grow, flourish.

It’s World Rhino Day!

Pexels Image by Alesia Kozi

When I wrote about World Elephant Day a few weeks ago, I also wondered when world Rhino Day would appear. My blogging friend, Jane Fritz, who writes incredibly interesting blogs, by the way, kindly looked it up for me. Thank you, Jane!

So, September 22nd is World Rhino Day! These large animals are among my favorites. Until this week, I didn’t realize there are five species. The white, black, Sumatran, Greater One Horned, and the Javan rhino.

You’ve likely already heard that they’re often killed for their horns, which are supposed to have curative properties, but they actually don’t. Also, the loss of income due to COVID-19 has led to more poaching and killing of these magnificent animals.

To learn more about the species and what you can do to help protect them, please check out the link HERE. You’ll also find a rhino-themed soundtrack of 35 songs on the World Rhino Day website, for your listening pleasure. Who knew?

Pexels Image by Mike van Schoonderwalt