With the UK, and most of the world, to a lesser or greater extent, in lockdown, much of the business community has understandably suffered as the coronavirus takes a wrecking ball to society. Collectively, we hope, of course, that some form of recognisable order returns sooner rather than later; though the Prime Minister’s roadmap to easing lockdown will have done little to clarify what may lie ahead. Not knowing how long we are to be largely confined to our homes can be terribly unnerving, though many of us will thankfully be able to work from wherever we are based, in the hope of preserving the industries in which we operate.
For writers, or those aspiring to join our ranks – and I’ve a feeling there will be plenty of people turning their hand to writing, with some fantastic stories to emerge from lockdown – the publishing industry is much like any other: struggling, but determined to stay afloat. Perhaps the greatest challenge it faces is the current closure, in the overwhelming majority of cases, of physical, bricks and mortar book stores, coupled with publishers being forced to delay the launch of new titles, the preparation for which will have been extensive in many cases.
Some titles have been postponed until later this year, or even until 2021, which could result in a congested market place, and loss of revenue for both authors and publishers. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean that the industry has entirely ground to a halt, as evinced by the Irish Academic Press/Merrion Press, which revealed: “Our schedule will, naturally, be affected to some extent, but we’re still moving our production list forward and that’s encouraging.”
Another reason for optimism, as pointed out by Paul Feldstein of the Feldstein Agency, is a significant upsurge in ebook sales, with children’s book sales “up most of all, as parents try to keep their kids entertained and educated.” The agency has made some deals during the lockdown, demonstrating that the industry is far from dead, and editors have more time on their hands to read and respond to submissions.
In terms of genres that publishers are particularly interested in, Paul hasn’t been able to identify any trends as yet, though those writing Covid-19-related material may want to reconsider their choice of subject matter: “We’ve received a few pandemic proposals, but my take is that the last thing anyone will want to read is fiction about viruses etc. Non-fiction will be more of interest.”
Many people are reading more than ever during lockdown and, as Garrett Bridgeman, MD of An Post Mails and Parcel, comments: “Books are always important, but with so many people confined to their home or local area, they’re a wonderful boredom buster and a passport to good use of free time for readers of all ages.” This can only be of benefit to the publishing industry. Perhaps new readers will get ‘the bug’, wish to explore other titles, and help support the industry both now and whenever some sense of normality returns.
If you happen to be one of those writing in lockdown, and require assistance in readying your work for submission, then we at United Ghostwriters are on hand to assist. And if your manuscript is ready to present to an agent, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you get in touch with the Feldstein Agency at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Good agents are, in my experience, not in abundance, but in Paul and Susan you’ll find two of the friendliest and best, who’ll handle your material with great care and professionalism.
Keep writing and, more importantly, keep safe.