October 5th, 2006 by Bob Bly
Today I retired from writing books.
After 24 years and 70 books, I am — after I complete my current book — done.
Book publishing was a lousy business when I got into it in 1982 …. and it’s gone steadily downhill ever since.
One reason is the sharp decline in book readership — and the reduction in importance of books to society.
This has been brought on, of course, by the Internet.
Another reason is the publishing world’s new obsession with “platform” — an author having a ready audience to ensure sales of his work.
Now publishers don’t buy a book from the author who can write the best book.
They buy it from the author who has the best Web site on the book topic … the largest e-newsletter subscriber list … and the busiest speaking schedule.
The third reason publishing is in ruins is that there are way too many books published.
The shelves are too crowded, and it’s harder for worthy titles to stand out.
Advanced for midlist and backlist authors, meanwhile, have declined to a new level of poverty.
And publishers are having authors turn out formula books like machines.
A major publisher recently asked me to write a complex 120,000-word book — in 3 months — and for a lousy $10,000!
I used to love the book industry, despite all its flaws.
Now I can’t walk into a Barnes & Noble without becoming overwhelmingly depressed.
I still love to READ books … and I worry that this too may cease being a pleasure for me.
I definitely need a hobby, now that I will no longer be writing my two or three books a year.
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