Poets & Writers Magazine|November - December 2019
Fewer and fewer novels are making their way through the gauntlet that is traditional publishing success today— a process that typically requires getting an appropriate agent who has the time, focus, and influence to sell your book. At which point there begins a new complex and lengthy process that involves igniting a small fire of interest in the book inside the publishing house that results in lots of galleys being printed, lots of anticipation, starred reviews, and championing by booksellers.
There is much talk about how fiction sales have declined over the past five years. I don’t believe that the numbers indicate a change in reader and listener appetite; the falling fiction sales are a result in the shifting landscape of book distribution. As a higher and higher percentage of book sales travel through Amazon, there are fewer points of discovery for all but the most engaged readers and listeners. And it’s much easier to find nonfiction books through a keyword search.
Presuming that declining fiction sales means people are more interested in nonfiction is like saying in the early days of BuzzFeed that people seemed to want listicles instead of articles. Listicles were prioritized by search algorithms, just as video was preferred by Facebook algorithms.
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November - December 2019