*sips drink* It’s been a hell of a year so far. The way we talk (and feel) about the present is pretty alarming — though to be fair, these are alarming times. In 2020, conversations are always about emergencies, crises, and other such panic-inducing terms. But in the world of traditional publishing, such panic is not necessarily justified.

What’s The Current State Of The Industry?

Allow me to reassure you: the book industry is certainly not coming to an end. The pandemic may have affected how we buy our books, the popularity of different reading formats, and even the sort of thing we like to read, but it definitely has not eroded away people’s general eagerness to read or write. Indeed, all the time in lockdown has given people the chance to pick up more titles or start working on their book ideas! So the industry will survive, changes notwithstanding.

One recent statistic shows that 16,443 books are being published in the UK in September alone, according to The Guardian. The obvious reason for this is that publishers’ arrangements with printers and book distributors were majorly disrupted by the pause on business caused by national quarantine, and now things are getting back on track.

Of course, this isn’t great news for authors whose books are among the many titles being released. Quite literally thousands of books will be competing for readers’ attention this month, and this will be especially tough on indie authors. Getting book reviews (or any sort of press) will become exponentially more important in this situation. Booksellers are going to have to make tough decisions when it comes to stocking and organizing the new release display — so excellent book cover design is also going to be more important than ever.

What Does That Mean For My Chances?

That said, let’s be clear: this September chaos isn’t something that will affect aspiring authors down the line. If you’re looking to get traditionally published, worry not! The stressful effects of the pandemic aren’t likely to seriously affect writers who weren’t already in the publishing pipeline, so you can take a deep breath and continue working on your project.

Basically, you have exactly the same chances of publishing success as you did before the pandemic. So it’s business as usual on the acquisition side of the book industry; as always, your first step should be to find an experienced literary agent.

Should I Cater My Book To Recent Literary Trends?

There has been talk of the pandemic affecting editors’ tastes in the near future, with some industry experts forecasting a surge in popularity for feel-good, escapist reads. But that does not necessarily mean you should go after these trends! Unless you are already working on such a project, it would be futile to try and write a book merely to cater to a possible, crisis-induced trend. This prediction could very easily be proved wrong — publishers aren’t fortune tellers!

Write the book you’re most excited about, not the book you think might meet the needs of the industry, and you’ll see that the quality of your writing will reflect your genuine enthusiasm in a way that catering to the market couldn’t ever match.

Still not convinced? Remember to factor in what’s humanly possible, given the publishing industry’s usual pace. Bear in mind that by the time you finish your draft, the trend you have in mind could be a thing of the distant past. What’s more, traditionally publishing a book can take anywhere between twelve and twenty-four months from the completion of your first draft. Unless your editor is The Flash himself, you should be realistic about your expected work timeline. 

In Summary…

I hope this is all reassuring, rather than anticlimactic, news for you! The pandemic can make every day feel like we’re on the brink of disaster, but when it comes to your chances of achieving future writerly success, not that much is changing. And that’s a good thing!

If you’re worrying about how you can realize your dreams, despair not; the pandemic hasn’t put you at an unfair disadvantage. Similarly, don’t try and game the system by writing to fit trends; it doesn’t work (otherwise a lot of people would be very rich). Your priority at this stage should still be putting together as strong a manuscript as you can.

Listen to your intuition and craft a book you’re passionate about, one word at a time (and one sip of the obligatory writing drink at a time, too). I believe in you!

About The Author

Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She’s very passionate about publishing and hopes to help as many authors as possible achieve their dreams!

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