Tag s | Trends

Losing Track of Time

When I first started sending books and articles to editors in hopes of being selected for publication, the passage of time possessed few markers.

For example, the mail arrived once a day. There was no trail like this on the touchtone wall phone:

  • Wednesday, 10 AM: Your Amazon order was received.
  • Wednesday, 8 PM: Your Amazon order was shipped.
  • Thursday, 11 AM: Your Amazon package is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.
  • Friday, 9 AM: Your Amazon package will arrive today before 8 PM.
  • Friday, 5 PM: Your Amazon package was delivered to your mailbox.

Instead, you went to a store and stood in line to have your manuscript copied at great expense and the expense of about an hour of time. Then you went to the office supply store to buy a padded envelope. Then you went to the post office and stood in line to have the package weighed and stamped for delivery. Then finally, off it went, into the wild blue yonder.

Then you waited. Mail arrival was a momentous event. It happened, then it was over. Once. A. Day. Except on Sundays and Federal Holidays.

Now, seeing a U.S. Postal Service truck making rounds on Sunday is common, at least near my house. And for some time, through texts and email, we’ve had hundreds of chances every day to touch base with anyone, anywhere, to find out anything.

As for your manuscript? I’d say you could trace its progress through the mail system online, but few use hard copy now. Instead, you can email your agent or editor any time and hope for a quick response.

Today, I handle way more questions and issues over email than I ever would have if I had been a literary agent when Ma Bell (the only telephone company) charged by the minute for service. Few people wanted to spend money to call “long distance” and rack up charges. When they did, the call was usually important. Answering a letter? At least a half hour to compose and type, three days to get to the recipient.

I’m grateful for my ability to interact quickly and efficiently on dozens of issues with as many people daily even though all the communication seems to make time speed along. Bottom line? Agent time really does move faster for us than it does for writers. That’s never changed, and probably never will. Just know that we’re not setting out to ignore you – we may have lost track of time!

Your turn:

Do you wish times and things were simpler? How?

What do you see as the biggest benefit to being wired all the time? The biggest drawback?


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The Year of Kindness

This past year, my colleagues in Christian publishing have treated me with immense kindness. Thank you. I wish I could say I have witnessed the same kindness in other arenas. If you follow current events even as a casual observer, I don’t need to recount the bitterness and rancor over …

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A Year in Review – A Look at 2017

I find it a healthy exercise to review the past as it can be encouraging to note progress and look at the foundation for the future. The Industry Our industry continues to create tremendous books but few new ones “break out.” It is hard to gain the attention of readers …

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Our Rapidly Changing Culture

Every year Beloit College creates a “Mindset List” which reflects the culture that the incoming Freshman class have grown up experiencing. It helps their faculty know how to relate to these incoming students. Click here for this year’s Mindset List.

I download this list every year and read it with increasing wonder at the speed of our cultural changes.

The college graduating class of 2014 was born in 1992. Think about that for a second. If you are a writer, you can no longer assume that your audience will understand your cultural references. In a mere six years, today’s 18-year-olds will be adults…possibly with families and jobs and children…they will be reading your books and articles.

And you will only be six years older than you are now.

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“Response” Books

When considering a topic for your next book, I suggest you avoid a response to another message in the media, especially in another book. Publishers and readers love books which are fresh, containing original thinking, and are well written, creative, with an identifiable purpose, a strong message and usually not …

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ICRS Observations 2016

On the last week of June Dan Balow and I attended the 2016 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Cincinnati. It was my 35th consecutive year attending…which only means I’m old… By now you may have heard some reports regarding the low attendance, which are true. There were only 2,114 …

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The Best Selling Christian Books of all Time

I realize attempting to compile a list like this could ruffle some feathers from both publishing and literature purists, not to mention the theological issues raised in the process of determining a “Christian” book. But I thought I would take a stab at it anyway. The list of the best-selling …

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Confusing Industry News in Bookselling

Last week the Hastings, a chain of 126 retail stores, declared bankruptcy. Approximately half of their sales are from books (the other half are movies, music, games, etc). They claim “a decline in the market for physical media properties like music, movies, books, games and media rentals.” They had losses of $16 …

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Reaching a New Generation of Readers

Last Friday I posted a fun song about Millennials. Earlier this year a number of articles told of a Pew Research report that declared there are more Millennials in America than Baby Boomers. There are now over 75 million people ages 18-34. Boomers (ages 51-69) are no longer the largest demographic. …

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2020, Planning a Publishing Odyssey

Books are the slowest and least “current” form of communication. News or short-turnaround events are best covered in articles carried in media that can reach an audience quickly. Sure, a book about the Super Bowl can be slammed together with pictures in a few weeks, but it won’t win any …

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