My debut novel and the economy

As the subprime mortgage crisis threatens the U.S. economy, I am shopping my first novel around to agents. This could possibly be the worst time to debut as a novelist.

Fewer books, bigger deals—No room for debuts? A frost is coming to publishing. This the shocking subtitle of Baby, It’s Going to Be Cold Outside in Book Publishing, a gloom and doom article brought to you by THE NEW YORK OBSERVER.

According to the article, only the most established agents will be able to convince publishers to take a chance on an unknown novelist like me. My query, synopsis, and of course my novel, had better be razor-sharp or I don’t stand a chance of convincing one of those established agents to take a chance on a newbie. Rather than backing down, I’m going to rise to the challenge. I know that some of the agencies I’m querying receive upwards of 200 queries per week.

Meanwhile, on BookEnds, Jessica Faust says:
While books are selling and BookEnds has in fact made a number of deals in the past few weeks, publishers are understandably going to start getting tougher and deals are getting smaller. Authors are going to start to seeing lower advance numbers and, yes, lower royalties. And everyone is going to take fewer risks. It was hard to sell a new unpublished, unproven author two months ago, imagine what it must be like now.

Tess Gerritsen says:
… as I travel from town to town, from bookstore to bookstore, one thing that’s struck me is how quiet all the stores are. In mall stores, in superstores, in major chains and small independents, customers seem to be missing. Many booksellers have told me that traffic has been way down these past few weeks, and they’re concerned. I know it’s of little comfort to booksellers, but nothing else seems to be selling either. Malls are deserted. Stores selling clothing and furniture and kitchenware are all silent. No one seems to be spending money.

What does it mean for the book industry?

Books, unlike milk and bread, are discretionary purchases.

The bar just went up–I never learned the high jump, but I’m going to get a pole and start practicing.