Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

What Might Happen

I Have Been Waiting to Do Some Videos…

The Decade Ahead class (second quarter) started April 1st. I have not put a video in it yet.

That class was supposed to be how to help writers get through each month and each quarter to set up for the decade ahead. So I have been thinking about doing some videos in that class on what should have been some of the troubles of April for writers. And what might be again the troubles next April.

You know, sort of pretend things will go back to normal next year. Very questionable.

And I have also been thinking about doing videos on how writers need to get through this crisis with their writing. And get focused, because the things that would normally distract us in April and May will not this year.

Sort of plague writing.

Interestingly enough, a lot of writers are finding this time easy to think about learning, but difficult to clear enough mind power to create.

So I have been struggling on how to handle this.

And I finally decided I am going to do both.

The decade ahead will still be available on their dashboards next April or May to those who are taking it now, so I am going to talk these coming months in a special section about dealing with normal spring stuff for writers, assuming we have normal spring next year or the year after.

And then I will have a section on how to get writing during this plague time.

One point I need to make very clear. I am aiming this at indie writers.

If you are a traditionally published book writer at this point, there will be no recovery. For most traditional published book writers, this is an extinction event I’m afraid.

Why? Very simple…

— Agents will not survive, so as they go down they will take writer’s money with them.

— Most of the major publishers will not survive.

— I doubt B&N will survive (they have already stopped paying invoices from what I have heard).

— One of the top major printers for traditional publishers just declared bankruptcy and I doubt they will come through this.

— Even comic books are in deep trouble because of their one distributor.

So if you are a traditional book writer, scramble like hell toward indie publishing. You have no choice if you want to keep writing and making a living because indie publishing is booming and will continue.

So to help indie writers get through this and also have ways and help to get through “normal” April and May issues, I will do a bunch of videos in the Decades Ahead second quarter on both sides.

And more than likely will do that double-sided coin all the way through the third quarter as well. And yes, you can still jump into the Decades Ahead classes.

Back when electronic publishing first came along and indie writers started to gain knowledge and numbers, many thought that would be the end of traditional book publishing companies. Seems now that it will take a plague to wipe most of them out. Two might survive, maybe, but even then they will be crippled and a shell of their former selves.

So hang on, a lot of videos coming to help indie writers get through into the decades ahead.



  • Kate Pavelle

    Glad you’re doing this, Dean. I’m finding the current series, as is, quite helpful.
    As for plague issues, that would be helpful too. It’s hard to write contemporary and know it may become “recent history” if our culture, and our way of interacting within this culture, changes significantly enough as a result of this virus. I’ve been wondering how many virus mutations, and how many months or even years, would it take for people to accept the “new normal” and simply adapt. How would our society change? But writing *that* kind of speculation isn’t attractive to me right now. I hate to say this, but it’s swash-buckling, sword-wielding space pirate elves from now on!
    Unless, of course, you help me find a different direction 😉

    • dwsmith

      Most the stories written about this plague at this point are going to look like dated, self-pity epics in very short order. There will be a few classics that get published in major markets, but past that, writing plague stories is mostly an exercise in talking to yourself and through your own problems. And since we are all pretty much in the same problem, no one will want to read them.

      So better to write stories in the old normal or mystery or science fiction or fantasy until this ends up somewhere. But that is just my opinion and from being deadly tired of reading plague stories already, most of which are exactly the same story, and whiney. This plague is the prime example of how to bring out boring and low-hanging-fruit plots from writers.

    • Kari Kilgore

      Kate, I totally understand about the space pirate elves! It’s been all Romance, all the time for me with the exception of a couple of story calls or assignments, and even those want to at least hint at Romance lately.

      Romance short stories, short novellas, a long novella, probably a novel in my near future. I’ve even been writing the origin stories for couples in existing series, which is perfect easy focus and pure fun for me. That escape into another world and time with the guarantee of Happily Ever After is doing me all kinds of good right now.

      And, I suspect readers will feel the same. We’re working on a Romance collection from me and Jason right now. 🙂

      Take care,

      • Kate Pavelle

        Yes about romance, that’s always a good escape. That, and scifi. However, my Swashbuckling Space Elf Pirates are mostly a case of Dean-baiting 😉 Remember his deep sigh and poorly concealed eye-roll whenever an elf or a medievaloid sword came out early in a story at the Antho workshop? If I ever write it I’d aim it at a different audience. Having him actually read and enjoy a story like that would be a fun challenge, though. Kind of a bragging rights Holy Grail of the workshop.

    • dwsmith

      Short fiction markets are healthy and electronic at reasonable prices, so they will be fine. I see no issue there.

      But traditional book publishers try to sell electronic books for $15.99 to protect the sales of their paperbacks and hardbacks and suddenly they have no paperback and hardback distribution or sales points besides Amazon, which they hate. And they were on the edge anyhow, so this will toast them and they can’t change quickly, not in their DNA.

  • David Anthony Brown

    I look forward to the second quarter videos.

    A lot of people, not just writers, seem to be having problems dealing with staying at home. But even folks I’ve known for a long time who complain about not having enough time to write are suddenly in a situation where they all the time in the world, and they can’t focus. I can definitely relate, because I’ve gone through phases of unemployment. When I got furloughed, I knew there was a deep, dark hole I could spin into and never come out of. For sure I’ve had some bumps, but I took steps to make sure I did something productive each day.

    But having the attitude and habits to be productive creatively in a downtime like this takes time to develop. I spent a lot of time preparing financially for another recession (I thought we’d have one, just not because of a pandemic). Turns out I also prepared for a freelancer lifestyle without realizing it.

    Be kind to yourself. Even doing something small each day… one page, write for ten minutes, etc… it all adds up and helps develop habits that can move you forward.

    • E. R. Paskey

      Thanks, Dean! I am very excited about this!
      I’ve been wondering how you would handle this quarter. (And the 3rd quarter.) Has a great parallel universe flair to it.

      Being able to go back and watch things again is one of my favorite things about Teachable. I’m looking forward to the rest of the Decade Ahead videos, but it’ll be fantastic to go through them all again in the future when things hopefully settle back down into our new normal.

      As you said few videos back (my family loves to quote this!), “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

  • Mark Kuhn

    Very interesting observations, Dean. I trust and believe what you say about publishing. Yours is the voice of authority on this issue.
    The stories I’ve been writing during this quarentine are interesting, at best. I begin with one idea, and creative voice grabs it and steers it into a story dealing with justice and revenge. I guess my subconscious is taking over.

    • dwsmith

      I hope, actually, I am wrong on this. I think publishing is in a better place when there are a full range of publishers. The mid-sized publishers mostly should make it. All indie publishers should make it, maybe with reduced overhead, but going forward and rebuilding.

      I just feel sorry for the writers who believed in the dream of being anointed by fairy dust from a New York editor’s wand and sold all rights to their books and then not have the books even come out, or be sold off at a bankruptcy sale. Sadly most of those writers will never go on to write another book and will end up teaching high school or college English and telling students how impossible it is to be a writer.

  • Greg Payette

    Dean, do you really think B&N won’t make it? I received a payment from them the first of April, but read they weren’t able to paying the big distributors (D2D). I go direct.

    So the good news for now is the little folk (perhaps going direct) are still getting paid?

    I do hope they survive. It’s in the best interest of the (wide) indie industry, don’t you think?

    • dwsmith

      B&N has had the worst management on the face of business. They can’t seem to get past that problem to start, although time will tell now that they are owned by a hedge fund and going private. They were massively underwater and struggling for years to find a way to get a footing. Their stores are bloated and being toasted by paper books moving to being sold more online, and their Nook was a classic failure (costing them almost a billion) because, back to point #1, horrid management.

      So suddenly taking a huge hit to their struggling cash stream and no real way to borrow at the level they need is not a good sign.

      Also, paying the small accounts and sliding the large accounts is a normal business sign of on the edge cash flow issues.

      So, my opinion, B&N will slide into bankruptcy shortly. If they come out in any form we will recognize is anyone’s guess. A major publisher needs to step in and buy them, or a major corporation of some sort. But B&N is not attractive. They have huge issues with expensive, long-term leases (bankruptcy could help there), almost no actual property (shelving just doesn’t count much and they don’t really own the books, those still have outstanding debt against them from publishers.)

      Bankruptcy will help on that as well, but send a massive blow to New York traditional publishers that numbers will not survive because they have hitched their wagon to B&N (Remember when B&N was the enemy?)

      Without being sold outright (can’t see that happening but one can hope), I see no choice but for B&N to slide into bankruptcy. And from there, not a clue. They might just have to liquidate and shut down like Borders did. I hope not. But their management is so set in levels of stupidity, fear, and old thinking, I would not hold my breath.

      And that will send shockwaves through already hurting malls all over the country where B&N are anchor stores. Entire situation is not pretty.

      • Chong Go

        The other thing about B & N is that they are responsible for a lot of the sales of mid-sized publishers. Many of whom are going to have trouble if they suddenly lose 25% or more of their sales. (Not to mention not getting paid for the books already printed and shipped.)

        Dean, what are your thoughts on Amazon buying Simon and Schuster? Is that something likely to happen?

        • dwsmith

          Yup, the mid-sized that use the old distribution chain instead of the mid-sized like WMG who use indie distribution chains and stay away from the old distribution like the plague. (bad use of terms at this point I suppose.) You are right, many of them will lose a ton. If B&N goes down, we lose less than 1% of our income. No big hit.

          Simon and Schuster had some value three months ago. No value now unless someone knew how to license all the massive inventory they have. But no one in traditional does or even knows that is there, so thanks to the plague it now has no value worth buying outside of a garage sale.

          • dwsmith


            On paper, you put a book into IngramSpark and then run it through their catalogs and such. It makes a book available for anyone or any stores to buy. Very simple. On the ebook side, is is just posting to Amazon, Kobo, and D2D for basics. Very, very simple.

            Compared to the distribution and warehousing and such traditional publisher’s use, we are flexible and simple. And we can make changes quickly. Traditional publishers, once a book is started down that production and distribution chain, nothing can change. Makes for sudden problems like we are going through now impossible for them, good for indie.