Friday, July 27, 2012

A Lost Gig?

Those who have been in the writing/publishing business a long time say that changes are frequent. They aren't thinking about the digital revolution that's going on right now, or the drop in cost to self-publish and how that is causing more people to self-publish. They are thinking about the changes people make moving from job to job within the publishing industry.

One man I met at a conference in 2006 is now on his third or fourth publishing job since then. He was an acquisitions editor at the time. I had been following his blog for a couple of years, and he was the one person I wanted an appointment with. I got that appointment. He didn't think my book was right for his publishing house, alas.

Shortly after that conference, he left that editorial position and started his own literary agency. He did that for two or three years. Then he got a job with a publisher that was essentially helping self-published authors provide print books. It wasn't exactly a vanity publisher; it was one of the more ethical companies in that end of the business. I was never quite clear what his role was with them. Recently I learned he is now once again an acquisitions editor with a different publishing house.

That seems to be somewhat typical if perhaps a little to the extreme. Upward mobility in this industry seems to involve changing companies as much as it does moving up in the ranks of a company. The person you meet when they are an editor at Publisher A will become a slightly more senior editor at Publisher B by the next time you see them. So that is why they ("they" meaning industry insiders) encourage networking.

This has happened to me during my work for I started writing for them in the second half of 2010. I did several feature pieces and some news articles. I had several conference calls with the editor, pitched a lot of ideas to him, and he accepted some. Then in November 2011 he left. He hadn't accepted anything I'd proposed for about six months at that time. I immediately pitched something to the new editor, a regular column on construction administration. She said it was quite timely in terms of their developing business plans, and we turned it into a twice monthly column.

Then, in early June she said the ad revenue in that part of the site wasn't coming in as they'd hoped, and they were cutting it back to once a month. I received a contract for the July one, due July 20. Then, a couple of weeks ago she sent out an e-mail that she was leaving and giving the new editor's name. I turned the column in on time to the new editor last Friday, up till now receiving no reply. Buildipedia's normal practice was to publish my column the next Friday, but I see today it's not yet published, nor have I heard from the new editor.

So perhaps the gig is lost. Or maybe she's just very busy in the new position and hasn't had time yet to look at my column. Either way, I think it is probably a lost gig. That's too bad. The columns were easy to write, drawn out of my 38 years of experience in engineering and heavy construction. And it was good money for Internet writing.

Maybe those two former editors will land somewhere in the e-zine industry, I'll cross paths with them again, and have new opportunities to write articles. Or maybe not, and I'll just concentrate on my books and short stories. And I'll finally find the time to write a few articles for Decoded Science, as I promised I would.

It's a changing world, and publishing is sure a changing industry, just based on people alone, not even counting technology.

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