As many of you know, Nathan Bransford, the literary agent at Curtis Brown, has jumped ship and is leaving publishing. The economy has wrecked publishing and that wreck goes all the way down to us new writers. Today, anyone can self-publish to Kindle. Anyone can get their book perfect bound through a POD publisher, but the bottom line remains: only books that are commercially viable will find traditional publishing, and only traditionally published books are likely to find any significant amount of readers. Even books that are traditionally published (novels, that is) rarely make any real money for the author, and if an author's first published novel doesn't do well, there's really no reason for a publisher to think their second novel will. For a publisher, it makes far greater sense to move towards a James Patterson paradigm where a team creates a novel in a coporate environment that includes marketers, ghost writers, proven formulas, stock characters, etc. It makes me wonder if the art of the novel as literature is essentially dead. Perhaps, as artists, it's time we re-evaluate what we expect to accomplish from writing a novel--manage our expectations is the new political buzz-phrase, I believe. Here are some of my managed expectations: Completely give up the idea of traditional publishing. There's no point in it anymore. Get your mind around the idea that pretty soon the only readers of literature will be other writers (just like with poetry). The rest of the fiction-reading public will be happy with James Patterson-esque novels. A few people reading your novel may be all you can ever hope to expect--there are simply too many books out there by too many authors to ever expect even a masterpeice to be recognized or stand out. In fact, the more masterful you are as an author, the less likely you may be to succeed in a Patterson Paradigm publishing world. I recently read an article where an agent said that agents who like good literature are at a disadvantage, because they often don't recognize the commercial novel as being viable. In order to be successful financially and have a lot of readers you will have to be a successful self-publisher. You will have to show a track record of sales that will attract a bigger publisher to take a chance on your novel--or for an agent to even read it for that matter. Unfortunately, most good authors are not good publishers. How could they be? Either enjoy the art of writing a good story as literature, and enjoy it for its own sake, or stop writing altogether. Ironically, in this brave new world, the short story may fair better. A collection of "award winning" short stories or novellas, may be the way to go. Stories that have already proven themselves in that regard can be put together into a book length product that may sell.