September and October are turning into a nightmarish one-thousand-book pileup for publishers who delayed a high percentage of their spring and summer releases until the fall, hoping the world would be closer to normal and bookstores would be back open again.
Making matters so much worse, now the printing companies we all use to slap ink on dead trees for us can’t keep up with the overloaded fall schedule.
From The New York Times:
Books that were bumped from spring and early summer are landing all at once, colliding with long-planned fall releases and making this one of the most crowded fall publishing seasons ever. And now publishers are confronting a new hurdle: how to print all those books.
We should have seen it coming, of course. Printers don’t have infinite capacity, after all. Now even the Big Five are being forced to push back some of their fall books until 2021.
Everybody knew there would be literally hundreds of a would-have-been spring and summer titles being released on top of the always-planned-for-fall titles… and we always knew that the fall release session would be shorter than usual due to the U.S. presidential election in early November.
I’ll admit, it was concern about the glut of competition in the narrow fall window that ultimately led Uproar Books (in consultation with our authors, of course) to move the second books of the Wild Sun and Sand Dancer series from this fall to February 2021. Many other indie publishers did the same.
As Morgan Entrekin, CEO of Grove Atlantic, said back in June, “Where are you going to move a book to? You’re going to move it to the fall, where you have the election and all these spring books that have moved? All the decisions we make are guesswork. None of us know what we’re doing.”
Now, it’s looking even more clear that we did the right thing. Beyond the avalanche of competition, the physical limitations of our printing partners might have been a killer for indie publishers.
According to Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt, “We’re concerned about the unknown author, the first-time novelist who may be down the pecking order in terms of print priorities. Booksellers want to get their hands on them, and the copies aren’t there.”
“There’s a domino effect. We’re going to have bottlenecks not only in terms of getting stuff from printers but in terms of marketing. Everything is a seat-of-the-pants decision now,” said literary agent Deborah Schneider.
Nonetheless, not all of our books are being delayed until 2021. Uproar Books is releasing four books into the September maelstrom:
Sept 8 – WE, the often-forgotten Russian masterpiece that inspired Orwell’s 1984.
Sept 15 – A special early edition of THE RUDE EYE OF REBELLION, the sequel to the sci-fi dark comedy ALWAYS GREENER (before the official launch next February!)
Sept 22 – THE HEADS OF CERBERUS, a very fun, very pulpy classic about three friends who get flung into the future where the rich force the poor to compete in deadly games.
Sept 29 – THE WAY OUT, a sci-fi thriller about the “medical miracle” of the artificial human womb, the secrets behind its development, and its true purpose.
It’s a rough world out here for publishers right now, especially among the indies. If any of our upcoming titles peaks your interest, please take a chance on it!