Chip MacGregor

June 8, 2017

And so we come to the end…

by

Hello Everyone – Ive spent my life in books and words. Friends know that my mom used to tell the story of my coming home from school one day in First Grade, and announcing, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a book guy.” And so I have been. Always a book guy, whether as a writer, an editor, a collaborator, a publisher, or (for a couple decades now) an agent. I love books and I love words, and I’m happy that I’ve spent my life and made my living with them. Please forgive me if I’ve told this story too often.

I started this blog more than a decade ago, when we were all discussing whether the new e-reader called “The Kindle” was going to work or not, and when CBA fiction was growing by leaps and bounds. I’d been let go as a publisher at Time-Warner, and decided I was going to head back into agenting, since it was one of the fews jobs that would allow a middle-aged guy with a very limited skill set to make a living. So I began the blog as a way to get my name out there a bit. It’s been great, I’ve talked with fabulous people, and I’ve loved being able to answer questions from writers. I always figured that my experiences (I made my living as a magazine editor, a collaborative writer, a book editor, an author, a book publisher, and an agent) gave me a rather unique perspective when it came to talking books and the book process — and I had enough experience with marketing and sales and business to at least point people in the right direction.

For a few years, the blog just exploded. We had millions of people stop by to read, won some awards, had Writers Digest name us as one of the top websites for writers a few times. Then I got burned out, took a year away, and eventually came back because I felt I had more to say. To be honest, the blog has never really made it back to the top — I know it’s been helpful to people, and I think we did some good work (I hear regularly from writers who say they found helpful information, and I’m still proud that this blog contributed to the demise of the scam that was Winepress Publishing), but it never picked up that same momentum, didn’t seem to be quite the essential read it had been. And that’s okay, since I found myself blogging less often.

But recently a lot of the fun went out of it. Last year’s nasty political drama ended a lot of friendships (even though I didn’t vote for Trump OR Hillary). The mood seemed to change, with people much more quick to call names, or throw out accusations, or just share completely rash bullshit that, I like to think, they would be above doing in a normal situation. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we have a new normal. I just know that publishing discussions have evolved into two camps: the “indie is the only way” camp (complete with rejection of anyone with traditional publishing experience, and the arrogance that comes with knowing everything even though they’ve made a few hundred bucks, tops); and the “can’t we go back to 1957” camp (complete with scoffing comments about all indie projects, and a refusal to actually look around and see what’s happening in the publishing world). Sigh…

Don’t get me wrong — I still love publishing. But I’m awfully tired of getting harangued by authors who haven’t sold much, who aren’t really making much money, and whom most of us have never heard of, but who insist they know everything about publishing, and are sure that everyone who works at a publishing house is wrong because they never bought my book. I’ve seen it over and over and over. And over. Thin-skinned writers who are sure of themselves, even though they don’t seem to know Jack-squat: Editors are know-nothings because they all rejected my brilliant sci-fi novel. Publishers are evil because they dare to suggest part of their role is to evaluate literary quality. Agents are unnecessary because they are evil middlemen who aren’t interested in helping the little guy. I’ve never seen a group of people who were so certain of their own righteousness and ability… well, outside of Hillary’s campaign workers, I guess.

And, of course, I used to take grief on the other side as well, since I was an early adopter of hybrid publishing for the authors I represent. There were people in traditional publishing who just couldn’t understand why I would ever be supportive of authors doing that (though, to be fair, this has faded considerably as a bunch of those folks self-published their own how-to books and came to recognize the value of being able to create your own book).

So… that’s my way of saying “the fun went out of it.” I realize I had other things I wanted to do. I have clients who actually need my best work, for example. And I’m helping open a whiskey bar, just for fun. More than that, I seemed to have more health issues than normal this past year. With everything going on, I realized I wanted to cut back some things in my life. I’ve simplified, thrown out a ton of stuff, trimmed my list of authors I represent. And one of the things I realized could go was the blog. I enjoy the questions, and the discussion, but it’s not been a central thing in my life, and I feel as though it’s one of those pieces that keeps being read by the same 400 people. So I’m going to bow out.

My sincere thanks to the two people who have helped the most with this blog over the years — Marie Prys and Amanda Luedeke. Without them, this wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. I also send my thanks to those who contributed so much over the past decade, particularly Holly Lorincz, Sandra Bishop, and Erin Buterbaugh. My love and thanks to all of you. And of course, thanks to readers who read and valued the blog, and who were willing to ask good questions and share their own ideas. You made the blog better.

I’m going to leave it up for a short season, then take it down, since I feel some of the pieces have gotten dated, and I don’t want writers listening to bad advice. Again, thanks to everyone who has been a part of reading this blog over the years.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors.

Chip MacGregor

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