I met Jenny Gardiner more than a few years ago through a Charlottesville writers group, the Literary Ladies who Lunch. (Sounds fancy. But we are a group of working writers and editors who get together for support and writerly exchange.) We hit it off right away.
She’s hilarious, kind, a prolific writer, and she has roots in Western Pennsylvania, and so do I. We also both started our professional writing careers in journalism, though she moved into fiction way before I did. Jenny has been in the business a long time and meets the industry changes with professional panache.
Please visit her site to check out all of her books at http://www.jennygardiner.net.
Here’s my five questions for Jenny:
1. You’ve done a lot of non-fiction and fiction writing.Do you have any thoughts on the similarities and the differences?
JG: It’s easier doing fiction because you just make it all up as you go along and can bend and twist things to make it work precisely how you’d like to. Not so easy with non-fiction.
2. You’ve been around publishing for a long time. What do you think is the biggest change over the past few years. And is it good or bad?
JG: Well, that’s a very loaded question. The HUGEST change of course is that things are going digital and are doing so at warp speed. This has been quite literally revolutionary, and the publishing industry just simply refused to grasp that it was coming, and then was quite taken aback when it happened so quickly. I think the digital revolution is probably a very good thing, it is giving authors a chance to have control over their careers when until now the arbiters were those very selective “gatekeepers” who had the power to make or break your career simply based on whether a few individuals liked what you wrote. Now you can leave it up to your readers to decide if they like it. That’s a gorgeous thing.
The other thing that had radically altered the course of this business because it coincided with such enormous changes with the terrible hit the economic downturn had on the industry. I know authors saying that they’d never in 20 or 30- year careers seen such a change and seen so many books that would otherwise had been published be rejected by the New York houses. There were so many jobs lost, so many mergers in publishing houses that the ultimate outcome was that house became will to publish sure bets. That means Snookis and Real Housewives get the publishing deals and authors who are actually writers who have great books are not getting book deals. It also means that if you haven’t crossed the threshold of the magic door to publishing before things changed for the worse, then your chances of ever succeeding in this business got dramatically worse.
Part two coming up!