Friday, July 23, 2010

Taking Risks

It seems to me that people have vast potential. Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don't. They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever.  -- Philip Adams

I found this quote and realized how true it is. Most people don't seem to live up to their potential or take risks. In fact, it seems to me that our tolerance for risk has waned. That's understandable in one sense. The world is full of uncertainty and violence. Add to that no job security or no job at all, disaster after disaster reported in the news, and the very planet we live on seems to be coming apart and is it any wonder our tolerance for risk is low.

And yet...

It is the job of some folks to handle and manage risks. Bankers for example when giving out loans must assess the risk of the loan. They seem to have done a really lousy job of late and so the real estate market is a mess now too. 

Publishers are in the same position when considering a manuscript for publication. They must assess the risk of publishing and no sales vs the likelihood of sales. My understanding, however, is publishers are taking less and less risk.  That seems odd to me since risk is at the center of what they do. I assume part of the reason for this is reading books is down. Many people prefer ebooks now or that traditional publishing represents greater risk. 

I understand that and the bigger the publisher the more they have to risk. But they also need to publish something. Something I want to read and will buy or they go out of business. And while larger publishers fill bookstores with their wares I increasingly find I want to look at the publications of small presses because that's were the next crop of new and interesting writers will come from. Small presses seem to welcome new writers more readily too and I find that I want to support these writers.

Writers also take risks. I'm only as good as my last story or blog post. If I write enough material that is unsatisfying, eventually people stop reading me, I lose sales or perhaps I never get started in my writing career. It is for this reason, I think, I want to help new writers and I encourage everyone reading my blog to do the same. 

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