Weekly Update – September 14, 2021

First, a reminder that my first (and potentially only) live appearance of the year is this Sunday!

The weather’s looking good so the event will be held outside at The Corner Spot in Ashland, MA (with the Ashland Public Library ready to go should the weather turn unexpectedly). Hope to see you there!

Now, time for a bit of a serious discussion, book lovers (turns chair backwards, sits).

I know we’re only halfway through September but you need to start thinking about the holidays, and I’m going to tell you why. I’ll endeavor to be brief and to the point.

The TL;DR version is this: we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s screwing things up, so you need to prepare accordingly.

You may have heard talk about “supply chains” being disrupted in various industries, at which point you nod, grunt knowingly, and say, “Ah, yes, of course — the supply chain” without actually knowing what anyone was talking about. You might have thought it was similar to a blockchain and zoned out because you couldn’t bare to listen to someone droning on about cryptocurrency AGAIN, and who could blame you?

Basically, a supply chain is the route by which any product travels from point A, its source, to point Z, the consumer. You’ll note I didn’t say “point B,” and that’s intentional, because modern supply chains can be surprisingly long and convoluted. Look at any electronic item and you’ll see a supply chain that bounces back and forth all over the globe — and since the whole globe is still actively dealing with a pandemic, relatively small disruptions that, by themselves, might have a minor impact are compounding on another to lead to delays across the supply chain that, ultimately, impact the consumer.

Publishing is no different. I wasn’t able to find specific numbers, but Chinese publishing operations handle a significant percentage of America’s publishing needs. That’s of course because the cost of producing books in China is far lower than producing books domestically, and several articles I found indicated that American publishing businesses simply cannot handle “complex” publishing needs, which covers everything from specialized bindings to the intricacy of the art found in children’s books. It’s cheaper by far to have these books made in China and shipped overseas.

The problem here: the supply chain is vulnerable to congestion at shipping ports, and congestion right now is pretty bad. On top of that, the American trucking industry lacks capacity to transport those goods to distribution centers, and from there to retailers.

Here’s where you, the consumer, comes in.

As the holidays draw near, demand for product is going to increase substantially, but the supply is not necessarily going to keep up. You might find yourself scrambling to find anything, and prices are going to increase, which is going to put a strain on your wallet and your good cheer come Christmastime.

The answer (though I won’t go so far as to call it a solution): do your shopping now. Get your list of books for gift-giving together, head right down to your local bookshop — who will be hit by stock shortages much earlier and harder than Amazon or Barnes & Noble — and place your order. If you’ve got any books by indie authors on that list (and I hope you do!), and those authors sell directly via their websites, order those books now too.

This year, it’s going to be even more important to support small businesses, so act early — earlier than you normally would. Added bonus: get your shopping done now and you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the holidays! My shopping is typically finished before Thanksgiving and I’ve never regretted it.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for late 2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a late 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: In the editing phase. Tentatively set for a fall/winter 2021 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Ashland, Framingham, and Hopkinton Public Libraries’ Local Author Fair – Sunday, September 19, 2 – 5 PM, The Corner Spot, Ashland, MA.

MISC.

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

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