Daily Archives: 11/08/2013

Why don’t we publish biographies any more?

A year ago, I wrote a rather depressed/depressing post about how hard it is to publish biographies these days. So it’s very encouraging to be able to say that Judy Powell, the author of one of the biographies I specifically mentioned, did get a publisher, and is being interviewed on Late Night Live tomorrow night. For Australian listeners, that means for owls on ABC Radio National 10-11pm, repeated (for larks like me) at 4-5 Tuesday afternoon.

Judy Powell Love's Obsession

Historians are Past Caring

I’m feeling both sad and angry about the state of publishing at the moment.  Someone I know is trying to get a biography published: it’s a great story about a fascinating couple, well written and with a wealth of copyright-free images.  There’s even an international conference coming up next year that will deal with the 2 people concerned.

Yet one publisher says: ‘it’s just too difficult to sell a biography of people who aren’t household names in today’s publishing climate’.

There are several issues here.  We all know that publishing is in trouble at the moment.  We’ve all discussed this ad nauseum so I’m not going there now.  But there’s also another problem: publishers want books on familiar topics, not on something new.

This problem is not limited to biography, but in a small market like Australia, it seems to be a particular problem in this field.  Yet there are…

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