The Writing Life, Part Two

By the time you read this, given the changeableness already demonstrated, my facts may be out of date.  First, President Trump’s tariff on all books imported from China was to be 25 percent; then it was 10 percent and to go into effect September first, then not all books just all books except religious books (Bibles and Korans), and then children’s books would be exempt until December 15th because “We’re doing this for the Christmas season just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.” 

“Politics is not a bad profession.  If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”  Ronald Reagan

An essay in the June 17th Publishers Weekly argued against tariffs on books.  A large percentage of books for children of all ages are printed in China for U.S. publishers.  In 2017, the average retail price for an illustrated juvenile book was $20.01.  Underfunded public libraries and bookstores operating on slender margins will face new financial challenges.   Publishers having to pass on the extra cost of tariffs would impact sales to families and to libraries already on tight budgets.

“Beneath the rule of men entirely great/ The pen is mightier than the sword.”  Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  

Of course, anything that affects the publishing industry badly, trickles down to the authors, editors, agents, and publicists.  The July /August issue of Poets & Writers reports  that opportunities for publishing careers are shrinking.  “Over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people workings in book publishing has plummeted from just more than 91,000 in 1997 to roughly 60,000 at the end of 2018.”

“Advice to writers: sometimes you just have to stop writing.  Even before you begin.”  Stanislaw J. Lec

Still, not all the statistics are grim.  First-time author Cliff Sim’s nonfiction book Team of Vipers went from number twelve to number six on Amazon’s bestseller list after our president’s no-stars revue on Twitter.

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at

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