Those of you in Canada will surely have heard by now about the immediate "suspension of activity" (which, since they laid off their last editor, sounds a lot like "closure" to me) by Key Porter Books, one of the largest Canadian publishers. Nothing slated for publication after January will be published. Learning about this was a real shock to the system for me; if the big fish can't make it, how will the little guys manage to survive?
Additionally, I was saddened to hear that none of their authors had any idea. In fact, from what I can gather from the news articles about the suspension, most of their authors didn't even learn about it from Key Porter. They heard about it on the news. Which is just sad, and also, in my opinion, unprofessional. (And ironically appropo, given my blog post last Thursday.) It's not at all what I would expect from such a large company, and I hope that the people at Key Porter have a good reason for their lack of communication with their authors.
But then when I looked into it more, and started searching for news about the company and their plans for the immediate future, I came across this CBC article from last September announcing that they were closing their Toronto office and laying off almost two-thirds of their staff, and only one thought occurred to me: the writing was on the wall for these guys, and has been for at least a few months now. Maybe it's the cynic in me - okay, it is definitely the cynic in me - but as soon as I see a company being bought out, downsized, restructured, merged, or what-have-you, I always assume that they'll be gone within 5 years or less. I never hope to be right about these kinds of predictions, and sometimes I'm not - but these are all signs, to me, that a company is drowning.
So, apart from hoping that Key Porter finds a way to come back from the brink (which I do), what does this mean for writers? When we see a publishing house bought out by another one and merged as one of their imprints, (hello - and goodbye - Tricycle Press), or when we learn that a publisher is downsizing, how should we interpret that news? Should we be wary? Should we cross them off our submission list? Is it better to be optimistic, or to think about strict business potential when it comes to where we send our work and who we sign contracts with?
I honestly don't have answers to these questions, guys, so I'm opening the floor to comments and ideas. What do you think when you see that change is afoot for a publishing house? Do you rethink your submissions to them, or is it business as usual?