Libby Fischer Hellmann is the outgoing president of Sisters In Crime, the national organization founded in 1986 to work for women crime fiction writers. Libby is concluding her tenure leading this vibrant, active organization. I thought it a good time to get her views on her year as president and the future.
CARL BROOKINS-Now that your presidential year is over, how do you feel about it? Was it what you thought it would be?
It was busier than I thought it would be, but at the same time, it was without question the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done. The people that make up this organization are truly special. And talented. Everyone who was asked to perform a task, from Directors to volunteer members, did a terrific job, without complaint. I’ve never been involved with an organization with so many accomplished members, so little friction, and practically no politics. It’s been a remarkable year.
CB-What one accomplishment during your year gives you the most satisfaction?
CB-What was the biggest surprise your presidency brought you?
CB-How has the world of publishing crime fiction changed in the recent past (or during your year)?
LFH-How much time do you have? Unfortunately, the market is becoming grimmer every day. Mass market sales are down, hard cover print runs are down, and individual titles have an ever shrinking window of time to succeed. Because of these factors, it becomes even more important to “seed” the success of a book before it hits the stores. IE Arc campaigns are critical, as are wooing influencers and arranging for co-op sales. All of which are difficult for an author to do without a publisher’s support. On top of that, the public is reading less, particularly fiction. So the author is getting squeezed coming and going. It’s not a particularly sanguine situation.
CB-SinC has become a significant and growing presence on the crime fiction scene. Do you foresee a time when a separate gender-based organization will no longer be needed?
CB-There are significant and ever-faster changes in our publishing universe. Do you foresee a time when the printed book becomes a dusty relic of a bygone era? Do you think there will be a time when your children or grandchildren will do most of their reading from screens, rather than the printed page?
CB-How's your personal writing going? Did you have to set aside your career for this past year as President of Sisters in Crime?