Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Truths About Publishing...

A few people have asked me about publishing and how an author 'makes it big', so I thought I'd address it here. Readers--the first thing you should know is, you are a very powerful force! As far as commercial fiction goes, the market is driven by what you buy, not by what you enjoy.

For example, say a book comes out about a tree frog's romance with a horned toad. Let's say the book is awful, just horrible, but people everywhere are talking about it. Suddenly, all over the 'net, you'll hear people saying, "Gee, my curiosity is piqued. I've GOT to buy this book, to see just how bad it really is." So the sales soar, even though the reviews suck. Next thing you know, publishers will be putting out tree frog/horned toad romances by the boatload. Forget the other romances out there--the ones with the excellent reviews. "Everyone wants tree frogs!" the publishers say. And that's what readers will get. "But I hated it!" a reader might protest. Truth is, that doesn't matter as much as the fact that they bought it.

It's all about NUMBERS--and by numbers, I mean sales. In 'ye olden times'--a.k.a. five to ten years ago--an author was allowed to build a career. Oftentimes, they'd put out ten, twelve books before 'making it'--hitting a bestseller list a decade after they'd begun their career. Nowadays, an author has two, maybe four books to break out, or they're in serious danger of 'game over'. Nowadays, there is no 'midlist.' There are bestselling authors, and there are new authors. Not a lot in between. If you don't make the cut, and quickly, you're in deep doggie doo-doo.

So, as a reader, what can you do to support your favorite authors? First off, buy new when you can. It's totally understandable that this isn't always an option--and yes, I firmly believe that libraries and used book stores can also help an authors' career (how many times have you checked out a book from the library--a new author to you--and enjoyed the book so much that you subsequently purchased the author's upcoming titles or backlist? I've done this!). But simply put, buying new is the only way to make your 'voice' heard by publishers and booksellers.

Also, buy a book during its official week of release (you can generally find out a book's release date by looking it up on, or by visiting the author's web site). Bestseller lists are generally computed by sales velocity, measured during the week of a book's release, rather than by actual sales totals. So, a book that sells 10,000 copies all total--all during its release week--will 'do better' than a book that sells 30,000 copies over the course of a month (meaning, that author is more likely to get offered a subsequent contract). Oftentimes, a book will trickle out one or two weeks before its actual release date, and those early sales actually hurt an author's chance of making any bestseller lists. So, best time to buy a book? The week it comes out!

What if you go into a bookstore and see that your favorite author's new title is sold out? Ask them to order more copies! They can, and they should--but if the demand isn't there, they won't.

Lastly, if you love an author's work, tell someone! Word of mouth is probably the best advertising there is. Tell your friends, your co-workers, your family. And don't loan them your copy--make them buy their own! Post a positive review on for a book you've loved. Talk about it on message boards and blogs. Write the author and ask if they have bookmarks they can send you. They probably do, and they'll be thrilled to send you a stack to hand out to your friends or to local booksellers. In fact, you'll probably make their day.

Spreading the word about a book you've enjoyed creates 'buzz' and buzz sells books--and selling books means that that author will have the chance to write more books for you to enjoy!

In fact, let's start here--now! I'd love to hear about a book you've read recently and really enjoyed. Doesn't have to be romance--it can be any genre!

I'll go first...I just read Tracy Anne Warren's THE HUSBAND TRAP, and loved it! Even though the plot set up is rather cliched (twins switching places), Ms. Warren managed to make it totally fresh. Both the heroine and hero were extremely likable. I actually don't read a lot of historicals these days, but I was hooked on this one from the very first chapter. I definitely plan on buying the other two books in the series--THE WIFE TRAP and THE MARRIAGE TRAP--to read on vacation next month!


Ann Christopher said...

Great comments, Kristina! And I have THE HUSBAND TRAP on my TBR.


Lois said...

Well, the very last ones I read are the first four Boscastle books in Jillian Hunters series. The first three are from last year or something, so I reread those before reading the latest two (not sure when they came out). I loved the first three more than the first time I read them, wasn't totally thrilled with the first of the newest, but still overall liked it, and still working my way through the fifth. Can't wait for Emma's story which I think comes out this summer. :)


tetewa said...

I just recently finished reading Here She Lies by Kate Pepper. This is a murder mystery that involves twin sisters. It also deals with identity theft. I enjoyed the read and also learned quite a bit of stuff about twins and identity theft. I reccommend this book.

Marg said...

I really enjoyed Tracy Anne Warren's books when I read a little while ago. Recently I have read and enjoyed The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt, Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Loyalty in Death by J D Robb.

Kristina Cook said...

Marg, I keep meaning to try Elizabeth Hoyt--I actually remember judging The Leopard Prince in a contest back before she was published, and it was terrific! She's certainly getting a lot of buzz!

I also must confess that I've NEVER read any J.D. Robb--though I'd like to. I have one of the 'In Death' books in my TBR pile somewhere. Problem is, I just know if I start reading it, I'll get hooked on the series!

Marg said...

Getting hooked on a series is always a risk!!