Monday, December 6, 2010
Someone dropped the ball
It happens all the time. You find an author who writes well, who writes books you love ...
And they vanish.
Sometimes they will surface again under a pseudonym, but mostly Jane A. Greatread is gone forever.
What this means is not that Jane stopped writing, or isn't just as good as ever, but that someone in the great chain of publisher - distributor - retail that claims roughly 90% of the cover price of Jane's book for supposedly doing the job properly, dropped the ball.
Jane A. Greatread controls none of this, but her ever selling another book to publisher under her own name depends on Jane's book selling more than her last book on the bookscan numbers. These numbers are available to everyone (publishing, retail, distribution) except Jane, who never gets to see them, but will get a royalty report... 12-18 months too late.
By then, Jane's career as a writer is dead. Publishers won't buy from her, and retailers won't buy from them if they do.
This has just happened to me.
DRAGON'S RING - great cover, and, I have been told, really good book came out in October 2009 -- We'd sold our house, we were trying to pay for the dogs and cats quarantine, and trying to do the myriad other things to emigrate.
I got the royalty statement yesterday (yes, 14 months later, that's publishing). The hardcover sold barely 1000 copies. A MANKIND WITCH - with one of the worst covers in sf/fantasy - sold 3500 copies in hardcover.
Looking at my royalty statement: (figures which are NOT available to retail or other publishers, unlike total sales) the reason was easy to see. Very few copies were shipped -- somewhat less than 1/3 of A MANKIND WITCH. Someone either at Baen, Simon and Schuster (who are supposed to handle marketing and distribution) or a buyer at one of the retail chains made a decision that destroyed any chance the book had of success. Now it probably wasn't Baen -- or at least not Toni Weisskoph -- because she bought the next book. But that's the only person that has an alibi I know of.
Of course I am the one who gets to carry the can. And to the readers who enjoy my books, I vanish.
Only I B'AIN'T DEAD. And I am NOT ready to give in or just start again with a pseudonym.
I have one chance to show that they all screwed up, and keep my books selling and name alive. DRAGON'S RING paperback come out 28 December (the second worst selling release day of the year. Gee, thanks, that helps ;-)) Given the dismal figures for the hardcover... store orders will be abysmal or non-existent. The idiot who dropped the ball last time won't be pushing it, because it will show them up. So: if you enjoy my books, want see more of them, and would like to give the supply chain that has destroyed so many many good books and good authors a poke up the snoot... please order it from a bookstore or Amazon. No, this won't make me rich. I get 64 cents from that sale. But if I can get enough pre-orders, the book will get into stores, and will get a fighting chance.
Right now, it has none.
I've also taken steps to get those Bookscan figures so that I am informed immediately, and not 14 months too late.
And I am pursuing e-books actively, (I have a collection out from Naked Reader Press - where if you buy from the site - I get 60% of the cover price. Otherwise the stories are available on Amazon etc. (and I earn 50% of what you pay) where if anyone drops my ball, it will be me.