Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pushing Pages

I suppose all new authors think too much about the publishing world. This is only made worse by the fact that we really don't know what we're talking about. It doesn't stop me from talking, or thinking, about these things. Still. I'm just saying, I'm aware of my ignorance.

That said, I want to go on the record as saying that I'm glad I'm going to be in Mass Market first. For those of you not in on the lingo, MM is your typical paperback. 4.25 x 6.75, or thereabouts. Current prices are around $8 in the US. For purposes of this conversation we're going to refer to the larger paperbacks as Trade Paper, and hardcover books as Hard Cover. MM, TP and HC. We're using this specific nomenclature because I was one of the Border rats, working my time at the location in Wheaton about nine years ago. It is one of my goals to hold a reading/signing there, and I suspect I'll manage it sometime next year. It'll be a good 10 year anniversary gift to myself.

Right, so, mass market. I think there are a lot of impediments to a new author's career. One of the big ones is obscurity, or unfamiliarity on the part of the reader. Readers like a certain amount of familiarity. They put their money down, and they want to know they're going to enjoy the product. This is why they tend to stick with authors they know, or authors that their friends have recommended to them. If they're going to lay out cash on an author who doesn't fit into one of those two categories, then you (as the author/publisher) need to do everything you can to ease the process. Give them cover art that catches their eye, and identifies with other products they've enjoyed in the past. Offer blurbs from authors they know and trust, to remind them what they like and why they'll like this. Most importantly, lower the price point. If I'm going to invest some amount of money in a new author, I'd like that amount to be as low as possible. That way if the product is a bust, at least I'm only out $8, instead of $14 or $24.

And let's be clear here, I hardly ever spend $24 on a new author. I think I've done it once in the last eight years. And there are so many good books out there, I'm more than happy to wait for the MM to come out. Even if I'm excited about reading a book, I'm not going to drop $24 on it when I have ten books in my queue. And I think that's bad on the publisher, putting an untried author in HC when they should at most be in TP, and probably belong in MM. It's bad for their career.

So I'm glad I'm coming out in MM. I want my book to be as available and easy to buy for the new user as possible. It's a product, an item of entertainment, and I want to remove every obstacle between the potential customer picking it up because the cover caught their eye and carrying that product to the cashier and laying down their money. And the less money it is that they have to lay down, the better my chances are of making that sale.


At 7:28 AM , Blogger Psychophant said...

Writing as a paying reader, I agree fully with you, and I am spending close to 1000 US$ in books every year.

Most new authors I buy from the bargain bin, or its internet equivalent. Established authors I know I like I will buy as bargain hardcovers (plenty of those at paperback prices) or trade paperback because I like the feeling and the durability of the form.

Only those writers I really love I will get as straight hardcovers. Not many of those, as a couple of writers have fallen off that exalted status as they get old, and their books sloppy.

Good to know I will not have that debate between inmediacy and cost.


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