Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Publishing Racket

Despite the enforced one day off, I was not subjected to reading Patterson. I wrote each of the other four days and I think I'm about halfway through. Of course that leaves me with the feeling: how am I going to fill the other half?

I didn't have any surprise characters appearing from under a bed, but I was surprised by how some of my characters behaved. They never tell me ahead of time and that could drive a writer crazy or it could be exhilarating. This brings me back to the topic of outlining or not.

If I did outline I'd know how to fill the other half today. I'd also lose all interest. Now I'm eager to see what happens Monday.


So about the publishing game. Last week I learned from good authority that things are about to change. This probably won't be big news to anyone, but some of it was to me.

No more mass paperbacks. The companies are slowly phasing them out. Barnes & Noble won't order any new ones. If you go to their website I think you'll see that the paperbacks they're selling are not current. When the ones they have are sold or returned to publishers, that will be the end of them for B&N.

Trade paperbacks are going to take their place for now. And eventually there'll be no more hardcovers. This might not apply to libraries. Although I've noticed in the libraries around here there are more and more trade paperbacks on the shelves.

So is this a good or bad thing? I think it's fine. How many people want to pay seven or eight dollars for a mass market paperback? Trade paperbacks are anywhere from ten to fourteen dollars. And they look nice and last longer.

Writers have always had a snob thing about being published in paper instead of hardcover. Many of them think they're not a real writer if they're not published in hardcover. I think that idea is nonsense not to mention very old.

The best example I can give is Jason Starr. He's published in trade paperback and if that weren't true I doubt I would've bought him in hardcover. That would've been my loss. I think he's one of the best writers around and there's no need for him to publish in hardcover. He may feel differently about it, but I hope he doesn't.

Don't we want to get the most people we can to read our books? I think trade paperback will fulfill that wish. If you've ever been to France or England you know that's how most books are published there. I guess they have mass paperbacks but I don't recall them. I certainly didn't buy any to have sent home.

So is it a good thing to drop mass paperbacks and go to trade? And how important to your sales is it to be published in hardcover? Or is the importance to your ego?

1 comment:

Naomi Hirahara said...

I'm very happy to be published in trade paperback (affordable, more readable than mass market, etc.) but there are a few downsides. One is that it's more difficult to get audio and translation deals. And review journals that cater to libraries tend to prefer hardcovers, but I think that's changing.

I'm stressed enough with one pub date; I couldn't imagine dealing with separate hardcover and softcover releases. In the end, I agree with you, Sandra, that the main point is to have as many people as possible read your books. And if that happens to be in the TPO format, more power to you.