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Thread: Serial Publishing
March 31st, 2006, 06:59 PM #1
When your work was first coming out, Gary, you explained that Windstorm, your publisher, was trying to make a dent in the market by putting out the first three books in your series at once or nearly at once. The idea was that it would give you a bigger presence on the shelves to attract potential readers' attention, and look more impressive to booksellers. I thought that could work, though there was some potential for backfire, and less chance of you being on the shelves over a longer period.
Over the last couple of years, and especially very recently, sff publishers are using serial publishing as a strategy -- putting out the volumes in a series four to six months apart. They've always done some of this; it was not uncommon with paperback series with an author who was prolific and maybe doing multiple series at once, but now they seem to have gone for the idea wholesale with large numbers of authors. It seems to be a popular strategy particularly for new authors who they are trying to debut (like yourself) -- flood the market with the series titles in quick succession, and surprisingly, they're doing it with hardcovers. A latest one is Naomi Novik, who's Temaire/Her Majesty's Dragon series is getting a lot of buzz, and her publisher in the U.S. is bringing out the next books in the series very soon after the first.
A lot of this strategy may be from importing authors from other countries who have already done their series in their home territory, and then are bought by a foreign publisher who brings them out in a short time burst so that fans can catch up. This strategy was very effective in launching Harry Potter in the U.S., for instance. It may also be that the desire of many sff fans to read a series all at once, rather than with year-long gaps, is helping to fuel the trend. But other fans are complaining that having hardcovers come out so close together is hard on the pocketbook, and they feel they are being exploited by publishers.
So I was wondering, how did it go with your strategy? Were there problems, did the advantages Windstorm sought occur? What do you think of all these other serial publishing programs for other authors? If authors are getting little editing and are being forced to rush out several volumes of a series, is that going to potentially lower the quality of the books coming out? Have booksellers said anything to you about this type of publishing?
April 1st, 2006, 01:17 PM #2
The smaller genre bookstores liked the idea. It worked for their customers, customers who are relutcant to buy the first book in a series by an unknown author. With three on the shelves, the reader felt more confident. With the chain stores, it didn't work. They wouldn't purchase more than the first book until they knew if it would generate an audience. Different customers, different mentalities.
The editing concern is a concern regardless of the publisher. budgets are being cut and an editor's time has to be divided so much more now.
The biggest issue is the copy editing. A good copy editor is very expensive, and if you are rushing books to the market, and if you are a small press, the copy editing may really suffer. My first and foremost concern with my new book coming out in April next year is the editing! I'm working with a new editor now, and I'm spending more and more time rewriting and reworking my text. I also got a pledge from Windstorm that the first three books will be re-edited by a copy editor and corrected when the fouth one hits the market.
It's a function of dollars and the potential return on the investment. But in the long run, as I've learned, chain stores are reluctant to buy many small press titles because of exactly these issues - the copy editing is not strong enough etc. So the publisher suffers in the end and ultimately the author of course.
As far as publishing a series all at once, I still believe in the concept myself, but I think I may have done better overall if I released one book each year instead. With enough marketing dollars it would have worked much better. Reviewers actually do review the books that publicists and publishers send them. There's a lot to choose from, and if a good publicist makes a cas for a book, it will get the press. My publisher doesn't have a publicist. Releasing a book can be an event or it can be like pissing in the wind. Much depends upon how much effort, strategic effort, is put behind the release.
When the fourth comes out, the first three books in my series will benefit from it. So Windstorm is going to make a big push on behalf of the fourth. I anxious to see what happens.
April 3rd, 2006, 08:04 PM #3
Interesting -- I wonder how it's working for the bigger publishers. It must be having some positive effect, since they are doing it so often. At least you now have a solid backlist to work with. I'll be curious to see how it works with Naomi Novik.
Congrats on the next books coming out -- any hints on the storyline, or did I miss those?
April 4th, 2006, 08:34 AM #4
Thanks, and no, you didn't miss any hints. I'll make sure you get an ARC though when the time comes.
April 4th, 2006, 11:07 AM #5
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
A Big Congrats, Gary!
Am very excited for you and plan to read your first book soon. Even the big publishers don't have the budget to promote newer authors. The promoting seems to be all about celebrities (and their offspring and trashy lives!) All the best with the newest effort! (I'm going to keep writing and rewriting and rewriting.....)
April 4th, 2006, 11:26 AM #6
Thanks, and glad to see you here. Definitely let me know your feelings on the books when you do read them.
April 6th, 2006, 08:46 PM #7Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
Well I know a tiny bit about one plotline, but you might have changed things.
Went to the Tor site, and they seem to be reprinting authors' titles in paperback to do the serial thing, and not just the classic, big name authors, so that was interesting. Seems like a lot of experimenting going on with how to get the most out of backlists. This seems like a healthy sign.
But I couldn't remember -- did you have all three books written when you went to Windstorm with them, or did you have it partly done and they said write the rest? I'm kind of interested in how these authors get into position, the new ones, to produce three books in a year and a half.
April 6th, 2006, 08:54 PM #8
I had all three written. They wanted me to sign for five, but I didn't want that pressure. I was almost done with four at the time, but I thought a contract for three was enough.