Is the Marriage Between Epublishing and NY a Good One?
Last week there was a big announcement from Samhain that it would be partnering with Kensington to bring a new Samhain imprint to the Kensington line. Ellora’s Cave also provided information about its increased output with Simon & Schuster for the year 2008, including a roll out of single titles to accompany the already popular anthologies.
Many authors were tremendously excited. Fellow blogger and writer, Dionne Galace, sent an all cap SQUEE through the email once the news was announced. However, a thoughtful question was raised by author Jordan Summers as to whether ebook authors can be hurt by NY publication of their books. Summers has an exciting (to me although I’ve not yet read it, but the concept sounds very interesting) series debuting from Tor in Fall 2008. Summers posited that print release of her early titles might not be such a great thing because there were books from her early days that she’d rather not see in mass distribution unless she had an opportunity to rewrite them.
Summers is not the only author to feel this way.
- Jennifer Crusie maligns Sizzle more than any reader has. I thought it was fine. Not her best work, but certainly not terrible.
- May speculated about how Nora Roberts feels about her first book, Irish Thorobred, still being in print. A hilarious recap of the plot is done by Missy, Meljean Brook’s inner child at Sybil’s blog: Part 1 and Part 2. Suffice to say the book is about Irish, Horses, and Poteen Factory.
- Anne Frasier debated on her blog whether releasing her old category romance novels would hurt the reputation she was building as a gritty fiction writer. Her out of print titles haven’t been re-released and part of that may be due to a decision on her part and part may be due to the fact that Moxie Press, who inquired about reprinting them, folded.
Personally, I loved some of Frasier’s older novels.
- Iris Johansen pretends she never wrote romances and when given the opportunity to rewrite the The Wind Dancer trilogy, she edited out the romance. Note to Ms. Johansen, you wrote Wild Silver for Loveswept, a bodice ripper complete with the Fiesty heroine and the ALPHA male hero. Just sayin.
Summers also brought up another important point that I, the reader, had never thought of and that is market glut: too many books by the same writer. I don’t know if that is really a problem these days. It seems that readers are anxious to read more of the same, if they like it. The Random House stable of authors who have received the back-to-back promotional push like Tracy Warren, Keri Arthur, and Lara Adrian, all became USA Today Bestselling authors. If I really like a book by a particular author, I’ll go back and buy that author’s backlist. I did that with Jo Goodman. After I read the Compass Club books, I had to go and find all the others. If she had had four more coming out in the next four months, I would have been gleeful.
After reading Summers post, I recognized that there were two negatives for me as a reader in this epublishing to NY deal. It mostly stems from subsidiary sales rather than new ebook + print initiatives.
First, the idea that a bad book could impair future sales is probably realistic. I know that sometimes I am a one and done reader. There are plenty of authors that I won’t try again unless someone calls me on the phone and harangues me into reading it. Or emails me. Because if a reader spends 4 hours or more with someone’s writing and throws the book down in disgust, it’s doubtful the reader will give that author another minute of her time. It’s too precious and there are plenty of other books/authors to read. Readers aren’t likely to look at the copyright date and recognize that it is an old book.
Second, and this is the most frustrating, is when print books are released under a different title/name/cover (and sometimes even copyright) but have been previously published, either in print or ebook format. This appears deceptive to the reader. This was the case for the anthology, Mysteria. Three of the four stories were recycled/revised versions of the material in Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred. My blood pressure still rises when I re-read Susan Grant’s defense of the recycling of stories. She stated that the stories in Bewitched, Bothered & BeVampyred amounted to nothing more than teasers. Readers love paying for teasers. Actually, readers don’t and they tend to hold these things against the author – not the publisher or the bookseller.
It would be of great help to readers if, in the ebook to NY print transition, the authors were allowed an opportunity to rewrite AND that any reprint (even if it includes more plot and more sex and more characters) is clearly marked.