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The Science of the Glom

The Science of the Glom

So Many Books, So Little Time.2012 was the year of Kristen Ashley for many romance readers.  Whether it was through The Golden Dynasty (recommended to me as Game of Thrones fan fiction) or Knight (the weirdly magnetic but hard to read book featuring the pimp hero) or Motorcycle Man (the one that I use as a gateway drug recommendation to others), many readers found their way into the deep morass of Ashley’s backlist. I spoke with readers who admitted to reading over ten and sometimes over twenty books of Ashley’s last year.

That’s the definition of a glom.  To acquire the backlist titles of one author until you’ve read or bought everything she has written.

In order for author to be “glommable” (if you don’t mind me extending the use of a made up word), the author needs two things. First, she has to have an extensive backlist.  I’d argue at least four or more other titles you can purchase.  Second, those titles need to be consistent with the book you enjoyed.  This is why publishers try to give books in a series a consistent cover look. They want you to believe that all these books with the same type of covers are going to deliver the same emotional impact.

Taking Ashley as our example.  The Golden Dynasty is barbarian romance fiction with a Mary Sue heroine and lots of forced seduction (and sometimes there wasn’t even seduction involved).  Few other books in Ashley’s backlist were similar to The Golden Dynasty but my friend read those and none others. She wasn’t interested.

For those who read Knight, there were a few in the Unfinished Hero series but not many.  The readers who fell for Ashley because of Motorcycle Man, however, had over 10 titles to read.  You could return to the backlist and get the same high off the Ashley crackpipe.  

Contrast this with Joanna Wylde, the author of another successful Motorcycle Club book called Reaper’s Property.  Wylde has an extensive backlist but it is mostly paranormal rather than contemporaries.  I’ve been told that the books are very good but I’ve seen few readers move backward to delve deep into her backlist.  I found myself more willing to re-read Reaper’s Property than delve into a Joanna Wylde paranormal.

Category authors like Susan Napier, Charlotte Lamb, Maisey Yates, and the like are easy to glom. If you like one book, you’ll like the author’s other twenty titles from Harlequin Presents.  In fact, category lines are built along the philosophy of the glom.  The consistent branding attempts to convey that if you liked Book A from one line, you’ll like every other book in the line as well.  It’s an invitation to glom.

When you look at the more successful self published authors like Samantha Young or Courtney Cole, you don’t see a corresponding increase in sales for their older titles.  Those older titles are packaged differently suggesting to the reader that those books won’t include the same tropes or characters that made the other title successful.

Consistent with the above definitions, I’ve made a list a few of the most glommable authors.  Who should be on that list? Who did I include incorrectly?  What do you think makes a glommable author?

  1. Linda Howard.  Writes almost exclusively hot romantic suspense.  Has at least twenty novels to glom (the cut off date is Open Season)
  2. Julie Garwood.  Prior to her writing romantic suspense, Garwood wrote the most entertaining and historically inaccurate Scottish medievals. Her glommable backlist includes twelve to thirteen titles.
  3. J. R. Ward.  Other than the Jessica Bird titles that only the hard core Ward fans buy (they aren’t bad either), Ward’s success was made with her Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  Glommable titles is 10
  4. Nalini Singh.  Singh’s compelling paranormal romance featuring Changelings, Psy (people with mental powers), and humans is up to 12 if you count her summer release.  You can’t read just one.
  5. Jill Shalvis.  Shalvis’ writing is very consistent and if you like straight contemporary romances with mostly affable characters then you have a huge backlist to delve into. Backlist full contemporary titles clock in at over 12.

 

Wednesday Midday Links: Major Publishers Support Internet Killing Bill & Retro Romance Debut from Samhain

Wednesday Midday Links: Major Publishers Support Internet Killing Bill & Retro...

In case you missed it yesterday, BN just launched gifting of ebooks.  YAY!

Look for deals at the end of the post.

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Seth Godin has a list of publishers that are supporting SOPA, a bill that many internet supporters believe will allow large corporations to cut off content access for individuals.  SOPA is up for a vote tomorrow.  SOPA will allow copyright holders to have an entire URL blocked  if one part of the URL is hosting illegal material.  For example, if there is a book trailer posted by an author that contains copyrighted photos or music, the copyright holder could have everyone’s access to YouTube blocked.  This is what Viacom wanted in its suit against YouTube and ultimately lost. Proponents of the bill argue that it will never be used to block access that citizens enjoy and that it is only a measure designed to target overseas sites but the language of the bill is so broad and overreaching that any copyright holder could enforce these actions against sites like Etsy, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and so on.

The bill gives the right to any copyright holder to serve a notice on Etsy and have Etsy’s connection to the internet suspended:

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods, where users can set up a storefront and create listings for things they’ve made.  There are over 800,000 active “shops” filled with these handmade goods — far too many for Etsy to monitor manually. Further, because of the eclectic nature of goods listed, it’s difficult to technically filter through the objects listed.

All that means that it’s not feasible for Etsy to proactively prevent listings that may be perceived to violate US copyright or trademark law.  That’s a problem, because  under SOPA, anybody who is a “holder of an intellectual property right harmed by the activities” of even a portion of the site, could serve Etsy’s payment processors with a notice that would require them to suspend Etsy’s service within 5 days. That means that a trademark violation in one of the storefronts could lead to payment suspension across the entire site.

It’s not that people don’t want to protect copyright but that the language in SOPA is too overbroad.  It’s not going to affect sites like DA because we don’t allow you to upload pictures or music or books but it can easily affect any site that does allow that such as photo sites, social media sites, internet commerce sites.

Boing Boing has an easy to use form that will allow you to contact your representatives and share with them your thoughts about SOPA.

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Samhain has launched its Retro Romance line with some very attractive pricing. I’m not sure whether this is attractive to authors, but as a reader, I’m a fan.  From the press release:

According to Heather Osborn, Editorial Director, the program is in line with the desire of many authors to find new readers for old favorites—without the challenge of self-publishing. “With the proliferation of eBook readers, authors know they can quickly reach a new audience with their books, but self publishing still has inherent challenges for authors who prefer to spend more time writing than promoting,” explained Osborn. “For authors who have older titles and want to release them digitally, but don’t care to act as their own cover artist, production assistant, editor, or distributor, Samhain’s Retro Romance line is an ideal solution. We take on the work of scanning print books into digital files, copy editing, formatting into all of the various digital formats, creating beautiful cover art, advertising and promotion – and supply authors with a robust built-in distribution. It’s a win-win.”

The line, which launched Dec. 13, includes the following authors and titles:

  • Sharon DeVita, Heavenly Match
  • Kate Donovan, Game of Hearts
  • Patricia Hagan, Love and War
  • Karen Kay, Lakota Surrender
  • Debra Mullins, Once a Mistress

To learn more about Retro Romance, visit us online at www.samhainpublishing.com/retro-romance.htm.

Now the important stuff for the reader.  The price points of this line is as follows:

  • Plus Novel: $4.99
  • Novel: $3.99
  • Category Length: $2.99

During launch week, the books are 30% off at Samhain.  Interestingly the covers of the Retro categories are virtually indistinguishable from Harlequin. Can you tell the difference?

category covers

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An unhappy reader sent me a link to a blog post by Echelon, a publisher of romances. I think I’ve heard of them but I can’t say I’ve read a book published by them. In any event, the publisher is unhappy that readers aren’t reviewing more and points out that she reviews books that she publishes.  What’s wrong with you lazy readers?  You pay for the book and should review them too.  Echelon is giving away a Kindle Touch once 50 reviews are posted to one random reviewer.

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Romance at Random has a monthly shopping list in text form.  You can check out the one maintained at Dear Author if you like the pretty covers.

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Taken by the Cowboy by Julianne MacLean is All Romance eBooks free book of the day.

Anthea Lawson emailed that her debut self published YA is on sale for $.99 through December 18.

Harlequin’s coupon of the day is E5DOLL11 for $5 off the purchase of one Harlequin eBook. You can check this post for recommendations.