Jun 16, 2010

Latest Crimespree Editorial

I've gotten some wonderful feedback on my latest editorial for Crimespree so I thought I would share it here since people seem to like.

A day or two before writing this I got the news that Peter  O’Donnell has passed away. As the creator of Modesty Blaise he created a wonderful series with a female spy that was great entertainment, it was taken to the big screen and TV, there were comic books and comic strips and he was hugely popular. He was also an influence on a lot of authors. The man could not only write but inspire. He will be missed.

This news makes me think about how different the publishing world is compared to when O’Donnell first started Modesty Blaise back in 1963. He was asked to take his comic strip and write a screenplay, and then books based on the character. That’s a tie in book going back 47 years. There are still lots of tie in books published, such as the Monk books by the one and only Lee Goldberg.

So while many things in published seem unchanged there are a lot of things that are radically different.

Authors are expected to be all over the internet, using twitter and facebook and blogs to help sell books. But no one tells them how. So we get a lot of people who do nothing but try to sell on these social networks, which to me is the opposite of enticing for a book buyer. It’s a fine line between connecting with fans and becoming an overbearing salesperson.

Another big change is the e-book. No one knows for sure how it will play out, but it’s already obvious they are here to stay. But until e-readers become more affordable and the technology levels off it will still be a little while before they really truly explode. Numbers reflecting e-book sales are growing exponentially, but they are still a long way from overtaking hardcopy. And it seems like everybody with a keyboard is offering e-books, it’s the new self-publishing platform and I’ll tell you right now, e-book buyers beware. Buy books by reputable authors and publishers or there is no telling what kind of dreck you may end up trying to read. I will be getting an e-reader, but not till the prices drop and I can share books with friends.

Another change in the last decade or more is the amount of time an author is given to find a readership. Publishers seem to want an immediate hit novel. If you aren’t tracking huge numbers by book three, adios pal. But the publishers seem to be doing less for their authors. Less touring, less advertising, very little promotion at all. If an author doesn’t spend half a year pimping their work they might not have another book out.

The world of publishing is not what it was 20 years ago. Which is good and bad. Things need to keep evolving, but they also need to keep doing the things that work.

The best tool for selling books and getting people to buy books is still word of mouth.

So what can we as readers do?

If you love a book or an author tell people. Ask for them at your library, request them where you shop. Tell your friends.

As readers we are part of the overall process, we are the final stop on the publishing journey for books. We buy and read the books. We directly have bearing on the numbers. So if there is an author you love, buy the books and tell friends. The more copies they sell, the better the chance of there being more books from said author.

And to improve the chances buy the books from an independent store. They support new authors better than anyone selling books. They care about what you read. Ask for recommendations. They want to sell you books, but they want to sell you good books. The chains and websites just want to sell and they don’t care what they sell.

Let’s show support to the folks who keep us happy readers.