Mark Terry

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mandatory Reading For All Aspiring Novelists

September 16, 2008
My friend Tobias Buckell has a long post today on why it's hard to find his books at Borders stores. I think everybody who wants to get into this business should read this ... like, NOW.

"This is a brutal business I chose, a mixing of creativity, art, business, and luck. Back when the first book came out, I remember sitting with another author at a party and trading what our pen names would be if the order-to-net death spiral killed our first book series. We were hopeful, but realistic.

So I’m still in the mix, and quite happy.

But would I like to be doing better? Oh yes sir, of course. I wouldn’t mind moving from 60% fiction income to 100%. Who wouldn’t?"
*  *  *

And it wouldn't be outrageous for me to suggest that I was a victim of "the order-to-net death spiral," although I've called it "the three-book death spiral." I mean, really, you've got to know it's real if the names for it are known to everybody in the business.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

3 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

Even I don't get around to ordering stuff that's not in Borders. I mean to, I just don't. Maybe once a year.

I did order The Serpent's Kiss from Amazon, because I knew if I took it off the shelf at Borders, they wouldn't restock. I do that with other authors I'm "rooting" for, too. I haven't quite worked out whether that's good or bad. If you order at Borders, they get a sale, but they don't get new readers. If you don't order at Borders, they don't get a sale from you, and not as quickly, but they will from someone else who might not seek the author online but will buy because you're still on the shelf.

I'm not quite sure what's best.

And I disagree with Tobias's "support" thing. I understand and agree with where it's coming from, but the simple fact is if you don't get an author, a series, a band, whatever, selling quickly, companies yank them, nowadays.

I'm tired of having my TV series yanked. I'm tired of having my favorite authors "discontinued," seeing their books disappear from the shelves. I'm tired of falling in love with a music album and never getting a second one.

The big business hardly gives me a chance, anymore. Just as a consumer, I'm extremely frustrated. My dollar is my only vote, and they don't even seem to care that much about that, even.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Spy,
I think it's why we're increasingly seeing out entertaining splintered. It probably started with the music industry and MP3/iPods etc are the final nail, and ultimately that may be for the best for the consumer. Then cable TV and movies, slowly, as we have other options for viewing--cable, Internet, digital players & downloads. I suspect books are next. I love handling a book, but even a bibliomaniac like myself can look at my overflowing bookshelves and think that a digital collection of e-books on a reader of some sort might be a good idea.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Zoe Winters said...

hahaha. The thing though is...chain bookstore stocking isn't going to make or break you anymore. Obviously to scale certain mountains in publishing you're going to want crazy ass wide distribution, but...when one is on the midlist...considering all the market share amazon.com has, I find chains largely irrelevant.

If people go into a store and request a book over and over and the store doesn't stock the book, then that store is going to suffer. I think it's only a matter of time before Borders dies, because they are horribly mismanaged.

5:33 AM  

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