Friday, October 14, 2011

Soon we'll all be reading the same book over and over

Harry Connolly, author of the awesome Twenty Palaces series of kickass, blood-soaked urban fantasy, posted an announcement today. His publisher, Del Ray, has dropped the series after disappointing sales.

A few months ago Moira J. Moore, whose Hero series is set in one of the most unique and unusual SF/fantasy worlds I've ever read, posted a similar announcement. Her publisher, Ace, has dropped the series.

And earlier this summer, mystery writer Karen E. Olson, who is one hell of a writer and whose books ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to study character and voice, announced that her publisher, Obsidian, declined to extend her Tattoo Shop series contract.

I could probably find several other examples without trying too hard, but these are three authors whose books I love and whose books deserve much more attention. I just don't get it. Ebooks were supposed to save publishing, right? So why are publishers nosediving like this? Why aren't books selling, if everyone's buying Kindles and Nooks? Why the hell am I trying to break into a field where I'll be lucky if I get a few thousand bucks advance per book and will probably see my contract dropped after three or four books?

If you read this, please go out and buy a book this weekend that you might not otherwise have bought: a book by an author who doesn't get tons of advance hype and all the reviews, who doesn't have an HBO series based on his or her books, who maybe only has one or two books on the shelf instead of half a wall. I guarantee you'll discover a great new author.


Diana said...

Harry Connolly's blog post is heartbreaking to read. And yet, he identified the reason his books didn't sell: they didn't hit the right cord with readers. And no, this doesn't mean it wasn't the same story told a different way.

One thing that I have learned over the past few years is that people who prefer literary fiction read books differently than people who prefer reading bestsellers. If you want to write a bestseller, but your tendency is towards literary fiction, then you really need beta readers and editors who prefer bestsellers.

I think I need to write a blog post about this as your comment section isn't the appropriate venue to fully expound on my thoughts about this. :)

K.C. Shaw said...

But Connolly doesn't write literary fiction. Have you read his books? I understand that was just an example you used, but his books fall solidly into the urban fantasy subgenre, and remind me a lot of the Dresden books (only better). I have no earthly idea why they didn't sell better. Shit happens. It has nothing to do with his books not hitting the mark or being 'off' somehow from the rest of the genre.

Diana said...

No. I haven't read any of his books, but I stopped buying fantasy novels three or four years ago, because I was tired of shelling out $8 for a book and being very disappointed. I know quite a few fantasy writers whose style is literary not bestseller. What they read and recommend is more literary in style than bestseller.

I love to read and I read bestsellers. It is extremely frustrating to me to want to read fantasy stories about elves, dragons, faeries and all the rest, and not be able to find a book that doesn't bore me to tears.

The reader's reviews and his comments indicate that his style is more literary than bestseller. Which is interesting because his blog post is compelling to read, one of the hard to define characteristics of bestselling novels. It's something a writer either has or doesn't have, I don't think it can be taught. That tells me that he is capable of writing a bestselling novel. All he needs is beta-readers like me who enjoy reading Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Ken Follet, JK Rowling, and so on and he'll be raking in the dough.

K.C. Shaw said...

I don't know what you mean by literary. It sounds like you prefer more traditional high fantasy than urban fantasy. High fantasy is usually written in a more formal style than urban fantasy, which is maybe why you consider it more literary? I don't know. But I do recommend you read Connolly's books and decide for yourself.