Monday, April 28, 2008

Measuring success

There are several ways to measure the success of a novel - and good reviews and appearances in bestseller lists don't really define the kind of success publishers are looking for. Sure, they're great when they happen, but you still have to shift the bulk of the print run to make any money, and a two-three week splash after release isn't enough to do it.

Because stores can return unsold books (within reason), initial orders for a particular title don't really tell the publisher a whole lot. If they print 5000 copies and ship 3000, there's a good chance 20-50% of them will come back for credit at some stage. (Publishers would prefer that books be non-returnable, but the problem with hard sales is that bookstores then order 1/2 to 1/3 what they'd take IF they could send them back again. And a big pile of copies in-store is a far more effective sales tool than nifty bookmarks or expensive press adverts.)

Back to the point. If a publisher prints X thousand books and sells the lot, then prints another x thousand and sells those too, THAT's success on their terms. In other words, second printing, third printing .. I like to think of it as going back to the goose for more golden eggs ;-)

I don't often post without mentioning Hal, so you can probably see where I'm going with this ... yes, my publisher just informed me that they're ordering a third printing for the first Hal Spacejock book. Now we can talk about Hal Spacejock 5 ;-)

And with every reprint, and every new Hal book, the price of the series to overseas publishers is going up, and up, and up ...

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

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