Small Miracles in Publishing: A Book Back from the Dead
A Story for Christmas Day in Bangkok.
In 2000 Heaven Lake Press published my work of fiction titled Chairs. In terms of sales, the book has been a disappointment. Everyone wants the latest Vincent Calvino novel. Vinny isn’t featured in Chairs. Guess what? Many readers passed. They love Vinny. Good for him. Bad for Chairs.
Suddenly in the USA Chairs has become a big seller (relatively speaking of course) on amazon.com
So how can a book that should have sold well in my home audience suddenly take off in the States.
Awareness of an author or book makes a difference. Recently one of my back listed titles “Chairs” had gone into a deep sleep on amazon.com Actually it had been in a coma for some years. If it had been a patient on a life support system, the plug would have been pulled a long time ago.
Then the gods pulled strings in some backroom of amazon.com and it was linked with Christopher Moore’s novel You Suck: A Love Story. In a few weeks Chairs had touched 26,000 in the rankings. It was the same book. But it woke up. Coma boy was alive again.
The single amazon review made it clear that the book was significantly different from You Suck: A Love Story or any of Christopher Moore’s other novels. The fact my name had a middle “G.” signifying a different Christopher Moore didn’t matter.
A different Author and completely different type of novel but these substantial points of departure simply didn’t matter. Suddenly “Chairs” was on the amazon.com radar screen (the ranking has cooled down as book has once again sold out).
What happened was something more like Lourdes than advertising. But there might be a lesson. In the space between the publisher and reader is a high ratio of noise to signal.
The book market is not alone in facing this problem; many other entertainment avenues add to the amount of noise publishers must get through. Advertisement is both noise and a signal locator. The problem for authors, publishers and readers is finding the right frequency where communication is possible and readers can tune in.
Once they find the frequency, you have their attention, and once their eyeballs are focused on what you’ve written, then you have a fighting chance.
There is a footnote. The publisher received the most recent order for Chairs. It was the largest order ever for a single title. Guess what? They couldn’t fill it. Chairs is now sold out in the States. It enters the realm of very expensive books. A number of my novels now out of print sell for over a hundred dollars on various bookseller web pages. I saw a copy of Cut Out sometime ago advertised for 1200 pound Sterling. Go figure.