January 15, 2008

I spent a couple of hours with John Scythes at Glad Day Books discussing the possibilities for having The P'Town Murders reprinted. He constantly has to turn down customers who come into the shop looking for the book only to be told it's not currently available. John is all for doing it myself, and he's right in saying I would make more money that way. I think the days when writers were penalized for self-publishing are quickly slipping into obscurity, though this is an issue of self-reprinting, which is an altogether different bird. What I stand to lose in sales by holding out for a publisher, however, I could make up for if that publisher takes on the entire series as long as the distribution is right for the book.

It's been some time since I made the decision to get out of the CanLit ghetto and write books that sell -- but not books I don't want associated with my name. I love the Bradford Fairfax series and have had more fun writing these than most of my other works so far. And with this series I made a conscious decision to write for the US market. For a writer this is not selling out, but a matter of survival. And really, who wants to write books no one will read? The evolution of the book industry over the past 30 years has been towards the Walmart type superstore that stocks up on bestsellers at a low price, though we know a bestseller mentality doesn't make for better books. Nor is it good for the smaller bookshops like Glad Day, who can't command the larger discounts that the bigger stores get. The ones that have survived till now have made it on reputation and sheer street smarts, I suspect, finding ways to get books in that maximize profit for their smaller retail floor space, without tossing out the quality books. The success of on-line distributors like Amazon will reverse the Think Big mentality of the larger chains, by offering literally any and everything that it's in print -- a remedy for the writers -- but once again the smaller bookstores will bear the brunt of the fight for territory as on-line bookstores offer even lower prices. Read globally, but buy locally.

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