Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A sad day for me . . .

MOTMfromBN One of the saddest days in an author's life is the day her book goes out of print.  For my first book, MURDER ON THE MIND, that day came shockingly fast--ten months after publication.  In retrospect, it shouldn't have come as a surprise.  The book had a lousy cover; it went out too late for Big Four reviews; the price tag of $26 was too high for an unknown author, and though I spent a ton of money and wrote to over 400 libraries begging--er, asking them to buy the book, and that warranted a 100 copy reprint, it wasn't enough. 

C.motm.ww.SM Luckily, that novel found a much happier second life as a book club edition from Harlequin's Worldwide Library imprint.  It was given a nice cover, and Instead of a print run in the hundreds, it had a print run of about 21,000.  Not too shabby, and probably equal to or greater than it would have had as a paperback original. 
After 18 months, the rights reverted back to me and the book is now available as a Kindle download and on audio as a CD and an MP3 download.  There's a possibility it'll be available again as a trade paperback later this year. 

DIRsmall Dead In Red, the second Jeff Resnick book, came out in June 2008 with a dynamite cover, great reviews, and once again a killer price of $26.  Okay, if you're John Grisham, Stephen King, or Patricia Cornwell, people will cough up that kind of money for a hardcover (and there's a good chance the chain bookstores will discount them up to 40%--hey, you ever hear of a loss leader before?), but that doesn't happen with a small press book.

The book did not have a second life as a paperback.  (Harlequin said, "Sorry, we don't like this subplot.")  There are legal reasons why I haven't yet offered it as a Kindle download.  The consequence?  Far fewer people have read this book than the first.

I was told in February that Dead In Red would be going out of print in March.  This was not a surprise, as Baker & Taylor, one of the biggest book distributor's in the country, has not listed it since last August.  (I asked B&T why and they said it was the publisher's fault.  I asked the publisher, and they said it was B&T's fault.)  Last fall I actually BEGGED the publisher to list the book as out of print, because then I could start the countdown until the rights reverted to me.  (We're talking September 2011 at this point.)  In late February, the publisher offered to sell me the remaining copies of the book still littering their warehouse.  I jumped at the chance.

What does this mean for readers?  They can now get a signed copy of the book for substantially less than the publisher (and even Amazon) was selling it.  Who's making it available?  ME!  I've got a paypal link on my web site and am offering the book at three price points:  $14 Media Mail; $16 Priority Mail, and $20 International.  

Do I think I'm going to make money at this?  Hardly.  But I would like to see the book find eager readers, and I'm hoping that the substantially reduced price will help.

The future What's the future of the series?  Despite the fact I have two more books sitting on the shelf, and ideas for at least another two books, there are several reasons not to publish them at this time.  I don't happen to agree with them . . . but wiser folks than me have advised me to sit on them for at least another couple of years.  Patience has never been my strong suit, so I find this extremely difficult to do . . . but, honestly, could I juggle the promotion for three series?  Right now, with my limited resources, the answer is a loud NO!  So, I wait.

In the meantime, would you consider buying/reading Dead in Red?


  1. Why does it take that 18 months to get your rights back after the book goes out of print?

  2. It gives the publisher time to change their mind and do a reprint. Say someone becomes an overnight success (a la J.K. Rowling), owning the rights to an older book could've been quite lucrative. I'd hoped once the Booktown Mysteries started to take off that Dead In Red's publisher might have done some additional marketing for this book. They did not. But--having that 18 months gives them the right to bring out another edition in either trade or hardcover (which they will not) should they choose to do so.

    Since I wrote this post, I've been advised that even though they no longer have ANY copies of the book, they might not "officially" list the book as out of print for several months. *Sigh*

  3. Murder on the Mind is one of the best books I've ever read, and I loved Dead in Red, too. I keep hoping that this series will take off, because I want to read much, much more of Jeffrey Resnick, et al.

  4. Well, I don't think that is fair of the publisher.

    Now that you have these books, do you keep all the profit? As soon as I populate my paypal, I'll order the book.

  5. Profit? Profit? I'll get back the money I paid for the books (ouch! 79 at one time is a chunk of change) and a few bucks. But I have to pay for the shipping envelopes, labels, etc., and each copy means a trip to the P.O.

    I'm more intersted in finding new readers for the book. And thanks so much for saying you'd buy a copy!

  6. I didn't realize that you had to buy back the books as opposed to the publisher giving you the books, or at least at a discount.

    If you would not have bought the books, what would they have done with the book supply?

  7. Yup, small publishers do this, the larger ones don't offer to sell them to you. (The small publishers try to make back as much of their investment as possible.) If I hadn't bought the books, they would have been pulped. I couldn't bear for that to happen.