Monday, June 7, 2010

This Character Needs The Kiss of Life

My first book was published almost five years ago.  It took eleven years for Murder on the Mind to make that journey and arrived with no fanfare at all.  It had gone out too late to get a BIG FOUR review, and despite all my efforts to market it to the library market, sold only 632 copies. (So if you have a hardcover edition of the book--it's just about as rare as it can get.)

I sold the paperback rights to Harlequin's Worldwide Mystery Library, which is their mystery book club.  They did a fine job of repackaging the book, gave it a nice cover, and sold over 21,000 copies of the book.  Very fine indeed!  I've since sold the audio rights and in a year have collected $15 in royalties.  (You read that right, $15.)

DIRsmall Dead in Red, the second Jeff Resnick book, came out in June 2008.  This time, my publisher did right by me with a dynamite cover, and I got a Booklist and Library Journal "review" (or at least a mention).  The print run was better (I guess, they never tell you), and more libraries bought it.  Sadly, the $26 price tag frightened away a lot of readers.  Harlequin didn't like one of the subplots and declined to buy the book for their book club.  So I'm GUESSING the book had a print run of about 1200-1500.  It's now gone out of print, although I have about 100 copies and I'm selling them for considerably less than the publisher did and they're available on my website.

I see the failure of the series at that point as distribution.  My (hardcover) publisher only marketed to the libraries.  And coming out with a book every three years is not the way to build an audience.  I needed a much bigger market.

Although the third (and fourth) books in the series were complete, I held off, hoping that Lorna's good fortune would rub off and I would be able to sell the rest of the series to a bigger publisher.  That didn't happen, either.  Again, it all has to do with distribution.

With nowhere left to go, I had little choice but to follow in the footsteps of Joe Konrath (author of the Jack Daniels mysteries) and Lee Goldberg (who writes the Monk tie-in books).  While Konrath has taken is unpublished books and is making a fortune on Kindle, Goldberg took his considerable backlist of out of print titles and did the same.  They're both making a comfortable living. My motives aren't quite so commercial.  I want people to read my Jeff books, and it looked like self-publishing Cheated By Death was the only way it was going to happen.  At this point, I've decided NOT to offer the book in a "hard copy" version (trade paperback) because A) it would be almost as expensive as a hardback on a per-copy basis, and B) Darnit--I'm still hoping to sell the print rights to a larger company.  That would only happen if the e versions are a success.

So, if you're a Jeff Resnick fan (and even if you aren't, I hope you'll give him's adventures a try), you can buy the book on Kindle through the month of June at $1.99It's also available on Smashwords.

YOU DON'T NEED A KINDLE OR ANY SPECIAL E READER TO READ THIS BOOK.  You can download it right to your computer and read it there, or print it out.

Won't you give Jeff Resnick a second chance at (a literary) life?
In this third of a series, Jeff Resnick faces a new dilemma: someone is stalking his sister-in-law, Brenda, who fears that violence from pro-life supporters will escalate near the women’s clinic where she works.  Or could the vandalism, threatening phone calls, and letters against her have come from her abusive ex-husband?  Meanwhile, Jeff grapples with meeting his
estranged father and the sister he never knew existed.