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.
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.
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.
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?