Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Survey Says III

By Joe Moore

In Survey Says I, I summarized a member's survey taken by Novelist, Inc. on how many writers with bestsellers and multiple books published could make a living writing. The answer was, not many. In Survey Says II, I covered some of the highlights of a Zogby International/Random House poll on how and where readers shop. With that one we found out among other things that word-of-mouth is the best advertising and cover art really does count as one of the first reasons table browsers pick up a book (or don't).

survey1 In this third installment, I want to discuss the recent Sisters In Crime Publishers Summit that took place in NYC. It was conducted by four SinC members as they spent a week this past May touring the offices of agents, publishers, book buyers, and other publishing professionals asking them to give their impression on the state of the industry.

The entire 4-part post can be read by clicking here.

Although there was a mountain of fantastic insight and wisdom in the article, I will hit the high points that impressed me the most.

HarperCollins. The team heard that paranormal including urban fantasy was selling well. Thrillers are HOT, HOT, HOT. Books are selling better in the big chains than the indies. Mysteries are slipping. Cozies are sliding, too.

Writers House Literary Agency. Franchise writers like Patterson, Clancy, Cussler, are what everyone is looking for because they turn out more books per year. Blurbs are REALLY important. Great covers are a must. The sagging economy is contributing to the demise of the midlist.

Penquin. Thrillers are HOT. Readers like series. Fast writers who produce multiple books per year are what many publishers are looking for. Collaboration with your publisher and publicist is the key to expanding your market and creating your niche.

Soho Press. For them, mysteries are big and growing. They love authors who take an active role in promotion.

Barnes & Noble (corporate). Paranormal is huge right now. They are committed to series. Packaging is crucial. It’s all about the cover art. Times are tough for hardcovers. Trade paperbacks are doing well.

Mira Books. Mystery print runs are smaller than suspense/thriller. They’re having great success with big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart.

Folio Literary Management. Covers are king. They recommend using social networks such as Facebook and MySpace to connect with new readers.

I found the SinC Publishers Summit to be encouraging if for no other reason than I write thrillers and they seem to be selling well right now. But the publishing industry, just like the tide, is constantly changing. What’s hot today could be chilly next year. But the basics never change: write the best book you can as fast as you can, work with your publisher to help brand yourself, realize you need a killer cover that tells a potential reader exactly what kind of book yours is in a millisecond, go out and get blurbs from the biggest names in your genre, and take an active role in helping to sell your product.


Jess Lourey said...

Thanks for this summary! It's fascinating and something I wouldn't have had time to read without your fabulous executive summary. :)

Mark Combes said...

Joe, I have to agree with your conclusion. We, the creators of the product, are working so far out on our projects that to try to time what is hot or what will be hot when the book comes out is pointless. Write what you want to write and write it well. It's all we can do.

Deb Baker said...

I followed the posts, too, and found them very informative. The thing that really struck me was how fast publishers want their authors to turn out books. I've been writing two every year and that's a stretch. More than that? Or keeping up that pace? I don't know.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

What struck me funny about these findings, both now and when I read them in the original posts, is that publishers often have conflicting views on what is currently hot and what is not. Although no one disputes that clever and eye-catching covers are king.

I agree totally with Mark. Write what you want and write it well. If it's not "in" right now, it just might be when you're done.