Inquiring minds want to know. This is on a related note, more or less.
I've seen some of the chatter on this board back and forth about Janny's adventures in getting TK published, as well as ongoing negoiations/announcements about future contracts for future installments of the series. I guess my question is what is the scoop on why TK is not being picked up universally by all major book chains in the U.S. as the other volumes were. (I was working in a B&N back in . . . 1994? when Curse first came out, and I distinctly remember the huge (and very enjoyable) SoM coming out in about 1995.) Is it a result of going with a small publisher like MM? Is there some collusive, shadowy conspiracy (kind of like the Necromancers) out there laughing maniacally and plotting the downfall of the independent author or publisher?
I went to my local Borders in Auburn Hills, Mich. last Friday to buy a copy of Curse of the Mistwraith for a friend, because I wanted her to hopefully enjoy the book as I had. Much to my surprise, there were no copies of the book on the shelf. This from a store that usually stocks 1-3 copies of each book in a series by a successful author like Janny. Moreover, there were no copies of Ships, Warhost, or GC. There was 1 copy of FP and 1 copy of GC, both mass market. I was in a hurry, so I did not ask anyone at the store whether this lack of inventory was by design, but from my experience, unless there has been an unexpected run on back issues of the series, I suspect the store has set its inventory for the mass markets at zero. What gives?
Andy - Curse of the Mistwraith is currently out of print in the US (but not in the UK). The other missing titles, I'm not sure, at this stage. I haven't received a response to my queries.
There is no conspiracy - simply stuff. Harper Collins underwent a merger with Avon - in the subsequent firing of all of HC's editorial dept, but for one, who was on maternity leave, both Ships and Warhost went out of stock. No one noticed. By the time I realized, the new staff had to be incited to act - and by the time all that happened, eight months had passed by. The "auto reorder" by chains goes by computer sales - and eight months out of stock/no sales caused the titles to "fall off" the auto reorder list.
To get back on, readers would have to go to shops, ask to have the book special ordered, buy it - in enough quantities nationwide, to re-trigger the internal numbers.
Just about the time this would have happened - Ace merged with Roc, and reordered personnel, and Curse of the Mistwraith, a ten year backlisted title, fell OP - and changes in policy dictated no reprint from above the wishes of the SF/Fantasy editorial department.
Just stuff - corporate shifts, during times when titles need steady numbers to withstand the shocks of change.
Meisha Merlin IS Stephe Pagel, who WAS the B&N national buyer for SF/Fantasy during the heydey you remember. He knows his titles. He'd have seen the out of stock signal and manually changed the auto reorder tag....but this took hours of his weekend time, to stay current with the field, and few of today's employees Have that time to spend.
Stephe's company is an independent publisher. It is extremely arduous for a company of this size to grow the step into national distribution - he is doing it. He does not have the clout of a major corporation - nor the depth of pocket to print 1/3 more numbers of books to "saturate" the shelves...therefore, it takes time for the established bookshop protocol to take notice. It will take unparalleled reader support. I feel my series has it - but the "expectation" that all will be as it was with HarperCollins or Roc needs to be shaken out.
The advantage: you'll have the books, in quality packaging, out in timely manner (last time notwithstanding, a lot has been ironed out since then) and handled and kept in print by a company that knows what it has and will keep it available.
The people who made Curse of the Mistwraith and Ships of Merior so easily available in 1995 are all gone. I found no new blood to replace them. Readers unilaterally are not buying books in the numbers they used to for a whole lot of reasons. Corporate publishing expects a whole lot more profit per title than they used to - for a whole lot of reasons.
Not necessarily bad reasons -- just stuff.
I believe in the intergrity of the story I am writing and am doing the best that I can to deliver it to readers in the best way I can find. The system is going through a "phase" which makes it hard to hold the profile of what is considered "commercial" upon ground that is constantly changing.
What gives? Hard numbers. Reader demand strong enough to overwrite the "system"
Curse of the Mistwraith will eventually be reissued in the USA. I do not have a date, yet. The current performance of Hell's Chasm's trade paperback will have to carry the "system" here, meantime. Reader demand for Traitor's Knot NOW will determine the future for Stormed Fortress's availability. Computer numbers mean TODAY's picture is the one examined - ten years ago is off the edge of the scale. Two years ago is off the edge...invisible.
I've said it before: buy what you love. Tell friends and support by word of mouth. Or what you love may just not be there when you mosey in to check...computer numbers gives this industry instant feedback - and instant is what is used to determine what will be on the shelf NOW. A book may be in print, but a store will not shelve it unless they move copies. And if they don't shelve it, they won't know they aren't moving copies if readers do not special order those copies that are listed, but not there for impulse buy.
Curse of the Mistwraith is in reprint in the UK and can be had from Amazon.co.uk. Eventually it will be out in the USA - meantime, it can be found used. Starting a new reader in this series now - takes a bit more effort, but is critically helpful in keeping this series moving during this shift.
The fact Ace's seniormost editor was "forbidden" to reprint Curse of the Mistwraith last year by a newly formed "reprint committee" higher up is a shock I am still surmounting....it's caused a lag that was not in any way anticipated - but will be ironed out, longterm.
I place my care and belief in the fact that a quality story will hold its own, no matter the setbacks and fluctuations. Admittedly, yes, the times have been easier - but - Traitor's Knot is out there, To Ride Hell's Chasm's trade paperback is in the shops NOW in the USA - that's significant, and a victory - at this moment, opportunity is open to who knows how many inquiring minds? It's a chance to override the system, every minute of every day.
I DO believe that the cream rises. I place my effort in quality and integrity - keeping the same values in EVERY book I write, regardless of what other pressures come to bear. Trends and cycles notwithstanding - I place the strength of my own trust there.
It's a highly competitive industry - and there is the fact. It's the numbers you do today, and that question is one that is moving ever more rapidly into the instant.
If you want the "historical" take on how the industry evolved the way it has - look into that downloadable interview I did with the Curious Mind radio show with Jana Oliver.
Just so you know (and anyone else whose interested) I work at Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney. We specialize in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genre books ONLY.
Naturally as a huge fan of Janny's I make sure we have EVERY book of hers that's in print!
We have a website and do international mail order also (as some members on the forum can atest to) so if you're looking for anything you can't find check us out at www.galaxybooks.com.au
P.S. While our web catalogue is extensive if you can't find what you're looking for you can email me your enquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org
As usual, you've outdone yourself in your response. Thanks for taking the time to put together a fairly extensive response. It is this kind of devotion and dedication, not to mention a great piece of writing, that keeps your readers so well-fed and cared for. I'm going to redouble my efforts to spread the word to friends about this awesome series. Thanks again.
Mark - thanks so very much for providing this information.
Andy - you're welcome, and thanks for your caring.