Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Somewhere In the Middle

Publishing can be a tough market these days. Most authors are comfortable somewhere in the middle of the pack. The top tier authors (not necessarily the BEST authors) are the ones with the most sales. The James Pattersons of the world. They sell oodles of copies in hardcover and paperback, they rake in the big bucks for the publishing companies, and so they also get the most publicity - multi-city author tours, full page ads in NYT...

New authors - the ones who don't get the six-figure deals right off the bat - and midlist authors - the ones with somewhat consistent sales that don't really excite their respective publishing companies but earn enough to continue to be in print - have it kind of hard these days.

So many different books are coming out, not a bad thing in my opinion cause there are so many different kinds of readers, but there's an overwhelming amount to choose from and really there's no one to help you unless you can find one of those amazing little indy stores that are still hanging on in spite of the big boxes. This is why I encourage people to browse around, on their own, and pick something out.

This post, and yesterday's, were inspired by the author's acknowledgement page in Saralee Rosenberg's Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead (due out Tuesday, July 22). Rosenberg thanks her readers in this book. She thanks to ones who have stuck by her, the ones who have e-mailed her to let her know how much they enjoyed her books, and the readers who through word of mouth introduce new readers to her books.

I came across Rosenberg's book through PW and harpercollins.com. I thought the premise sounded great - I hate my neighbor so I could definitely relate. The story is one that is common throughout suburban America - just because you share a fence doesn't mean you like each other! Mindy Sherman is envious of her neighbor, Beth, and her seemingly easy life. Beth has it all, a great figure, plenty of money to play around with, and what Mindy believes is an effortless existence filled with days of mani/pedis and criticizing lesser neighbors like herself. In a way, she's right. But Mindy is about to find out just how wrong she is about Beth's life. In fact, Mindy and Beth are about to find out that in spite of everything, that shared fence may be the best thing that has ever happened to them.

It's a super funny read that's also heartwarming and charming. A great pick-me-up book about fate and how things work out in life. A great book that you probably would miss when you walked into the store. The title is snappy, the cover is a little eye-catching with it's green grass and two pink flowers. You've probably never heard of Saralee, though, so unless the book is on one of those coveted front tables, how are you going to find it? This is the dilemma of the American author today. This is why making it past that bestseller wall is so important. I mean let's face it, just because a book makes it to the NYT list, or the BN list does not mean that it's a good, or even decent, book. Sure, some are. Unfortunately, lots of deserving books never make it to that wall.

So, to avoid my soapbox today, I will end on this note: you know that book by that author you've never heard of that you went out and bought yesterday? When you finish reading that book, check out that author's website. E-mail that author (if you liked the book) and tell them how much you enjoyed their book. Tell them that it kept you up all night and that you're going out to buy the rest of their books as soon as that next paycheck hits. You'd be surprised how few of these e-mails that person probably gets (no, not Patterson, I'm sure he has an assistant whose sole job is to sift through e-mails). You'd be surprised how sweet and gracious most authors are. Most of them are so far removed from their customers, they welcome the feedback. They like to know that someone has discovered them.


Cheryl said...

I like the title for this book.

saralee rosenberg said...

Thank you Becky for your thoughtful, dead-on post about the plight of the mid-life author. We do feel like renters, living with the old woman who lived in a shoe. Too many authors, didn't know what to do. BUT, bloggers like you give us hope. Thanks so much for the Valentine in July. Sweet!!!!