… answer: our very own Nigel Edwards.
I’m proud that readers from continental Europe are buying (and hopefully enjoying) our English language eBooks. I don’t often check our sales figures, though, as the volumes are so low. But the low volumes can throw up unexpected and amusing results. Right now, for example, in the German short story charts, our book, Waif, is at number 6, behind Nick Hornby and Mark Twain, but above Maeve Binchy, Anais Nin and Stephen King.
Waif isn’t the only book of ours to chart on the continent, but it is the most consistent. Perhaps the title and artwork cross national boundaries well?
Even within English-speaking countries, Waif isn’t consistent. Looking at the Amazon customer reviews, it seems more popular in America than the UK, despite being written by a Brit (though certainly not an Englishman — Nigel’s Welsh).
Looking further afield than our own books, I find 50 Shades of Grey interesting. If you don’t know it, this is a book that’s come from nowhere to be wildly successful — especially as a Kindle book — on both sides of the Atlantic. If you haven’t come across it, it’s often referred to in the press as ‘mummy porn’ — and, no, I suggest you don’t put that term into Google to see what that means. Across continental Europe, it’s been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, and French, and sold in the native Kindle Stores. It’s a big yawn with no reaction from anywhere except for Spain, where for some reason it’s the bestselling Kindle book of all. Perhaps it’s an antidote to the rioting and bank crises? If so, then it’s not exactly getting a ringing endorsement from readers; just look at the reviews on Amazon…
Congratulations, Nigel and Greyhart, for the e-proximity to best-selling authors, Binchy and Hornby! I think there’s far more to those kinds of coincidences–or coincidings, as I prefer to call them–than the rational world would have us believe. Big houses, IMHO, have lost their touch, hence, the universal scorn for 50 Shades (I’m hearing the same pooh-poohs in Canada). So, Tim and authors of Greyhart, let’s just keep proving ourselves with every book, sale and mind-blowing review.
I agree, Elaine, we need to keep working on the fiction we believe in with passion, and hope that comes across to our readers. It is easy to spend time getting distracted thinking about who would or would not like a particular kind of writing. I know, I do 🙂
To follow up on Elaine’s comment above (as a Greyhart writer), I really do hope that small presses like Greyhart (and I noticed a few others from the UK, USA and Canada) really do get a bigger slice of the pie in the future. They provide writers with greater creative freedom and allow writers a bigger share in rewards.
For example, before I started shopping VampCon to small presses, I ran it by several agencies. (If you want to know exactly, it was 92 literary agencies over the course of 8 months). Of those 92, 9 agents asked to read the entire manuscript. A couple never got back to me. The ones that did all praised the writing but told me that it wasn’t quite write for them. Finally, the last agent to look at it (the wonderfully candid and friendly Becca Stump at Prospect Agency in Brooklyn) actually gave me a few details. She told me that the story had “excellent sense of pacing and voice” (yay!) but that “unfortunately many publishers are resistant to accepting new vampire series these days.” I totally get it. The big presses, the ones who work only with agents, need to hedge their bets. From their point of view, the vampire market is over-saturated.
But I have my own opinion of vampire stories which is that people never get tired of vampires. It’s like Monday Night Football (or Premier League Football for those of you in the UK). Vampire stories are an institution; they seem to do well year in and year out. Every few months, new vampire books and movies come out. Presses like Greyhart gave me another chance, one less controlled by big businesses needing to make big profits (although I do want to take every opportunity to turn a tidy profit on VampCon). A chance I might have not had a few years ago, before the advent of eBooks.
Just as important, with lean overhead (and not having to negotiate with layers of middle men and distributors), small presses can keep their prices low. A number of authors whom I know, admire and respect dislike Amazon because part of Amazon’s agenda is to keep eBook prices low, but as a writer myself and a avid reader and fan of many fiction writers, I like the idea of keeping book prices down. Big presses have so much overhead that they can’t keep prices low (or maybe they can, but they don’t want to admit it; remember that big businesses are very adept at legally hiding their profits (the Forrest Gump lawsuit- when a major Hollywood studio declared that one of the biggest box office hits of all time had made no profit- comes to mind)). A great example is Charlie Huston’s “Joe Pitt” vampire series. I’m a big fan of the series, but I get them from my library. Why? A quick visit to Amazon shows the paperback editions of this series at around $11 US and the Kindle edition at $12 US. Why in God’s name is the digital edition which requires no printing, no shipping, no shelf space cost even more than the print edition? The answer is that, for the biggest print houses things like printing, shipping and shelf space are very, very cheap. (But I’m certainly not an expert, so please correct me if I’m wrong) Their expenses lie in marketing departments and accounting departments and editorial departments and lawyers and who knows what else. (offices in New York?) As we know, only around 15% of the sale goes to Charlie Huston. On the other hand, I recently picked up the Greyhart novel Terminus for $3 US, something that was easy to do and, guess what, Mr. Melhuish actually gets about as much money from the $3 sale as Mr. Huston would get from a $10 sale. (Not to say that I never buy books from big publishers. I am a big believer in supporting the arts and writers and local bookstores, and I try to buy a few new “big publisher”-full priced paperbacks every year, but I do live on a budget, so I only buy about 6 per year + whatever I get as Christmas presents,)
Anyway, thanks for reading through this rather lengthy post which- I guess- is just a long way of saying that I’m excited about the small, independent press model.
Definitely, what Mr. Inezian says 🙂