Tag archive: hardcovers

Why We Launched William Deverell’s Kill All the Lawyers

This will not be recorded in the annals of publishing history as a pivotal moment, and yet William Deverell’s decision to jump into eBooks indicates a fundamental sea change.  More established authors every day are discovering that the barriers to distribution of their words have crumbled and that publishing houses are not the only way to reach the reading public.

Deverell approached me just after I’d concluded a panel on eBooks at the Bloody Words Mystery Convention back in June.  As the most outspoken member of that panel, I’d upset an editor from Orca Books enough that I’m pretty sure she will never publish my work.  Perhaps that caught Deverell’s attention, because he asked if I’d be able to help him publish one of his backlist novels, Kill All the Lawyers, originally published by Random House.  I was completely gob-smacked to have the guest of honor of the conference approach me for advice, especially since I’m a big fan.

Deverell–a lawyer himself–has won many awards for his novels, including the Dashiell Hammett award for literary excellence and an Arthur Ellis award for best novel.  His most recent work I’ll See You in My Dreams was just published by McClelland and Stewart.

The sea change part is that Deverell–who has done well in traditional publishing–was not only open to eBooks, but excited about the possibilities.  Until that day in June, I had it in my head that only newbies like me and a few outliers like Joe Konrath would really be interested in self-publishing their work, but now I know better, and publishers should pay attention.

Deverell went the traditional publishing route for Dreams because it was far along in development by June, but next year is a whole new era–one in which a Kindle Touch is $79, and the Kindle Fire is $199.

I can imagine families opening their Christmas presents: “See Gran, you can make the text any size you want so that you don’t have to buy large print books.”  Or to a special grandchild who is struggling with reading, “It’ll make reading fun, like video games because it’s electronic.”  Enhanced eBooks certainly will make reading fun, and a lot of young readers will get Kindle Fires for that reason.  A whole new world of possibilities has opened up.

So the big question publishers should ask: when eBook sales start to beat print numbers, will authors like William Deverell continue to accept a paltry royalty on eBooks or will they go it alone?  And here’s the real problem: if publishers lose their great authors and replace them with less well known authors, will that not damage a publisher’s brand?  What if an indie-published Deverell garners more critical acclaim than M&S’s replacement author?

This would totally upend the public perception that only big publishers can assure them good reads.  That’s the real danger.  If indie-pubbed books are by top authors, the public will care less and less about who an author was published by and more about what the customer reviews say.  My advice to the big six: when Deverell comes knocking to sell you his next novel, offer him a fat eBook royalty.  You don’t want him deciding that he’d be better off without you.

Kill All the Lawyers is a hilarious romp with three dimensional characters and a complex plot woven so beautifully that it is effortless to follow.  I’m humbled by Deverell’s writing and aspire to be that good.  That’s why I’m proud to have helped launch Kill All the Lawyers as an eBook.  It shouldn’t be out of print as demanded by the old model of publishing.  It’s still a great read and it’s only $4.99. The best part though is that Deverell is making the full 70% royalty on his novel, and he should.

Full disclosure: Bill insisted on paying me to help put up Kill All the Lawyers, although I offered to do it for free as my part in the e-revolution.

Fogel Defends Hard and Soft Cover Books

Guest Post by Melanie Fogel

Not everyone who reads books keeps them. Those of us who do line our walls with books do so because we love books. We like looking at them; we like holding them. Some of us even enjoy dusting them.

I’ll assume somewhere in the world there are people who like to “show off how smart they are by what’s on their bookshelf,” but that’s not me, nor the people I know. And on behalf of all book lovers, I take exception to your dismissing us like that.

Book lovers are a subclass of readers. I suppose there are book lovers who don’t read, but I’ve yet to meet one. They may not love books for the same reasons I and the people I know do.

There’s something wonderful about sitting in a room surrounded by books. It’s like sitting in a room surrounded by friends and family: no matter where you cast your eye, you see someone with whom you have an emotional bond. And unlike family, you can chuck the ones who made you angry or sad. So there’s only good memories in a room full of books.

Books aren’t just containers for ideas, they’re artifacts to appreciate in their own right: their colours, their textures, their smells. As packages, they beat heart-shaped chocolate boxes hands down. More than that, reading—at least in the age of paper books—is a tactile experience, and just touching a book can recall memories. Opening one is even better.

Unlike electronic books, paper books can hold more than ideas. Signatures, for example. Or bookplates, which are somehow more intriguing when you’ve acquired the book second hand, and you wonder why anyone who took the trouble to paste in a bookplate would later give the book up. Then there’s the miscellany of what else you use for a bookmark: postcards, photographs, shopping receipts, dollar bills. Or bookmarks themselves—be they embossed leather gifts from friends, souvenirs of a book launch, a giveaway from a bookstore no longer in business. All memories at least as rich as photographs, that spring at you unexpectedly when you open a book.

A room lined with books is a room filled with potential that you can “see.”

I have no doubt that today there are children who will become adult readers who’ve never read a paper book. They won’t know what they’re missing, which is probably a good thing for them. But I have to wonder what they’ll fill their rooms with, and if it’ll be anything near as satisfying as a room full of books.