September 27th, 2007

When Jim Huang talks, mystery fans and mystery writers listen

Jim Huang has been in the bookselling business for 20 years. He is well-respected in the mystery community.

So if you are interested in mysteries, or even just publishing, you must read his interesting post about publishing, where he says many publishers are having one-night stands with authors, when the rest of the mystery world prefers stable, long-term relationships.

Here’s part of the column. You’ll just need to click right here to read more:

“There's a level of NY publishing that's both crazy and impervious to change: the top of the market, the relentless and idiotic throwing of big money after "hot" commercial properties that lack pedigree. These are the first novels that get six- (seven-?) figure advances, the high-concept thrillers and suspense novels that publishers try to bully into the marketplace with big marketing campaigns that more often than not are doomed to failure -- in the sense of being a building block in an author's long-term career. This is roll of the dice publishing, designed only to make a splash without regard to what happens next. Because NY publishers are so bad at this kind of stuff, history is littered with failures -- Douglas Kennedy, Jilliane Hoffman, etc. -- many more failures than successes.

(Given the poor quality of THE THIRTEENTH TALE, I'll be really interested to see what happens to Diane Setterfield. A former B&N CRM who spoke at my store recently said that they sold hundreds of thousands of copies of this book, but it's hard to image that many readers will come back for a more on their own; I think she'll only be successful again with massive publicity and massive discounting -- costly tactics that would undermine the economic case for publishing her a second time.)”

[Full disclosures: hey, I liked Douglas Kennedy’s The Big Picture. And hated The Thirteenth Tale by the end, although others seemed to love it. And Jim gave me a very good review in The Drood Review for my first book, Circles of Confusion.]



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At least I'm not...

I had a hard day at work. But as I was driving home, I thought, at least, I'm not:

- the woman cutting across MLK wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a white bra. That's it.

- the woman at the first part of the freeway entrance. She looked soldily middle-class, a purse slung over her shoulder, nice navy blue pants, dressy sandals, white blouse, and a little cardboard sign. In what might be a beginner's mistake, the print was too small to read.

- the woman at the second part of the freeway entrance holding the sign that clearly read "Native American, Homeless, Hungry." At each passing car she made a gesture like she was lifting a fork to her lips. Well, two of the things on that sign are true. But I've seen her before. She hangs out on a picnic bench with a whole bunch of other Native Americans pretty much drinking the afternoon away.



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Maybe I just have a dirty mind

But when I read this in PW: "Jessica Rothenberg at Razorbill has bought Robert Paul Weston's Zorgamazoo, a debut middle-grade novel in rhyme, about a runaway girl and a Zorgle, who set out to find and free all the missing creatures of Zorgamazoo. Agent was Jackie Kaiser at Westwood Creative Artists."

Zorgamazoo? It sounds kind pig-latiny, or like a made up word you'd use around the kids when you wanted to talk about sex.



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