Friday, 27 February 2009

Not an easy blog to write…

There’s a lot of things I would like to discuss rather than this but I thought I’d better write what I have to say here for the simple reason I want advice from you, readers. The basic fact is that it has been obvious for some time that the Lamb Among the Stars trilogy has not been selling at all well. You don’t have to be a genius to read the Amazon sales figures, and although the reviews are splendid (thank you all very much), when your book drops down to around 300,000th place on the charts you know that things aren’t good. You also know it when you don’t hear from your publisher from months on end.

Anyway about ten days ago I e-mailed my editor asking basically what was going on and whether they were thinking up any innovative solutions to the sales situation. I will simply say it took a week to get an answer and only then by dint of contacting the author liaison person. (I now know what leprosy feels like.) The answer was not at all encouraging. Hardback sales are bad, science fiction and fantasy worse. Any plans to do the series in paperback (‘softcover’ Americans call it) have been scrapped. In other words, frankly it’s the end of the line.

I feel pretty unhappy about this. The books had a ropey start with a teen fiction imprint of the publishers that soon went belly up. It didn’t do anything for sales and simply gave them that damning descriptive label ‘youth fiction’. (I know I should have refused the offer when they said ‘it’s our new youth fiction imprint’, but I was anxious to be published). I’m grateful that, when the the youth fiction venture folded, the books were remarketed for adults, but I think by then the damage was done. Significantly, the books have never been reviewed by any formal reviewer and certainly never made it into the substantial fantasy world. Enough said.

Anyway, dear friends, readers and supporters, what do I do? The present trajectory is plain. The books are no longer in shops and presumably I may expect ever diminishing sales until at some point I get some pathetic letter that says that they will no longer be held in the inventory. (I wanted to get some of the extra copies from the States, but the postage is astronomical because US mail services have stopped shipping by sea.) And that is that.

My problem is not, I think, simply personal pride, let alone greed, but irritation and frustration. Some books deserve to fail. I do not think from the reviews that these do. I know there are many people out there who would love to read them but do not even know that they exist. So what do I do about it? Several possibilities are kicking around in my mind but I have no clarity on any of them. Do I try and get the rights back and find someone else who will publish these books? (I could tidy them up into a cheap single-volume massive paperback.) Do I try and get them electronically published? Volume 1 free as an iPhone book?) Do I scream and shout to other contacts in the publishing company that these books have never ever had a chance? Or do I do shrug my shoulders and ‘say so be it’ and let the series die. I do have to say that I am very negative now about Christian publishing and fiction. (And please don’t talk to me about Left Behind, The Shack and This Present Darkness, etc: such books sold in large numbers not because they were stories but because they were believed to be revelations into spiritual reality.)

I really don’t know what to do. I would be grateful for your prayers: you can probably imagine my frustration and dismay. You can always e-mail me with contacts and bright ideas, if you have any.

With every blessing