Talked About This Before…
But yesterday I got this newsletter that comes out monthly focused about 95% on traditional publishing. And let me tell you, folks, from the sounds of things in traditional publishing, everything is just doing great. (Note I said from the sounds of things.) They are using all kinds of hinky percentage increases that are statistically bogus and mean nothing. And, of course, the real reasons the balance sheets are standing strong under observation of public traded corporations are the IP valuations and depreciation of those IP assets.
Book sales are not holding these companies up, let alone the companies vast expenses in New York property, or the warehouses needed to do the old fashioned publishing methods.
But monthly you hear all this about how adult trade is down this month by a few percent (over what and when?) and young adult is up some percent and so on and so on. No actual either shipping numbers of any book like they used to do just twenty years ago, or actual sales numbers. They do mention when a bestseller in nonfiction sells a million copies, but twenty years ago that would have been the low one of the year. Not kidding, sales have dropped that far.
But then as I was reading along, I started noticing how they were continually using the term “backlist” and “front list.” Especially in sentences like “Backlist sales were strong in the fourth quarter.” (Don’t ask over what and how many, heaven forbid.)
And it suddenly dawned on me that even now in 2022, traditional publishing still thinks books spoil. They still treat books like bananas to be put out on the shelves and then pulled in three weeks when they spoil.
All focus is on the launch and to them everything is over after the banana turns black. That is “front list” in traditional publishing terms. (And some indie writers till think that if a book doesn’t sell quickly when launched, it is a failure. Wow is that thinking so 1990.)
Repeat after me… BOOKS DON’T SPOIL.
This is why New York publishers did not understand in the slightest Brandon’s multi-million dollar Kickstarter. They thought those four books would be black bananas after that campaign.
But in reality, Brandon will more than likely double his money on those four books with the actual sales through channels and online and his web site, not counting licensing and other sales.
Backlist is the sales to traditional publishing that happen after the banana turns black. Brandon’s four books will never be black. Those four books will just keep on selling and never spoil.
So if you find yourself thinking in terms of “launch” or your book is a failure because it didn’t sell quickly or make you more than coffee money in a few years, splash some water on your face and just climb out of the 1990s and back into 2022 and repeat “Books don’t spoil.”
And thus your book might become a bestseller in a few years.
I had that happen, actually. With an entire series of books I had been writing, not promoting, just putting them out there and letting them make coffee money for me for years.
And then one day seven years after I wrote the first one in the series, it went to #1 on Amazon and dragged the entire series with it. And four years later it is still selling like crazy.
Lucky for me I understand that in 2022, in the new world of publishing, there is no front list or back list. Just books and books don’t spoil.