Challenge,  Fun Stuff,  publishing

Paperback Writer…

I Loved the Beatles Song “Paperback Writer”…

When I came into publishing almost fifty years ago, what dominated as far as fiction distribution was the mass market paperback. In 1977 I opened a bookstore called “The Paperback Exchange” and did really well, changing the name to “Twice Sold Tales” after I bought a comic store and the towns only album store and moved them all in together. It was a fun place.

As a writer, all I ever wanted to be was a paperback writer.

And then as the world changed in the early part of this century, trade paperbacks started taking the place of mass market paperbacks and now that mass market form is mostly gone.

As indie publishing gained speed, I came to love the trade paper editions of my books. Just never dawned on me that my books should be in beautiful hardbacks with dust jackets. I was a paperback writer, after all. (Listen to the words of the song and you will understand even more.)

Then a few years back, because mystery readers love hardbacks and my Cold Poker Gang series was selling very well, we put all of them in a stunning set of hardbacks. And I was hooked.

We now also have my Seeders SF series in hardbacks and at some point next year we hope to move Thunder Mountain into hardbacks as well.

What brought all this up was today I got this very heavy box full of copies of the hardback of CASE CARD: A Cold Poker Gang novel, and ACTION: A Cold Poker Gang collection. I am going to actually sign the books for a few backers from the last Cold Poker Gang Kickstarter.

And I get to keep a few for myself of each book and send the rest back up north signed and numbered to WMG offices for use down the road.

At the moment you can’t get paperbacks and hardbacks from our store at but that will be coming soon, we hope.

But you can get Case Card and Action. I think both are great books and Case Card is very, very twisted, even for a Cold Poker Gang novel.


  • Jason M

    We already set up Bookvault on our storefront for DTC sales. It works well, but the problem is the upload fee. Through ALLi, you can get a code that allows 5 free Bookvault uploads per month, so we’ve decided to go that route, since we only have 25 titles right now, and we’ll be doing 3-5 per month going forward. I imagine that WMG is in a significantly stickier situation, given your 1000+ titles!!!

  • Phillip quinn morris

    I saw an interview with McCartney. The Beatles were known for love songs. Paul went by to see his aunt. His aunt said she heard their last song and liked it. She added but is all you ever do is love songs? He left and went to the studio. When he walked in Ringo was sitting at his drums reading a paperback novel. And thus the inspiration for writing something other than a love song. Irony being for some of us it is a love song.
    Thanks for bringing the subject up. Let’s me know I’m not the only one.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, why I still write at that length. Paperbacks (with very few exceptions) did not get past that length until the middle 1980s, For 50 years of the pulps novels were 25,000 to 45,000 words, then for the first thirty years of the paperback era novels were 35,000 to 60,000 words. Only when publishers needed to charge more money to support their New York overhead did the book sizes start going up under contracts with writers.

        • dwsmith

          Started off at 55-60,000 words in 1991, by the end of the decade they wanted 80,000 words. Price on the covers went up by over a third as well.