Hello! My name is Cheryl Brooks, author of the Cat Star Chronicles series of hot sci-fi romance. My newest release, Hero, has been out for about a month now, and whenever anyone asks me, “How’s it selling?” I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea. Yes, it’s gotten some very good reviews, and the ranking on Amazon has been encouraging, but until you get that royalty statement about a year later, an author truly doesn’t know–unless you’re the sort who badgers your editor to get the Book Scan numbers, and I tend not to do that. Call me a wuss if you will, but I bother my editor as little as possible.
Actually, publishing is such a team effort that there are a lot of things that an author has very little knowledge of, much less control over. I get emails all the time from readers asking me why a book isn’t on Kindle yet or when it will be available on such and such a site, and I have to refer those questions to my editor. Sometimes it takes a while to get a reply, because my editor has to ask someone else. I’d like to think that someone like Nora Roberts has all of this information at her fingertips and has some say in it, but mid-list authors like myself don’t. I have had some input on the covers, which I think is very important. After all, who knows better what a character looks like than the author? My chief input on the cover of Hero, however, was to tell them not to change it. It was perfect just as it was.
Contrary to popular belief, most authors don’t have anyone to answer emails or write blogs for them, either. If you get an email reply from me, or see a blog posted, you can bet the farm that I’m the one who wrote it every word of it. I recently received an email from a reader who was astonished that I answered him (yes, it was a HIM!) so quickly, but then wanted to be sure it was really me responding to his email. Yes, I said, it really is me. Hero may be my sixth book, but I’m not so rich and famous that I have someone to answer my mail! To be honest, I’m not sure I’d share that job even if I was rich and famous, because I love interacting with readers via email and through their blog comments. I’ve made several friends that way, some that I hope to hang onto for a very long time.
Publicity is another aspect that is handled by the publisher. Sure, I can get a press release written (by Sourcebooks publicist, Danielle Jackson and the PR volunteer for my local RWA chapter), but I’m the one who checks them for accuracy. Then, unless I have a specific request, someone else decides where to send them, and also who gets the advance copies of the book to review. I may write every guest blog that appears during the promotional periods, but they are graciously lined up by Danielle. I know a great many authors who don’t have anyone to do that for them, and I’m very grateful that we at Sourcebooks have Danielle working so hard for us.
Distribution is something else that we authors don’t know anything about. My local bookstore had 3 copies of Hero ordered, but another from the same chain in Texas had 8. No clue as to how that is decided, nor do I know how my publisher decides how many copies to print.
Sometimes the whys and wherefores of publishing are a mystery, even to those of us who are right in the middle of it. So, the next time you pick up a book and the tall, dark, and handsome hero is depicted on the cover as a blond, you can bet that the author wasn’t happy about it, either. After all, the only thing the author did was write the book. What happens after that is up to someone else.
Question for the day:
Say you’ve written a book; what is the one thing that you would most like to have control over?