Friday, April 13, 2007

Launched into the stratosphere

Super Librarian had an interesting blog post yesterday, concerning a book coming out in September. It's called HEARTSICK, by Chelsea Cain, a columnist for the Portland Oregonian, and there are two more books about the same characters to follow. I'm not sure if this is this author's first foray into fiction, or if it's not. Amazon has other books by a Chelsea Cain, but then, Amazon has books by other Margaret Moores, so who knows? The Chelsea Cain website provided gives no clue.

Whether it is this writer's first novel or not, the publisher is pulling out all the stops to promote this book, including a $250,000 advertising campaign, 4,000 advanced reading copies and a 200,000 first print run. It's likely the publisher gave a big advance for these books, so one reason for the big PR push is to be sure they recoup their investment.

This is also how a debut book gets on the New York Times bestseller list. It's not the only way, of course, but it's what I'd call a damn fine launch into that stratosphere. If this book doesn't make the list, I will be gobsmacked.

(Just to compare, for my first Harlequin Historical, there was no advertising campaign -- the only ads were those I, and my fellow HH authors for that month, paid for -- and no ARCs except those I made and mailed myself. The print run remains a mystery, but it was certainly less than 200,000 copies.)

However, the publisher wouldn't be spending all that money if they didn't think HEARTSICK was (a) really, really good and (b) had broad appeal. I think it helps that the author is a newspaper columnist -- already known to some part of the public at least, not just toiling away anonymously in a garret somewhere. Also, this author is going to understand deadlines.

So what's the book about? The plot description on Super Librarian's blog says:

"...Detective Archie Sheridan... can't forget the woman who kidnapped him. For ten days, she tortured him to the brink of death, then mysteriously set him free and turned herself in. Now two years later, he's addicted to pain pills, estranged from his family, and obsessed with her. Gretchen Lowell is behind bars. But she still has all the power. Smart. Sexy. Vicious. She's a beauty. She's a killer. As Archie trails a new case, he needs Gretchen now in more ways than one - to catch a killer and to release his soul. Love hurts, sometimes in torture."

I read the (very little) excerpt on Chelsea Cain's website, and it reminded me of DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER by Jeff Lindsay, about another serial killer. Now, I enjoyed the first Dexter book, but the second was too graphic and the killer's methods so gross, I'm leery of reading the next one. Serial killers really aren't what I like to read about anyway and I can truly do without the mental pictures such books put in my head, so I don't have any plans to read HEARTSICK, either.

Somehow, though, with all that PR and the sales that will likely result, I don't think Chelsea Cain or her publisher are gonna notice, or care.


Maureen McGowan said...

Sounds a bit like Silence of the Lambs in that someone has to rely on a criminal to help them solve a crime...

Sounds creepy, though.

Margaret Moore said...

Didn't he sort of wind up having a twisted kinda thing with Clarice? I never read HANNIBAL or saw the movie, but that was the sense I got. Did she reciprocate?

Christine said...

Interesting. This sounds like something my husband would enjoy reading. I might like it...

Michelle Styles said...

Yes, but they don't always recoup their investment. It is a gamble and in many ways a far bigger gamble than say a first HH. The Publisher's expectations are high. Quite probably too high. The author in queston has to exceed those expectations with EPOS and sell through, or otherwise, her next book won't be promoted as heavily leading to declining sales and EPOS. Print runs are cut. And sometimes, the third book is not published.
It is the sell-through and increasing sales that publishers want to know about.
Publishing histoy is littered with the wrecks of first book flops. There is a maxim about seven books being required to make an overnight success.

I wish the woman well, but history is not on her side if it is her first book.

Margaret Moore said...

Yep, it's a gamble for all concerned, and the author is probably feeling a LOT of pressure to come through, so while a part of me might be thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice?" another part is thinking, "Nah...."