Notes from New York

New YorkI’m writing this from my hotel room in New York – a city where I once spent six months as a twenty-something about to embark on a career as an investment banker.

Although I’ve been back occasionally since then, I haven’t been for years, so it’s thrilling to be here again now – and in spring, in beautiful weather, the trees coming into leaf in Central Park, and cherry-trees love-bombing me with blossom when I sit beneath them. And that’s not even to speak of the more urban delights. The unique joys of the city at street level; the idiosyncratic delights that meet your eye when you look up.

I’m here to see my publishers: Bantam Dell who are publishing my Talking to the Dead this coming September. (You can see their draft cover & blurb for it here.) It’s always a delight to meet publishers who are both immaculately professional – who, you feel, really know what they have to do to sell something – but who also seem, genuinely, to love your book. And not just love it, but get it. See it, more or less, the same way as you do. And I think I have all that with Bantam. If so, I’m very lucky.

It’s eye-opening being here, however. For a British author or reader, it’s like stepping about eighteen months into the future. While Orion (my British publisher) will certainly be keen to sell plenty of e-books, most of their attention will still be with the hardback / paperback cycle, the way it’s always been. Bantam, however, reckon that more than 70% of their sales will be electronic ones. Although the ratio varies from genre to genre, for crime fiction such as mine, the main sales channel is overwhelmingly electronic.

That makes a huge difference to the way books are marketed. In the US today, you just can’t afford, as a newbie author, not to be active on Twitter, Goodreads &c. It would be like, in the UK, suggesting it didn’t matter whether your publisher did or didn’t compete actively for promotional space for your books in retailers. Of course it matters! How could it not?

Needless to say, what’s true here will soon be true in Britain. For my money, British publishers haven’t yet reoriented their marketing departments to deal with the changes … but then again, there’s no use trying to outrun the wave: what you have to do is keep pace with it. And right now – this year, last year, next year and maybe the year after that – the British publishing world is changing faster than it has done for 500 years. And my books are about to ride out into that storm.

Yikes! And what fun!

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  • Skylark

    Cover and blurb look great! Good luck, Harry. All a bit scary looking at the electronic side of things – I’m not a technophobe but I would definitely need help to get started on the social media promotion stuff. Not a clue where to start there. But then, by the time I get published it will probably be the norm and there will be plenty of ‘experts’ to turn to 🙂

  • Bren

    All sounds exciting Harry. I heard this week on Amazon that Publishers are starting to realise that electronic is the way forward. Most of the downloads for my children’s book were in America.
    I have a weakness for cherry blossom laden days – and in New York too – bliss – was sitting next to you.