RARA-AVIS: Answering some Hard Case Crime Questions

From: hardcasecrime ( editor@hardcasecrime.com)
Date: 02 Aug 2005

Mark wrote:

> [BRANDED WOMAN is] the second recent
> HCC book I've read, along with Plunder
> of the Sun, dealing with treasure,
> specifically gold the Spanish tried
> to take out of the Americas. Like
> books of that theme, Charles?

Just a coincidence -- BRANDED WOMAN was one of the first books we tried to get the rights for, PLUNDER OF THE SUN one of the last. The fact that we ended up publishing them back-to-back was an accidental consequence of when the contracts got signed. Another interesting coincidence: Wade Miller and David Dodge are now represented by the same agent. (Which may have something to do with why those contracts happened to get signed so close together.)

Incidentally, I agree with you that DEVIL MAY CARE is a very strong Wade Miller title, probably my second favorite. I like BRANDED WOMAN more, but that's just a matter of personal tastes.

> Anyway, I got to wondering about sales
> of HCC books. Charles, if your sales
> figures aren't classified, which HCC
> books are selling better, the reprints
> or the originals? Or do they vary by
> individual title, having no pattern
> based on vintage?

While we don't release our actual sales figures, I can tell you there isn't a pattern based on vintage so much as a pattern based on how likely readers are to have heard about a book or an author. A reprint by Lawrence Block will outsell a new book by a writer no one knows; conversely, a new book that wins an award will generally outsell a reprint by a writer who once had a great following but is now largely (and undeservedly) forgotten. And a book by Stephen King will outsell every other book we've ever published. Obscurity is the great killer of sales: People need a reason to buy a given book, and if they haven't heard of the book or its author, fewer of them will give it a try. Of course, there are other factors -- great cover art, persuasive blurbs, irresistible cover copy. These all play a role. You can't draw a clear line between the reprints and the originals and say "As a rule, these do better than those."

Jeff wrote:

> I would venture to guess that the newer
> ones are selling better, such as the two
> of yours--yours and your partners, no?

LITTLE GIRL LOST and FADE TO BLONDE are not by well-known authors, but both were nominated for awards and FADE TO BLONDE has a great cover (itself nominated for an award). They've done pretty well as a result. But I'd guess that when the smoke clears our reprints by Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake will have outsold them (which is fine with us!).

Mark wrote:

> I very much hope they are selling very
> well overall so you can keep doing what
> you're doing so well.

Thanks. We're not pushing Dan Brown off the bestseller lists, but things seem to be going pretty well. We have the next 11 titles already lined up and are at the tail end of negotiations for another two, so barring unforseen catastrophe we should be around for another year at least...


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