Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

June 29, 2009

Did You Know …

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 5:55 PM

Did you know that Dan Brown sold only 20,000 copies of his first three books combined including the first Robert Langdon book – Angels & Demons? This according to the US NEWS and World Report’s Collector’s edition – Secrets of the DaVinci Code.

The question that is raised is why any publisher would read the ms for the DaVinci Code. Anyway you decode it, not a sign of a megaselling author appeared to be in the making.

Here’s the story.

Brown lucked out. His editor at Pocket Books, who by now didn’t think highly of Brown’s marketability, jumped ship and went to Doubleday. He told the president that there was an author he should meet.  The President said, “Who’s Dan Brown?”

But Doubleday took a chance and the rest was history.

What’s the lesson here?

Book launches involve little or no testing and therefore might be compared to a baseball batter taking a swing at a curve ball. If he hits the ball one third of the time, he is considered a star. So it is with many trade books on a publishers list. A few home runs pay for many swings that miss.

Publishers try to mitigate this situation by finding well-known authors who have previous successes, or barring that, they use the media as extensively as possible to create buzz and sales. So one reason book publishing is a risky business is because most of the marketing is done after the launch when the investment in books has already been made.

What does that mean for unknown author.

It means to WRITE WRITE WRITE!! Write as many books as you can. Take those swings at the curve ball. Create what is called a ‘backlist’. If one of your novels becomes a best seller on your behalf and gets the attention of a publisher – or pray tell – a movie company – they want to see what else you have written to make money on.

That’s what happened to Brown. After his DaVinci hit, the other three books caught everyone’s attention and he sold gaggles of his early works.

So build that backlist!

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1 Comment »

  1. Great post!

    Comment by macromedia — July 7, 2009 @ 1:36 AM | Reply


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