Putting The Houses In Order

Reading & Writing

I’d like to apologise to readers in America for the long wait for the most recent Bryant & May novel ‘The Invisible Code’, but this is beyond my control. After the date was put back it became clear something was afoot, and now it has emerged that Penguin and Random House are currently in merger talks to form one huge powerhouse publisher.

A merger would bring together two of the world’s “big six” publishers to create a new powerhouse that would publish 25% of all books sold in the UK, and Bertelsmann, the privately owned German company that owns Random House, would then own more than 50% of the conglomerate. This does not necessarily bode well for authors, many of whom will no doubt be given the order of the boot. But it helps explain why so many of my friends have had their publication dates shifted.

Here in the UK as we emerge from recession and return to growth, books are doing rather well, with hardbacks now seen in their own niche market as both gifts and ‘keepers’, while e-books cannibalise the old mass-market trade. In short, people are reading more than they were before, and the shakeout may prove invigorating.

Quite where this leaves Bryant & May will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but it’s likely they’ll continue to be published one way or another, while I explore other fiction and non-fiction avenues. With both ‘Plastic’ and ‘Film Freak’ coming out in the coming months I have now sold everything I’ve ever written with the exception of one big novel, which I’m still tinkering with.

One thing continues to puzzle me. With the new interest in reading as a pastime, why aren’t publishers encouraging their readership to branch out into trying new authors? The Big Six still prefer to burn their fingers with celebrity memoirs and novelists who have TV shows are far more likely to get into print. Yet I have never seen any empirical evidence correlating TV and book sales figures. If ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (which we can be generous about and call ‘rubbish’) can appear from nowhere without a TV show or a pedigree of any kind, why can’t other novels?

Meanwhile for American readers, ‘The Invisible Code’ remains, well, invisible.

8 comments on “Putting The Houses In Order”

  1. John Howard says:

    Could this be an illustration of the bigger the company the less likely they are to want to take risks. All that concerns the board of directors is the bottom line because they have shareholders to answer to, and perceived losses, i.e. low sales for a new author, are viewed as a concern not as an opportunity to widen their roster and, in the long term, potentially generate more profit to the benefit of all. The current manager speak is ‘what is the quick fix’ not how can we improve this properly.

    ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ being, I think, a case in point where I imagine all publishers really want now are novels with saucy bits. Have you not been asked for ‘Bryant and May and the Dominatrix Dungeon Mystery’ yet Admin?

    The danger is that publishing could become a bit like the culling of the good indie bands in the 80’s & 90’s as more and more independently owned record labels were bought up by the big conglomerates.

  2. Vickie says:

    Ah, for once I feel vindicated for ordering my Invisible Code from the U.K. amazon (I live in the U.S.): already got it, already read it, already loved it. Absolutely worth a few extra $$$.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    Vickie – You are so right. It took mine forever to get here, but not as long as it is taking those who are waiting for a U.S. publisher’s release.
    Hopefully when all the mergers shake out, there will be a larger interest in “new” authors and “returning” writers such as myself. I would hate to have to mostly self-publish in English; not if I can be published here.
    I broke the momentum many, many years ago by opting for an overseas career at good pay and good benefits. I did write though both for the Government and myself and have a file box of material under the desk to freshen up and hopefully move along.

  4. andrea yang says:

    I searched for the Invisible Code and was able to purchase the audio version from Audible in the US. Bryant and May are delightful in audio. Tim Goodman is a great reader. I will still be watching for the print book for a Christmas gift for my Dad so I hope it will be released soon!

  5. Cat Eldridge says:

    The audiobooks are truly amazing!

    Roofworld’s available from Audible though Rune and Soho Black are not so far. All three have Bryant and May in them.

    Roofworld’s amazingly cheap as an audiobook, a mere six dollars for twelve hours of listening!

  6. Helen Martin says:

    I wonder if smaller publishers will pick up authors rejected by the giants. I know a number of what I think of as publishers are actually imprints of big companies but perhaps some of them will be sold off or set loose. Some of the specialised (?) authors might do well with smaller publishers. We’ve just had a local major publisher go into debt protection and are waiting to hear if it will be bought up or what.

  7. jim oatham says:

    Im in the uk and have struggled to find the invisible code.
    Can obviously get it at amazon but theres nothing like picking it up in a bookshop. not a single christopher fowler book in waterstones last week. shameful. sure i will find a copy soon!

  8. admin says:

    For some reason the utterly disorganised Waterstones never seem to carry me. Go to any Foyles and you’ll find me well represented, usually by a shelf of books.

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