‘The Burning Man’ Paperback Is Here
This is how casual one gets about writing after you’ve been doing it for many years; my publication day is here and none of us woke up to it until a fan mentioned it on Twitter. I’ve always thought that publishers focus on the wrong edition. Hardbacks are the first sighting of a new novel, but the numbers they sell are miniscule. One year after the hardback (a whole year! Insanity!) comes the paperback, which is the copy most readers are interested in – but that publication date – the really big one – is sort of thrown away by publishers.
Everyone does it, it’s how the system works. Why? Because critics traditionally review hardbacks. But press newspapers are dwindling, critics are vanishing and now the system could do with a tweak. Certainly, the first thing I’d do is reduce the window between hardback and paperback to three months, and switch part of the emphasis to the paperback, when stores are likely to have your book on their front shelves.
It seems so obvious to me that the version which sells best should have the highest visibility, but for decades we’ve catered to critics who probably won’t have the space to place reviews anyway. Consequently I like to take matters into my own hands and have a wander about the city on paperback publication day. Today I’ll be hitting a few bookshops, starting from King’s Cross and heading into Holborn and the West End, keeping an eye on Twitter – so if you see me about, stop and say hello. Maybe I’ll have a free copy on me…