originally posted by Brent Dubroc
Janny, have you or your publishers ever given any thought to publishing omnibus editions of your novels? I know such a thing would be infeasible with the physical versions, but with ebooks at least it's simple enough to have, for example, an Arc 2 omnibus, an Alliance of Light omnibus, and a Sword of the Canon omnibus, even a whole series omnibus when Song of the Mysteries comes out ala the Complete Malazan Book of the Fallen that's on Amazon.
I know I'm not the only one who prefers to have an entire tale that was divided for publication ala Lord of the Rings, Carol Berg's Sanctuary and Lighthouse diets, or Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos in one "cover" (even if it's a digital one) if possible, and it might be a boon for new readers to buy as well (fewer books to buy and keep track of)
originally posted by Brent Dubroc
Not a simple question:
The publisher tried this without my permission, they put it at such a ridiculous price point, I'd be starving (they clumped the first three in the series, that actually pay royalties) - when I asked them 'did they have a plan?" for marketing, for how they would divide up the rest of the series, or how they would handle the Arc structure (in particular Arc III at 5 volumes) so that the readers would not get a truncated experience…they just said, "oh, well, of course!! We'll divide it into trilogies.'
Whelp - that would not work! You'd have been 'dropped' after Peril's Gate. (and some readers would stop there, not going on) Then you'd get two books to finale arc III, coupled with the first of Arc IV, (aaagh, what a Rude break between Arc III and vol I arc IV) and then what?? Arc IV 'broken' (some readers would fail to go on) and then a cheesy two book hanger on at the ending???
El Nope. Think of what the reader would experience. (AND, the latter books since the 'merger' mess in early 2000s have failed to earn out due to series invisibility' - to omnibus them would make a grand F up of the accounting…so how would I ever recoup my numbers? Banking on the series eventually winning through…banking on the long shot, where the publisher just wants to wring the rag for whatever they can get/no care for the future (my future).)
Negotiations to the mat, I have 'no basket accounting' in the contracts, so the publisher cannot stand one book against another - each is accounted separately. Omnibus would destroy that advantage, completely.) So Deal hitch number One.
And here was the 'deal stopper' I asked that they think what they were doing and come up with a plan to have the series READ in arc format, and to price it so that I would not starve, (what little I make off this series wouldn't feed my cats for a year!!) - in short, handle it with forethought.
And they refused. Just 'bundle by threes' and be done. This bothered the crap out of me, because so many series do 'break' by trilogies. Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings was designed this way. Same with CJ Cherryh's Foreigner. Because Wars of Light and Shadows has never been reviewed, because there is no cohesive fan following (slowly getting there) to 'inform' the readers who are not familiar with it (like Malazan/Dresden - the readership 'informs' new readers what to expect, vol I being a 'starter', the arc structure, when NOT to quit, what is not sprawl, etc) - given the Arc structure of my story is not widely known or understood on the forums - I was terrified the 'trilogy' experience would be interpreted as a story that was 'not cohesive' and left readers unsatisfied if they were EXPECTING A TRILOGY FORMAT. It's not in any way conducive to making sets by 3s and without the public knowledge to 'road map' the series online - the tangle would in fact be made worse.
So I told them NO, until they had a plan to provide the readers with an experience that followed the contour of the story and Arc sequence, it was a nix.
Maybe I'm a fool - but 'cutting' the series at whim would not yield a satisfactory read. I drew the line at making the series 'seem' messy and also, not giving the readership their money's worth. A book - or an omnibus - ought to provide a 'start' a 'middle' and an 'ending finale' - also with the latter books of the series not (they weren't at that time) written, yet - it ran the risk they'd cram the last bits into an 'omnibus' ASAP and not give those books their due.
At the moment, they haven't asked again, I'd prefer not to rush this into the torpedo tube.
When the series is completed, perhaps they'll be more inclined to think of the story and not the profit package. The horse must drive the cart.
Oh, and this is serious: Nobody was 'doing this' omnibus 'deal' cheap for Wheel of Time, Malazan or A Song of Ice and Fire - so why should Wars of Light and Shadow be 'treated' differently when all the care in the world went into creating it on par with the best???
originally posted by Jeff
The only thing that makes sense to me is to bundle each arc under its arc name so it would be:
1: COTM; already standalone
2: SOM (like the original hardcover),
4: SOTC, and
5: SOTM standalone.
With the completion of the series, perhaps the whole series could be bundled together.
The economics are another matter. Protecting your artistic vision and income are of course your right. Surely your readers would understand you handling your business effectively.
I wonder, if arc 2 had originally been released as two standalone volumes, would you have had a different volume title for the first of the two; or a different title for the arc?
Arc two was originally just titled Ships of Merior. The separation was sprung on me - no time to 'think' it through, but I'd have done a two word title under an arc title Ships of Merior if I'd had a moment to parse it.
I would not have minded Arc I and II as one omni, then Arc III complete as another, and Arc IV and V together as an omni. The option was never presented to me…it was 'bundled in threes' period…no discussion.
And they never answered 'how' to correct the 'basket accounting' = which meant, titles that earned out/I'd get paid. Titles that hadn't - accrued toward earn out…the mixed nature of Arc III meant they would have had to 'figure' the accounting into the picture - more work for their bean counters…if I'd settled for other, it would have meant: no cat food at all…and a very blurry picture for the future/
Given more reader awareness and word of mouth on the series - gold stars for that! - the accounting problem could fix itself. Readership changing the algorithm and making the series more visible (the famous 'also bought' by other customers/if the series starts cropping up on that, then hits algorithm at Amazon and chains for their internal promo to kick in (requires a certain number of customer reviews, to get that started rolling) - the picture could very well change - I am just focusing on getting the draft done and the finale to my satisfaction - then I will be having serious discussions with the publisher.
Until then, it's all reader driven (and what bits I can do with anthology pieces, discussions, etc).
My biggest hurdle is the 'knee jerk' handling - shoved out willy nilly with no rhyme or reason would only hurt things in the long haul. Once there's a seriously informed discussion, then, I am all ears.
There's a further contractual problem with omnibus editions they did not address either: reversion is title by title, tied to the PRINT BOOKS and omnibus editions are - once again - blurring the lines. It's a messy snapshot what happens to my contract when one title falls out of paper print/but others are not, and they are tangled together in an e version that ties them into one publication.
Messy, I know…and hard to navigate.
What is REALLY losing me interest is no audio edition…so many long series for adult readers rely on audio because people don't have time to read print - they listen on their commute, etc…and not having that option severely limits accessibility, far more (correct me?) than not having an omnibus e version. The books are pretty reasonably priced - not top of the scale for e books, that's for sure.
And you're welcome…the interest and enthusiasm shown in your question - priceless. I do need to stay informed with what readership wants.
originally posted by Brent Dubroc
Janny, I agree with you 100%. IMO, either bundle each arc together as a whole or don't bundle anything together at all - and ESPECIALLY don't bundle the end of one arc with the start of the next.
And price them fairly as well to ensure that you're able to still make a living from the sales of it.
I'll keep doing my best to drum up support for the series while I can.